BEYOND THE ROPES

Gore, Daly rekindle childhood friendship

Jason Gore competed against Carson Daly in junior golf in Southern California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty)

Jason Gore remembered playing junior golf with a guy named Carson.

When he got older, Gore used to listen to a guy named Carson Daly on KROQ-FM. He watched Daly on MTV’s “Total Request Live,” too.  

Gore just didn’t realize that the popular TV and radio personality was the same Carson that he competed against during those Southern California summers when they were kids.

That is, until the two were partnered at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am a decade or so ago. Daly could only laugh when the introductions were made as Gore finally put two-and-two together.

“He was like, dude, we played junior golf together,” Gore recalls. “That just shows you the cocoon we live in.

“I was like, holy smokes, I knew you looked familiar. It was one of those moments where you’re, like, gosh, you’re an idiot. … Just la-la land, I guess.”

Unfortunately, their partnership at Pebble Beach hasn’t been very successful. In fact, Gore and Daly have never made the cut in the handful of times they’ve played together.

But when Daly played with Ken Duke last year, the two won the team competition. 

“I said never again are we partners,” Gore says, chuckling. “I said, I love you man but I’m your black cat. Either I’m your black cat or you’re my black cat but we’re not going to take a chance.”

Not that Gore hasn’t shown Daly a thing or two on the golf course.  One Saturday at Pebble Beach with the cameras rolling, Daly chipped in from left of the green on the iconic 18th hole.

And to celebrate, the “Today Show” correspondent and host of “The Voice” turned and threw the ball into the Pacific Ocean.

“I’m like no, dude, throw it to the crowd,” Gore recalls. “You don’t throw it in the ocean. It’s a souvenir, not a sacrifice. … The place is going crazy. C’mon, man, you know better than that.”

The film clip resurfaced later when Gore appeared on his friend’s late-night NBC talk show, “Last Call with Carson Daly.” Gore remembers getting the star treatment that day.

“He sent a limo. Did make-up. Did the hair. The whole thing,” Gore says. “I had my own green room with my name on the door. It was the whole shebang.”

Not that Gore was entirely comfortable with the situation. He was fine sitting on the couch and talking with his buddy but he still wondered why he was there. And as for the rap singer that followed him? Well, that Gore understood. 

“I’m just not that guy,” Gore says. “It was just, like, what am I doing on a late-night talk show? I’m here with this guy and this guy’s a superstar and I’m just here. Like hey, man, love your music. I was just so out of my place.”

The rekindled friendship continues to this day. Sometimes when the uber-busy Daly is in Los Angeles, the two are able to sneak in a round of golf. And Gore says Daly has a standing invitation for dinner, too.

Daly is hardly a dilettante when it comes to golf. As a teenager, he caddied at fabled Riviera Country Club where his stepfather worked in the pro shop. Daly and his stepfather even played in a father-son tournament with Tiger Woods and his father, Earl.

Daly actually had pro aspirations of his own, too, dropping out of Loyola Marymount, where he was studying theology and on a partial golf scholarship, to try to qualify for the U.S. Open.

“He hits it good and he never gives up,” Gore says. “He’s a fighter.”

Gore says Daly is among the first to text him when he plays well. And he thinks the two probably have more in common now that they are fathers than when they were kids growing up about 40 miles apart.

“This is going to sound odd but he’s as normal as it gets,” Gore says. “That’s the highest compliment I can pay someone of his stature. He loves his family. He loves his kids.

“All that other stuff, it’s what he does. It’s not who he is. It’s really cool. He treats a nobody like me or anybody else off the streets just as he would Taylor Swift or some mega-superstar, Justin Timberlake. We’re all the same.

“It’s really something special that he has, especially for all of his accomplishments and all his jobs or gigs or whatever you want to say, what he does and what he is in the television industry. He’s turned into a great business. He’s just got his fingers in everything but he’s never forgotten what centers him.”

Or his childhood friends.

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