Sizing up the TV coverage from the Transitions Championship ... and away we go.
Gary Woodland's win over the weekend at the Transitions Championship reinforced what most of us knew all along: a youth movement is taking the PGA Tour by storm. With so many young players making their mark, NBC's Jimmy Roberts took a couple of minutes during Sunday's coverage to look back at some of the game's greats and posed the question: "What does it take to be a golf star?"
After showing highlights of Nicklaus, Jones, Palmer, and Woods, Roberts came to the conclusion that, "In the end, finding the next big thing is an inexact science. We may not know what it is that makes a star, but we sure do know one when we see one."
So if finding the next "big thing" is an inexact science, what are some of the traits you need to draw fans to television sets on Sunday afternoon?
"We in the media continue to try and find who that star is going to be, and as Jimmy [Roberts] described, there's an 'it' factor," Dan Hicks said. "I think you do have to win, you have to have a certain amount of winning ability. But bottom line is, are you fun to watch play?"
So we have one vote for being a fun player to watch. What did Johnny Miller have to say?
"There were some guys like Chi Chi [Rodriguez] and Lee [Trevino] who did it with a lot of charisma. But the ultimate star power is a guy that can just dominate the game and finish tournaments on Sunday."
And here I thought people complained that Tiger's dominance during the last 10 years was bad for the game? I guess dominating golf is a good thing.
As you can see, nobody from NBC's crew could agree on the one thing that makes a golfer "the next big thing." Maybe it really is, as Roberts said, an inexact science.
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Playing in his first PGA Tour event since last season, you just knew Sergio Garcia would be the talk of the tournament for the early part of the week. After the way he played in 2010, falling off the face of the planet and being a vice-captain at the Ryder Cup, at age 31, you just knew the Golf Channel-NBC crew would try their best to pinpoint the problem area in Sergio Garcia's game. (Hint: it's the area between his ears.)
Here's a conversation that went on between Dottie Pepper and Frank Nobilo during the first round.
Dottie Pepper: "I was actually watching him from the group behind for a couple of holes, and [his game] seemed pretty effortless. You just get a sense from reading some articles that he's just on the edge, he's still a little fragile."
Frank Nobilo: "We tend to forget how young he is, Dottie. It seems like he's been on the tour for 20 years, and he's just 31-years-old and should be going into the prime of his career."
Pepper: "He's had a lot of expectations that have weighed on him pretty heavily."
Nobilo: "Well, of course, that Players Championship win didn't help things at all. They actually elevated the expectations even more."
What did we learn? Everyone is still making excuses for Sergio, and that the Players Championship actually hurt his career by elevating the expectations being placed on him. Good to know everyone is still handling Sergio with kid gloves.
Simpson's slow play
Kevin Na and J.B. Holmes may by two of slowest players on tour, but after watching Webb Simpson over the weekend, you can add a third player to the PGA Tour's snail group. With Simpson tied for the lead on the 17th hole on Sunday, golf fans watching at home got a snapshot of why the tour continues to battle with slow play on a weekly basis.
Prior to hitting his tee shot on the par 3, Simpson backed off the ball not once, not twice, but three times, drawing a comment from NBC's Dan Hicks. "He's taking his time, isn't he," Hicks said, to nobody in particular.
"It's definitely gotten slower as the day has gone on," Dottie Pepper said, as Simpson and his caddie Paul Tesori conversed.
When Simpson backed off the ball again, it drew a sarcastic "Wow" from Mark Rolfing.
The networks usually shy away from discussing slow play, but on this occasion, it was clear the entire NBC crew had a problem with the way Simpson was playing the hole.
After dropping the bomb, Dan Hick came on the air to apologize for Snedeker's language. "We apologize for the audio picked up on Brandt Snedeker's shot," Hick said. "He obviously wasn't pleased with that shot."
It was nice to see NBC apologize for the language, especially after the Golf Channel handled Tiger's most recent f-bomb, letting the bomb go live on the air, and then replaying it again during a Woods highlight package.