Tigers return brings extra buzz to Augusta

By Associated PressApril 1, 2010, 8:43 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – As soon as Tiger Woods said he will return to golf at the Masters, the rooftop of Donny Thompson’s jewelry store became prime real estate.

TV networks have been pestering Thompson, wanting to rent space atop Windsor Jewelers for its rare camera angle – a clear view over the fence of Augusta National Golf Club to the practice tees where the pros warm up for the tournament.

“They just want to get close and see as much as they can,” said Thompson, who decided renting his rooftop wasn’t worth the hassle. “This just started when Tiger was talking about coming back.”

Those without access to the tournament itself, including some entertainment shows, tabloid photographers and celebrity bloggers, are looking for a place to land outside the private club’s wrought-iron gates. That’s bringing opportunities and headaches for people in this city.

“It is going to create pandemonium in the media from The New York Times to the ‘Today’ show – they are going to be pouring resources into Augusta,” said Harvey Levin, executive producer of TMZ.com, the celebrity news Web site.

Levin declined to discuss his plans for covering the tournament, but said he expects the event will draw interest from many who haven’t followed the sport.

“Golf will never be more popular than at the Masters this year,” Levin said.

Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said he’s already received phone calls from reporters asking about his opinion on Woods’ return – and not much to do with golf.

“People magazine is not somebody who would normally call to check in with the mayor’s office,” Copenhaver said.

Woods, returning to the game months after admitting that he cheated on his wife, couldn’t have picked a better place to try to contain the hysteria.

Augusta National imposes strict limits on tickets and press credentials. The entire course is ringed by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire and smothered by bamboo thickets, posing a barrier to prying eyes on the outside.

Sissy Boulus runs the Double Eagle Club, a private club that provides meals and cocktails for corporate executives and other VIP guests just outside the gates of Augusta National. Boulus said she’s been to the Olympics and the Super Bowl, where she also oversaw hospitality clubs, “and I would say the Masters is more controlled than any of them.”

Yet try as they might, tournament officials can’t control what happens outside the gates.

Doug Froham, who owns Jay’s Music & Sound Super Center across the street from Augusta National, said TV networks have called wanting to share his parking lot with his usual renters – vendors selling cigars and sports memorabilia.

Froham said networks have asked about posting cameras on his roof, though it’s not quite tall enough for a good look over Augusta National’s fence.

“Normally we wouldn’t have this media frenzy,” Froham said. “Really, what they will see is little or nothing as far as Tiger’s concerned.”

The Associated Press has rented property close to Augusta National in order to get a camera angle of the players’ entrance.

Woods has said he’s “a little nervous” about how fans will receive him in Augusta. “It would be nice to hear a couple of claps here and there,” he said.

Alfred Monsalvatge, owner of TravelMasters, which sells VIP hospitality packages for the tournament, is concerned some fans might try to heckle Woods outright.

“You get an element that’s not used to the proper decorum, one guy drinks too many beers and says something and BOOM!” Monsalvatge said.

Monsalvatge, who closely monitors the scalping market in Augusta, says Woods’ comeback spurred a surge in prices – four-day passes that were fetching $1,900 quickly shot as high as $2,600.

But he says many buyers appear to be first-timers more interested in Woods’ personal failings than his tee shots. That could mean repercussions for the original ticket holders who put their tickets on the market.

“I suspect there’s going to be a lot of tickets pulled and patrons not having their privileges next year because of this,” Monsalvatge said.

The interest in Woods’ comeback has also injected a fresh spark into many Augusta businesses that seemed headed for another sagging sales year.

Limousine service owner William Murrell hired 32 extra temps to drive high-profile visitors to and from the golf course this year, compared to the skeleton crew of 12 he used in 2009.

“I brought on half of them the week Tiger announced his comeback,” Murrell said.

Tanya Brantley, who manages the Red Carpet Inn about seven miles (10 kilometers) from Augusta National, said only 25 percent of her rooms had been booked for the tournament by early March. Then Woods made his announcement, and the phone started ringing again.

“Reservations have been crazy,” said Brantley, who’s inn is nearly 70 percent full now. “Tiger Woods had a whole lot to do with it. People are wanting to see his reaction back on the course after the controversy.”

TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 25, 2018, 6:48 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

 This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.


-NBC Sports Group-

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Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
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Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.

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Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.

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DeChambeau gets foursomes, fourball mixed up

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 3:31 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Bryson DeChambeau is an accomplished player when it comes to match play, having captured the U.S. Amateur and starred on a Walker Cup team. But don’t ask him to explain the semantic difference between the formats in play at this week’s Ryder Cup.

DeChambeau became crossed up Tuesday at Le Golf National when he was asked about the intricacies of foursomes play – better known to many Americans as alternate shot.

“Fourball, foursomes, I always get those mixed up,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just easier for me to say alternate shot.”

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Thankfully for DeChambeau, he still has some time to make a distinction between the two before the matches begin in earnest. And when they do, it’ll be fourballs for the morning sessions both Friday and Saturday, with foursomes in the afternoon – a change from the 2016 matches when DeChambeau was on the grounds at Hazeltine as a spectator.

While the foursomes format brings with it added pressure in an already tense environment, one of the biggest concerns is how well players can adjust to using the ball of their partner on a given hole. DeChambeau is known to leave nothing to chance in his preparation, and he’s already circled that particular factor as he gets set to make his Ryder Cup debut.

“It’s key because we want to be comfortable. Each player needs to be comfortable with the ball that they are playing,” DeChambeau said. “So for compatibility reasons, it’s one of the most important things out there in regards to alternate shot. It is the most important.”