It is well known that the lords of the realm at Augusta National Golf Club enforce limits on how many hours of live TV coverage CBS can air from the Masters each year. That doesn’t stop CBS Sports from finding ways to beef up its offerings from the site of the most-watched tournament in golf.
As with the Olympics and other major sporting events, Masters coverage is spread out over broadcast TV, the CBS Sports Network on cable, and the Web.
Start with “Masters on the Range,” the live show that brings us players working on the practice range. (Is there an equivalent to this in other sports? “Live from the On-Deck Circle” at Yankee Stadium, or maybe “The Exercise Riders’ Journal” from Churchill Downs? I didn’t think so.) This program will be shown on CBS Sports Network, CBSSports.com and Masters.com.
Not only does “Masters on the Range” show players practicing, it also includes interviews and swing analysis from Brian Crowell, Billy Kratzert and Bobby Clampett. The program will be shown online at Masters.com today from 9-11 a.m. and Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“The winner here really is the viewer at home,” CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said this week. “If you’re so inclined and want to see what’s happening at this point [on the practice tee], you have the option of doing that, which you never had before.”
A new extra for cable and satellite viewers this year is that CBS Sports Network will replay Saturday’s and Sunday’s Masters TV coverage immediately after the broadcasts on CBS. Because too much of Jim Nantz is never enough.
There is bonus video coverage, also, on Masters Live on CBSSports.com. Among the features here are:
• Amen Corner, with live video of the 11th, 12th and 13th holes.
• Holes 15 and 16, live video.
• Featured Group: Live video of selected groupings as they play holes 10 to 18.
There will also be a Masters Live Weekend Recap Show on the website, immediately following the weekend broadcasts on CBS. Grant Boone and Matt Gogel will break down the day’s action.
Masters Live on the Web will also include highlights from today’s par-3 contest, a press room section with player interviews, historical highlights from the Masters, and aerial flyovers of each hole at Augusta National.
The Tiger in the room
During a media conference call Monday, CBS lead analyst Nick Faldo — a three-time Masters champion — and Jim Nantz gave their takes on Tiger Woods’ chances this week at Augusta.
Faldo said it is obvious that Woods has “some serious determination in his game” once again.
“The interesting thing for me,” Faldo said, “will be obviously the nerve. Will he have the go-to shot under pressure with the driver? Last year was fascinating when he opened up with those two going-left hooks.
“[Holes] 1 and 2 really set the tone for the week. I kind of think he’s better prepared this year; maybe that shocked him last year. So I think if he deals with that … I think we’re going to get a big message right from the first tee, I think it’s quite an important tee shot for Tiger, to really send a message to himself that he really has the shots when he really needs them.”
Faldo said there are certain tee shots at Augusta where the golfer just isn’t comfortable when he sizes up the hole.
“It’s how you deal with them, how you get away with them. If he’s got that then he’s almost guaranteed to be there in the running.”
Nantz switched into announcer mode in talking about Woods.
“Sixteen springtimes ago we arrived at Augusta and Tiger was the story,” Nantz said. “He was about to play in his first major championship as a professional. Everyone couldn’t wait to see how Tiger would handle that situation and of course he shattered virtually every Augusta tournament and scoring record, the youngest ever, 72-hole scoring record, largest margin of victory, the stunning performance, the win for the ages.
“Every springtime since, he’s returned in this position right here, the focus of our attention, everyone wanting to know how is Tiger going to play here; that has never changed since 1997.
“The big question mark, I think, is going to come down to how well will he handle the greens. … Really since 2005 when he beat Chris DiMarco, the last time he won a green jacket, I think he has had a really hard time figuring out the Augusta greens. His putting this year has been outstanding leading up to the tournament. To me his game is the most complete it’s been since he won his last green jacket in 2005. He appears, in my eyes, to be more prepared to win a green jacket than he has at any point since ’05.”
There are other websites to supplement your enjoyment of the proceedings at Augusta. We humbly submit this foursome of don’t-miss sites:
• Golf.com: Gary Player is writing a Masters diary this week on the site, which is run in partnership with Sports Illustrated. The roster of writers also includes SI’s Michael Bamberger, who is about as good as it gets.
• GolfChannel.com: Packed with Masters feature stories and videos. Columnists include Joe Posnanski, who now writes for NBCSports.com.
• GeoffShackelford.com: Shackelford, a contributing editor at Golf Digest and contributing writer to Golf World, is the world’s best golf blogger, period.
• Devil Ball Golf blog at Yahoo.com: More irreverent than a mainstream-media type blog, sort of like Deadspin for golf fanatics. Shane Bacon and Jay Busbee are the authors of entertaining golf stories and observations.