‘A rookie mistake’: Nick Faldo explains Rory McIlroy Masters gaffe

The chip-in heard before it was seen 'round the world.

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Move aside “patron” and “second nine” — there’s a new addition to the Masters broadcast dictionary.

Spoiler alert.

On Sunday at the Masters, Nick Faldo incensed the golf world when he accidentally gave away Rory McIlroy’s miracle chip-in … seconds before the broadcast showed it.

“I don’t want to spoil it,” Faldo said a moment before CBS cameras pivoted to McIlroy on a tape delay. “But something incredible has just happened.”

Fans then watched anticlimactically as McIlroy’s bunker shot rolled down the bank on the 18th green and into the hole for a stunning birdie. It was the moment of the tournament … except it wasn’t.

Across the golf world, fans were enraged. The primary purpose of a broadcaster is to inform and entertain, they reasoned. Even if Faldo was standing next to Rory’s shot on the 18th green, he still had an obligation to do his job.

By Tuesday, Faldo had heard enough. He joined “The Dan Patrick Show” to issue an official mea culpa.

“I know that was a rookie mistake but I’m sitting right in there when it happened, and it was just off the charts,” Faldo said. “And so Jim’s talking to me and asking me a question. When you hear the patrons roar, the crowd go nuts, you can’t come back and go ‘let’s look at Rory live on the bunker on 18’ because you know it’s now on tape.”

Faldo, a three-time Masters champ himself, thought he’d witnessed another piece of golf history in Rory’s chip-in.

“I got caught up on that for a split second and I reacted and the heat of it. And so you’re right, I got it all wrong for a split second,” Faldo said. “I seriously was shaking because I thought, ‘Rory is going to win the green jacket.’ I thought, ‘something could happen.’ You know, he’s trying to. We know the story. He pulls off an impossible shot, and his reaction, and I’m sitting right in the middle of it.”

While Faldo admits he’s in the wrong, he does raise an interesting point. If CBS had stuck with Rory’s shot live on 18 (where Faldo and Nantz were both seated in the broadcast tower), he wouldn’t have been compelled to spoil the scene. Of course, it’s his responsibility to know better, but perhaps those factors are worth considering for the CBS production team when it comes to handling future outcomes in front of the 18th tower.

“So I’m sorry, I blurted,” Faldo said. “I didn’t actually say what happened. So yeah, spoiler alert, but I guess, a rookie mistake. But gosh, when you’re in it, you can tell that I love it. I’m right in the midst of it literally, and then he pulls off that because then anything could happen.”

For now, though, Faldo will be forced to eat a healthy serving of crow.

“I’ve been up there for 18-odd years, but that was my first cockup.”

James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine on a broad range of topics. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow, during which time he cut his teeth at NFL Films, CBS News and Fox Sports. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from.