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Jonathan Wall

GolfTube: Sizing up the TV coverage from Dubai

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[Editor's note: Sometimes things get lost in email, like this fine article here. It happens, which is why you're reading this now instead of Monday, when you should have. Our thanks and apologies to our pal Jonathan. -JB]

It's safe to say the Dubai World Championship wasn't lacking in the drama department last week. From the start of Thursday's final round, the European Tour's season-ending event had a number of intriguing storylines that made it worth tuning into the Golf Channel's coverage.

By Sunday, the biggest storyline of the event, which was Graeme McDowell trying to catch Martin Kaymer for the "Race to Dubai" money list lead, was all but done.

But that didn't leave the tournament short-handed.

With a star-studded leaderboard that included Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari in the top 10, the weekend rounds of the event were well worth the eight hours of coverage the Golf Channel dedicated to the event.

And that was before you threw in the final-round playoff blunder by Ian Poulter. You hate to see that sort of thing happen, but just like Dustin Johnson's penalty at the PGA Championship, Poulter's coin gaffe on the second hole of the playoff added a little something extra to the season-ending event.

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While the PGA Tour and the FedEx Cup probably don't have anything to worry about in the near future, the "Race to Dubai's" final event of the season was significantly more intriguing than the Tour Championship at East Lake.

Sure, the network broadcasts are nothing special compared to the bells and whistles that NBC and CBS break out throughout the course the season. But when you get right down to it, most of us are watching the tournament to see the action of the course.

That's exactly what the Dubai World Championship produced in the final week of the season.

Poulter's blunder

Much like Dustin Johnson's error on the 72nd hole of the PGA Championship, Ian Poulter's penalty on the second playoff hole came out of nowhere.

As Robert Karlsson was waiting for Poulter to putt, the Golf Channel's mic caught the middle of a conversation between European Tour rules official Andy McKee and Poulter.

"Don't tell me there's been a problem with Andy McKee," said Renton Laidlaw.

The problem, which you could hear perfectly from the network's boom mic, was that Poulter had dropped his ball on his marker, causing the marker to flip over, incurring a one-stroke penalty. It was a bizarre way to end a golf tournament.

The harsh penalty wasn't lost on Laidlaw, who laid into the rule: "I would have to say that dropping your ball on your ball marker ... that's just a very, very harsh rule. It may be the rules of golf, but my goodness gracious, that's not the way to end it."

2011 promotion

European players currently make up six of the top-10 spots on the OWGR, something that didn't seem possible at the beginning of the year. And with a number of those players -- including Westwood, Poulter and McIlroy -- considering a European Tour-heavy schedule in 2011, the Golf Channel might want to consider pushing the tour a little harder next year.

Unlike this year's FedEx Cup finale that went quietly into the night, the Dubai World Championship had a compelling final round that was well worth the four hours of viewing on Sunday afternoon.

The European Tour's biggest question to answer going into next season is how does a tour once considered an also-ran, next to the PGA Tour, capitalize on its recent interest and success?

If the tour could figure out an answer to that question, there's a good chance the interest in European golf could increase. The fact that the tour only gets coverage on the Golf Network definitely shortens its reach in the states.

But if Westwood, Poulter and McIlroy really do go through with their promise to play more events on the European Tour next year, then expect the Golf Channel to promote the European Tour even more in 2011.

Notable:

• For the first time all season, the Golf Channel gave Renton Laidlaw face time during the opening minutes of the tournament broadcast. The move wasn't in line with the way the network usually broadcasts the events. One would have to assume the Golf Channel was just mixing things up a bit for the season-ending event.

• The crowds at the Jumeirah Golf Estates were sparse throughout the week. In an effort to keep crowd numbers under wraps, the Golf Channel's cameras had countless ground level shots to catch just the fans at the front of the ropes.

Quote of the week:

"The lad's built like a tiny battle ship." -- Warren Humphrey's commenting on Thongchai Jaidee's stocky build.

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