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SPORTS WEEKEND | TV-RADIO

CBS Will Be Keeping Its Eye on Tiger

April 06, 2001|LARRY STEWART

There are three story lines at the Masters: Tiger, Tiger and Tiger.

It doesn't matter where he is on the leaderboard, Tiger Woods is the star of this show.

CBS is counting on his being in contention over the weekend. Or running away with it. It doesn't matter.

In 1997, when Woods won by 12 strokes, CBS got an all-time record rating of 11.2 for the final round.

Can that be topped?

Sean McManus, CBS Sports president, said: "I don't predict ratings anymore, but one thing all of us in television have learned is that when it comes to Tiger Woods, it's tough to underestimate the power he has on both the golf course and with respect to drawing viewers. Nothing surrounding Tiger Woods surprises me anymore."

A prominent question this weekend will be: If Woods wins, is it a Grand Slam? He will have won four majors in succession, but not in the same year.

CBS' David Feherty said: "For me, it's not an issue whether it is a Grand Slam or not. It's just . . . amazing. I don't care what you call it."

CBS' Jim Nantz: "Personally, I don't think it is. It would be an achievement that stands on its own as the best of the modern era, but a Grand Slam is four majors in one year. He may do that in one year; maybe that year will be 2001."

Nantz this year has worked the Super Bowl, the NCAA men's basketball championship game and the Masters.

Asked to name which event he considers his biggest, Nantz, who played college golf at Houston, said: "The Masters is the most important thing I do professionally. Augusta has been in my blood almost from the day I was born.

"When it became apparent that I did not have the golf skills to play in the Masters, I dreamed that someday I would get to announce the Masters for CBS."

Nantz is on a run. It was announced this week that he will receive an honorary doctorate from Houston on May 11 and also deliver the commencement address.

EXPANDING COVERAGE?

Compared to other major events, the Masters doesn't get much TV coverage. CBS, which has been televising the tournament since 1956, will have 2 1/2 hours of coverage Saturday and three hours Sunday.

That may change. Augusta chairman Hootie Johnson this week told Golf World Business that expansion is on the horizon.

"It takes us a long time to get around to making a decision," he was quoted as saying, "but we are considering 18-hole coverage for the leaders on Sunday. Possibly, that could happen next year."

If there is expansion, let's hope the Masters people and CBS stick with the format that calls for only four minutes of commercials an hour.

It appears expansion may happen before Gary McCord's ban is lifted.

McCord hasn't worked a Masters since 1994, when he said the greens at Augusta were so slick "it's as if they were bikini-waxed," and a tough part of the course should contain "body bags."

McManus said there have been no discussions about bringing McCord back.

SILVER ANNIVERSARY

This year is the 25th anniversary of the John Wooden Award, which will be presented today during a one-hour special on Fox Sports Net, beginning at 4 p.m. Chris Myers and Kevin Frazier will serve as co-hosts of the special. Besides the winner, the finalists and Wooden, Duke's Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Arizona's Lute Olson will be featured.

This is the fifth year that the award, created by Duke Llewellyn and the Los Angeles Athletic Club, has been announced as part of a special on Fox Sports Net.

In the early days of the award, it was usually presented during halftime of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game on NBC. Getting a special on Fox Sports Net has set the Wooden Award apart from others.

Credit Sam Lagana, who was brought in as executive director six years ago by Athletic Club President Steve Hathaway. Lagana, then the associate athletic director at Cal State Dominguez Hills, had earlier been involved with pro beach volleyball and knew Gary Garcia, the executive producer at Fox Sports Net in Los Angeles.

That connection led to getting the Wooden Award on a national cable network.

SHORT WAVES

Recommended viewing: CBS will present a two-part special, "The Story of the Masters," chronicling the history of the tournament this weekend. Part I will be shown Saturday at 11:30 a.m., with Part II airing Sunday at noon. . . . The USA network, covering the early rounds of the Masters for a 20th consecutive year, opened its coverage Thursday by showing Byron Nelson, 89, hitting the ceremonial first tee shot for the last time. In a moving moment, Nelson told the gallery, "You are the greatest in the world."

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