ABC/IMG TOUT WOODS-DUVAL, BUT CRITICS TAKE SHOTS AT CONCEPT
IMG and ABC Sports formally announced that Tiger Woods
and David Duval will meet in an 18-hole match-play format on
Monday, August 2, which will be televised in prime time on
ABC from Thousand Oaks, CA. The "Showdown at Sherwood" will
be broadcast live from 8:00-11:00pm ET, and will feature
both the players and their caddies wearing microphones on
the course. In N.Y., Clifton Brown reports that ABC Sports
President Howard Katz "would not make a specific prediction"
about the event's ratings potential, but he "anticipated"
that "it would attract more viewers than the usual summer
programming during that time period" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/11).
USA TODAY's Jerry Potter writes that network execs "expect"
the telecast's rating "to at least equal the ratings of
summer reruns" (USA TODAY, 5/11). Katz: "This is the type
of programming that shows our commitment to continuing the
tradition of excellence at ABC Sports" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS,
5/11). Katz: "It's not the British Open. We're not going
to prove who the world's greatest player is. We want to
entertain people." David Duval: "I thought he (Tiger) and I
could expose the game to a broader audience. ABC came in
and has given us the platform" (ESPN.com, 5/11). The AP's
Doug Ferguson writes that "while the PGA Tour cannot endorse
the exhibition, it has agreed to give the players the
television release they need" (AP, 5/11). IMG Senior VP
Barry Frank, who is credited with the idea for the event,
says that he pitched it to Katz "only six weeks ago."
Frank: "I never thought we could get all of the details in
place this readily" (K.C. STAR, 5/11). Katz "acknowledged"
the "risk involved" if one of the golfers plays poorly and
the match "has a lopsided outcome" (HOLLY. REPORTER, 5/11).
FROM THE GALLERY: In Houston, Eddie Sefko writes that
"it sure seems like" the PGA Tour and network TV "are taking
an active role in forcing a Duval-Woods rivalry down the
public's throat." Sefko: "Hey, if Wrestlemania sells, why
not golf's made-for-TV schlock?" While the event's proceeds
going to charity is "great," the "event still treads
unevenly on the thin line between sport and trashsport"
(HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/11). In Baltimore, Milton Kent: "The
two greedy golfers and their representatives apparently
weren't content to let time and real competition forge a
true rivalry, so they had to go contrive this hokum, and ABC
was all too willing to go along. ... Shame on ABC for wading
hip deep into the toxic goo that Tiger Woods, David Duval
and their agent, IMG, are creating" (SUN, 5/11). In K.C.,
Howard Richman writes that the Duval-Woods rivalry "hasn't
developed in a major, so IMG and ABC have taken steps to
manufacture it" (K.C. STAR, 5/11).