Jonathan Wall

GolfTube: Sizing up the TV coverage of the BMW Championship

Jonathan Wall
Devil Ball Golf

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It's amazing what a little bit of karma can do for your golf game -- especially if your name happens to be Dustin Johnson. Just over a month removed from his epic error at the PGA Championship, Johnson once again found himself on the 72nd hole on Sunday with a chance to win a tour event.

Unlike the last time he was in this position, he didn't have to worry about telling the difference between a bunker and a sandbox. While the stakes weren't as big as the Wannamaker Trophy, Johnson was able to secure his first FedEx Cup victory at the BMW Championship, thereby vaulting himself into the playoff picture going into the Tour Championship.

Even though he would much rather have his first major championship over a FedEx Cup victory, the $10 million prize at the end of the tunnel -- should he go on to win the FedEx Cup next week -- would go a long way to easing the pain and heartache he endured at Whistling Straits.

Fool me twice...

It was the pairing the PGA Tour and NBC had been praying for all week. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were paired in the final group, and nothing, I mean nothing, could detract from the magnitude of the pairing on the final day of the BMW Championship.

Except one thing ... both players were already out of contention.

That one minor detail didn't keep NBC from showing Mickelson and Woods' final round, shot-by-shot.

"The scene out here is electric," Dan Hicks said during the telecast. "You'd think they were both tied for the lead."

Except they weren't. NBC tried as best it could to dupe everyone into thinking the cubic zirconia pairing was a flawless diamond on Sunday -- but nobody was buying it.

While it was the most logical way to draw ratings during the opening Sunday of the NFL, the game's two biggest names couldn't even pull an audience.

As much as you wanted to believe Woods and Mickelson cared about the head-to-head meeting, it was obvious they didn't. To Mickelson, it was all about advancing to the Tour Championship; for Woods, it was all about working on his swing in a tournament environment.

Silver lining

As Tiger Woods was closing in on his first missed Tour Championship since his knee surgery in 2008, Johnny Miller did his best to point out a silver lining in Woods' exclusion from the final event of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

"The good news is this new swing by Sean Foley -- it's going to give him time to hit a lot of balls and really get into a groove," Miller said during NBC's Sunday telecast. "It's hard to try new swings when you're in a championship run, and it's really difficult to do both and succeed at the same time. I know he's very disappointed with his play this season."

While it does give Woods time to refine his swing prior to the Ryder Cup, his absence will most definitely be felt at next week's Tour Championship.

Without Woods, the ratings at the event stand the take a big hit, as golf once again goes up against college football and the NFL in the most coveted weekend time slot.

Keeping it light

It'd be easy to be extremely negative on the golf course these days if your name was Paul Casey. The Englishman, who's currently enjoying a banner year on the PGA Tour, was snubbed by Colin Montgomerie, denied a spot on the European Ryder Cup team.

Instead of letting the snub bother him, Casey has instead let his game do the talking. While he's usually a man of few words these days, he did have a really light moment with the camera after he fired a 2-under 69 to get within one shot of Dustin Johnson.

The camera caught Casey watching intently, as Johnson and playing partner Ryan Moore made their way towards the 18th green. "I'm sure Johnny [Miller] is talking about me right now," Casey said right into the camera, drawing laughter from Hicks and Miller. "I'm sure he's telling me how I should be on the range right now working on my game."

While it was a quick moment in the heat of battle, it was good to see Casey keeping it light.

Mixed reviews

Rees Jones' redesign of Cog Hill received mixed reviews from the players for a number of reasons throughout the week, but the biggest gripe of all had to do with the greens.

More specifically, it had to do with the configuration of the greens, with the fingers and contours creating some confusing landing areas.

It was definitely seen during Thursday's opening round, as most of the scores varied significantly for most of the day.

The Golf Channel's Frank Nobilo noted that the fingers were playing a big part in where players were landing their approach shots: "You see anybody that's outside of the 15- to 20-foot circle is really struggling [on the greens]," Nobilo noted. "You saw Mickelson's had to chip it from the green, and consequently you have a lot of guys pushing the issue that aren't being rewarded."

Notables

• NBC's decision to move the BMW Championship coverage on Saturday to earlier in the day, to accommodate the Notre Dame-Michigan football game, told you all you needed to know about this year's event. While it does matter to some, it clearly doesn't matter enough to the people at the top.

• As expected, NBC spent most of Sunday's round showing highlights and photos of Dustin Johnson's recent final-round implosions. While most fans knew of his bunker error at Whistling Straits, most casual observers had most likely forgotten about his final round 82 at the U.S. Open, after holding the 54-hole lead.

• During Thursday's telecast, Terry Gannon asked Roger Maltbie to comment on Woods' mood early in his round: "It's not very good at the moment," Maltbie said, matter-of-factly. "He tends to get in a different mood when he's working on his swing. He's not impatient, but he hasn't been really good to this point."

Quotables

"A lot of that applause is coming from the women." -- Johnny Miller, commenting on the applause Rickie Fowler received after hitting a shot on the 72nd hole from the lake.

"It's kind of like a baseball team that's out of the playoffs just finishing out the season. It's a strange feeling." -- Dan Hicks, comparing Tiger Woods' final holes of his FedEx Cup season to that of a baseball team just going through the motions.

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