The third edition of golf’s Latin America Amateur Championship was also its most-viewed in the United States, thanks to a strong final round telecast on ESPN on Sunday, Jan. 15.
Buck, Azinger & Faxon Anchor 18th Tower at Oakmont Country Club
Coverage begins Thursday, June 16 at 10:00 AM ET on FS1
New York – With just over one week until its second presentation of the U.S. Open Championship, FOX Sports today announced its full broadcast schedule and programming plan for the 116th U.S. Open Championship at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa.
Highlighted by more than 40 hours of live golf action across the FOX family of networks, FOX Sports airs 22.5 hours on FOX, matching 2015’s inaugural broadcast, up from 19 hours on broadcast television in 2014. Thursday and Friday, June 16 and 17, the first seven hours of action are televised on FS1 from 10:00 AM ET to 5:00 PM ET, before moving to local FOX stations from 5:00 to 8:00 PM ET. FOX airs coverage from 11:00 AM ET to 7:00 PM ET on Saturday, June 18 and from11:00 AM ET to 7:30 PM ET on Sunday, June 19. In the event of a tie at the conclusion of Sunday’s final round, an 18-hole playoff airs Monday, June 20 at 12:00 PM ET on FOX. In addition, FS1 airs 30-minute wrap-up shows following each of the championship’s four rounds, Thursday through Sunday.
FOX Deportes televises 6.5 hours of U.S. Open coverage in Spanish for the second time in the championship’s storied history, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM ET on Saturday and 4:00 to 7:30 PM ET on Sunday.
Emmy-Award winning play-by-play announcer Joe Buck, lead analyst Paul Azinger and analyst Brad Faxon anchor the 18th Tower throughout the championship. Hole announcers Mark Brooks and Steve Flesch and on-course reporters Ken Brown, Juli Inkster, Scott McCarron and Curtis Strange provide insight from a variety of perspectives across Oakmont’s fairways and challenging greens.
Holly Sonders hosts studio coverage alongside Bob Ford, longtime head professional and current director of golf at Oakmont, as well as course design expert Gil Hanse. Rules analyst David Fay, interviewer Shane Bacon and reporter Jaime Diaz also contribute to broadcast coverage.
The full broadcast schedule for championship play follows:
Date Program Time Network
June 16 First Round 10:00 AM-5:00 PM FS1
5:00-8:00 PM FOX
June 17 Second Round 10:00 AM-5:00 PM FS1
5:00-8:00 PM FOX
June 18 Third Round 11:00 AM-7:00 PM FOX
4:00-7:00 PM FOX Deportes
June 19 Final Round 11:00 AM-7:30 PM FOX
4:00-7:30 PM FOX Deportes
June 20 Playoff (if necessary) 12:00-4:00 PM FOX
On the digital front, FOX Sports GO live streams all U.S. Open coverage provided by FS1 and the FOX broadcast network, and offers ‘bonus’ content on three alternate streams created specifically for the event, presenting more than 110 hours of additional coverage. The bonus feeds include two channels following four separate featured groups (two each) and a channel dedicated to featured holes, available daily starting Thursday on FOX Sports GO, www.usopen.com and the U.S. Open app.
FOX Sports’ expansive digital offerings for the U.S. Open are anchored by FOX Sports mainstays Joel Klatt and Justin Kutcher, who provide play-by-play for featured groups. They are joined by a slate of newcomers: broadcaster Luke Elvy, 2011 U.S. Senior Open champion Olin Browne, 1987 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Brett Quigley and 1987 U.S. Open Champion Scott Simpson. In addition, analysts Robert Damron, Jay Delsing, Buddy Marucci and Joe Ogilvie, as well as host Ned Michaels, return to FOX Sports’ digital team.
The full FOX Sports GO live-stream schedule for championship play follows:
Day/Date Channel Time (ET) Platform
Thursday – Friday, FS1 stream 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM FOX Sports GO
June 16-17 FOX stream 5:00 – 8:00 PM
Featured Groups (Ch. A) 7:30 AM – 7:00 PM
Featured Groups (Ch. B) 7:30 AM – 7:00 PM
Featured Holes 8:30 AM – 7:00 PM
Saturday – Sunday, FOX stream 11:00 AM – 7:30 PM FOX Sports GO
June 18-19 Featured Groups (Ch. A) 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Featured Groups (Ch. B) 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Featured Holes 11:00 AM – 6:30 PM
FOX Sports’ U.S. Open preview programming kicks off on Friday, June 10 at 2:05 PM ET, when Azinger joins THE HERD WITH COLIN COWHERD on FS1 to reveal and react to the U.S. Open groupings for next week’s opening round.
Beginning the week of the U.S. Open, FOX Sports features preview programming on FS1 each day leading up to the championship. On Monday, June 13 at 3:00 PM ET, DRIVE TO THE U.S. OPEN spotlights some of the amateurs and professionals that earned their spots in the field via sectional qualifying tournaments this spring. On Tuesday, June 14 at 3:00 PM ET, the U.S. OPEN PREVIEW SHOW breaks down the field of favorites and takes an in-depth look at Oakmont Country Club as Sonders hosts and is joined by analysts Brooks, Faxon and Flesch. Finally, on Wednesday, June 15 at 10:00 AM ET, WEDNESDAY AT THE U.S. OPEN takes a last look at the players’ final practice rounds with Inkster, McCarron and Strange reporting from the course. Azinger, Buck and Faxon offer analysis from the 18th Tower, while the entire FOX Sports golf broadcast team contributes insight and features from the studio.
The full preview and companion programming schedule follows:
Day/Date Show Time (ET) Channel
Friday, June 10 THE HERD 2:00 – 2:30 PM FS1
WITH COLIN COWHERD
Monday, June 13 THE DRIVE TO THE 3:00 – 4:00 PM FS1
Tuesday, June 14 U.S. OPEN PREVIEW 3:00 – 3:30 PM FS1
Wednesday, June 15 WEDNESDAY AT THE 10:00 – 11:30 AM FS1
FOX Sports Radio prepares a significant on-site presence throughout championship week. The schedule includes 24 hours of coverage previewing the championship and its opening rounds, with eight hours daily from Wednesday, June 15 toFriday, June 17, from 3:00 to 6:00 PM (Jay Mohr Sports), 6:00 to 8:00 PM ET (Steve Gorman SPORTS!) and 8:00 to 11:00 PM ET (JT “The Brick”).
Coverage will continue on Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19 as national anchor Dan Beyer provides live updates during play. On-air programming can also be heard on FOXSportsRadio.com and the FOX Sports Radio channel on iHeartRadio.
