Golf Channel's coverage: An endurance test
Assorted thoughts on television coverage of the Day 3 marathon at the Presidents Cup:
3:59 p.m. Eastern – Johnny Miller zings Tiger Woods: “If I were him, I’d stop saying I need more reps. . . . I would just keep my mouth closed and do what you gotta do, and then show it with the score, and not make excuses.”
2011 Presidents Cup: Day 3 in pictures
A look at the morning foursome matches at Royal Melbourne.
4:36 – After Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikawa lose the seventh hole to go 2 down, NBC’s Gary Koch says, “I know these guys asked to play together, but they just don’t have any mojo going.” Els and Ishikawa eventually found their mojo, winning 1 up.
4:56 – Miller notes Jason Day’s pre-shot idiosyncrasies, including his tendency to “stutter-step” as he prepares to address his ball. This is something I’ve been wondering about. Day and Aaron Baddeley are the only players I’ve seen do this, and I’ve never heard any commentator address it.
5:50 – A press release arrives from Golf Channel noting that the Presidents Cup posted its best-ever Day 1 rating. Wednesday’s prime-time telecast had a 1.2 rating, or an average of 1.3 million viewers, which is five percent higher than the previous Day 1 best in 2009. For those of you who gripe about all of the attention Tiger Woods still receives despite his spotty play the past two years, bear in mind that the rating peaked at 1.5 when Woods teed off on Wednesday.
6:03 – NBC’s Gary Koch is losing patience with the overanalysis by Dustin Johnson and Woods on the greens – one of the most annoying aspects of team competition. “This is pretty crazy. The putt has got to move a little from right to left, doesn’t it?”
6:05 – Anchor Dan Hicks notes that the NBC crew is wearing green ties in honor of Green Week, a shameless public relations program concocted four years ago by General Electric, which still controls 49 percent of NBCUniversal, to bolster efforts to extract even more subsidies from the federal government.
7:01 – The U.S. has won the first two foursomes matches and is leading in two of the remaining three. If the lopsided U.S. lead holds, that, and the fact that the Presidents Cup will be running up against college football, doesn’t bode well for Saturday night’s ratings.
7:14 – After Woods holes the decisive birdie putt on 16, he gets a low-five from Johnson. Nice, old-school alternative after all of the tiresome fist-bumping.
7:23 – “The crowd’s gotten crazy quiet,” says Dottie Pepper. Have they ever been loud this week? Maybe the Internationals need a simple, go-to cheer – sort of like “USA! USA!” when the event is played in the States.
7:44 – Despite the fact that only one of five matches reached the 18th hole, the foursomes session took 4 hours and 44 excruciating minutes to complete. I have new-found respect for Tour wives such as Amy Mickelson and Tabitha Furyk who endure these events each year.
8:41 – John Travolta makes a cameo with Jimmy Roberts to stump for Qantas Airlines’ charitable work. The one-question interview seems pretty awkward, particularly when Roberts leaves Travolta hanging and turns to Greg Norman to ask yet another of the pointless questions that captains get asked repeatedly throughout the tournament.
10:06 – Geoff Ogilvy recalls in an interview playing hooky as a kid to watch tournaments at Royal Melbourne. Like many, I’m distracted by his new mustache. Whoever was the first person to compare Ogilvy’s new look to Super Mario is genius.
11:21 – NBC goes to break as Hicks says, “A long Saturday at the Presidents Cup continues.” Emphasis on “long.” We’re more than eight hours in, still looking at another three-plus hours, and I’m fighting the viewing equivalent of jet lag – staring blankly, no longer comprehending the images flickering on the screen. I can’t be held responsible for anything I write beyond this point.
11:49 – Finally some signs of life from the fans as Day birdies No. 11 to square his match. “The International crowd is getting into it,” Koch says. Not nearly as much as the Iowa State fans, who just stormed the field after their Cyclones upset Oklahoma State in double overtime. It’s official: The BCS is even more convoluted than the FedEx Cup.
12:35 a.m. – With Woods standing over a putt to halve the 15th and keep his match squared, Koch says, “It just seems like of late, any putt that has really mattered to Tiger has not gone down.”
12:38 – Charl Schwartzel’s drive on 17 and hops into the back of a moving maintenance cart. I bet Schwartzel also was one of those kids who used to try to hit the ball picker at the driving range.
1:31 – After Woods hits his approach to 15 feet on No. 18, Miller says, “He’s playing terrifically – tee to green, as good as ever. He’s not hitting that flare to the right, he’s not missing it left like he was. All of a sudden that swing is starting to become his swing.” But Woods still can’t buy a putt.
2:37 – Eleven hours and 37 minutes after it began, Day 3 competition has reached its final, blessed conclusion.