ABC Not Part of New PGA Tour TV Deal
The tours contract expires after this year, and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has been negotiating a new TV contract since the week before Thanksgiving, with a deal expected to be announced within the next two weeks.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity because the tours contract has not been finalized, said ABC left the table about a week ago.
Its a done deal. ABC is out, the source said. It all comes down to dollars.
ABC spokesman Mark Mandel declined comment because of ongoing negotiations. When asked if ABC was still part of the negotiations, he said, That is our official response.
ABC golf producer Mark Loomis was at the Rose Bowl and could not be reached for comment. Loomis shook up ABCs coverage last year by putting Paul Azinger and Nick Faldo together in the booth, and both got strong reviews.
Im highly disappointed, for a lot of people, Azinger told Golf World magazine, which first reported the development on its Web site. Not for me, because I have a golf career. Im disappointed for all the people behind the scenes that youre never going to see or hear of. I feel bad for Mark Loomis, too. He took a big chance with Faldo and me, and it worked. Unfortunately, the network was unwilling to write the check.
PGA Tour spokesman Bob Combs declined comment.
Because our discussions with our TV partners are still in progress, its not appropriate to provide any comment on those discussions, Combs said.
The PGA Tour has twice negotiated massive deals with the networks through the popularity of Tiger Woods. One deal was negotiated after he won the Masters in 1997 at age 21, and the other deal was finalized after Woods became the only player to consecutively win all four majors.
But the networks have said they were losing money on golf, and Finchem brought a revamped schedule to the negotiations this year. Starting in 2007, the tour will feature the FedEx Cup, a points race that culminates with three blockbuster tournaments, ending with the Tour Championship.
The rest of the fall season, where ratings suffer because of football, would have seven tournaments for players to earn money toward keeping their card. Those events are slated for cable, although Golf World said that remains the final piece of negotiations.
With ABC out of picture, that leaves NBC Sports and CBS Sports to pick up the slack from January through September. Golf World cited sources as saying NBC would double its commitment in 2007, adding two West Coast events and three of the four events that end the FedEx Cup.
ABC still has a contract with the Royal & Ancient to televise the British Open through 2009, but the network source said it makes little sense for ABC to have only one golf tournament, and that it was likely another network would try to get that major.
ABC will have 16 tournaments on the PGA Tour this year, starting with the Bob Hope Classic. During the last contract, it took most of the summer events'from the Barclays Classic through the British Open'and picked up the less popular fall events from the American Express Championship through the end of the season.
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.
Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.