— FOX SPORTS —
American Idol Winner Taylor Hicks to preform live on Wednesday’s show
Guests include head football coaches, professional golfer John Daly, SEC legends Bo Jackson & Steve Spurrier
The Paul Finebaum Show makes its golf course debut on Wednesday, May 18 for its second stop in three consecutive weeks of remote shows. Last week the show was live from Gainesville, Fla. for the No.7 Vanderbilt at No. 1 Florida baseball game. In two weeks, May 31 and June 1, the show closes out its mini-road trip with its second annual trip to the Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla.
Finebaum Regions Pro-Am
The Paul Finebaum Show is live from the Regions Tradition Pro-Am golf tournament on Wednesday, May 18. Finebaum’s set, perched on the Champions Club patio, looking down the 18th fairway, will host interviews with five SEC football coaches – Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban, Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart, Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn, Ole Miss Head Coach Hugh Freeze, Mississippi State Head Coach Dan Mullen – as well as Alabama Basketball Head Coach Avery Johnson, sports icon Bo Jackson, SEC legend Steve Spurrier and professional golfer John Daly.
In addition to high-profile interviews throughout the show, Taylor Hicks, winner of the fifth season of American Idol, will perform an acoustic set live.
Finebaum Spring Meetings
For the second year, Finebaum is live from the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla. where football and basketball coaches, as well as school and conference administrators gather annually. Coaches from a variety of schools and sports, as well as Commissioner Greg Sankey, are expected to appear on the show over Tuesday, May 31 and Wednesday, June 1.
Last year’s show on the Gulf Coast proved particularly influential to the year’s events. Coach Dawn Staley’s encouragement of Finebaum to attend a South Carolina women’s basketball game (full story) resulted in a courtside show on Monday, Feb. 8 during the Gamecock’s NCAA Tournament run.
In addition to the South Carolina trip, The Paul Finebaum Show has visited the previously mentioned Florida baseball game (photos) and the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville, Tenn. The show also visited all 14 schools during the fall, previewing each campus on Friday prior to SEC Nation’s Saturday show.
The Paul Finebaum Show airs on SEC Network every weekday from 3 to 7 p.m. ET, taking calls from across the SEC and the country.
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ESPN’s live telecast of Round 2 of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on Friday, April 8, earned a 2.2 U.S. household rating, averaging 3.060 million viewers, according to fast national data from Nielsen Media. The telecast aired from 3-7:30 p.m. ET.
The rating and viewership rose for the second consecutive year for the Friday telecast, up from a 2.1 rating and an average of 2.952 million viewers in 2015 and a 1.8 rating and an average of 2.465 million viewers in 2014.
Viewers were able to watch more than half of the round played by leader Jordan Spieth as he and the other players battled wind and tough scoring conditions in the 80th edition of the Masters.
Friday’s telecast peaked with a 2.6 rating and 3.727 million viewers from 5:30-6 p.m. During that time, the telecast followed longtime golf star Tom Watson, competing in his final Masters but not making the cut, as he completed his last round at Augusta with a walk to the 18th green.
Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., was the nation’s highest-rated metered market with a 3.9 rating for Friday’s telecast, followed by Louisville, Ky., at 3.7 and Columbus, Ohio, at 3.6. Fort Myers-Naples, Fla., Knoxville, Tenn., and Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., tied at 3.5.
Completing the top 10 metered markets were Buffalo, Cincinnati and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., at 3.4, and Charlotte, N.C., and West Palm Beach, Fla., at 3.3.
ESPN also enjoyed another strong day of digital viewership on Friday with the most-watched Masters Round 2 ever on WatchESPN, following the most-watched Round 1 ever on the service the previous day. Round 2 had an average minute audience of 49,000 and 13.2 total minutes viewed, both up 76 percent from 2015.
The Friday telecast completed ESPN’s two days of live Masters coverage, but SportsCenter and ESPN.com will continue to report from the event throughout the weekend.
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Golf fans were streaming ESPN’s live telecast of Round 1 of the Masters Tournament on Thursday, April 7, in record fashion on WatchESPN.
Thursday’s telecast marked the most-viewed Masters Round 1 ever on WatchESPN, with an average minute audience of 40,100 and 10.8 million total minutes viewed, both up three percent from 2015.
On television, the Masters Round 1 telecast earned a 1.7 rating, averaging 2.398 million viewers, according to Nielsen Fast National numbers. The rating and viewership were higher than the 1.5 rating and average audience of 2.006 million earned by ESPN for Round 1 in 2014, the last time Tiger Woods did not play.
With Woods in the field last year, ESPN earned a 2.2 rating, averaging 3.218 million viewers, the largest audience and highest rating for Round 1 since the record-setting 2010 telecast. The 2010 Masters first-round telecast on ESPN earned a 3.4 rating and averaged 4.936 million viewers, the second-largest golf audience ever on cable.
Thursday’s telecast peaked from 5:30-6pm with a 2.0 rating and 2.736 million viewers.
Minneapolis-St. Paul was the highest rated local market for Thursday’s telecast with a 3.2 rating, followed by Charlotte, N.C., and Buffalo, tied at 3.0; and West Palm Beach, Fla., and Norfolk, Va., at 2.9.
Rounding out the top 10 were Columbus, Ohio, and San Diego, 2.8; Raleigh-Durham, N.C., 2.7; and Louisville, Ky.,and Indianapolis, 2.6.
While ESPN’s live Masters coverage ends Friday, SportsCenter and ESPN.com will continue to report from the Masters throughout the weekend.
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ESPN will provide extensive, multiplatform coverage of the Masters Tournament at Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club, including live telecasts of the first two days of Tournament play and expansive news, information and analysis on television and digital outlets for the entire week of golf’s first major of the season.
ESPN and ESPN Deportes will air 4.5 hours of live Round 1 and Round 2 action on Thursday, April 7, and Friday, April 8, from 3-7:30 p.m. ET with an edited encore presentation in prime time each night from 8-11 p.m. on ESPN.
ESPN also will air the traditional Masters Par 3 Contest on Wednesday, April 6, from 3-5 p.m. followed by a one-hour SportsCenter at the Masters special at 5 p.m.
Prior to the live television windows Thursday and Friday, live updates from Augusta will air on SportsCenter all morning and afternoon until coverage begins at 3 p.m. Thursday morning’s ceremonial first tee shot with legendary golfers Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player will air in the 8 a.m. hour of SportsCenter.
Mike Tirico will host ESPN’s Thursday and Friday telecasts and will conduct player interviews from Augusta National’s Butler Cabin. Tirico and ESPN golf analyst Curtis Strange will join CBS’ golf announcer crew for the telecasts.
SportsCenter at the Masters
ESPN’s flagship news and information program SportsCenter will feature live updates from Augusta National Golf Club throughout the Masters Tournament beginning the morning of Monday, April 4, and continuing through the end of the event on Sunday, April 10.
