It was the worst possible way to end a golf tournament. Dustin Johnson, he of 82 in the final of the U.S. Open fame, was on his way to sign his scorecard and put the peg in the ground on the first hole of the playoff when he was suddenly stopped by David Price, a PGA rules official, to discuss a possible penalty for grounding his club in a fairway bunker on the final hole.
It was excruciating to watch, yet we couldn't keep our eyes off the screen as the camera caught Johnson emotionless, waiting for his fate from the rules committee.
It was a moment most golf fans will remember for a long time, as well as being something talking heads will debate over the next couple of days. And CBS was there to capture it all.
If you didn't know it already, controversy sells. And with the tour struggling for television ratings at the moment, I'm pretty sure the sport will take as much controversy as it can get.
Can I get a ruling, please?
CBS, for the most part, did a great job covering the Dustin Johnson ruling from beginning to end, interviewing Johnson and Mark Wilson, co-chair of the PGA of America rules committee, to get a view from both sides, as well as giving viewers an extreme close-up of Johnson's club in the sand.
David Feherty went back out to the scene of the shot to get a closer look, but even he appeared to be relying on the crowd surrounding the spot for a ruling. It was a moment of sheer suspense where everyone on the telecast was trying to give their best guess, yet nobody had an answer. It was the perfect storm for CBS, as viewers remained glued to their televisions, waiting for a final ruling from the rules committee.
When the ruling was finally announced, Jim Nantz confirmed that a conversation regarding the numerous bunkers on the course had taken place prior to the tournament with the rules committee. That's the kind of information that would have been worth mentioning prior to the ruling.
Tiger steals the spotlight...again
He may have been nine or 10 shots out of the lead during Sunday's final round, but that didn't stop CBS from cutting to Tiger Woods throughout most of the early round coverage.
As Nick Watney was melting down and Dustin Johnson was grabbing a share of the lead, CBS decided to cut back to Woods on multiple occasions, showing him missing fairways and putts along the way.
If ever there was a moment to look at where the tail was wagging the dog, CBS's coverage of Woods was it. Even the casual golf fan had to wonder why they were showing a player so far out of contention.
In all honesty, that's exactly the crowd CBS was playing to: the casual golf fan who only knew Tiger Woods. If you didn't know it before the round, it was really clear after Tiger putted out on 18: This is the Tiger Woods Golf Network.
Now that's a conversation worth listening to
Credit to TNT's on-course mic operator for catching the conversation between Bubba Watson and his caddie, Mark Carens, on the par-5 16th during Thursday's first round.
The two were caught debating Watson's decision to go for the green in two with a driver, a choice Carens didn't agree with. Both men went back and forth before Watson decided on Carens' club, a 4-wood that gave Watson the best chance of not hooking the shot to the right.
Almost on cue, Watson completely hooked the shot to the right. He let go of the club in disgust and started yelling, "I knew it was the right club," as he walked up the fairway.
While Watson birdied the hole to go to 4-under, the conversation and the following discussion between the commentators made for some very intriguing commentary.
The tour has been throwing around the idea of mic'ing the caddies and players for some time now. These conversations are exactly what the casual (and avid) fans are looking for -- which is a chance to get in the middle of the action.
Breaking down the best
CBS's Peter Kostis did his best Hank Haney (or is it Sean Foley?) impression during Saturday's telecast, breaking down Tiger Woods' current swing in an effort to give the viewers at home a better understanding of the struggles Woods is going through at the moment.
For the average golf fan, the shot of Stevie Williams holding a club to the right side of Woods' head probably left some confused. Kostis did his best to describe what Williams and Woods were working on at the range -- which was trying to make sure Woods didn't move his head off the ball at takeaway -- and then went straight to video of Tiger on the course to see if the practice was working.
The shot of Tiger on the course still showed his head dipping on the downswing, and his body coming out of the swing at impact. Even for the avid fans at home, the breakdown by CBS, with the help of Swing Vision, was a great way to show Woods' swing flaws.
Shank you very much
You have to give the CBS video crew credit for being able to dig up vintage footage at just the right time. After Tom Lehman aced the par-3 17th for the first hole in one of the week, CBS managed to find footage of Darren Clarke, Lehman's playing partner on Saturday, hitting what many assumed was an ace at Whistling Straits in 2004.
Instead, they showed Clarke shanking the ball into the high heather on the right side of the hole, as well as showing Swing Vision footage of the shank in slo-mo. It was a shot that had many golf fans cringing as they watched the ball come off the hosel of the club.
Notables and Quotables:
• Ian Baker-Finch gave a critical analysis of the 18th, but missed the boat completely by giving us a critique without actually telling us what he'd change about the hole. "The 18th is the one hole that stands out that just doesn't fit with the general layout of the course," Baker-Finch said during the telecast. "It's the first hole that would be redesigned if they changed anything on the course." Maybe next time he can tell us what's wrong with the hole. I'm sure Pete Dye would like to know.
• CBS did a great job cutting to Bubba Watson on the range after Dustin Johnson made birdie on the 17th hole. The look on Watson's face, which was one of disbelief, only added to the drama on the final hole.
• TNT took a big risk by putting PGA professional Michael Breed, host of Golf Channel's "The Golf Fix," in the analyst chair for the network's online coverage of the marquee group of the day. Breed was raw but intriguing. Unlike most analysts, he gave you some great swing tips and tried to give you a better understanding of the shots players were trying to hit. While he was a bit quirky (he sounds like your buddy you play 18 with on Saturday afternoon), he'd definitely work as an on-course correspondent for any of the major networks, based on his knowledge of the game.
• CBS's Golf Trax continued to impress this week with its virtual course maps that really added something extra to the telecast. The system's ability to track tee shots and give you a better feel for the approach shot only added to the overall experience at Whistling Straits. We knew the 18th hole was difficult, but Golf Trax gave us a better feel for the hole by showing us what exactly the players had to carry to reach the front left pin position on Sunday.
Quotes of the Week:
"We have a pink shaft, but we're going to go for it." Gary McCord, commenting on Bubba Watson's driver shaft prior to his tee shot on 16.
"A huge clump of Wisconsin came out with that shot," David Feherty, commenting on a divot taken by Rory McIlroy during Thursday's first round.