Lopez testing the waters on a TV career

Updated: June 29, 2002, 11:33 PM ET
Associated Press

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- Nancy Lopez might not be leaving the LPGA Tour after all.

Nancy Lopez
Nancy Lopez is hoping time in the broadcast booth could help her own golf game.

Lopez is considering moving into the television broadcast booth and doing golf analysis next year, when she plans a very limited playing scheduled.

The Hall of Famer had a tryout of sorts with The Golf Channel on Saturday during the second round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

''I hope I can do the job properly and give an insight to the game, maybe about what a player is feeling and say some things that are intelligent, of course,'' Lopez said.

Lopez plans to call the shots as she sees them, but she has no intention of being as frank as commentator Johnny Miller, who has angered some players with his no-holds-barred comments.

''I think Johnny is very honest about what he feels, but I think because he is a man he really can say it a little better than me. I don't feel comfortable doing that. I can be critical, but in a different way.''

While she might not be another Miller, Lopez is taking a very professional approach to broadcasting.

While many were sleeping Saturday, Lopez took a golf cart at 7 a.m. ET and drove around the back nine at the Bay Course at the Marriott Seaview Resort.

At the greens, she got out of the cart and rolled some putts just to get a read and test the speed of the greens.

Lopez also has watched more golf on television this year to pick up some tips, and she has talked with some current commentators. She also will do another LPGA event in August for The Golf Channel.

''I don't want to say things that are too obvious,'' Lopez said. ''It's funny because when I am watching golf I react to it. If I see someone hit a shot, I'll say, 'Oh, God I can't believe she did that,''' Lopez said.

''It's going to be hard for me not to react like that. You shouldn't do that on national television. But I get into everything a player does because I feel I know what they are thinking.''

The television booth won't be totally new for Lopez. She has stopped in at some major events and stayed for some commentary.

She laughed about one event where she stopped in mid-sentence because a director was yelling at someone and she heard it in her ear set.

''I had never heard some of the words he was yelling,'' Lopez said. ''Oh my gosh, I really messed up there.''

Lopez admits her speaking and vocabulary are ordinary.

''I don't use great big words because they confuse me,'' Lopez said. ''I would probably use the wrong one at the wrong time, but I hope I can bring something to television that people would enjoy listening to.''

She has interesting thoughts about the popularity of women's golf compared to the PGA Tour.

''If we had golf on television every weekend, I think we'd be as popular as the men,'' Lopez said. ''I think the men are only popular because they are on every weekend. If you get something thrown in your face every weekend, you sure are going to get to know everybody. You just do.''

The one topic Lopez has trouble talking about is this year. Tears well in her eyes when she discusses it.

Her father, Domingo, died two months ago. Her game is horrible. A 48-time winner on the LPGA tour, she has missed all eight cuts. Her daughter, Ashley, is heading to Auburn and her husband, Ray, has been away working as a bench coach for the Cincinnati Reds.

''There are a lot of things missing in my life and I can't focus as well because of it,'' Lopez said. ''I've had a great life in my 45 years and a great 25 years on the tour. But this has been a tough year to deal with.''

Lopez is hoping watching the leaders this week will help her next week when she plays in the U.S. Women's Open.

''This is kind of a break from the frustration I've had,'' she said. ''It will be nice to see a lot of good shots on television. That's a positive for me because I am going to sit there and say, 'I can do that too.'''

Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press