On the first day of competition, Thursday, April 7, SportsCenter:AM will have reports from Augusta in the 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. hours, then viewers will be brought up-to-date every 30 minutes on SportsCenter with in-progress highlights, scores and interviews from 9 a.m. until ESPN’s telecast of live play begins at 3 p.m. Live SportsCenter updates also will air on Friday before the 3 p.m. television coverage begins.
A one-hour SportsCenter at the Masters special will air Wednesday, April 6, at 5 p.m. on ESPN with a preview of the tournament. Host Scott Van Pelt will be joined by analysts Andy North and Dottie Pepper, and reporters Tom Rinaldi and Gene Wojciechowski. The SportsCenter special follows ESPN’s telecast of the Masters Par 3 Tournament from 3-5 p.m.
On Tuesday, April 5, SportsCenter will air the news conferences of several prominent players live (schedule to be determined) and will report the first-round groupings as soon as they are announced.
Among the features that will be presented during ESPN’s Masters coverage:
- Jordan Spieth on the pressures of becoming a brand (with Rinaldi)
- Why Sunday at Augusta is the best (Rinaldi)
- Bryan DeChambeau the “Golf Scientist” (with Wojciechowski)
- Water at Augusta (Rinaldi)
- Tom Watson’s final Masters
- Arnold Palmer tribute
- Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler features
- PGA TOUR player Sang-Moon Bae enters Korean military service and will miss the Masters (Wojciechowski)
Also, ESPN will recognize the 30-year anniversary of Jack Nicklaus’ last win in the Masters (1986) with features on his missing putter from that event (Rinaldi) and how improbable the win was (Wojciechowski).
ESPN Sport Science features airing during Masters coverage will include looks at the long putter, reading the greens at Augusta, Nicklaus’ 1986 win and the Par 3 Contest.
Masters Par 3 Contest
The fun and family-oriented Masters Par 3 Contest will air Wednesday, April 6, from 3-5 p.m. on ESPN. The contest, which began in 1960 and includes many current Masters players as well as greats of the past, was first televised by ESPN in 2008. On the telecast, Mike Tirico, Andy North and Curtis Strange will be joined by Tom Rinaldi, who will conduct interviews on the putting green.
The Masters on ESPN Deportes
ESPN Deportes, ESPN’s multimedia, Spanish-language sports brand dedicated to providing the widest variety of sports to the U.S. Hispanic sports fan, will have live television coverage of the first and second rounds of the Masters Tournament on Thursday and Friday, April 7-8, from 3-7:30 p.m. Francisco Aleman (analyst), Silvia Bertolaccini (play-by-play) and John Sutcliffe (on-course reporter) will call the action from Augusta National Golf Club. Luis Alfredo Alvarez and Sergio Dipp will host coverage from the ESPN Deportes studio.
ESPN Deportes Radio will have live updates of the Masters during Zona ESPN (Monday-Friday, noon-2 p.m.) and Zona Sabatina (Saturday, 9 a.m. – noon).
In addition, ESPNDeportes.com, the No. 1 Spanish-language sports website among Spanish-preferred fans in the U.S., will offer extensive Masters coverage at its golf index page, including:
- Chats with the on-air experts.
- Various feature golf columns leading up to first-round play and post reports daily.
- Previews and analysis, including a hole by hole preview
- Nightly ESPN video wrap by ESPN Deportes’ golf experts on site.
- Daily blogs
- Real-time leaderboards
- Hole-by-hole analysis
- Daily tournament photo galleries and video highlights
- Daily polls
The Masters on Other ESPN Digital Platforms
WatchESPN and ESPN App
All Masters programming on ESPN and ESPN Deportes also will be streaming live on WatchESPN and the ESPN App.
Coverage of the Masters Tournament on ESPN.com will be extensive and will include:
- News, reactions and columns from golf writers Bob Harig, Michael Collins and Jason Sobel, and ESPN.com national writers Ian O’Connor and Kevin Van Valkenburg.
- “Quiet Please,” ESPN.com’s weekly golf preview program, hosted by Scott Van Pelt and Andy North, on Tuesday of Masters week and shot on site in Augusta, Ga.
- “Digital Drive,” an exclusive ESPN.com program hosted by Scott Van Pelt and Andy North, will be produced each night Wednesday-Sunday of Masters week.
- Senior golf analyst Michael Collins will hand out nightly grades for the top players in the world plus other notable names.
- ESPN GolfCast chat with an easy to use interface with scoring, video and social media elements hosted by Collins with contributions from other ESPN.com writers on site.
- Links to Masters.com incorporating traffic roll-up of live feeds from Amen Corner, Holes 15 and 16 and Featured Groups as well as driving range video.
- Video clips from ESPN golf analysts Andy North, Curtis Strange and Dottie Pepper.
- Photo Gallery wrapping up the year’s first major
- Live scoring from Masters.com.
- On Monday, April 4, com will launch its second Golf Confidential Survey where PGA Tour pros answered questions anonymously on topics such as: Who will be No. 1 at the end of 2016? How many green jackets will Jordan Spieth own 20 years from now?
Among features that will appear on ESPN.com during Masters Tournament coverage:
- Thursday, March 31: The science of choking, connecting to Greg Norman’s finish at the Masters 20 years ago (Johnette Howard)
- Friday, April 1: Looking back at Jack Nicklaus’ 1986 Masters victory on the 30th anniversary year. (Bob Harig) and in conjunction the Nicklaus anniversary, a look at a few “older athletes to catch lightning in a bottle” like the Golden Bear did. (Arash Markazi).
- Saturday, April 2: Smylie Kaufman will play in the Masters this year, nearly a decade after “winning” a trip there. (Jason Sobel)
- Sunday, April 3: Jordan Spieth breakout feature (Jason Sobel)
- Monday, April 4: The Grand Slam club might grow by one this week from five to six with Rory McIlroy. (Jason Sobel)
Additional coverage of the Masters on ESPN platforms:
Dan Davis will provide coverage through all four rounds of the Masters for ESPN Radio. His reports will run throughout the day on SportsCenter on both ESPN Radio and the ESPN App. Davis also will guest on network talk shows throughout the week and provide nightly features for SportsCenter AllNight.
Mike and Mike, which airs on ESPN Radio and ESPN2, will have live updates from Augusta on Wednesday (with Tom Rinaldi) and Friday (with Dottie Pepper) at 9:05 a.m. and Thursday at 8:05 a.m. with Andy North.
ESPN The Magazine
In ESPN The Magazine’s Golden State Warriors Issue on newsstands Friday, April 1 – Golf Confidential: Before the Masters, golfers anonymously dish on who they think will finish No. 1 this year, whether Tiger will win his 15th championship and if golfers care about winning a gold medal at the Olympics. By Hallie Grossman.
This year 53 countries will see the Masters on ESPN platforms and can follow the event on ESPN television, online, mobile and broadband platforms.
- In Latin America and the Caribbean, all four rounds and the Par 3 Contest coverage to 52 countries and more than 69 million households.
