Sizing up the TV coverage from the Quail Hollow Championship ... and away we go.
Seve Ballestero's passing took the entire golf world by surprise earlier this week, when his family announced that the golf legend's health had taken a turn for the worse. When news broke early Saturday morning that he had died at the age of 54, you expected CBS to open the third round with a couple minutes on one of the greatest golfers to ever play the game.
But the network went one step further, dedicating 17 minutes at the beginning of the telecast to remember Ballesteros. The comments from past and current players, including CBS's Nick Faldo, Ian Baker-Finch and David Feherty, showed you what an impact Ballesteros not only had on the game, but also on the golfers he competed against each week.
"Our hearts and mind are a mile away in Spain," Jim Nantz said at the opening.
"It's really hard to believe he's gone. His career was so short and his life ridiculously short for a man that we all really treasured," Faldo said, before nearly breaking down as he shared some of his favorite Seve moments.
"For me, the great moment was 1983 at Palm Beach when we lost by a single point, and I was sitting next to Tony Jacklin, our captain at the time, and we were pretty down about losing," Faldo said. "And Seve walks in, in his usual way and pump his fist and says, 'We must celebrate! We must celebrate! This is a victory.' And he was right. We had six members on the team who believed we could win, and six who were unsure. Of course, we went on to win in '85 and '87. ... He'll be sadly, sadly missed."
"I'm really touched by the guy. We fought together and had some really great battles. In '88, his last major win, we played together with Nicky Price on the Monday after; it was a three-ball. The style of him, that's what I remember on that seventh tee ... he could take the club out of the bag, make a swing, twirl it and could walk off the tee all in one movement. It was poetry. I remember marking his card and saying, 'Oy, look Seve, that was the greatest round of golf I've ever seen played.' I was privileged to be right there. I called him the Cirque du Soleil of golf. For me he was the greatest ... he had everything, and we'll never have another Seve."
Credit to CBS for taking the time to remember one of golf's greatest champions.
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Swing ... and a miss
With CBS's longtime golf producer Frank Chirkinian being inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame today, it only seems fitting that I should point out a mistake in this week's coverage that would have driven the "Ayatollah" crazy -- and that's cutting away from the coverage for unnecessary filler features.
On two different occasions during the week, CBS failed to get a live shot -- or a record one in J.B. Holmes' case -- of two critical moments in the tournament. After holing out for double-eagle during Saturday's third round for the first albatross in Quail Hollow history, you expected CBS to at least air a replay of the shot.
Only problem was they didn't have a camera on the hole. While I can understand a guy going out early and doing something like that, Holmes was on the course when the leaders were on the back nine.
To top it off, CBS showed a history of Quail Hollow feature as Lucas Glover was coming down the 15th hole, on Sunday, and missed Glover pulling his shot into the water next to the green. It wasn't until the network came back to live coverage that Jim Nantz informed viewers what had happened.
At least CBS was smart enough this time around to record the shot.
Mickelson's jet-setting ways
When golf's top players don't play enough, they get ridiculed for not helping some of the smaller tournaments out. But when they play too much? Well, they get ridiculed as well. Seriously, these guys just can't win.
Talking during Thursday's coverage on the Golf Channel, Kelly Tilghman and Nick Faldo discussed if Phil Mickelson's front-loaded schedule was going to catch up with him later in the year.
"It'll be interesting to see what kind of week he has after taking a little rest since the Masters," Tilghman said. "He had such a torrid stretch of a schedule at the beginning of the season, a lot of people thought he might be wearing himself out. But maybe this week he'll feel good."
"Well I did for one, right from the beginning," said Faldo. "I felt the most important thing to Phil this year was pacing himself. Obviously, if he's suffering from his arthritis, you know, if he's good enough to play anything between 7:00 and 8:00 in the morning, these guys get up between four or five o'clock. I can't imagine doing that if your body isn't feeling great."
Honestly, Mickelson only played more at the beginning of the season because he felt like he needed a couple more competitive rounds before heading to Augusta. And if he feels up to playing a heftier schedule this year, I don't think anybody, including the commentators, should be questioning the decision.
Glover's caveman beard
Gary McCord has a tendency to go off in different directions during a telecast. From talking about polar bears to why you should have a 64 degree wedge in play, McCord's commentary has always been a mixed bag.
His discussion of Lucas Glover's beard during Friday's telecast was right up there was some of the most bizarre things he's ever said. "OK, Lucas Glover, I like the beard," McCord said. "He should grow that thing like [San Francisco Giants pitcher] Brian Wilson. Get it ratty. Do a beard, and Lucas has some good beard stuff going on there, but he could grow something really nasty in there and make it fun."
"This is the PGA Tour, Gary ... please," Faldo said.
Yeah, sorry, I'm not sure Lucas Glover is ever going to take his beard in that direction. Hopefully he shaves the darn thing off after the win.
New putting stats
If you had any time to catch Friday's round on the Golf Channel, you probably noticed a lot of talk centering around the new putting stats the PGA Tour's using to measure, among other things, the chance a player has of making a certain putt.
While it may be a stat geek's dream, all I care about is this: does it make the viewing experience more enjoyable when you sit down to watch the round on television? Probably not. But at least it gives Nick Faldo something else to talk about during the round.
"We've got all these new percentage stats on the putting," Faldo said. "I would love to know if they add in a percentage for degree of difficulty as well. If Lucas, who's currently close to 30 feet, wants a percentage on this one, that means only three percent of the field will hole this putt with a triple-breaker. I'll put it down to zero percent that he'll make this putt."
For the record, the putt was actually 45 feet, and Glover missed it. Way to go out on a limb and predict a miss on a lengthy double-breaker, Nick.
- Nick Faldo
- Lucas Glover