GolfTube: Sizing up the TV at three weekend tournaments

There are weeks where having the Golf Channel is both a blessing and curse. If you enjoy watching multiple events featuring Phil and Tiger at various spots around the globe, then this past week was right in your wheelhouse, as the network provided coverage of three full-field events in Orlando, Fla., Singapore and Australia.

But if your job is to report on the weekly golf events on television ... well, this probably would have been the week to call in sick. Instead of taking the time to cover one event and get questioned on why the others weren't covered, this week's column turned into a round-up of all three events.

If ever there was a week to cover three events, this was the one. With Tiger making a charge Down Under and big names climbing the leader board in Singapore and the States, it's safe to say this was the perfect time to try for the tournament-watching trifecta.

Kodak keeper

Rest easy, Golf Channel, your promotion of the Kodak Challenge paid off in the end. After spending the entire season promoting the $1 million dollar event, the network must have been smiling when Aaron Baddeley, Troy Merritt and Rickie Fowler arrived on the 17th hole for a playoff to decide the winner of the event.

Not only did the event have playoff drama, it also included a player who, just minutes before, had finished 125 on the money list - thereby securing his tour card on the number. You couldn't have scripted it any better.

The best part of the playoff, however, was the Golf Channel's Jerry Foltz asking Peter Oosterhuis if he "had a feeling" about Merritt's second shot to the 17th.

Oosterhuis, taking a page from his near-prediction of an ace at the par 4 17th at the, said, "I have a feeling he'll get it close right here."

Merritt stuck it to 15 inches, watched as both Baddeley and Fowler missed, and then tapped the putt in for a cool million. While the event had more than enough drama, the addition of a Kodak Challenge playoff gave the Disney tour stop a much-needed boost.

It also kept viewers glued to their televisions - which is exactly what the Golf Channel wanted.

More follows.

Controversy sells

No, this isn't somebody's idea of a joke; this was the actual commercial that flashed across television screens around country during Sunday's final round of the Children's Miracle Network Classic on the Golf Channel.

I guess the network is trying to sell fans on controversy next season. While the addition of Juli Inkster to a commercial promoting the 2011 PGA Tour season seems questionable, the network definitely got its point across.

If anything, it was interesting to see the Golf Channel take a dig at the tour for all of the ridiculous rules violations and penalties that went this past season.

Five hours, no Tiger

Unless you were hiding under a rock earlier this week, you most likely saw the numerous commercials promoting Tiger Woods' return to Australia for the JBWere Masters. So when the network set aside five hours - yes, five freaking hours - for Thursday's opening round, you expected the coverage would include Woods' round or, at the very least, a portion of his round.

If you made that assumption going in, then you would have been greatly disappointed when you turned your television on to see Woods had already finished his round. Yep, the Golf Channel figured live coverage of Craig Parry, Sergio Garcia and Greg Chalmers was worth five hours of golf.

If you're going to show a tournament in primetime, it would behoove you to show the biggest name in the field. Instead, golf fans were treated to a Woods highlight reel and a lousy post-round interview.

To top it off, the three remaining days of the event had just three-and-a-half hours of coverage per day. It makes you wonder why the network didn't save the five-hour slot for a day that actually warranted extra coverage.

Where in the world is Rickie Fowler

You wouldn't know if from his fresh face and youthful exuberance, but Rickie Fowler was probably running on fumes last week at Disney.

That's not to say he didn't have a reason to travel to the last event of the tour season. As Kelly Tilghman let viewers know during Friday's round, if it wasn't for the $1 million Kodak Challenge prize, Fowler would have been a no-show at the event.

Tilghman's booth partner, Peter Oosterhuis, who gushed over Fowler like he had a man-crush on him, tried to put into perspective exactly how far Fowler had traveled this year, since he started his worldwide trek at the Ryder Cup in Wales.

"Maybe all the stress and the travel is catching up with him," Peter Oosterhuis noted. "I'm very happy he's playing this tournament. It's obvious I'm a big fan of his for many reasons - the way he plays the game, and his personality, I hope he can be fighting fit throughout the tournament."

The Golf Channel shot to a great graphic that started in Wales and then showed all the places Fowler's been since the event. For a player of Fowler's caliber, it was amazing to see how far he's traveled since the Ryder Cup. It also put into perspective how far he was willing to travel for the $1 million check from Kodak.

Reliving Memphis

Sitting at 122nd on the money list going into this week's event in Orlando, Robert Garrigus knew he needed a good round to retain his card. While he'd rather not discuss the event in Memphis - one that would have made this week a formality - Peter Oosterhuis did it for him, questioning his decision to go with a driver off the tee - a shot that eventually cost him the tournament.

"He lost in the playoff in the end, but he could have won the tournament in regulation," Oosterhuis said. "It was very difficult to watch. He has a lot of talent. Sometimes you wonder if the club selection ... with all his power, he had so many options. Do you bomb it 330 yards or hit an iron out there 260 or 270? There was a better option out there."

It's a good thing Garrigus couldn't hear what was being said about him. I'm sure he would've enjoyed having an announcer second-guess his decision months after the event.

The commercials ... a little excessive, huh?

Consider this just a blanket statement for almost every televised event this year on the Golf Channel, but the number of commercials viewers had to sit through, while watching this weekend's coverage, bordered on overly-excessive.

At one point during Saturday's round of the JBWere Masters, the Golf Channel decided to cut to commercials with only about a minute of two worth of actual golf coverage sandwiched in-between.

While commercials make golf coverage possible, there's got to be a better way at going about running breaks during tournaments. If there's one thing that's turned off countless viewers over the years, it's the excessive commercials.

Simply put - there has to be a better way to manage the breaks during live coverage.


The Golf Channel's Renton Laidlaw brought up an interesting note about the conversations that were going on between Italian Francesco Molinari and Frenchman Thomas Levet at the Singapore Open: "[Francesco] Molinari's English is perfect, as is Levet's. But it's interesting listening to see the two of them have a chat today - they're speaking a curious combination of Italian, French and English, that I'm sure only they understand."


"Phil [Mickelson] sure does make life difficult for himself sometimes. That was a proper game of pinball he just played right there on that hole." - Golf Channel's Renton Laidlaw

"You're the leader of the tournament, behave yourself." - Golf Channel's Peter Oosterhuis, commenting on Roland Thatcher's blow up in the bunker on Sunday.

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