Devil Ball Golf - Golf

Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour brass got exactly what they wanted from the opening event of this year's FedEx Cup playoffs. While Matt Kuchar wasn't the big name they were looking for, his playoff victory was the perfect ending to a tournament that wasn't lacking in storylines for the week.  

From Jim Furyk's DQ to Tiger Woods' opening-round 65, the networks seemed to have more than enough to talk about during the broadcasts. Storylines and quality golf will become increasingly important in the coming weeks, as the tour goes head-to-head with college football and the NFL for ratings. 

While nobody expects the FedEx Cup playoffs to steal viewers away from the NFL, it would be in the Tour's best interest to do all they can to make the broadcasts as engaging as possible. A ratings spike during a peak part of the sports schedule would be a great bargaining chip to have for next year's contract renewals with the television networks.

Compare and contrast

Apparently, Tiger Woods' swing changes are still "a secret." At least that's what you gathered from Nick Faldo's attempt to break down Woods' swing during Thursday's Golf Channel broadcast.

Truth is, there's no secret to his new swing; all Faldo needed to do was dig a little deeper.  

His failed effort was followed up by a more successful one on Saturday, as Peter Kostis and the CBS crew did a bang-up job of walking the audience through the subtle changes in Woods' "new" swing, noting the differences in the takeaway. 

By using a split screen of Woods' swing in May 2010 and the current version -- with the help of the Konica Minolta Swing Vision camera -- Kostis noted that: "the left arm is more in and the shaft is more out on the takeaway. The new takeaway is really going to affect his shoulder turn and shaft plane in his new swing, and that's also going to allow him to get the club in front of him sooner, taking away the possibility of him getting the club stuck on the downswing."

While Kostis has his moments, his breakdown of Woods' swing was solid. At first glance, the swings look almost identical; but after watching Kostis break them down in a split screen, it was obvious there were some differences. 

All in all, it was a great piece by Kostis and CBS. 

Chalk one up for Ridgewood

If Matt Kuchar's playoff victory on Sunday taught us anything, it's that a quality course trumps a tricked-out one any day of the week.

The television networks and the PGA Tour tried their best to shove Liberty National down players' throats last year, only to receive a lukewarm response to a layout that had the backdrop Tim Finchem craved.

That backdrop, of course, was the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. While Ridgewood didn't boast the million-dollar views, the course had more than enough to hold its own.

The historic A.W. Tillinghast design once again received rave reviews from the players, and produced another dramatic playoff for CBS's viewing audience. So what's holding Finchem back from making Ridgewood a constant in the Barclays rotation? 

The FedEx Cup playoffs ≠ NFL playoffs

Nobody's ever going to mistake the FedEx Cup playoffs for the NFL playoffs, but that's exactly what Golf Channel tried to do on Thursday, when they opened the broadcast up with former NFL stars talking about the differences between the regular season and the playoffs.

While that's all well and good, I'm pretty sure a golfer has never had to go over the middle on a slant route with the season on the line.

In the end, there's really no reason to compare the NFL and PGA Tour playoffs. They're two entirely different beasts.

Where's your poker face?

Martin Laird wasn't giving away much on Sunday afternoon. With the exception of a couple fist pumps here and there, Laird played the part of the poker player perfectly, never letting his emotions get too high or too low.  

As he lined up a birdie putt on the 17th to take a one-shot lead, the CBS cameras locked in on Laird's fiancée, Meagan Franks, who, unlike Laird, wasn't hiding her emotions very well.

While it was darn near impossible to see Laird's nerves behind those dark sunglasses, his fiancée painted a perfect picture of how important the putt on 18 really was, as she double-over after watching Laird miss the winning putt on the 72nd hole. 

CBS's camera crew did a great job catching Franks' reaction to Laird's missed putt, one that ultimately cost him his second PGA Tour victory.

Tiger Talk

As expected, Kelly Tilghman opened up Thursday's broadcast by discussing the most talked about story heading into Thursday's first round: Tiger Woods' divorce. 

The Golf Channel played it smart by opening with the divorce talk and putting a close to it before going out on the course. Tilghman noted that Woods posted his best round of the year just after finalizing his divorce, something you just knew she'd mention at the outset of the broadcast.

Nick Faldo followed up Tilghman's comments with some of his own on Woods' life, post-divorce: "your brain power is just shot after dealing with something like this. To even be able to go practice is difficult. Your mind starts to wander and the phone starts to go off," Faldo said. "but he can now move on and put all of this behind him and just play golf." 

Notables:

• The Woods-Foley player-coach relationship isn't official, but that didn't stop Nick Faldo from talking about it: "Tiger's obviously working with Sean Foley now -- not officially. But Sean's stock is obviously rising after a week or so of working with [Tiger]. He's obviously giving him some new ideas, and by these stats, these are a lot better than when he was playing at his best. Tiger will have a great boost of self belief after today."

• Nick Faldo and Peter Oosterhuis gave Tiger Woods quite the on-air ribbing when he decided to layup on the 273-yard par 4 5th hole. "Go poke him with a stick and wake him up," Faldo said, as Woods pulled an iron from the bag. Seriously, guys, have you seen his recent driving stats?

• Faldo opened Thursday's broadcast by questioning the tour's decision to disqualify Jim Furyk, after he missed his pro-am tee time: "We unfortunately have a rule that's black and white, and I think after this they're going to need to have a look at the grey."

Quotes

"You could buy a really nice alarm clock for $1.7 million." -- Nick Faldo, commenting on the amount of money Jim Furyk stood to lose this week after he missed his pro-am tee-time due to an alarm clock malfunction.  

"He had a little Coldplay moment - a rush of blood to the head." -- Nick Faldo, commenting on a Tiger Woods putt that went well past the hole. 

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