- A live 30-minute studio preview show will air prior to all four rounds of the Masters in Spanish-speaking Latin America.
- The Par 3 Contest, all four rounds of the Masters and exclusive broadband coverage of “Amen Corner,” Featured Groups of the day, holes 15 & 16 and Masters On The Range will be streamed live on ESPN Play in Spanish-speaking Latin America and the Caribbean; and via the WatchESPN platform in Brazil. Select Featured Group coverage will also be televised in Latin America and the Caribbean.
- In Canada, TSN will air the first two rounds of the Masters and the Par 3 Contest live with same day re-airs in primetime of the third and final rounds; RDS will carry all four rounds live in French language and the TSN.ca/RDS.ca digital platforms will stream exclusive live coverage of “Amen Corner,” a Featured Group of the day, plus holes 15 and 16. TSN’s/RDS’ television networks reach more than 12 million households.
ESPN Classic will feature a two-day tribute to the Masters leading up to ESPN’s live coverage of the event. The tribute begins Tuesday, April 5, at 8 p.m. with an airing of highlights of the 1978 Masters won by Gary Player, followed by the 2012 Masters won by Bubba Watson. Then, at 9:20 p.m., highlights of every Masters since 1960 will air consecutively starting with the 1960 event won by Arnold Palmer, running straight through until 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 7, when ESPN’s live coverage of the 2016 Masters begins.
The Masters Tournament – Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA
(all times Eastern)
|Wed., April 6||Masters Par 3 Contest||3 p.m.||ESPN|
|SportsCenter at the Masters||5 p.m.||ESPN|
|Thu., April 7||Round 1||3 p.m.||ESPN, ESPN Deportes|
|Round 1 (encore)||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Fri., April 8||Round 2||3 p.m.||ESPN, ESPN Deportes|
|Round 2 (encore)||8 p.m.||ESPN|
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To listen to a recording of the call, click HERE
ESPN golf analysts Andy North and Curtis Strange and host Mike Tirico participated in a media conference call today to discuss next week’s Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. ESPN will have live telecasts of the first two rounds at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday, April 7-8, as well as extensive coverage on SportsCenter, ESPN.com and other ESPN platforms.
A transcript of the conference call follows:
MIKE TIRICO: This is our ninth year at ESPN covering Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and early round coverage of the Masters. It’s a thrill. It gets better every year. I had a chance to be at Augusta National earlier this year, and so excited to get back for Masters week.
And I think for all of us who are involved in the golf project at ESPN, this being our one shot at golf, it’s a great one shot to have. So we’re looking forward to a great week, get the week started with SportsCenter coverage, and all the way through our coverage on Friday, and then SportsCenter through the weekend as we’ve done for many years.
CURTIS STRANGE: I’m looking forward to Rory, Jordan, and Jason, quite honestly. We had the three last year, but Jordan was not quite on the scene as the other two were. It’s going to be a lot of fun to see if Rory can complete the Grand Slam; can Jordan repeat; can Jason continue this stretch.
I think it’s fantastic. But besides that, it’s always nice to go back, as we all know and we all continue to say, and it’s not blowing smoke. Every time I go back and every time any player or anybody goes back to the tournament or even the club, it never disappoints, honestly. The older I get, the more emotional I get about it, because it’s a wonderful place. It’s a hell of a tournament. But more so than that, it’s the history, the tradition, the people, as I like to say, the ghosts of the Hogans and Nelsons and Sneads and all the rest. To be able to see Arnold again and Jack and Gary and all the old timers running into them before they go to the dinner, it’s a joy for me to see some guys I really don’t see anymore, and I miss them, and it’s always a great week to see a lot of those in the industry that we don’t get to see very often, so I always look forward to it.
ANDY NORTH: Well, to echo what Curtis is saying, it’s a great really the official start of the golf season, even though they’ve played 15 tournaments or whatever they’ve played. It’s a right of spring, particularly for those of us up here in the Midwest and the Northeast. This is where your golf season really gets started. So it’s a privilege to be involved.
I’d also like to add that let’s look at Adam Scott, add him to this group of players, and Bubba Watson and a handful of other guys who have been playing exceptionally well. I think it’s always exciting to come into the first major of the year where you have your big guns all playing pretty well, and I think right now, we’ve got a bunch of those guys playing well, which will be exciting.
I’m doing a story on some of the less recognized holes like some of the stands on the front nine. We didn’t see the front nine for years, and now we see it, but there’s still a couple holes that I think people don’t quite grasp, and I’m looking at 3, 4 and 5. Curtis and Andy, can you guys kind of go through those holes just briefly, thoughts on what their challenges are? Obviously you have the tough tee shot at 4 and the crazy green at 5.
ANDY NORTH: Well, I always thought that 3, 4 and 5 were the most important holes of the front nine. To me that was a key, particularly fairly early in the round of golf. You had three distinctly different types of holes. You had a short par 4 and par 3 that gives the players a lot of different options on how they want to play their tee shot to set up their approach shot.
I thought it was as dangerous of a short hole as you ever played, and I personally had a ridiculous amount of trouble with that hole. I unfortunately had spun it off that front way too many times, and the people at home don’t understand, once you come off the front part of that green, you’ve not got a really good chance of making any kind of score. You can stay down there for half an hour hitting pitch shots up that bank and they keep coming down at you, but it’s a dangerous, dangerous short hole which I think is a wonderful design.
The par 3 is just a bear of a par 3. Everybody talks about the wind swirling back at the 12th hole. It does the same thing at 4, and a player can look really silly hitting what they think is a pretty good tee shot and coming up short of that front bunker even. The wind will affect the tee shots 15 or 20 yards there, and that’s a much more difficult green than most people think.
And then 5, what a great tee shot that hole is. The huge bunkers on the left sort of suck you into going further left than you’d like to. You almost have to aim it up the right hand rough line, and even if the ball is in the fairway, you’re still left with an amazing second shot. These guys are hitting it long enough now that they’re able to hit some 6 , 7 , 8 irons into this hole, which you can take the ball in the air and carry it back into the back hole location area, where if you’re into the wind or you’re not a very long hitter and you’re back there hitting a 3 , 4 , 5 iron, a lot of times you’ll have to play the ball on the ground and bounce it up that slope, which that’s not very easy to control.
All in all, I think it’s an amazing three holes in a row.
CURTIS STRANGE: Yeah, if I could just add, a completely agree. It’s a heck of a stroke. Always felt like you had to be under par. Birdieing the second hole was paramount to attack the next three holes or four holes. But it goes to show you the second shot which can be so short from 100 yards, 120 yards, depending on where you lay up off the third hole, it’s just such a demanding short shot, and 4 and 5 in our day were, and still are, long holes, but I think more so than anything else, you had to look at where you wanted to miss it if you weren’t comfortable with your club. The front right bunker at 4 was not a difficult bunker shot, better than long or left, and then the back bunker at – if you’re coming in with a long iron into 5, you wanted to miss long if you missed, because that was a very simple bunker shot versus if you tried to get it close to the hole with a long iron at 5 and you just couldn’t get it up and down from short of the slope.
