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Is There Such a Thing As Too Much Tiger?

August 17, 2000|LARRY STEWART

CBS found out something last weekend. It can have a pretty dramatic golf tournament even if Tiger Woods doesn't finish in the top 10.

The Buick Open at Grand Blanc, Mich., went down to the final hole, where a two-shot swing gave Rocco Mediate the title. Mediate made a birdie, Chris Perry a bogey, and Mediate won by one shot.

Sunday's final round got a 3.7 overnight rating, which is better than the 2.9 national rating CBS is averaging for PGA golf.

CBS, which has since moved on to Louisville, Ky., for the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club, is hoping for another dramatic finish, only with Woods involved.

When Woods is in contention on Sundays, CBS is averaging a 6.9 national rating.

"You always like it to go down to the wire, but you want Tiger around there somewhere," CBS golf producer Lance Barrow said.

Barrow and a few of the other principals involved in CBS' PGA Championship coverage did a conference call with reporters the other day, and every question -- and answer -- had something to do with Woods.

Course reporter David Feherty said, "We quite often get asked if we think we are showing too much of him. We're in a situation now where we're dealing with a player that for the first time in the history of the game is better than everybody at everything.

"You know, even when he plays badly, he's part of the story because he is playing badly, and that's unusual. If he plays well, no one else can beat him. He doesn't even have to play great. We haven't seen a winner like this, you know, not in my lifetime."

The Golf Channel found out last week there is such a thing as too much Tiger. On Thursday, its coverage of the first round of the Buick Open consisted of showing Woods' round of 70 on tape. There were enough complaints that the next day Mark Lye apologized to viewers, saying it was "back to business as usual." During the second round, there was live coverage of the rest of the field.

About focusing too much on Woods, Barrow said: "It's something we have to watch. . . . I think everyone is interested in Tiger. If he isn't playing well, that's a story. You need to show that, but not a lot.

"But if he is anywhere in contention, you have to show him because that is what the people are interested in. He's the only golfer I've seen that has taken golf from the third, fourth or fifth page of the sports section and put it on the front page--not only the front page of sports but the front page of the newspaper."

Said Feherty: "He's prettier than the rest, as well. Kind of an Anna Kournikova thing. I think that people would rather look at him even if he is not doing anything."

Commentator Gary McCord believes there is such as thing as Tiger burnout.

"We're going to get it," he said. "He was on the cover of Time magazine this month. The players are going to get tired of it. They're already tired of it. They've got to get together and find a way to beat him.

"They'd like to hear everybody talk about somebody else for a while. But you can't when he is just pulverizing the field. Right now there isn't anybody who can beat him if he's playing halfway decent."

Said Feherty: "Tiger is probably lucky that this isn't one of those reality shows, because he'd definitely be the first one voted off the island."

CBS and TNT are again sharing in the coverage. TNT will have six hours of live coverage of the first two rounds, beginning at 10 a.m. today and Friday, and will have early coverage Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 7:30 a.m. both days.

CBS coverage over the weekend begins at 10:30 a.m. and goes to 3:30 p.m. both days.

CBS will have half-hour highlight shows tonight and Friday night after David Letterman.

TNT sister network CNN-SI will have half-hour highlight shows throughout the four days, at 5:30, 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. The Golf Channel, as one might expect, is providing blanket coverage, with more than 130 hours of news and highlights.


Television Coverage


* Today--TNT, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Highlights, Channel 2, 12:35-1:05 a.m.)

* Friday--TNT, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Highlights, Channel 2, 12:35-1:05 a.m.)

* Saturday--TNT, 7:30-10 a.m.; Channel 2, 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

* Sunday--TNT, 7:30-10 a.m.; Channel 2, 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.


* 18th tower: Jim Nantz and Ken Venturi

* 17th hole: Peter Oosterhuis

* 16th hole: Gary McCord

* 15th hole: Bobby Clampett

* 14th hole: Verne Lundquist

* 13th hole: Bill Macatee

* On-course reporters: David Feherty and Peter Kostis

* Essays and interviews: Dick Enberg


* 75,000 feet of triaxial cable

* 30,000 feet of fiber optic cable

* 20,000 feet of audio cable

* 28 cameras

* 20 videotape replay devices

* 5 Chyron graphic generators

* 1 210-foot high extension boom

* 1 MetLife blimp

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