Chris “Mad Dog” Russo has been in radio for more than three decades and met countless sports celebrities along the way, but on Tuesday he described himself as a “kid in a candy store” after a morning encounter with Tiger Woods.
It was not merely talking to Woods that impressed Russo; it was learning that Woods is a regular listener to his SiriusXM Satellite Radio show.
Russo, who lives in Connecticut, knows Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava, a Connecticut native and resident, and was talking to him near the putting green at Shinnecock Hills in advance of this week’s U.S. Open.
“So he says, ‘T, come over here,’ ” Russo recalled a couple of hours later. “He calls him ‘T.’ So ‘T’ comes over and he says, ‘You know Mad Dog?’ Big smile. Shakes my hand. He says, ‘I’ve got you on the preset with my kids’ favorite radio shows.’
“So I got Tiger with a big smile on his face. I never would have expected that. That made me feel good. Didn’t come on [my show], but still, pretty good . . . No matter what I do today on the radio show, Tiger Woods! I got an acknowledgment. I’m all set. Success.”
Russo did his show from SiriusXM’s tower near the 18th fairway. SiriusXM is the hole-by-hole national radio home of the Open. He said it was his first show from the site of a golf tournament since he parted ways with WFAN’s Mike Francesa 10 years ago.
“There’s not a lot, from a national perspective, going on,” he said. “The Belmont is done and hockey is done and the NBA is done. There was no Game 5 last night. It’s a good day to be out here and do something a little different.”
It also was a homecoming for Russo, who grew up in Syosset. He went out to dinner with a friend in Huntington on Monday and drove by his old neighborhood for the first time in 10 or 12 years.
“So it’s a little nostalgic,” he said. “I love the course. I have a couple of buddies who are members and they have taken me out there, so I know a little something about the course. I don’t know it from the tee boxes with the pros, but I’ve played it recently so I get a little feel of it.
“It’s a wonderful spot. It’s Long island. The traffic is terrible, but I take the ferry to Port Jefferson . . . To me, it’s a perfect setup. It’s something different. You have a bunch of big stars here, and it’s on Eastern Long Island.”