A lot of little mental battles you play to keep from making mental mistakes around Augusta National around the entire golf course, especially on the front side.
Curtis, one more thing on 5 green; those mounds there are just so pronounced. What was it like putting on those?
CURTIS STRANGE: Well, you know, first of all, I always thought 4 was an underrated, tough, tough two putt if you didn’t put it close to the hole. But 5, if you’re short, you know, that’s what the practice is for, but they’re so steep, and then the ball does run away from you when it hits the top plateau. It’s just very difficult to get the speed and to get it close to the hole. You always knew you were going to have a five to eight footer if you left it short. Some choose to possibly chip, pitch it. I always liked the putter if you could. But just demanding, very demanding. You know if you come up short you know when your second shot in the fairway when the ball comes back down the slope, you’ve got a lot of work to do, much like 14 green. You’ve got a lot of hard work to do to salvage par.
MIKE TIRICO: I was just going to give you a little anecdote for your story. Obviously nothing about the hole specifically, but now having gone there on and off for the last 20 years, you always get people who say, I’m going to my first Masters, where should I go as a patron, and of course you tell them you want to see the scene at the first tee, the elevation change coming up to 9 green, Amen Corner, but I always tell folks you should spend some time and park yourself in the area where the players hit their second shot to the right of 2 because to watch those second shots at 2 and then to see the area where players are playing their second into 3 and then the tee shot at 4, a little walk, about a 30 yard walk in that area, from the right of the second hole, you get to see three holes, like you said, not as well known to the viewers because they are not seen as much as the second nine, but those are just awesome shots to watch the best players in the world hit. That second to the par 5, Andy talked about that second into the third, and that par 3 for amateurs or players who have never been there, when they see that scene from that tee and into that green, that’s when you walk away with such an appreciation for how great the course is and how great these players are.
Curtis, I’m curious, when you made a hole in one on the 12th hole in 1988 if you realized it had been 29 years since someone had made an ace, and are you at all surprised that it’s now been 26 years since it has been repeated?
ANDY NORTH: Can I answer that one? I’d love to answer this one. First of all, you don’t ever aim it at the hole at 12, so that’s why there haven’t been a whole lot of aces there, so Curtis obviously pushed or pulled the shot to make it.
CURTIS STRANGE: I have always admitted that I aimed the pin was back right, and I’ve always admitted that I aimed properly, and I pushed, and she went right in, pal, okay? Now, I do have the greatest story of all time which I won’t bore everyone with is Claude Harmon.
5 iron on that, Curtis?
CURTIS STRANGE: I hit a 7 iron, and she went right in the hole. That’s all I’m going to tell you.
But you know, I didn’t know, and of course you’re never quite sure, and hole in ones in tournaments really mean nothing other than they help your score a couple of shots, but it was fun to relive that over the years. And there’s only been one on No. 4 by Jeff Sluman.
I’d be curious what both of you think about Adam Scott saying that he has seriously considering laying up on the fourth hole and taking his chances from short of the green.
ANDY NORTH: Well, that’s not a very easy pitch from short of the green. I think you’ve got to take your chances, a player of that caliber is going to hit that green a lot. He’s going to make more pars hitting at that hole than he is by laying up, I suspect.
CURTIS STRANGE: Yeah, and the toughest hole location there to me, Andy, is front left. I mean, you have virtually I mean, it’s such a small area to be hitting well, depends on where the tee markers are, but if you’re back there at 230 hitting into an area that’s probably eight steps wide, your aimer better be on. That’s all I can tell you.
I had another one for Mike, and I’m just assuming because I never watch it, the par 3, how it’s changed. In the years you guys have been doing it, it’s a fun little thing they did on Wednesday, but it almost seems like it’s picked up somewhat of a celebrity component with who people bring as their caddies.
MIKE TIRICO: That’s right, a little celebrity component, a little family component or significant family component with all the kids out there. I think it’s opened up a couple of avenues. One, it has shown people how beautiful that course is. There’s not a finer par 3 course, I can’t imagine, anywhere in the world, and people get to see it and talk about it after hearing about the par 3 contest and maybe seeing a highlight or two over the years.
But I think the other part is it has shown a very different side of the tournament and of the players with no disrespect to any one of the other majors. This is the one everyone points to, from the last putt at the PGA on through the first full week of April. Everyone is pointing their schedule to the Masters.
This is the day you’ve prepared, not just your whole career, but eight months for, the start of the Masters on that Thursday, and here you are some 18 hours before with the all time exhale, the all time deep breath before you get out there and compete in this huge event, and I think people seeing this other side of the players before the intense competition on Thursday and before the serenity of the tournament on the big course I think has added to the Masters experience.
I can honestly tell you, and Curtis and I were just talking about this on the phone earlier this morning the number of people who during the year you’ll run into who say, I love the par 3 contest; I can’t wait to watch it. It’s not necessarily because they’re going to see the best golf of the year. They just like the unique setting and the unique experience.
Curtis, just as a quick follow up, did you ever play the par 3 and did people ever see the other side of you?
CURTIS STRANGE: I played the par 3 many times. I sense your humor here. But I played the par 3 a lot. I enjoyed it. But when I started playing to where I thought I had a chance to really play well in the big tournament, I didn’t play for three or four years there because I was tired, and the par 3 does take some energy as far as you’ve already played 18. See, the guys nowadays play nine, nine and nine, a lot of them. I played 18 holes every day. What else was I going to do? And then to play another nine holes and there was pressure and anxiety to play and do well and make a few putts on the par 3 in front of all the people, so I chose not to for three or four years.
But we had fun. Are you kidding? We didn’t have the kids caddie in the day. That started later on, and I did have my sons caddie for me once or twice at the end of my career.
But it was always great fun and people had fun, and it was there was a time there when it was bentgrass and it was Bermuda on the big course, so it was a little bit different to go play Wednesday afternoon. People forget that, to go play bentgrass greens and then go play Bermudagrass greens Thursday morning. That didn’t sit well with a lot of players, either.
What do you think is the state of Jordan Spieth’s game right now, and is it possible that he did a little too much traveling and didn’t say no enough in preparation this year?
CURTIS STRANGE: I’ve said, you know, publicly that I think it was good that he did this in his career because he learned from it. You know, it’s always easy for Andy and I and those who have gone through it to second guess somebody’s scheduling or why they played here or there. You know, he’s doing what he thinks is right. For somebody who did travel and burn out a little bit from the travel overseas, I think he did do a little bit too much, but as I just said, I think it was good that he did it this early in his career because he learned from it. He learned that it does wear you out, and the most important thing to be ready for is the official calendar year of tournament golf.
