News & Opinion

Sunday drama aside, Masters telecast comes up short

“And, Justin Rose, if you had one word to describe your emotions right now, what would it be?”

Really, Dottie Pepper? This right after Rose lost the Masters to Sergio Garcia on the first playoff hole?

You’re lucky he’s a gentleman.

That particular inanity aside, sports sometimes supersedes commentary.

Sunday’s title bout defined that. Punch. Counterpunch. Jab. Undercut. Ding! Round 13. Knockout.

All you have to do as a TV broadcaster is stay out of the way.

When your editor assigns you the Masters “media column,” you cringe. Especially these days when “media” is one of the most reviled terms in daily conversation. A recent survey, or so I have been told, places the media just slightly ahead of Zika, HPV and Lyme disease.

Be that as it may, media columns always have struck me as either self-congratulatory navel-gazing or envious cannibalism. Thanks, boss, for the assignment.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first.

There is no question that Sunday at the Masters is among the premier five or so hours in sport.

The problem is that there are too few of those hours. In what other sport is this accepted?

Imagine the fury of, let’s say, NASCAR fans if TV brought them into a race halfway through the event.

“Welcome, race car fans, to the Daytona 250!”

Light the torches. Sharpen the pitchforks.

But that is the equivalent of what we get with the Masters broadcast, not a major but a minor as compared with the TV time accorded the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship.

If there is anything worse than “fake news,” it’s no news. And that, and full credit to the space-fillers on “Live From The Masters,” is what we got preceding the limited live coverage. Day after day after day ad infinitum. Even the Golf Channel happy gang’s eyes were glazing over.

If I were deciding who made the cut, broadcast-wise, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and especially David Duval make it going away. (Duval’s brush-offs of the cloyingly lubricous Mike Turico and the fescue-festooned Brandel Chamblee were highlights.) Other than Johnny Miller, I have seldom seen anyone so satisfied to be himself than Chamblee. Bill Macatee is an underutilized asset, and I want the inestimable Verne Lundquist to sing lullabies to my soon-to-be-born grandson. Or he could read the dictionary. My grandson and I would find it equally comforting. Yes, sir!

Although, come to think of it, Faldo may be right on the number. He seems intent on becoming as Americanized as David Feherty, who himself is in danger of becoming as big of a caricature as his pal Gary McCord. Enough, Sir Nick, with the Tom Brady and Taylor Swift asides. And for future reference, no one understands an 8-degree slope. Or couldn’t care less.

Not making my cut were Ian Baker-Finch (and why the weakest link is entrusted with holes 17 and 18 confounds me), Frank Nobilo and Peter Kostis. And Pepper, albeit a trusty on-course soldier, is not an interviewer.

(As an aside, a well-deserved nod to my home and native land, kudos to TSN for bringing some great overall and specific Canadian insight to viewers north of the border. Anchor James Duthie and analyst Bob Weeks were joined on a daily basis by Tour player Brad Fritsch (doppelganger for Charley Hoffman and/or William McGirt, depending on how many Molsons you’ve imbibed) and Thomas Bjorn. )

But to focus solely on Sunday’s truncated broadcast is to ignore today’s multimedia reality.

The Masters does a superlative job on its website. In a surprisingly proactive response to social media, Augusta National handles Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and live streaming with aplomb. But that is small comfort for those who want to watch Sunday’s entire field from start to finish on TV.

When the final hole of regulation was played Sunday, it was safe to say no one wanted Rose or Garcia to lose. But winning and losing are integral to sports.

Too bad that by watching golf’s equivalent of the Daytona 250, viewers ended up losers.

John Gordon, who has covered golf for more than 30 years for Canadian newspapers, magazines and a TV network, has authored eight books on the game. He lives in Midland, Ontario. Email:  gordongolf@outlook.com;  Twitter: @gordongolf