Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday Dreamers

It’s been a tough month so far for Jim Nantz and CBS.

Desperate for the “Michigan State Saves Depressed Detroit” storyline at the Final Four, they were instead delivered a royal Tar Heel beatdown.

Moving right along, surely a “Tiger Roars Again At Augusta” telecast on Easter Sunday would cure the CBS TV ratings blues.

Didn’t happen.

So, in that sense, I’m not mad at CBS and their announcers for sounding like such sullen kids when it was becoming increasingly apparent that Tiger’s comeback major win just wasn’t going to happen.

But it was rather pathetic.

Like when Nantz – whom again, I MUST repeat, I am a mammoth fan of in all respects – said to Faldo after Tiger lined up his putt to finish at -9. “So, the 9’s are out, Nick?”

Yes, Jim. And the Easter Bunny is actually your parents. I know. It’s a gut punch. Courage.

Faldo had the nerves to say what everybody knew. Tiger had no chance. Just like he didn't have any real chance as things wound down on Saturday.

But there was still some TV drama to be sold.

It was almost like a memo had been hot copied and distributed to every TV tower at The National on Saturday: MEMO: “Keep pretending Tiger has a chance at this. Thanks. Management.”

I desperately wanted somebody to airlift Billy Packer in so he could say: “Tiger’s bid for the Green Jacket… is OVAH!”

Going into Sunday’s final round, it wasn’t just that Tiger was 7 shots back. It was that he had 17 other players he needed to beat. No announcers even dared to bring up the crowd between Tiger and the top, they only focused on the margin of strokes.

To have won on Sunday, Tiger would have needed to beat…

2 U.S. Open Champions
6 U.S. Ryder Cuppers
2 European Ryder Cuppers

…. And Mickelson.


The sheer numbers and odds stacked against Tiger were plain to any golf fan who watches tournaments on TV.

They kept saying… “maybe he can find a 65 or a 64 out there Sunday.” Sure. Maybe. Except his form said exactly the opposite. Not to mention his body language.

While Tiger had recorded 12 birdies through three rounds, Anthony Kim had 11 in a single round.

By the way, Tiger has never come from behind to win a major. Not from just one stroke behind, much less 7. Tiger has never come back from more than 5 shots back of the leader in any PGA Tour event. In 16 of the last 17 Masters, the winner has come from the last PAIRING on Sunday.

Tiger wasn’t even on the top PAGE of the leaderboard.

Yes, once upon a time Gary Player closed a 7 shot gap on Sunday to win.

That was before metal woods.

More importantly, the announcers didn’t dare much to explore how crappy Tiger was actually playing.

I have DirecTV, and this year they rolled out a channel called “Masters In Depth.” It was awesome. They ran a highlight package of Tiger’s entire round, shot for shot. Putt for putt.

Tiger’s drives on #1, #2, and #8 were pure crap.

We’re talking, 30 yards off-line, two-way misses.

Which brings me to a larger, lingering issue about Tiger. Dottie Pepper said on the golf channel that Tiger’s new swing is much flatter. She said it’s amazing that he can use his athletic talent to square the clubface so consistently while cranking his swing along that newer, shallower plane.

God bless Dottie. I couldn’t agree more.

Only I still do not know to this day, why Tiger changed his swing in the first place. His stretch of golf in 2000 and into 2001 was the most devastating show of golfing Shock and Awe the game has ever seen.

Was a spat with Butch Harmon worth re-doing it?

The old swing was perfectly upright to my eye, and kept his misses to a manageable window. The new one does nothing for me. And it’s shocking to see Tiger be so wild these days.

When Tiger went off into the swing change wilderness for a year and half under Hank Haney, he initially said very little about what he was doing, and why he was doing it. Only later, once he began to win majors again, did he offer some vague analysis of the changes.

None of it really resonated with me, but who was I to judge? He’s the one with 14 majors.

Now, having said all this, it’s probable that Tiger’s just rusty from his long knee injury layoff. But what if it’s not rust? What if the new swing is out of mojo, and he’s going to have re-construct it again?

While technically both Phil and Tiger tickled the leaders bellies before they got to the easy tenderloin of the course on the back nine, real golf fans could see the flags go limp, and knew that most of the final 9 would be a cakewalk.

I just wish CBS and every other TV announcer would realize that golf fans aren’t stupid. And we know how to add.

Pity poor Kenny Perry, he flat out choked it away. But if he's going to say that everything in his career is just "gravy" right now, then you can't really be devastated by the loss. Either it's something you burn for, or it's just sauce for the noodles.

As for Cabrera, how can you not like "The Duck?" Any dude who stone cold SHANKS a fairway iron, and CHUNKS a chip shot, but STILL wins? My man!


  1. Welcome to the cult of Tiger.

    Those of us who have been golf fans for decades don't seem to matter anymore.
    It's all Tiger all the time.

    Yes, he's the greatest ever, and is going to set the new records so high that no one will ever bother thinking about breaking them. And he so often is the story.

    And yes I know, so many are tuning in just to watch him, winning or not.

    But when he's not, the adulation continues anyway. It's at that point that professional commentators/analysts would be helping the neophytes understand why it is fun to watch the other players too, describe the other compelling stories.

    Ugh, it makes me sick.

  2. Yes, the cult of Tiger is alive and well - and apparently trying to make up for lost time. Beyond the constant CBS slurping and ESPN openly rooting for him nobody seemed to have the balls to admit the obvious: Phil beat him face-to-face. In fact, I haven't really heard anybody actually point out that simple fact except one guy on the Golf Channel's post Masters coverage.

    The other thing everybody is glossing over is how Eldrick refused to talk to the media beyond his brief comments on CBS directly after his round. Others - including Phil - were still signing autographs and making themselves accountable for their playing decisions while Tiger's trunk was slamming shut.

    The guy's the best player in the world and almost as big of a jerk.