I think he’s probably a little tired, but as the year progresses there’s nothing wrong with his game. I sense he’s just not making the putts that he made last year. Let’s not forget, last year was a phenomenal year for any player, much less a 22 year old. So it could turn out 20 years from now that that could be his absolutely best stretch of his life.
I don’t think so. I hope not, but it very well could be.
So anything if he holds himself to that standard that he played for four or five months last year, it’s going to be difficult to repeat day in and day out, and you have to be patient with yourself, and right now he’s going through that time. There’s nothing wrong with his game. He’s probably a little bit impatient. The putts aren’t going in.
But I think he’s fine. He’s going to be defending at Augusta next week. He’ll get fired up. I just can’t ever forget the putts he made last year. I mean, let’s not forget he shot 18 under par, tied Tiger’s record. He was the only guy to get to 19 under par ever. You don’t do that with your long game. You do that with your short game. I think he’s fine. He’s just going through a little stretch right now.
ANDY NORTH: I think it’s interesting that the bar gets set so high for these guys because of one Tiger Woods that you have a year where that’s a once in a career year that he had last year, to go win five times. On Tour if a player can win once a year throughout his career, he’s an unbelievably great player.
I think he’s already won a tournament this year. He’s played some really good golf. He’s played some scratchy golf, which he is a human being. I think he’s and I would suspect that looking forward to defending at Augusta, when you have eight months in there to do it, it would be real easy as you get closer to start thinking about Augusta, thinking about the shots you have to hit, and maybe you aren’t you think you’re completely invested in what you’re doing at that point in another tournament, but if you’re distracted just a little bit by trying to how do I go about defending, and he’s had to ask those questions now for the last three or four months, and that’s not easy to do.
CURTIS STRANGE: I completely agree with what Andy just said. He was right on. You know, your mind tends to wander at something down the road, which is Augusta.
I also it’s just hard it’s a lot of moving parts. It’s hard to play at that standard every day, and he’s a young man and he’s going to be just fine. But let’s not forget that defending any tournament, especially Augusta or a major championship, is not easy. The spotlight is on you, so let’s not expect too much out of him next week.
I think he’ll do well. Will he win? It’s only been done a couple of times, so let’s not forget that.
Mike, how has he seemed to you if you’ve been able to spend any time with him?
MIKE TIRICO: I have not seen Jordan in between then and now, so I wouldn’t be anything but the observer like all of you guys have been, all those who watch on TV I should say. But just to add to what the guys said, when you go back to Thursday and Friday to what he did last year, the number of putts were incredible, and that was the story for the whole year, right through the U.S. Open and the British.
But this conversation happens all the time when people burst onto the scene in terms of major championships, and how much is too much and balancing that title before your first name going forward.
I think like all the anticipation around him before he won at Augusta last year that Jordan will handle this just fine, and I think for the most part he is. He looked pretty good during the Match Play as I watched last week.
When you look at the best players and the fact that most of the guys at the top of the World Rankings have won here over the last couple of months going in, Jordan you have to go back to Kapalua January, I think we’re just set up for as good a lead up to the Masters as you can have, because there’s a lot of anticipation around every one of these players, and it’s not going to be easy for Jordan to rattle off a whole bunch because those other guys who have been mentioned are sitting there and playing if not at the top of their game, close to it, so good for the game. Great for the game.
Given how well the top guys are playing, and you mentioned all the names, and you can probably add Phil Mickelson to the mix, I’m curious if you would say the chances or the odds of a surprise winner are even more remote than usual at Augusta this year, and also maybe give us the name of someone who one is talking about who you suspect could contend. Thank you.
ANDY NORTH: I think it’s interesting that when you get all the guys playing well, obviously you wouldn’t think that there’s a lot of chance for somebody else. But you know, you go back 10 or 12 years or whatever when Vijay was playing great and Tiger was playing great and Phil was playing great and Goosen and Ernie, that group of guys. Pretty much that’s when Tiger was winning all the time. So you had a situation to where it was hard for someone that wasn’t in that group to win.
I think there’s a little of that right now, but there’s really a group of young players that are really starting to figure it out. If you’re talking long shots, there’s a ton of these young guys. It’s going to be fun to see how the younger players handle getting in position like Jordan did a couple of years ago and stumbled and then ended up coming back last year and was so terrific.
It’s always fun to watch these guys and see how they handle it.
You know, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if a Snedeker had a great week next week. He’s played some really good golf. I know he’s going through so much stretches where he’s starting to putt the ball like he did there for years, and he totally loves Augusta, and he’s played there a million times.
I think you never can downplay the feeling that certain players have for this event. I mean, Phil is a perfect example. He drives down Magnolia Lane, and all of a sudden his “A” game is there. It’s a perfect golf course for him.
To see one of these guys play well would be fun, and it’s not totally out of the realm of happening.
CURTIS STRANGE: You know, the one thing that is a negative for a young kid coming in there and playing well against all these established stars who have played August many, many times is the local knowledge, and especially on the greens. You can do it, as we saw Jordan do just that last year, but you really have to know the golf course and know how to play it. If you’re playing perfect golf, you can do it, but it’s where the mis hits go. It’s where you can or cannot get it up and down. It’s where you need to put it on the green, and that’s what hurts and fights against a young player really coming in and doing well there.
Andy and Curtis, we’re coming up on the 30th anniversary of Jack’s win there at the Masters, and I’m wondering if the record for him being the oldest winner there has stood this long; how much longer do you think it might stand, and who, I guess Phil being cheap among them, might challenge that record one day?
CURTIS STRANGE: You know, the guys are playing so well into their 50s or at 50, and we saw an incredible run a couple years ago with Jiménez and Freddie and Bernhard I believe all finishing top 10. I believe that’s true. That’s astonishing to me as long as that golf course has gotten. But two of the players continue to hit it a long ways, Jiménez had a nice run there.
But I am never surprised anymore. The Champions Tour has kept these guys into the game, kept them fit, competitively sharp. But the only players who really can do this into their late 40s are those who have won Augusta before because they are able to come back every year and play and play and play. They might miss a few cuts in their 40s, but it doesn’t mean they can’t hit a stretch, hit lightning in a bottle at 46, 47, 48, 49, maybe 50, and have a good stretch. Can they finish it off and win down the stretch? There’s a lot of pressure. We haven’t seen it since Jack, and then Raymond had a chance, I believe, when he was older than Jack, but he didn’t quite finish it.
But the odds are against them, but it wouldn’t surprise me, but it’s got to be a former champion to do that, I think.
