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GolfTube: Sizing up the Tour Championship TV coverage

Jonathan Wall
Devil Ball Golf

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Sizing up the TV coverage from the Tour Championship ... and away we go.

We talk all the time about the FedEx Cup being impossible to figure out, and the playoff system being a snoozefest. But for at least one afternoon, television viewers got exactly what they'd been hoping for since the tour put the playoffs in place back in 2007: some high drama that culminated with a must-see three-hole playoff between Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan.

"We talked about it all week long, all season long," NBC's Dan Hick said. " Can you candle this kind of pressure? Not only for just the $10 million, but also the FedEx Cup, Tour Championship, and then $11.44 million that comes with it. If he makes this, the entire thing is Bill Haas'."

Haas, of course, went on to make the putt and walk away with the FedEx Cup title. While, it was the third time in FedEx Cup history that the Tour Championship winner also hoisted the playoff trophy, there was something different about this year's finish.

As opposed to years past where it seemed like only the top 5 players in the standings had a shot at winning the FedEx Cup, this year's version was a relative free-for-all that ended with guys ranked No. 21 and 25, at the beginning of the event, vying for the title.

Some will say the lack of big names hurt the final round, but as we've seen all season, 2011 -- as Tim Finchem said hundreds of times during the week -- is all about parity. Nobody should be surprised two guys from the back of the pack we're on the biggest stage on Sunday afternoon.

If you're the tour, this was exactly the kind of finish you wanted going into the Fall Series -- especially after Finchem hammered out a new long-term television deal with the networks earlier in the year.

Now, if the tour could somehow find a way to end the season before the start of college football and the NFL, they'd really be in business.

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Pointless FedEx Cup updates

It's easy to understand why NBC would want to run FedEx Cup updates ever 5-10 minutes during Sunday's final round of the Tour Championship. With a host of names in the mix for $10 million, fans most likely had some sort of interest in knowing what was at stake.

However, there's a difference between giving multiple updates on a Sunday and inundating viewers with continuous shots of Steve Sands and his white board on Friday. After being force-fed FedEx Cup updates all season during tour events, we had to deal with pointless updates from Sands on Friday, as he kept giving us every scenario imaginable.

There were only one problem: the leaderboard kept changing, thereby forcing Golf Channel to go back and forth to Sands throughout the entire broadcast. It was overkill, to say the least.

The rapid updates look good on a Sunday, but doing the exact same thing during the second round just looks silly.

Timeshare

The opening day of the Solheim Cup forced the Golf Channel into an interesting predicament on Friday afternoon. With the matches running into Tour Championship coverage, the network decided to go split-screen, giving viewers a chance to see action from two of golf's biggest events.

The Golf Channel made the right choice to stay with the Solheim Cup to its conclusion, but the move to sprinkle in coverage from the Tour Championship gave fans the impression that the network had the overlap covered.

Johnny Miller hits the nail on the head

NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller is by far the most polarizing talking head in the sport. So when Bill Haas' ball came to rest just on the edge of the lake, on the second playoff hole, you had to assume Miller would have some choice words for Haas.

But instead of blasting the decision to take the ball right at the hole with little room to spare on the left side of the green, Miller remained positive, saying on two different occasions that Haas could pull the shot off from the water.

"He doesn't know that's playable," Johnny Miller said, "but that will come out like a bunker shot. ... With that lie he has, if he hits it like a bunker shot, it will go straight up in the air and he can pull it off. It's not easy, but this could come out better than people think."

Even Roger Maltbie questioned if the bank was too high for Haas. But Miller remained resolute, sticking to his previous comments that the shot was doable.

"I tried the shot one day when I was half crazy," Miller said jokingly. "If you hit it right it'll pop up right out of there."

Of course, Haas hit the shot of the tournament seconds later, making Miller look like a genius. We blast Johnny Miller all the time for his absurd comments, but once again in a critical situation in the tournament his analysis was spot on.

Golf Channel takes center stage

The NBC-Golf Channel synergy has been going on for some time now, but for the first time in the network's partnership, Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman, Brandel Chamblee, and Golf World's Tim Rosaforte opened up NBC's coverage on the weekend, handling pre-round coverage and updates from the course.

It appeared to be a one-off opportunity at the Tour Championship, but for at least a couple of days, we got the opportunity to see the Golf Channel booth gracing the weekend coverage on NBC.

That was awkward ...

Credit to Hunter Mahan for having a sense of humor following his playoff defeat. It's too bad Roger Maltbie tried to derail things with one of the most awkward moments of the tournament.

Following his interview with Mahan, Maltbie said, "Well thanks for your time ... you're very gracious, and condolences."

Condolences? That's a word usually used when someone passes away. Mahan, picking up on the awkward end to the interview tried to make light of the moment.

"Condolences ... I didn't die, did I? Geez," Mahan joked.

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