Sizing up the TV coverage from the Arnold Palmer Invitational ... and away we go.
It took the Golf Channel a while, but after more than two months of televised coverage, the network finally found a golfer worth a mic and some extra air time: Rocco Mediate. After listening to Ryan Palmer and Davis Love III talk about mind-numbing topics during their rounds, it was great to have the gregarious Mediate mic'd for sound, turning Thursday's round into must-see TV.
While fans were hoping the Golf Channel's new idea would give them insight into the decision making process between player and caddie, I think everyone was secretly hoping we could get the chance to hear more than the usual yardage talk. Mediate gave that to us during the first round with some of the funniest lines of the year.
Here's a sample of what he had to say on Thursday:
"The only problem is I didn't get into enough trouble in Cancun to need a police chief that could help me. Maybe I should get in more trouble now," Mediate said to his caddie, Matt Achatz, early in the round.
As he was walking down the fairway, he said to one of the other players in his group, "If I had a 62 degree club, I'd hit myself in the face when I hit it."
And the best for last, a discussion he and Achatz had on the green: "Man, Spencer [Levin] is playing great this year, isn't he?" Mediate said.
"Well, he's got a great caddie. Think what you would do if you have a great caddie on your bag." said Achatz.
"It would be amazing," Mediate said, jokingly.
Honestly, who doesn't want to hear mic'd-up coverage if you get to get nuggets like that during the round? As I mentioned earlier this year, the network needed to seek out some of the more personable players on tour to make mic'd coverage idea work.
They did that on Thursday, and it paid off in a big way. Hopefully they can keep things going the next time someone uses the mic.
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Jake's great takes
I like Peter Jacobsen. While I wasn't a fan of NBC's decision to drop Brad Faxon as a on-course commentator last season, the move did give Jacobsen an increased role with this year's coverage that he's clearly taken advantage of with his new "Jake's Takes" segment that runs each week during NBC's weekend coverage.
One week after his hilarious discussion with the "old guys" and "young guys " about who was better, Jacobsen sat down with Arnold Palmer this week to discuss some of the most memorable moments in Bay Hill's tournament history.
As you can see from the video, it was another home run from Jacobsen, who also got a great assist from Arnie.
I know we're all here to watch golf, but segments like this aren't that bad. Jacobsen clearly has fun doing them, and he's the type of guy that can make fun of himself -- and get Tiger join along. Hopefully the network continues to let Jacobsen have some fun, and allows the pros to show their lighter side.
Woods' ever-changing stroke
Tiger Woods' full swing has been put under a recent microscope since he decided to join forced with instructor Sean Foley. Every talking head on the planet has analyzed Woods' swing, but nobody has been able to figure the reason why he can't piece things together for four good rounds.
The one part of his game that has received less scrutiny is his putting stroke, which hasn't changed much over the years. But with Woods' recent decision to mess with a mallet and his release point, it suddenly became the topic of discussion early in the week.
"Roger, there's discussion about the change Tiger has made on the release point of his stroke, what do you think about that?" Dottie Pepper said.
"Well, it seemed that his stroke worked awfully well for a long time. If you go back in the history of great putters, his name and Jack Nicklaus' name are the two that come to the top of everybody's list as the top clutch putters. ... But I don't know, it seems like a funny thing to mess with," said Roger Maltbie.
Messing with Woods' full swing seemed like a "funny thing to mess with," and yet, here we are, watching Tiger rework his entire game. It's hard to disagree with Maltbie, though; the decision to mess with the release point just seems strange after years of success.
The youth movement
If you didn't know it already -- what, with the 15 commercials about the young stars of the PGA Tour running every week during tournament coverage -- there's a youth movement sweeping across the PGA Tour.
After years of being oppressed by their older brethren, NBC's Johnny Miller thinks the young guys have finally mustered up the courage to take on the biggest names in the game.
"All the top players have not won this year, and what I really think has happened is that the young guys have finally convinced themselves that there's an opening," Miller said during Saturday's telecast. "Phil hasn't won, Tiger hasn't won, Vijay hasn't won, Els hasn't won ... players like that haven't won at all. The young guys have finally convinced themselves that, 'Hey, I think I can turn it on and turn it on and put the pedal down and win."
It's hard to disagree with that assessment.
Who turned out the lights?
OK, I understand the Golf Channel's excitement with Arnie's tournament, but the decision they made to leave Sunday's final round coverage of the European Tour's Open De Andalucia De Golf for the Arnold Palmer Invitational pre-round show was one of the network's biggest blunders of the year.
If you weren't watching this morning's coverage from Spain -- and honestly, who doesn't get up on a Sunday to watch the coverage from Europe -- the network cut away with Paul Lawrie walking up the 18th hole with a chance to win his first tournament in nine years.
It was compelling stuff. While Lawrie did have a two-shot lead, it would have still been nice to see the network finish the broadcast and let him hole the putt for the win. CBS and the Golf Channel have been guilty of this in the past, and it's getting to the point where we're past an honest mistake. Somebody is pulling the strings at the network, and they're making it extremely clear that they don't care about the European Tour.