Silence of the announcers
”How ‘bout producer-less golf?” one of us shouted.
After some discussion, we all got on board with what promises to be a really fun broadcast for us, and I think will be very entertaining for the viewer in a non-traditional way. It won’t be completely announcer-less, more like announcer-lite. We’ll all be in the broadcast, we just won’t be talking about shots, players, or anything else while you’re watching the actual golf.
Kay Cockerill and Stephanie Sparks will be on the 13th and 15th tees doing player interviews as they pass through; Phil Parkin will be up at the practice green for some living-room lessons (think Golf Fix-lite); and Curt Byrum and I will be at a remote TV set (think table under a tent) doing very little. Actually, we’ll be interactive. We’ll take some viewer e-mails and answer them (but not while you’re watching golf), and we’re also planning on being joined on the phone by some of the more recognizable players to have come through the Nationwide Tour.
But for the most part, the viewer will get to enjoy pure golf with all the audio coming from the players and caddies. Each player in the last four groups will have a dedicated boom mic (big furry thing that can hear a gnat sneeze from a mile away) and no announcers will be able to interrupt while you’re listening to the good stuff. Also, a great deal of preparation is going in to providing the viewer with as much information as possible through the use of graphics – bio information, statistical information, and such.
This isn’t a long-term plan to try and get rid of announcers (at least that what my bosses tell me). Rather, it’s just an opportunity to be creative with our Nationwide Tour coverage and provide the viewer with a memorable experience. Remember, if this works as well as I think it will, then it will be one more innovation brought to golf coverage by Golf Channel and our hard working, dedicated Nationwide Tour team.
If it doesn’t, it was Keith Hirshland’s idea.
New world No. 1 Koepka already wants more
If there’s a knock on Brooks Koepka, it’s that he’s a little too cool.
Gary Woodland, who threw 11 birdies at Koepka on Sunday and still finished four shots back, inadvertently captured that exact sentiment after Saturday's third round.
“You know," he said, "Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much."
In context, Woodland meant that there was little anyone in the field could do to rattle the leader. (He proved himself right, by the way.)
And out of context, the comment speaks to the general narrative surrounding Koepka. That he’s just detached enough for fans to have trouble attaching themselves to him. That he’s just a jock here to cash checks and collect trophies, to kick ass and chew bubblegum.
But for a few moments Sunday in South Korea, it became clear that Brooks Koepka does care. Crouched on the 72nd green with some time to stop and think as Ian Poulter lagged a bit behind, Koepka finally let a moment get to him. Cameras caught the three-time major champion appearing unusually emotional.
Of course, less than a minute later, those same cameras caught him yawning. The contrast was almost too perfect. It was as if he knew he had just been found out and needed to snap back into character – which he did.
He promptly poured in an eagle putt to cap off a final-round 64, to win the CJ Cup by four, and to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.
“To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said on the 18th green, moments after closing out his fifth PGA Tour victory and third this year. “I don't think this one's going to sink in.”
What is beginning to sink in is the fact that Koepka now unequivocally belongs in the conversation, the one golf fans and analysts have been having over and over since Tiger Woods fell from his perch.
Who’s the best at their best?
In the two years between his first PGA Tour win and his first U.S. Open victory, Koepka was touted as having the kind of talent to compete with the game's elites. It took him a little while for him to get here, but Koepka has taken over as the latest player to look like he’ll never lose again. Just as it was for Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas before him, this is Koepka's moment. This is his run of dominance.
It’s a run that will end at some point. Every one of the guys just mentioned did cool off eventually. Koepka will, too. Maybe it will be fatigue, maybe it will be injury, and maybe it’ll just be golf. This talent pool is simply too deep for anyone to remain on top for too long.
But what Koepka has done this year – in defending his U.S. Open title, in staring down Tiger at the PGA, in claiming the Player of the Year Award, in ascending to the top of the world rankings – is put his name at the forefront of the conversation. If he was unappreciated at times before, those days are gone forever. He's accomplished too much, proven himself too good, to be ever be overlooked again.
And he sounds like he’s far from done.
“For me, I just need to keep winning,” he said. “I feel like to win a few more regular Tour events and then keep adding majors. I feel like my game's set up for that. I've gotten so much confidence off winning those majors where it's incredible every time I tee it up I feel like I really have a good chance to win whether I have my A-game or not. It's something I'm so excited right now, you have no idea. I just can't wait to go play again.”
Watch: Koepka holes out from off the green at 16
Brooks Koepka faced a stiff challenge from Gary Woodland on Sunday in South Korea, but eventually it came time to end the suspense.
Having clung to a slim lead for much of the back nine, Koepka looked as though he was going to have to scramble just to save par when he missed the green at 16.
Instead, caddie Ricky Elliott was able to leave Koepka's putter in the bag.
That holeout combined with a bogey from Woodland at 17 put Koepka ahead by three, allowing him to walk to victory and to the top of the world rankings.
Koepka wins CJ Cup, ascends to world No. 1
Brooks Koepka eagled the 72nd hole Sunday to cap off a final-round 64, win the CJ Cup and supplant Dustin Johnson as the new No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here's how Koepka took over the golf world Sunday in South Korea.
Leaderboard: Koepka (-21), Gary Woodland (-17), Ryan Palmer (-15), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-15), Jason Day (-12), Scott Piercy (-12)
What it means: This is Koepka's fifth career PGA Tour victory but only his second in a non-major, following his maiden win back at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Up four to start the day, Koepka saw his lead evaporate as Woodland rocketed up the leaderboard and kept pace with him for much of the back nine. But every time Sunday's result appeared in doubt, Koepka reclaimed his lead in dramatic fashion. He nearly aced the par-3 13th to go ahead by two and later holed out for birdie at the par-4 16th to go up three with two to play. He finished par-eagle at 17 and 18 to shoot a back-nine 29 and close out his third victory in the last five months. With the win, Koepka ascends to the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.
Round of the day: Ryan Palmer set a Nine Bridges course record when he birdied his final seven holes in a row en route to a bogey-free round of 10-under 62 and a solo third-place finish.
Best of the rest: Woodland played his first 16 holes in 9 under par to storm from five back and catch Koepka atop the leaderboard. But his furious Sunday charge finally came to an end when he failed to get up and down for par from the back bunker at 17. He carded his 11th birdie of the round at the 18th hole to sign for 63 and finish solo second.
Biggest disappointment: In retrospect, Woodland called it correctly on Saturday when he said: "You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can. You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number." Woodland put as much pressure on Koepka as he could. He went out and posted that number. Koepka never blinked.
Quote of the day: "To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid. I don't think this one is going to sink in." - Koepka
Watch: Koepka nearly aces par-3 13th Sunday
Just when it looked like he was facing a legitimate challenge Sunday, Brooks Koepka responded with a near-ace.
Up four to start the final round, Koepka saw his lead disappear as Gary Woodland raced up the leaderboard to tie him at 13 under and then 14 under.
Unfazed, the three-time major winner birdied the par-5 12th to regain his outright lead and then followed up with this tee shot at the 218-yard, par-3 13th.
And just like that, the tap-in birdie put Koepka back ahead by two with five to play.