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Jonathan Wall

GolfTube: Sizing up the TV coverage of the Ryder Cup

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The rumor of golf's demise has been greatly exaggerated. Never was that more evident than during Monday's singles matches at the 38th Ryder Cup, where a group of 24 of the best players in the world set the stage for one of the most dramatic final days in the history of the event.

The golf season started with a public black eye for Tiger Woods and ended up with a 61-percent drop in the overnight television ratings for the Tour Championship. Along the way, players by the names of McDowell, Kaymer and Oosthuizen became first-time major winners.

Needless to say, it wasn't exactly the blockbuster season the tour was hoping for going into next year's television negotiations with the major networks.

While the Ryder Cup isn't exactly Superman or Batman, its clear the event saved a golf season that was sputtering to the finish.

Fowler's heroics, coupled with the McDowell and Mahan playing for the Ryder Cup on the 17th hole, means golf's last memory going into the fall season will be a positive one.

The Big Freeze

Rickie Fowler's putt on the 17th hole was one of the biggest of the tournament. As the 21-year-old lined up the must-make, USA Network (or should we blame NBC?) suffered a feed malfunction that froze the coverage while Fowler was settling over the putt.

Like many of you at home, I started to wonder if my television was on the blink. After flipping back and forth between a couple of channels and rewinding my DVR, I came to the realization that there was about a 30 second freeze in the coverage.

It of course came back as Fowler was walking off the green, leaving everybody at home to wonder if Fowler had made the putt. He did. It's a good thing the American side didn't retain the Ryder Cup, because I'm sure NBC or USA would been forced to explain the hiccup.

Regardless, it was a shame the putt wasn't seen on live television. It was a turning point in the match that went unseen by millions of viewers.

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Miller's mouth

NBC's Johnny Miller was rather subdued during the FedEx Cup events, never once giving golf fans a real zinger or opinion that raised an eyebrow.

That all changed at the Ryder Cup, as Miller produced a couple zingers during the coverage that once again made us realize why he's the most outspoken commentator in the game today.

After Mahan's chunked chip: "Hunter Mahan never hit a chip like that, with lift, clean and place, maybe in his life. But that shows the pressure of the Ryder Cup," Miller said. "You can't hide behind those sunglasses right now."

Commenting on Ian Poulter's 5-and-4 victory, after he questioned Poulter's ball-striking and received a harsh response via the Englishman's Twitter account: "Well, Ian, you can Tweet that you hit it like Hogan and putted like Watson."

NBC's Roger Maltbie asked Tiger Woods for his thoughts on the remaining matches on the course. Woods responded by saying that he had a lot on his mind recently and didn't know where the team stood in the other matches: "That's the understatement of the century," Miller said.

Miller on the reception Francesco Molinari would receive if he found a way to somehow beat Tiger Woods in their singles match: "Got to hand it to him," Miller said. "He's hanging in there against Tiger Woods. In Italy he might even be a super hero if he beats Tiger."

All in all, it was a great week for Miller soundbytes at the Ryder Cup.

Setting up Mahan

With Rickie Fowler in the driver's seat on 18, NBC's Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller, along with Golf World's Tim Rosaforte, started to set the scene for what was quickly becoming the deciding match of the event.

Hicks and Miller talked about Mahan's success at the last Ryder Cup, while Rosaforte talked about Mahan's demeanor and a recent call he had with Justin Leonard, a player Mahan would have certainly been compared to if he'd found a way to halve his match with Graeme McDowell.

While Mahan never made it to the 18th, NBC should still get credit for setting up the monumental moment - even if Mahan couldn't follow through.

Clean Coverage

The Ryder Cup always gets high marks for being an event that provides some of the better golf coverage of the year. Like the Masters, you seem to get fewer commercials and more coverage of the matches on the course.

NBC and ESPN did a wonderful job of covering the event this week's event - even if things didn't go according to plan. The weather played a big role in delaying much of the coverage; but it didn't seem to deter either network from producing a first-rate event.

The extended coverage of the event and lack of on-course gimmicks, like the shot tracer and slo-mo swing analysis, gave fans exactly what they were looking for: more on-course golf coverage.

Notables:

• NBC and ESPN both deserve a lot of credit for providing some amazing aerial shots of Celtic Manor and the surrounding area. The best shot of the week was the aerial view from just above Graeme McDowell as the European supporters swarmed him on the 17th green after he secured the winning point for Europe.

• Dottie Pepper and Jimmy Roberts did a heck of a job corralling a host of European Ryder Cuppers after the victory. Considering how raucous the crowd was in the aftermath of the event, it's amazing they had even a couple of seconds to interview each player.

• Dottie Pepper made a great observation during Sunday's round final round regarding Dustin Johnson's inability to make a putt. She had a feeling Johnson and Jim Furyk, his partner at the time, were overanalyzing Johnson's putts. The way he putted during his 6-and-4 win on Monday, it was obvious that Johnson got out of his own way and simplified things.

Quotables:

"You'd go broke selling sunscreen in Wales," NBC's Johnny Miller, commenting on the rainy weather that plagued the 38th Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor.

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