Tiger Woods: Too Good for TV?

I intended to watch some of the Accenture Match Play final yesterday, with Tiger Woods taking on Stewart Cink. Now I knew Cink was outmatched, but I set my PVR so I could watch the last 18 holes without dealing with all of the commercials that come with only having two matches in play. Then I took my three year old out tobogganing.

When I returned, somewhere around five, there was nothing left to watch.

As reader Wayne K points out:

Todays final of the match play shows why we dont have more match play events as it looks like Tiger is going to win something like 9&8. Match play is great when it is close but it can be a disaster when it is a blowout, even more than stroke play events.

Which is exactly what happened. That left NBC to fill almost an hour after Woods destroyed Cink. They brought Woods on air for a rather uncomfortable interview with the network’s play-by-play guy Dan Hicks and their color man Johnny Miller. It would appear there is little love lost between Miller and Woods, as Tiger even seemed off-put by Miller’s most sycophantic questions. There was absolutely no rapport between the pair, and Woods actually seemed to scowl at Miller on a couple of occasions.

However, it was one of the longest network TV interviews I’ve seen done in some time. Unfortunately Hicks wasn’t up to the task, asking a series of already answered questions about the Grand Slam and whether Woods’ new daughter will ever be able to beat him at golf. Nothing too probing, though I’ll admit I sat through it all — simply because Woods rarely seems to do extended interviews on air. Too bad there was so little insight.
What did we take away from the match play?

+ That there is some competition for Woods, but it isn’t Stewart Cink. I hardly consider Cink one of the best players in the world. He hardly ever wins, but is always competitive. Sure he’s a good player, but not great, and no match for Woods. Interesting to see much stronger matches for Woods from John Holmes, Aaron Baddeley and Henrik Stenson. All three are likely better challenges than Cink, who won is Saturday match despite hitting it all over the planet.

+ The tournament made for great television for four days and bad TV on the final. Does that make it a bust? I don’t think so, though NBC must have been struggling to figure out what to put on air for an hour other than highlights of Woods beating Baddeley over and over again. And Cink losing 8 and 7? Not surprising. I saw the match with Stenson as the real final — Henrik’s length off the tee and general play is a much better fit than Cink is for Woods. Ever wonder why the U.S. keeps losing the Ryder Cup? It is because marginal players like Cink always make the bloody team.

+ Some pundits are saying Woods could go unbeaten this year, which is really Trumpian hyperbole. It always happens in golf — people take a streak and extrapolate it. Woods is BY FAR the best player in the world, but if Baddeley’s 19th putt is a half inch different, Woods loses. That’s how close the game is, even with the best player in the world head and shoulders beyond his competition. However, even I’m starting to wonder if Woods has a shot at the Grand Slam this year. I still think it is unlikely, but it is appearing less unlikely.

+ Nick Faldo has waded into controversy over remarks made during the Golf Channel’s telecast of the match play, as columnist Steve Elling points out:
Another month, another head-shaking Golf Channel gaffe.
Network analyst Nick Faldo on Sunday denigrated his former equipment manufacturer, Nike, during the live telecast of the Accenture Match Play Championship final between Tiger Woods and Stewart Cink, two Nike endorsers.
During the morning session of the 36-hole final, Golf Channel play-by-play analyst Kelly Tilghman noted on the air that it was an all-Nike final. That, in itself, sounded like a free plug, since Tilghman last December emceed a Nike outing for Woods in South Florida.
But Faldo, who also works for CBS Sports, went a step farther on the conflict-of-interest front. A few weeks after signing a new endorsement deal with TaylorMade, he launched into a lengthy discourse about the superiority of the TaylorMade golf ball, and noted how only certain players with high skill levels should bother using the Nike ball, lest it fall out of the sky. Faldo once endorsed the Nike line.
Faldo, a six-time major champion, later issued what amounted to an on-air apology for his lack of good judgment. The network did likewise, issuing a statement that wasn’t attributed to any particular party, calling the Faldo comments inappropriate.
“Nick Faldo is one of the best in the business because of his experience and insight, and viewers enjoy that,” the network statement read. “But his opinions do not always reflect those of the Golf Channel. In this particular instance — although he referenced published research — using the Golf Channel in this context was not appropriate. Nick realized this and set the record straight with our viewers in a timely manner.”

I’m not enamoured of Faldo as an announcer anyway, though I know he still has his fans. Nonetheless, the Golf Channel has got to get it together. First Tilghman’s remarks and now this.

+ Fred Couples has been named captain of the 2009 Presidents Cup American team.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • It was Faldo who led Tilhman into her problems regarding the lynching comment. He tried another one in the match play telecast and she told him “we are not going there”. He has a real problem with his know it all mouth and attitude.

  • Quote: “although he referenced published research”

    Speaking about research that has been published. This is so far from a real issue it boggles the mind. It sounds to me like the all powerfull NIKE made a few phone calls and flexed the muscle of the dollar.

    What a joke. Johnny Miller has been saying stuff like that about all kinds of different equipment for years, the difference is that the Real networks aren’t pussies.

  • I’m astounded that TGC didn’t fire Faldo on the spot. TGC seems to endlessly shill for Nike and their equipment to the point where I cannot take anything they say about it seriously. One can only speculate on how many cheques Nike cuts to TGC.

  • I am still waiting for my Air Tigers. The shoes that will make me hit a ball like tiger woods. My whole life I was a dedicated Air Jordan buyer. Right now I wear adidas when I take my bag of clubs out onto the course.

  • In a merge of a few points of this post…..

    I for one, believe Woods could go unbeaten this year….if he was playing with Titleist equipment.

    I definitely agree that there was no apology needed for Faldo’s remarks. Another example that the major manufacturers are wielding WAY too much power over the sport.

  • Agree that Tiger looked annoyed with Johnny Miller at times. I don’t blame him as Miller kept interrupting him when he was in the middle of answering a question.

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