Sportscaster linked with Masters for past 40 years

  • Follow Your Faith

Pat Summerall has missed just one Masters Tournament since he started broadcasting the event for CBS Sports in 1968.

It was in 2004, the year he had the liver transplant that saved his life after decades of abusing alcohol.

He didn't even miss the Masters in 1992, the year, he says, that "I went for treatment, thanks to an intervention by a group of friends of mine, people who are familiar names in sports ... who talked me into going to the Betty Ford Center for help with alcoholism."

He's been sober ever since.

In treatment, Mr. Summerall says, he began reading the Bible. He eventually embraced Christianity at age 69 and was baptized.

Mr. Summerall, now 78, will share his testimony Tuesday at Warren Baptist Church at the Masters Prayer Breakfast, an annual event of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Past speakers include golfers Larry Mize, Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink.

Up to 3,000 people attend for the free breakfast, music and prayer.

Mr. Summerall was invited to participate by Warren's pastor, the Rev. David McKinley. The Rev. McKinley, who moved to Augusta last year, had been Mr. Summerall's pastor in Texas.

After the prayer breakfast, Mr. Summerall plans to spend most of his time next week at Augusta National Golf Club.

"As a broadcaster, after I left, they gave me a going away cocktail party at which time I got a gold badge, which there are only two," he said. "One belongs to (the late sportscaster) Chris Schenkel, and one belongs to me. I can go back any time I want to."

Mr. Summerall entered broadcasting after playing in the NFL for 10 years, most famously as a kicker for the New York Giants.

His career with CBS began in 1960, and ended with the 1994 Masters.

He teamed with John Madden for 21 years, calling football games on CBS and later Fox.

He has worked 16 Super Bowls and continues to lend his voice to Masters voice-overs and the video game Golden Tee Golf .

Of all the events he has covered, he says, the Masters stands apart.

"One of the things about the Masters that I think makes it so great is it doesn't change. The members still have the pride they've always had, the event itself is run and, I think, televised, probably better than any event I've ever done, and I've done a bunch," Mr. Summerall said.

Reach Kelly Jasper at (706) 823-3552 or kelly.jasper@augustachronicle.com.

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