NBC Takes a Big Risk With Match-Play Golf This Weekend

Goodbye, Tiger; Nice Win, Chucky Three Sticks

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | They say the U.S. continues to struggle at the Ryder Cup because U.S. pros don't play enough match-play golf. Well, maybe there's a reason?

Most amateurs love a good match-play event at their local club. Heck, if a guy bombs two in a row out of bounds on the par-4 hole 3, finally gets one in play, blades an iron to the back of the green, then two-putts for a butt-ugly quadruple bogey (the dreaded snowman - 8), he only loses one hole.

Even if his opponent made a birdie. He's still only down 1.

We've all been there. You gotta love it.

And most of us have been on the other side as well. Watching a guy wearing a seed hat and old bumper Converse tennis shoes with a 29 handicap drain putt after putt, playing "out of his mind" and closing us out on the 15th to send us back to the bar to face our buddies.

But there is something reassuring about watching your favorite pros battle it out week after week and knowing that at least one or two will make the cut, probably be in the hunt, and on television on Sunday even if they have an average early round.

No such guarantee in match play, however.

The first-round departure of Tiger Woods (and world No. 1 Rory McIlroy) is certainly not going to help the weekend TV ratings. But, look, we shouldn't be horribly surprised. Tiger played well but came up against a very competent Chucky Three Sticks (Howell).

Charles Howell III is at 26th on the career money list. He has two PGA wins. He shot -23 to win the 2000 NCAA championship. He missed a couple of short putts on the back nine Thursday, Feb. 21 but still took out Tiger. He's had good years and challenging years since turning pro, but he hits it a mile and is cool as a cucumber. At almost any level of golf if the putter gets hot and a guy can drop in a few long ones down the stretch, he's gonna win. Good for Charles. Tiger now has time to go get some pancakes.

And if you love golf, you won't give a whit if Sunday rolls around and the final of the Accenture is Marcus Fraser vs. Peter Hanson. It will still likely be an excellent display of golf skill and prowess, even without those we would consider the "bigger" names in the game right now.

But let's be real. If that happens, the executives at the now fifth-ranked television network in the country, NBC, will be wondering if they could instead show Shirley Temple in her 1937 film "Heidi."

Steven Stromberg owns a 4 handicap and is a two-time club champion in Minnesota. He played college golf in the third windiest city in the nation and collects and studies vintage golf equipment and memorabilia.

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