Battle at Bighorn a Battle to Stay Awake


I wanted to write something nice, really nice, about Monday nights Battle at Bighorn. But what Ive got nice to say, I can say in one sentence ' the left-handed recovery shots were certainly different.
The network, the golfers and an unending array of commercials didnt leave anything positive to say. The one thing that can be taken from this format is ' dont try it again. At least not under the Monday night conditions.
It was embarrassing to watch. The two best men and the two best women team up and you could expect at least a few electrifying moments. It was evident that all four tried, but it just didnt come off. I read Tuesday morning that the winds were high. And the greens rock-hard. The format was different. So, no ones going to shoot 65. But that nonsense ' puh-leeze!
To begin with, lets pinpoint where to start the blame ' the network. The players were already on the first green when ABCs telecast came on the air. Didnt that seem strange? Worse yet, there was no replays of the drives or approach shots. All we saw was Tiger Woods off the green and David Duval with a long putt. Oh ' it ended with a bogey for both. That, unfortunately, was standard fare for the evening.
Now, point No. 2 ' several times later in the telecast, we either didnt see a players shot or got a peek just as he/she was beginning to hit. A long putt by Woods. A decent bunker shot by Karrie Webb. There were only two balls in play and one match, so you would expect to see all the shots. Uh-uh.
Which brings up the teeth-grating commercials. It looked like a never-ending attempt to peddle sales items, interrupted by a little golf. Looking back this morning, I cant remember a single one. Oh yeah ' Tiger driving the vehicle in a particularly silly commercial, the one where a tornado hits in a 15-foot area, vehicles are tossed around, and when it finally passes, Woods is in a different drivers seat.
When the commercials werent going on ad nauseum, the interviews were. Judy Rankin, normally a terrific questioner, must have been asked to get something from Duval about the British Open title. The interview came off particularly strained. Duval did his best, but the question was vague ' something about how the week has been ' and the interview was conducted en route from tee to green after Duval plunked one in the sand.
Then, to compound the folly, they blew Webbs bunker shot. This was not for a commercial, which I guess would have been a little more understandable. It was because of Rankins attempt to get something of interest out of Duval, his futile attempt to cooperate, and then the banter between Curtis Strange and Mike Tirico.
Some of the putts were absolutely pathetic, and Im not sure if that should be blamed on the putt-ee, or on the fact that she/he was in a difficult position and the grounds crew had over-cooked the greens speed. Annika Sorenstam and Webb each stroked putts which passed the cup and picked up speed, finally dying about 60 feet past the pin. Each putt was above the hole. The putts were stroked too hard, granted, but neither woman is that bad. Then a 60-foot putt by Duval ended up eight feet short. That time, there were no excuses.
I fell asleep after the 17th hole, so I cant judge the remainder of play. But here is an amateurs assessment:
Four professionals - two women and two men - meet for a golf match and come away looking like country club hackers. Was it the lack of course knowledge? The wind? The firmess of the greens? You know all four golfers were trying as hard as they could. Somehow, though, the pratfalls got worse and worse. After awhile, it got comical, watching the games four best players swat at the ball in futility.
That was all excusable, though, because they are still human. What is NOT excusable is the sloppy production values. Too many commercials were sold, and that is because the network bid too high a price for the match. Every shot should have been shown ' after all, they do it in the Skins Game, and that doesnt hold anywhere near the potential interest of a mixed foursome such as this.

What evolved was an embarrassment. That is a real shame.