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Tilghman, who played college golf at Duke University, works as a course reporter for The Golf Channel, after having served as the main play-by-play announcer during its PGA Tour telecasts. She became an anchor in 2007 when the PGA Tour signed a 15-year deal in which The Golf Channel broadcasts the first three events of the year, weekday coverage of all tour events, and full coverage of the Fall Series and opposite-field events.
Tilghman is a former touring professional who has been with The Golf Channel since its inception and has worked a variety of roles. In 2007, she began her collaboration with lead analyst Nick Faldo to form the lead broadcast team for the majority of the network’s PGA Tour telecasts.
One of the original cast, Tilghman formerly served in such roles as co-anchor for Golf Central, host of Sprint Post Game and Live From … telecasts, as well as a variety of Golf Channel original programs, including Academy Live and The Grey Goose 19th Hole. Tilghman’s early duties included serving as an on-course reporter for the network’s live tournament team.
From 1992-96, Tilghman played professional golf in Australia, Europe and Asia, and also served as a teaching and touring pro. She was brought up in the golf industry with parents who owned and operated a golf course for 22 years. Tilghman earned a scholarship to play on Duke University's women's golf team, where she won 1990's Lady Paladin Invitational hosted by Furman University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History.
Tilghman drew criticism for remarks about Tiger Woods during a January 4, 2008 PGA Tour Telecast. In response to co-anchor Nick Faldo's joke that younger players should "gang up" on Woods, Tilghman replied "Lynch him in a back alley". Tilghman was laughing during the exchange with Faldo at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, and Woods' agent at IMG was quoted as saying he didn't think there was any ill intent.
The event continued to be covered by the cable news channels, and civil rights activist Al Sharpton demanded she be fired immediately. She apologized two days later for her remarks during the final-round broadcast.
On January 9, it was announced that The Golf Channel had suspended Kelly for two weeks as a result of her comment, a reversal of course from the channel's earlier declaration that she would not be suspended.
Before her suspension was announced, Sharpton spoke earlier on CNN's "Prime News" and continued to push for her firing, saying he wanted to meet with The Golf Channel because the comment was "an insult to all blacks." On January 15, 2008, The Golf Channel re-hired former number one anchor Vince Cellini raising questions as to whether Cellini was brought back in the event Tilghman did not survive the public outcry for her removal.
In the aftermath of the incident, Golfweek magazine ran a story about the incident, featuring a controversial cover portraying a hanging noose. The choice of imagery was widely criticized, and led to the firing of Golfweek's editor, Dave Seanor.
Tilghman ended her 22-year run at Golf Channel in 2018.
- "FOX Sports on MSN - Golf - Tilghman apologizes for 'lynch' Tiger remark". Archived from the original on 2008-01-12. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
- Anchor suspended 2 weeks for "lynch" comment - Golf - Yahoo! Sports
- ABC News: Sharpton: 'Lynch Tiger' Quip Same as Imus'
- Ferguson, Doug (2008-01-18). "Golfweek Editor Fired For Noose Cover". CBS News. Retrieved 2008-02-11.
- "The Forecaddie: Kelly Tilghman ending her 22-year run at Golf Channel". GWK : Forecaddie. Golf Week. Retrieved 6 January 2019.