SBD/June 16, 2011/Media

Woods Absent From First U.S. Open Since '94; How Much Will It Affect Ratings?

NBC plans to discuss Woods' absence during its Open coverage
The U.S. Open is underway outside DC, and the tournament "will be a venture into the unknown" for NBC with Tiger Woods absent from the event for the first time since '94, according to Caulton Tudor of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. Raleigh's WNCN-NBC Station Manager Brad Moses "will watch the ratings results closely." He said, "I don't think anyone in the industry really knows what to expect, because Woods has been a big part of U.S. Opens for so long." Tudor wrote interest in the sport "will be as much of a talking point as the leaderboards" during the event due to Woods' absence. ESPN is televising the tournament today and tomorrow, and analyst Curtis Strange said that Woods "will not dominate the conversation once the tournament starts." However, NBC analyst Johnny Miller said that Woods' absence "will probably be a part of the dialogue" on his net, "although on-course developments should carry the on-air focus" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 6/14). Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Andy Vasquez writes the "most intriguing angle" during NBC's coverage of the event "will come from a camera suspended on a 300-yard-long wire above the pond between the 18th and 10th greens." The blimp "has been given clearance to fly in the restricted airspace above Congressional Country Club," but it "won't be allowed to venture closer to Washington's landmarks" (Bergen RECORD, 6/16).

ON COURSE FOR GREATNESS: GOLF WORLD's Jim Moriarty profiled NBC on-course reporter Roger Maltbie, and writes if he "isn't the only member of the NBC cast who can second-guess the unfettered Miller on air ... Maltbie was the first to have a passport to cross that particular border." Fellow on-course reporter Mark Rolfing said, "He's not afraid to say what he thinks to anybody." Moriarty noted Maltbie "has a couple of nicknames among his NBC co-workers," and "one is Captain Morale." NBC announcer Dan Hicks: "I've always called Rog the heart and soul of our broadcast team. We all have our roles. Johnny's the clear star of the show. It's my job to be the traffic cop, tell some stories and personalize players, but (Maltbie's) really the heartbeat of the team." Moriarty also wrote Maltbie is "underrated as an analyst." CBS on-course reporter Peter Kostis: "Roger has a great understanding of the game and a great understanding of a lot of the younger players" (GOLF WORLD, 6/13 issue).

SNEAK PREVIEW: PGATOUR.com's Helen Ross noted CBS on-course reporter and analyst David Feherty "debuted several elements of his new Golf Channel show" Tuesday at a DC theater. The show, entitled "Feherty," debuts Tuesday at 9:00pm ET, and Ross wrote, "Judging from Tuesday's performance, you can expect 'Feherty' to be, well, Feherty -- at times irreverent, strikingly funny and surprisingly touching" (PGATOUR.com, 6/15). GOLF.com's Alan Bastable noted golfers Fred Funk and Rickie Fowler were "special guests" for the Tuesday event, and they "looked like a couple of deer caught in the scope of one of Feherty's hunting rifles." They were "either stumped by his questions or fearful that their responses wouldn't be funny enough." Bastable wrote, "Which raises the question: As 'Feherty' finds its footing, can its producers land guests who are nimble and interesting and quick-witted enough to keep up with Feherty's manic style?" (GOLF.com, 6/15). But in Boston, Michael Whitmer writes, "If you enjoy listening to or reading David Feherty, you'll enjoy his new show on the Golf Channel. ... Funny, funny stuff" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/16).
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