Joe Buck, Greg Norman reportedly to lead Fox Sports’ coverage of ’15 U.S. Open; Who will join them? Gus Johnson?

John Ourand has the exclusive on Fox’s new golf team:

Joe Buck and Greg Norman will be Fox Sports’ top on-air voices when the network debuts its golf coverage next year, according to several sources. The two will be set up in the 18th green tower at the ’15 U.S. Open, when the event will be held at Chambers Bay outside Seattle. The decision to tap Buck and Norman comes as somewhat of a surprise, as neither has announced golf on television before.

Actually, it really isn’t much of a surprise. Buck is Fox’s lead voice, and reportedly a good golfer. It was a natural that he would be tabbed for the high profile assignment.

While Norman hasn’t formally worked as an analyst, he has appeared in the booth of golf telecasts of many occasions. He hardly is shy about … Continue Reading

Sorting out truth about Tiger’s absence on Masters ratings; Huge Friday, Saturday declines are more telling

As I wrote yesterday, it is too bad Sunday’s final round didn’t produce more drama. The lack of suspense on the back 9 accounted for the sharp decline in the rating as much as Tiger Woods’ absence.

From Sports Media Watch:

Final round coverage of The Masters earned a 7.8 overnight rating on CBS Sunday afternoon, down 24% from last year (10.2), down 4% from 2012 (8.1), and the lowest overnight for final round coverage since 2004 (7.3).

Overall, the 7.8 is the third-lowest for the final round since at least 1991, ahead of only 2004 and 1993 (6.8). Excluding Easter Sunday telecasts, the 7.8 is the lowest over that span.

It was one of the dullest final rounds at the Masters in years, and had to account for at least 10 percent in the ratings decline. If … Continue Reading

Don’t blame Tiger and Phil: Masters can’t all be classics

At one point during the back 9 on Sunday, a friend of mine sent a text saying, “Is OK to admit this is pretty boring?”

Indeed, it seems almost sacrilegious suggest the Masters, the tournament we wait for all year, was rather dull for the final two hours. The top three players combined for all of two birdies on their last nine holes.

Dan Jenkins said it best in this tweet:

Indeed, with the exception of Watson’s crazy drive long drive on 13 and his even crazier shot through the trees on 15, there wasn’t the back 9 suspense we always seem to get at Augusta.

Brian Murphy of Yahoo! Sports thought it was a Tiger and Phil thing. He wrote:

The bigger problem was the cast of characters around Bubba. This Masters lacked fireworks. That whole “roars amid the

Continue Reading

Arnold Palmer: Golf Channel 3-part documentary befitting ‘The King’

Golf doesn’t end with the final round of the Masters on Sunday evening

If you love the game, or specifically one player, be sure to set aside time to watch Arnie, the first of a three-part documentary on the Golf Channel (10 p.m. ET; parts 2 and 3 air Monday and Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET).

Here is a preview.

The films are billed as the Golf Channel’s most ambitious project. Rightfully so, since Palmer was one of the founders of the network.

Obviously, Palmer’s life and enduring legacy make him more than worthy of such an endeavor. Part 1 gets the core of the man: the incredible connection he had and still has with fans.

More than anything else, Palmer is the quintessential people person. That trait makes him arguably the most beloved sports figure of his time, … Continue Reading

Another Masters tradition: Complaining about lack of TV coverage; Give us more, Billy

As I write this, it is 9:30 a.m. in Chicago. The second round of the Masters is well under way. Leaders Bubba Watson and Louie Oosthuizen are on the course.

I really would like to watch them and the others play. But I won’t be able to for another 4 1/2 hours. ESPN’s coverage doesn’t come on until 3 p.m. ET (2 Central). That means if Watson or any of other morning players go crazy low, we won’t be able to see one shot of their round.

Thus, my annual plea to Augusta National to please, please, PLEASE expand the live coverage of the Masters. Get with the program. All of the other majors feature Thursday and Friday action from sunrise to sundown on the various networks.