ANDY NORTH: You’re bringing up Phil. Phil has played some of the best golf so far this year that we’ve seen Phil play in the last two or three years, and he gets so energized when he gets at Augusta. I would not be a bit surprised if he wouldn’t have a chance over the next two or three years. He still has length. His short game is not going to leave him any time soon. He’s able to do some things around these greens that is absolutely amazing, and you know, the fact that you’ve won there, as Curtis is saying, he’s going to get chances, and he knows he can do it there. And I think right now he’s got more confidence in his game than he’s had in the last two years.
Andy, you have such a long standing relationship with Tom Watson. I’m wondering if you could provide some insight on what the Masters has meant to him and if you have an anecdote perhaps about his prep or his plans for his last trip around Augusta.
ANDY NORTH: Well, he is so tied to the Open Championship because he’s won it so many times, and the run he had there at 59 years old was amazing. But I think if you were to ask him some of the most important things he’s ever accomplished were at Augusta National. He loves the golf course, and the golf course fit his game so well for so many years.
You go back and look at his run in the middle of his prime. He finished in the top 10 almost every single year he played there over about a 10 year period of time, had an amazing record there, and he still really enjoys going there.
It’s more difficult for him now because he’s convinced he can’t hit it far enough. The one year that he played exceptionally well three or four years ago there where he shot some good rounds and was in contention, marginally in contention, it was really dry and fast. He needs to have the golf course playing like that to feel like he can compete there.
One thing about Watson is he’s stubborn enough that if he gets playing well enough, he will compete his tail off there. But the golf course has gotten just so long for him, as it has for most of the older guys.
As far as this year, I think it’s always difficult for these great players to be playing their last event at a particular event because it’s meant so much for them. I do know that they’ve got a whole bunch of houses and a ton of friends, and it’s going to be a difficult week for them emotionally, but I think he will look back and see so many of the wonderful things that have happened to him there, that there will also be a lot of joy this week.
Curtis, what’s your take on Rory’s decision to switch to cross handed putting basically about a month before the Masters?
CURTIS STRANGE: Well, apparently he wasn’t putting up to standard the regular way, up to his standard. You know, as golfers, we will try anything if we think it’s going to help. It doesn’t matter when or where. He was probably frustrated enough to try this. He made a lot of putts the first three days in Doral when he did that. But anyway, players will do whatever needs to be done. It seems like any little trick of the trade works for a while, but when you go against your basics that you’ve done forever, you eventually go back to it.
I don’t really think he’ll be cross handed forever, but right now, hey, try it. On the sidelines, everything is pointing toward next week, everything. That’s why we’re on this phone call. But the players are doing what they think every day that’s going to help they’re doing whatever they can to help themselves. Yes, Augusta is on their mind, but they’re trying to play well. They’re tinkering with their swings every day. They’re trying new little techniques, and it’s a never ending battle, and for him to go cross handed doesn’t surprise me, but once again, I don’t expect him to stay that way forever.
Curtis, I wanted to ask you about Jason Day and the streak he’s on. Only two guys, Tiger and Jack, have won their last two starts before winning the Masters. He’s on a streak; can he keep it up?
CURTIS STRANGE: Absolutely I think he can do it. I think it’s a great position to be in. You wonder how long it will last. He’s not thinking like that. He’s doing everything he can possibly do to keep this going through next week, and I’d much rather be in a position where people are saying, can it last, versus trying to find something. I’d rather be in Jason Day’s position than Jordan Spieth’s position right now.
But Jason is long. He’s incredibly streaky. We saw that last year. But really it’s a streak continuing from last year to this year. He seems to have figured it out.
Remember, we wondered when we first saw Jason about five years ago at Augusta, and then he didn’t quite play to what we thought he might the next couple of years, due to injuries and whatnot. He’s doing now what I’ve always thought he would be able to do. He’s an incredible swinger of the golf club, a free swinger, which means he’s going to play some streaky golf, up and down a little bit, much like Rory. And as Andy said earlier, when a standard has been set by Tiger playing well every single week, sometimes it’s a bit unfair to hold all these guys to that. But Jason is having a streak of his own, and it’s good stuff, and I don’t see any reason why he won’t be playing well next week.
ANDY NORTH: He took a lot of time off the fall that early in the year when he wasn’t playing great, everybody was criticizing him. Now he’s got it going. He drives the ball so well, which that’s to me the one shot you have to be able to do at Augusta. That is a huge advantage, that if you can drive the ball really well and straight, and the better he plays and the harder he swings at it, the straighter the thing goes.
But I think the biggest change in Jason over the last three or four months is his short game is incredible. He went from a player that had an average short game that could really strike the ball to where now you’re seeing him play some rounds where he goes out and hits nine or ten or 11 greens and shoots 2 , 3, 4 under par. He’s getting it done with his short game, and I think that just adds another bullet to his gun, and he’s been able to show us a whole new side of him with his short game and this great ability to recover after poor shots.
You guys were fortunate to cover Zach Johnson’s big win at St. Andrews this past summer. Knowing he’s a former Masters winner, he’s going to come in, as you know, defending Open Champion. We’ve talked about past winners. Of course having chances, playing well, Phil Mickelson, into their 40s, Zach Johnson is 40 now, you guys’ opinion on Zach as he approaches this Masters coming up?
CURTIS STRANGE: You know, Zach is a special type of player. When you’re giving up yards off the tee like he is every day and you have the mental capacity to compete with these guys and to win big golf tournaments, that’s a special individual. And for him to do well you know, St. Andrews not so much as Augusta National, but Augusta is such a long golf course now, he has to be so sharp. It doesn’t mean he can’t win. It doesn’t mean he can’t play. But he has to be sharper than the rest. He has to be sharper than Phil Mickelson at Augusta. He has to be in the fairway every hole because it sets up the second shot which is so long to be able to control the ball, to put it where he wants to around the hole. He has to be precise on all the par 5s from 100 yards because he’s not going to be able to go at the green like all the big hitters, and I admire so much a guy like that. I was like that a little bit. I wasn’t as long as some because we didn’t have the difference in driving distance that we have now, but for Zach to compete and win against these guys, Dustin Johnson and Jason and Rory and Phil and Tiger, I mean, it’s good stuff. I admire the hell out of him.
As far as I’m concerned, he always has a chance, but let’s just remember, he has to be very, very good to beat these guys.
ANDY NORTH: If you go back and look at how he won, when he did win the Masters, he played the par 5s incredibly well and laid up on all of them. He has the grit to get it done. I think that’s the most important thing for Zach is that he’s such a tough competitor that he will figure out a way to be able to shoot some scores.
I know he’s struggled a little bit finding a driver he’s really comfortable with. He broke his driver, and he’s been struggling that way, and that’s such an important part of his game. He has to drive the ball in the fairway. If he does that, he always has a chance.
