Presidents Cup, Day 3: A long, hard slog for viewers

Even for the most ardent player or viewer, 11 1/2 hours of match play is one long, hard slog.

Even for the most ardent player or viewer, 11 1/2 hours of match play is one long, hard slog.

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6:36:02 AM ET. 04/17/2014




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Somewhere early in the afternoon foursomes matches, with the International team leading in all five matches, a perverse thought crossed my mind: What the U.S. team really needs is a rain delay so it can regroup.

Even for the most ardent player or viewer, 11 1/2 hours of match play is one long, hard slog. Those of you who hung in there all day, until play was called around 7 p.m., not only saw a lot of golf shots, but also way too much rain, and way, way too many fist bumps.

The enormity of the task hit me at 4:31 p.m. ET, when International captain Nick Price reminded NBC’s Jimmy Roberts, “We’re only halfway through this competition. We still have 17 points to go.”

We weren’t watching a golf tournament; we were immersed in a miniseries.

Here are a few thoughts that I jotted down as I was drifting in and out of a golf coma on my couch Saturday:

• I didn’t give it much thought when NBC added Notah Begay to its crew as an on-course reporter. I figured if nothing else, his long friendship with Tiger Woods might improve NBC’s access to the world’s top player. But the more I hear from him, the more I’m convinced that I sold him short.

Begay has really taken to his role with NBC. He doesn’t seem to make mistakes, and he keeps his comments concise – not always the case with guys who haven’t done the job for long. (Let’s face it, it’s a problem with many of the so-called star announcers who have been doing it for years.) And Begay also has a voice that’s easy to listen to. That’s an important asset.

Here are two examples of his best work on Saturday.

Early in the day, when Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott and their caddies took forever to read a putt, Begay said, “It’s been a very democratic process. Let’s see who gets the final vote on the break.” That’s an erudite line worthy of Peter Alliss.

Later in the afternoon, when Richard Sterne left an eagle putt 20 feet short in foursomes, Begay said, “This is when you find out how good of a relationship you have with your partner. It’s tough not to mutter a few unkind words under your breath about that first effort.”

So I’ve revised my earlier opinion of Begay. I suspect he might be doing TV work for a long time. Somewhere down the road, I could even envision him occasionally getting some action in the 18th tower as a lead analyst for Golf Channel or NBC.

• Jimmy Roberts did the predictable feature on Jordan Spieth and how far he has come since turning pro in late 2012. But it seemed odd to do that story and not include Matsuyama, who is only a year older than Spieth and arguably as accomplished a player. Even anchor Dan Hicks noted that Matsuyama “turned pro just five months ago, and here he is.”

• Early Saturday, NBC showed a clip of Phil Mickelson trying to explain why the U.S. has played better in the Presidents Cup than the Ryder Cup. At that point, Johnny Miller couldn’t help himself.

“You hate to use this word, but Americans basically have been choking in the Ryder Cup,” Miller said.

To which Hicks cracked, “Wow, I’ve never heard you use that word before, Johnny.”

• I’ve been severely underwhelmed by NBC’s graphics package. Every now or then, we’ll see a hole graphic, but there’s really no rhyme or reason to it. We don’t see graphics on such things as driving distances, distances for approaches or the length of putts. I don’t recall seeing a single putting line during the matches. And we often go 10 minutes or longer without knowing the status of some matches.

A related point: Miller noted that the U.S. team has won eight points on the first hole compared to four for the Internationals. That got me to wondering: How come we haven’t seen any graphics about other pivotal holes where one team seems to have an advantage?

• And finally this from Hicks on the outlook for Sunday: “I don’t even want to talk about the forecast tomorrow. I just can’t bring myself to (talk about) it at this moment.”

Rest up, viewers. Sunday is going to be a grind.

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