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Tucson native Dan Hicks to host U.S. Open at Pebble Beach

Los Angeles Times – Washington Post News Service


PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Tucson native Dan Hicks is one lucky guy. He will host the telecast of the 100th U.S. Open this week – at Pebble Beach, no less – for NBC.

Then, after the biggest assignment of his career, he gets to go home in suburban Connecticut to his wife, NBC colleague Hannah Storm, and their two young children. They can talk golf and basketball, if they want, but probably won’t.

While Hicks is working the Open, his wife will continue her work at the NBA Finals.

Isn’t there a quota on personal good fortune?

Hicks laughed.

“There’s no question I’ve been blessed, but I’m also a firm believer in hard work and being prepared, and that leads to good things in both your professional and personal life,” he said from Pebble Beach. “Hannah thinks the same way. We’re cut from the same cloth.”

Hicks replaced Dick Enberg as NBC’s golf host this year, after Enberg left for CBS.

The Sabino High School and University of Arizona graduate has come a long way since his TV-radio days in Tucson. After working as a weekend sports anchor on KVOA Channel 4 here, he landed a sports anchor job at CNN in Atlanta.

In his early years at NBC he was assigned to the sixth or seventh NFL crew working miniregional games. He started at NBC in 1992, after three years at CNN.

He met Storm at CNN.

“Her desk was next to mine, and at first we were just really good friends,” he said. “Then about halfway through my stay there, I decided she was just too good, that I had to give it a try.”

They had the same interests, they clicked as friends, and they are 11 days apart in age. Hicks turned 38 June 2.

“I was a little concerned that if things didn’t work out, what with us working together and being on the air together, there could be some problems. But I was willing to take that chance. Well, as they say, the rest is history.

“You talk about being lucky. Well, where luck came into play is, Hannah got hired by NBC – they were really after her – and then one month later I got hired. They weren’t really after me, but I had decided that even if I didn’t get hired, I’d move to New York to be with Hannah. Our relationship was that far along.

“At the time we were hired, they didn’t even know we were an item.”

NBC soon found out, and in 1994, Hicks and Storm were married.

“It’s been an ideal situation,” Hicks said. “We both work weekends, both can talk about the demands of our jobs and understand what it takes.

“But when we’re home with Hannah Beth (3) and Ellery (22 months) we can escape from that world, enjoy the kids and talk about other things.”

The marriage got Hicks more recognition than anything he had done in broadcasting. Old friends would ask, “What have you been up to lately?” He would say, “Football for NBC, only games you never see.”

He moved up the depth chart and did swimming and diving at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

“That was a wonderful, electric atmosphere,” he said. “But, yes, I’d say doing the Open at Pebble is bigger. I just hope the leader board and the finish provide us with some magic moments. I think they will.”

His next major assignment will be Olympic swimming and diving from Sydney. Storm will be at the Games, too.

Storm will also be seen during the Open. An interview she did with golfer Payne Stewart’s widow, Tracey, will be shown Sunday.

Golf is not a new assignment for Hicks. “The first show I did outside a studio for NBC was the Lake Tahoe celebrity tournament,” he said.

After that, he let his bosses know he loved golf, that he had played to as low as a 6-handicap. He’s been on the NBC golf crew ever since, although he was seen on camera only slightly more than the first group off the tee.

Now, with Hicks in the seat next to Johnny Miller, both anchors have knowledge gained from firsthand experience. Enberg had tried to learn to play, but said his frustration level was too high.

“The golf audience can’t be fooled,” Hicks said. “Johnny Miller is the star of our show. You’ve got to ride the horse. My responsibility is to make him even better. With the passion I bring for golf, hopefully I can get into a little more of a golf conversation with him.”

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