Yet the Masters continues to stick to its policy of limiting coverage of … Continue Reading

Profile of Jim Nantz: On the journey to 50 Masters; or will it be 51?

O.B. Keeler was a sportswriter forever linked to Bobby Jones. He covered every stroke the legend ever took in a tournament.

In the last couple of years, I have written so much about Jim Nantz, I joke I am his O.B. Keeler. I even sign my emails to him as “O.B.”

My latest piece is a profile of Nantz for the spring issue of Links Magazine. Naturally, the focus is the Masters.

Some excerpts:

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In his mind, the script already has been written. Jim Nantz’s broadcast career will be bracketed by the Masters.

Part One is already in the books. In 1986, at age 26, Nantz—just a few years removed from being a dreamy-eyed college kid at Houston—was tabbed by legendary television director Frank Chirkinian to work his first Masters.

Now jump forward a few years and the … Continue Reading

Faldo on new documentary: Nantz ‘put me through wringer’ of emotions

Everyone has seen Nick Faldo’s personality transformation ever since he gave up competitive golf to be a TV analyst. The ice-cold player actually has become an engaging, fun-loving guy.

Now viewers will get to see yet another side of Faldo, the emotional side.

Prior to the final round Sunday (1 p.m. ET on CBS), there will a special, Jim Nantz Remembers Nick Faldo at the Masters.

Nantz details Faldo’s three Masters victories and his life on and off the course. The film even includes a trip back to his childhood home in England.

It turns out Faldo needed quite a bit of Kleenex to get through his interviews with Nantz.

“He put me through the wringer of emotions,” Faldo said. “He winds me up pretty good. My kids are going to go, ‘Oh no, here he goes again.’”

Nantz said: … Continue Reading

Master Tweeter: Dan Jenkins tweeting from Augusta; new ‘semi-memoir’ is highly recommended

Here’s another “tradition unlike any other”: Dan Jenkins at the Masters.

Jenkins will be covering his 64th Masters, dating back to Ben Hogan’s hey day. If Moses swung a club, Jenkins probably saw it.

Thanks to Twitter, we don’t have to wait to read what’s on Jenkins’ mind. We get his unique, shall we say, observations instantaneously via his Twitter feed; with the assistance of Golf Digest executive editor Mike O’Malley.

Here are some early tweets, as Jenkins is just loosening up.

Also highly recommended for Jenkins fans is his new book, His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir.

Jenkins details his own incredible life as only he can. At 84, he delivers one-liners that will have you laughing out loud.

The opening paragraph in the book gets to the essence of Jenkins.

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It seems to me that in my … Continue Reading

Tradition unlike any other: Masters telecasts remain wonderfully pristine

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana gives thanks to one of the best traditions with the Masters.

To put you in the proper mood, listen to the Masters theme.

From the column:

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Crank up the theme, start thinking of azaleas, and be sure to get the signature line right.

The Masters, a tradition unlike any other.

Despite a certain player not being in the field for the first time in 20 years, CBS still is going ahead with its plans to air the tournament. Indeed, the Masters is and always will be a celebration of golf. And just golf.

That goes to the core of the entire presentation. The telecast also is one of the reasons why we look forward to the Masters every year.

In an age of loud, blaring music, everything being … Continue Reading

Nantz on Masters without Tiger: Tournament is about more than one player

My latest Chicago Tribune column is about CBS’ first Masters without Tiger Woods in 20 years.

You also can access the column via my Twitter feed at @Sherman_Report.

It seems CBS and ESPN are going to air the tournament anyway.

Here is an excerpt from the column in which Jim Nantz finally had enough of the talk about Tiger.

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CBS analyst Nick Faldo predicts this will be the most “wide open” Masters in years, with as many as 30 players having a chance to win. One of them could be a relatively new face such as Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed from a highly touted class of first-time players at Augusta.

“I think we have something special in this rookie class,” said Jim Nantz, who will call his 29th Masters. “Once the tournament gets started, we’ll have a quick … Continue Reading