Morgan Pressel considered extending her playing career so she would have the opportunity to play in this week's U.S. Women's Open at Pebble Beach.
Even though she stopped playing two years ago, Pressel will still have an excellent vantage point for all four rounds of the first Women's Open at the iconic course.
Pressel is going into her third Women's Open as NBC's analyst. The final two rounds on NBC will mark the first time it will air in primetime (3-9 p.m. ET). Thursday's and Friday's rounds will be on USA Network and Peacock.
The trip to Pebble Beach completes a great three-week stretch for women's golf. Two weeks ago, the Women's PGA Championship was held at Baltusrol, the famed New Jersey course that's hosted seven U.S. Opens and two PGA Championships.
"One of the most important things to elevate the sport is, think of these iconic courses that the men have played for years, and people tune in because of the venues," Pressel said a couple of weeks ago while working the U.S. Open in Los Angeles. "I think of a venue like Pebble Beach and if you can equate it to Wrigley Field or the Rose Bowl or a Madison Square Garden, it doesn't matter who plays. It's just cool to go, see it and watch it on television. And that helps to elevate the viewership."
When it comes to which is more important — being in primetime on network television or playing at Pebble Beach — Pressel initially gave a slight edge to the venue before eventually saying it was a combination of the two.
"They might have never watched an LPGA event in their life, but they've heard of Pebble Beach, and here it is on Sunday evening and they're flipping through channels and they're like, 'wow, this is really amazing.' This is some incredible golf. What an exciting event," she said.
The Women's Open has always been Pressel's favorite tournament. In 2001, she was the then-youngest player to qualify at age 12. She had three top-10 finishes in 17 Women's Opens, including a tie for second and sharing low amateur honors in 2005.
Pressel knew she eventually wanted to move from the 18th green to the 18th tower. It happened quicker than planned, though.
Her first experience with television came in 2015 when she was an analyst during Fox's digital coverage of the U.S. Open. Four years later, she was an analyst for Fox during the U.S. Senior Women's Open.
Both assignments came on weeks when the LPGA wasn't competing. She joined NBC and Golf Channel in 2021 and was going to work a limited schedule while still playing. But three tournaments in, she decided to stop playing.
"I got to a point where I was really frustrated with my game. I think through COVID probably escalated it as it did for so many people and job transitions and things like that," she said. "I was unhappy on the golf course and it was time to do something else. I'm fortunate to be with the Golf Channel and NBC. It's been quite a 2 1/2 years."
Pressel said she is still going through a little bit of a learning curve, but she has managed to show NBC that she's a quick learner. She was one of the main analysts during the early coverage of the U.S. Open on Peacock, USA Network and NBC during all four rounds.
"It's really about being ready and prepared. How do you bring a pertinent piece of information and then insert it at the right time and not just drop silly things when it doesn't really make sense?" she said. "I'm prepared with endless notes and using 5-10% of it is all that you might use in a broadcast, but you never know when it might come up. I've got a big catalog of all of my notes that I've ever really had for a broadcast, and I can."