MIKE TIRICO: He did shoot a pair of 68s Saturday and Sunday last year, so you know he’s still got the ability. Andy talked about the driver, which is such a good point. A good show at Bay Hill I think it was and getting to the Match Play here towards the weekend or the quarters of that event, at least he’s coming in and playing halfway decent. Encouraging signs, and as we said before, conditions will be such a factor because if he’s in play, we know that he’s got the confidence and the memory of playing the par 5s as three shotters but not feeling like it’s a disadvantage because he’s succeeded doing it, and that’s the way he knows he has to play there.
As Andy always talks about, and Andy has schooled us on this for the 20 years I’ve been going there with him covering the Masters, if you have local knowledge there with confidence and with great memories of how you did it, it is such an advantage over the field, perhaps more of an advantage that at any other event all year, so you’re playing to somebody who’s going to come in with that advantage. He’s one of those guys where you don’t come in saying he’s a favorite to win, but you know he’s going to be around if he’s having a halfway decent start to his week.
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ESPN’s live coverage of The Open – the third major of the golf season from the famous Old Course at St Andrews, Scotland – delivered strong ratings and viewership throughout the weekend, posting double-digit increases from 2014.
Overall, The Open delivered a 1.4 US household rating, up 27 percent from 2014 (1.1), and 1,940,000 viewers, up 29 percent from 2014 (1,500,000), according to Nielsen. Monday’s final round coverage peaked from 1:30-1:45 p.m. ET with a 3.7 household rating and 5,294,000 viewers as American Zach Johnson captured his second career major, defeating Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman in the first playoff at The Open since 2009. Daily highlights:
- First Round (Thurs): Coverage averaged a 0.8 household rating, flat with 2014, and 1,091,000 viewers, a nine percent gain from 2014 (1,000,000 viewers);
- Second Round (Fri and Sat): Due to weather delays, the second round aired across Friday and Saturday, averaging a 1.2 household rating, up 33 percent from 2014 (0.9 rating) and 1,550,000 viewers, a 29 percent spike from 2014 (1,205,000 viewers);
- Third Round (Sun): a 2.1 household rating and 2,910,000 viewers, increases of 110 percent (1.0 rating) and 115 percent (1,351,000 viewers), respectively, from the weather impacted 2014 event;
- Final Round (Mon): a 2.1 household rating, up 11 percent from 2014 (1.9), and 2,851,000 viewers, up five percent from 2014 (2,703,000 viewers).
Top metered markets for ESPN’s 2015 presentation of The Open include West Palm Beach (2.9 rating), Louisville (2.7), Oklahoma City (2.6), Tampa-St. Petersburg (2.4), Greensboro, N.C. (2.4), Ft. Myers, Fla. (2.4), Columbus (2.4), Charlotte (2.3), Indianapolis (2.2), Raleigh-Durham (2.2) and Tulsa (2.2).
Monday at The Open: WatchESPN’s Best Golf Event Ever and Top 10 All-Time in Minutes Viewed
The Open on ESPN digital platforms reached record-breaking viewership this year as live coverage of Monday’s final round finished as the top golf event and one of the top 10 events all-time in minutes viewed for WatchESPN behind the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship game. Monday’s coverage alone – including the early morning session, Spanish language feed and international view – generated over 1.1 million unique viewers, more than 94 million total minutes viewed and an average minute audience of 222,000.
Across all platforms throughout the entire tournament, The Open on WatchESPN saw a daily average of 599,000 unique viewers that watched over 40 million minutes per day, up 60 percent and 105 percent, respectively, compared to last year’s tournament. Additionally, each round of The Open saw increases over their respective day of play in 2014, averaging a 23 percent increase in unique viewers and a 33 percent increase in total minutes.
In total, golf content across all ESPN digital platforms – including ESPN.com, the ESPN app and WatchESPN – averaged 55.5 million minutes per day and an average minute audience of 39,000, both double the daily average of the previous year’s tournament.
Fans watching ESPN’s live coverage of golf’s oldest major, The Open, from the famous Old Course at St Andrews, Scotland, have seen the introduction of a new concept in televised golf: a rotating main announce booth.
Situated on a platform high in the air adjacent to the 18th fairway at St Andrews, the booth can rotate to provide a view of several different scenes out the window behind the main anchor desk.
Starting with a view of the 18th hole fairway and green, and the first hole tee and fairway, the booth can rotate around to look at the No. 1 green, and then continue around to a view of the 18th tee and the famous “Road Hole,” the 17th.
The booth’s movement is controlled by a joystick in the hand of the anchor announcer. Mike Tirico, who is hosting coverage of The Open for the 19th consecutive year, introduced viewers to the rotating booth after a commercial break during the telecast of Thursday’s opening round.
Mike McQuade, ESPN vice president, production, who oversees the network’s golf coverage, Bill Lacy, senior vice president, production, IMG Productions, and Dirk Jager, principal of Tall Order Structures, worked together to develop the concept of the rotating booth.
In addition to the main booth, the structure also holds a studio below that ESPN is using for SportsCenter updates from The Open and an annex containing commentary positions that was used for the ESPN3 “Road Hole” feed.
ESPN’s live coverage of The Open concludes Monday with the final round. The live telecast starts at 6 a.m. ET, with a three-hour encore on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.
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With The Open at Scotland’s St Andrews links course now set to finish on Monday after two days of weather delays, ESPN has finalized its television schedule for live coverage of the completion of the championship.
The 144th renewal of golf’s oldest major was affected by rain on Friday, delayed more than three hours, and then delayed more than 10 hours on Saturday by high winds that made the course unplayable. As a result, Round 2 had to be completed on Saturday, Round 3 was pushed to Sunday and Round 4 was moved to Monday.
ESPN’s live telecast of Round 3 will begin at 7 a.m. ET (noon in Scotland), with the telecast of Monday’s final round set to begin at 6 a.m. ET (11 a.m. in Scotland).
ESPN3 will offer options for a second-screen experience during the ESPN telecast, including a Featured Players feed on Saturday. The feed will open at 7 a.m. and will join the Phil Mickelson/Gary Woodland pairing in progress. Then at 8:30 a.m., the Featured Players feed will tee off with the Jordan Spieth/Sergio Garcia pairing.
The full ESPN3 schedule for Saturday and Sunday:
|Sun 7/19/2015||6 a.m.- 2:30 p.m.||@TheOpen Live||Round 3|
|6 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.||International View – The Open||Round 3|
|7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.||Featured Players – The Open||Round 3|
|7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.||In Spanish – The Open||Round 3|
|7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.||ESPN Telecast||Round 3|
|6:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.||The Road Hole (#17) – The Open||Round 3|
|Mon 7/20/2015||6 a.m. – 2 p.m.||ESPN Telecast||Round 4|
|6 a.m. – 2 p.m.||In Spanish – The Open||Round 4|
|6 a.m. – 2 p.m.||@TheOpen Live||Round 4|
|6 a.m. – 2 p.m.||International View – The Open||Round 4|
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