Halfway through the Presidents Cup, it’s obvious that the event is exacting a toll not just on the players, but also the viewers. Over the past two days, I’ve seen more awkward fist bumps and goofy high-fives than any man should be forced to endure in an entire year. Despite that, I’ll be back on the couch tomorrow, remote in hand, grinding out Friday’s 11-hour viewing marathon.
Until then, here are some thoughts on coverage of Thursday’s four-ball matches:
4:06 p.m. Eastern – On the “Live from the Presidents Cup” pre-game show, Brandel Chamblee agrees with Jack Nicklaus’ comments aired the previous day “that the Presidents Cup is better than the Ryder Cup.” Why? “Two of the nine (matches) have gone to Royal Melbourne, and that venue allows for separation.” He notes that four of the first day’s matches were blowouts. “This golf course, because of the endless variety and the fine line between great success and disaster, gives us disparity.”
4:28 – I’ve long thought that David Feherty’s skills as an analyst – I’d rank him among the top three in the game – sometimes get overlooked because people perhaps dismiss him as a jokester. (Downside: He’s one of the game’s worst interviewers.) I’ve been particularly impressed with Feherty’s work so far this week. He’s found a pleasing balance between levity and insight. His pre-game explanation of how the wind would affect play on the greens was filled with details about green height (1/10th inch), the impact of the roller, and how that would affect putts and approach shots. He finishes by predicting “bogeys will win holes.” Later, he calls K.J. Choi, who won his foursomes match with Adam Scott, “the ideal partner” because he’s so dependable.
4:51 – With apologies to Paul Azinger and his pod system, I’ve always thought that analysts made too much of foursomes and four-ball pairings because they needed something to talk about. Example: Tim Rosaforte explained the decision to pair David Toms and Hunter Mahan, who cruised, 6 and 5, in Wednesday’s foursomes. “They had a couple of bodies left and they just decided to stick them together . . . and they jelled wonderfully.”
6:15 – This course is fast. Watching Ryo Ishikawa’s tee ball on No. 3 roll down the front slope, Roger Maltbie quips, “I think the fairways are Stimping about 14.”
6:16 – Rosaforte says people often confuse Nick Watney and Bill Haas because they look so similar. Personally, I don’t see it. Their eyes give them away. Watney always has the deer-in-the-headlights look, while Haas often looks like a guy who’s dozing off in the back of calculus class.
6:41 – “It must feel like they took a half an hour to play that third hole,” Mark Rolfing says after Jason Day and Aaron Baddeley halved Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson on the par-3 third. In other words, a typical par 3 for the tortoise-like International pair.
6:44 – We see Bubba Watson hitting his putt off the green and down the hill on No. 4. I’m reminded of how much this week’s telecasts would benefit if Golf Channel were using its AimPoint technology to illustrate the breaks and slopes of Royal Melbourne’s greens. A GC spokesman says the company can only use AimPoint for a certain number of tournaments. Wouldn’t it make sense to have it available for one of the year’s biggest events?
7:00 – Woods is shown in an interview talking about his relationship with new caddie Joe LaCava. We’ll know they’re really clicking when Woods starts referring to LaCava as “Joey.”
9:09 – Maltbie suggests Norman “is going to have to take a long look as to whether he is going to keep these two guys (Ishikawa and Ernie Els) together.” Els body language suggests he’s had enough of being Ishikawa’s Royal Melbourne mentor.
9:28 – It occurs to me that perhaps we need to send out an APB for course reporter Dottie Pepper. I know she’s at Royal Melbourne, but the talented Pepper once again is being underutilized.
9:37 – Woods is shown on tape hitting his approach to No. 12. “You knew it had to be pretty good from the crowd reaction,” says analyst Curt Byrum. Who can tell? Have you ever heard 25,000 people at a golf tournament make less noise? What happened to all of those wild, raucous Australians – you know, like in the “Mad Max” movies? Watching on TV, the sense is that the folks at Royal Melbourne seem reserved to the point of being indifferent. I can’t recall seeing so many people on a golf course make so little noise.
9:48 – International assistant captain Frank Nobilo tells Jimmy Roberts, “Sometimes you can try and be a little too clever, and we might have made a mistake (splitting up Adam Scott and K.J. Choi).” I like the honesty, the second-guessing.
10:05 – Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller take over in the 18th tower from Terry Gannon and Byrum. It feels akin to the Yankees bringing C.C. Sabathia out of the bullpen in the fifth inning.
11:09 – On No. 17, Rolfing notes that Day just hit his second spectator of the day. “Another good break,” Rolfing says. The bruised spectators might disagree. I noted this yesterday, but don’t the spectators seem unusually close to the fairways? Watching Baddeley play 17, you actually can see fans standing on the edge of the fairway.
11:12 – We get our first glance of the Toms-Mahan match in what seems like hours. Guess they need to work on their Q Ratings.
11:13 – Miller asks Rolfing why Woods’ short-iron approach to 17 came up 25 yards short. Rolfing: “I don’t know. He just didn’t hit it far enough.” Oh. . .
12:03 – We end with an agronomy lesson from International captain Greg Norman, who pours water on a green to show how it beads up and rolls down the slope rather than being absorbed into the turf. “I don’t think there’s another set of greens in the world where that would happen. That gives you an idea of what the players are putting up with.”