Andy North: Two-Time U.S. Open Champion/ESPN Analyst
Golf fans who get their fill on Golf Channel, CBS, ESPN, NBC and Fox get very used to the studio hosts, hole announcers and analysts that bring golf tournaments into our home nearly every weekend of the year.
Many of us have our favorites, and of course there are a few we don’t like so well.
A lot of these guys have become semi-celebrities in their own right, names like David Feherty, Gary McCord and Johnny Miller. Others have sort of built a cult following in the world of golf fandom, guys like Roger Maltbie who was a journeyman pro but is highly regarded for his golf acumen, relationship with players and love of the game.
Similar to Maltbie, ESPN’s Andy North is highly regarded by his peers as well as today’s players for his deep understanding of the game. What many of today’s younger fans don’t know, unless they hear him introduced at the opening of a broadcast, is that Andy North won two U.S. Open titles, the 1978 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills as a 28-year old and the 1985 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills.
Remarkably, North only won one other PGA Tour event – the 1977 American Express Westchester Classic.
If you are only going to win three times on tour, you need to pick your spots. It’s certainly possible for an average or below average player to catch fire and win a major. We’ve all heard the names and won’t repeat them here.
Winning two majors is a totally different animal. There are no two-time major flukes. And, when your two majors are both in the U.S. Open, arguably the hardest major championship to win, you are a bona fide champion.
North’s two wins were certainly hard-earned. He took a one shot lead into the final round at Cherry Hills but faced a four-foot putt on the 72nd hole to avoid a playoff and secure the championship. He holed the putt and left J.C. Snead and Dave Stockton on the driving range, denying their dreams of U.S. Open glory for another year.
North’s 1985 win was a comeback affair. He started the day two shots behind Taiwan’s T.C. Chen who went on to hit one of the most infamous shots in U.S. Open history. Chen was cruising through the early part of his round in good form until he attempted a chip from deep, greenside rough. Chen hit his chip, felt and heard the double contact and never recovered fully from the blunder, taking a quadruple bogey and squandering a four-shot lead in a single hole. North held off spirited charges from Denis Watson, Payne Stewart (who’d yet to win a major at the time) and Dave Barr. North’s victory powered him to a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup squad in 1985.
North joined ESPN in 1993 and became a roving, on-course reporter. He was promoted a little more than a decade later and became one of the lead studio hosts as well as becoming the network’s lead on-course reporter. North is well known for his in-depth, well-thought out major championship previews that current tour pros are rumored to watch in an effort to absorb additional knowledge on the eve of the championships.
One thing’s for sure – Andy North has a deep love for the game and golf fans in the United States hold North in high regard.