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Sizing up the TV coverage from the WGC-Accenture Match Play ... and away we go.
NBC is one golf network that clearly has no interest in having viewers calling in rules violations during the middle of the telecast. It's clear Padriag Harrington's DQ from earlier this year has made everybody a little jumpy, including the network guys in the truck.
In their first telecast of the year, NBC had to go to the tape to make sure Martin Kaymer hadn't committed a rules violation during his match with Luke Donald. After hitting his ball into the desert, Kaymer was seen kicking a rock -- that appeared to be imbedded in the ground -- away to get better footing for his second shot. NBC caught the incident and quickly showed a replay.
"Well, guys, just before Martin Kaymer played his third shot…I want you to zoom in here. You see where Martin Kaymer kicks the rock with his foot?” NBC's Roger Maltbie said, as NBC's "NBCEE It" camera zoomed in for a slo-mo shot of Kaymer kicking the rock.
Lead announcers Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller immediately went to local Arizona rules offical Ed Gowan for the ruling. Gowan claimed the rock was a loose impediment, which meant Kaymer wouldn't be penalized for the incident.
"Those of you at home who were going to make a call about a rules violation, don’t bother to call, we’re OK," Maltbie joked after Gowan's on-air ruling. It was a moment that, while meaningless to most viewers, showed NBC was definitely keeping track.
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All Tiger, all the time
Even when Tiger misses the cut, he's still the biggest story ... three days later. Though Woods was upset on Wednesday, NBC did the unthinkable, starting off Saturday's broadcast with highlights of Woods' defeat to Thomas Bjorn. It was pathetic.
I know Woods is the lead story every time he shows up at a tournament, but there's no excuse to cut away from the players on the course to show highlights of something that happened three days before. Woods is a big name and he's a big reason why casual fans watch on the weekends, but his loss was old news at that point.
But the highlight package wasn't the only mention of Woods on the weekend. Johnny Miller also blasted Tiger's practice routine on Saturday. It just goes to show you that even when he's no longer at the tournament, Tiger Woods is still the biggest story.
The great scarf debate
What the heck was the name of the neckgear Martin Kaymer was wearing during Saturday and Sunday's matches? Not even the Golf Channel and NBC could come to an agreement on what to call the darn thing.
While some called it a snood, scarf, or a keffiyeh, it was clear both networks were also split on the name. Faldo called it a "snood," because, obviously, that's what they call it across the pond; Johnny Miller called it a scarf during Sunday's telecast, even noting that he's seen the exact same one advertised in the fly fishing catalog he receives in the mail.
Whatever it is, Kaymer's new fashion trend was the talk of both NBC and the Golf Channel.
Start on time, finish late
After CBS was blasted for going off air with five holes to play during last week's third round at Riviera, NBC and the Golf Channel decided to do things right this week. When Wednesday's opening round was delayed by frost, the Golf Channel decided to run coverage more than 60 minutes past their 6 p.m. EST time slot -- something they rarely ever do. It was a smart move with Tiger Woods and a host of other big names still on the course.
Not to be outdone, NBC did something CBS had failed to do in the past, and that's start the coverage on time. (Notice a trend here?) While CBS can claim college basketball games are the big culprit for starting late, they still have no excuse for running a post-game show after the game is over.
Cutting away from the action
Whoever was mannig Golf Channel's cameras on Wednesday obviously cared more about Stewart Cink's reaction than the brilliant shot he hit on the deciding hole of his match with Ian Poulter. On the first playoff hole, Cink hit an approach shot that nearly went in the hole.
Only we never actually saw the ball roll past the hole. The Golf Channel cameras cut from Cink's ball rolling towards the cup, to a shot of Cink and his caddie watching the ball. The network then quickly showed a replay of how close the ball was from going in. It would have been nice to see that in real time.
NBC, Golf Channel fire up their new partnership
NBC started a stretch of six weeks where the network will be televising weekend coverage of the PGA Tour. While it's always fun to see some new faces and hear a different opinion, the biggest change was the new partnership between NBC and the Golf Channel, which was made possible by the NBC-Comcast merger earlier this year.
Although it seem insignificant to the casual golf viewer, the merger of two of golf's biggest players is a big deal. You have the biggest cable golf brand matching up with one of golf's biggest networks. It's still too early to tell how things will work in the future, but so far it looks like the networks will mix and match on-course announcers in the same manner as CBS and the Golf Channel have in the past. Now if we could just get Johnny Miller and Nick Faldo in the same booth for four rounds...
NBC's Jimmy Roberts did some interesting sitdown interviews with Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald, and a host of other players throughout the weekened. The interviews hit on a number of topics and were a nice change of pace during the coverage. Bubba Watson and JB Holmes' match was a comedy of errors, topped off by a final hole that was painstakingly slow. However, the best part was the boom mic the Golf Channel placed near to Watson. He had a number of priceless quotes, including one where he told Holmes to "text me" when he found his ball in the desert. If the Golf Channel is looking for someone to wear the mic, Watson is your guy.
"Swiss watchmakers should set their clocks to the heartbeat of this man," Golf Channel's Nick Faldo, in reference to how calm Martin Kaymer is under pressure.