Masters Decompression at MCI

By Kraig KannApril 15, 2005, 4:00 pm
And so it iswe go from Tigers miraculous, unbelievable (yet believable) chip at the 16th to the sandy beaches of Hilton Head Island, S.C., for the MCI Heritage.
If you remember 2004 and the MCI, the 16th at Harbour Town Golf Links gave us a little drama of a different kind. The 16th at Hilton Head is a par-4, not a par-3. And golf fans werent talking about a chip-in for the ages. Instead, it was a sand shot by Stewart Cink that sent folks into a tizzy. Did he or didnt he brush away sand from behind his ball. Cmon ' you remember. His play from the waste area at the 16th set up par on the fifth playoff holeultimately helping him to edge Ted Purdy.
The approach Cink took was re-played as often during the next few days as Tigers 16th hole Sunday deposit at the Masters. Stewart, who took the next week off and ultimately said he felt like a prisoner in his own home, brushed off the controversy and then went on to win a WGC event later in the year. At years end hed posted his best-ever finish on the money list ' fifth with $4,450,270.
Cink arrives this week as the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 11. Thats right, no big four. And as Cink arrives, hes looked at far more differently than he was a year ago.
The 2005 version of Cink is that of a strong-willed, hugely talented player who worked his tail off for success, contention, victories and ultimately a Ryder Cup spot at Oakland Hills.
To know Stewart Cink is to know a player who goes about everything the right way. He handles the media with class. He visits with the fans. He appreciates the game. And ' despite what some believe about last years Sunday at Harbour Town ' he respects everything about playing it the right way.
A Sunday battle with Davis Love (now 12th in the World Golf Ranking) would hardly be a letdown after Augusta. In fact, Cink and Love would be a battle of multiple MCI Heritage champions. Love has five, while Cink tows two tartan jackets behind him.
Hard to believe that with none of the Big Four/Big Five in the field, we could manage to luck our way into a great finish. But, I guarantee that a Cink-Love dual down the stretch would provide a huge gathering of satisfied customers around the famed Lighthouse.
Here are a couple of thoughts on the Masters after thinking things through over the last few days and spending time on various sports talk radio shows:
1. Tiger Woods is the only needle that really moves the PGA Tour. He might not always be at his best (which right now makes him more intriguing than ever) ' and we saw that via the bogey-bogey finish in regulation ' but he seems to find magic like no other. The ratings prove that when hes in contention, its just different. People love him, and people love to hate him. (You know where you fall on that one.) But the bottom line is ' hes the best. His moments of greatness, in the greatest of moments, are far superior to anyone else playing the game today. Period.
2. Jack had his Yes Sir!!! moment in '86 that has been replayed and replayed and replayed. Now Tiger has his.
3. Nike Golf isnt feeling too slighted, given that the ball with the swoosh sat on the lip for all the world to see (and for long enough that I could go to the vending machine for a Diet Coke, come back and still have time to watch it drop.) Nice commercial in the making.
4. Tiger Woods proved that he is golfs superstar of superstars. Chris DiMarco stood taller than the Georgia pines himself and became a true star as well. You can love Woods ' thats easy. But now, youve really gotta love Chris DiMarco.
5. Woods and DiMarco paired together in every Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. Bank it. Tell me Woods doesnt respect him and Ill tell you youre crazy.
It might not have been the greatest Masters of all time. But given the week of delays and the fact that only two men had a sliver of hope to win, it was the greatest Masters that could have come our way.
So, its time to decompress a bit. Hilton Head Island is the perfect resting place for the PGA Tour this week, and if you know anything about the MCIs history, we wont be disappointed.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann

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.”