TV SportsMiller says Open 'wide open, except for Tiger'
By Michael Hiestand, USA Today
- Jun. 8, 2012
NBC lead golf analyst Johnny Miller says "golf needs Tiger Woods to at least threaten on Sundays for the TV ratings."
Woods surged to a dramatic win in the Memorial Tournament on Sunday, and Las Vegas betting odds Thursday made Woods an even bigger favorite — at 11-2 — in next week's U.S. Open. But Miller still sees a big X factor: "It looks pretty green light. But what's bandying about in his head I don't know. It seems like he has it together enough to win regular tournaments. But I don't know about the majors because he wants them so badly."
CBS' Nick Faldo saw a "turning point" in Woods' play Sunday. But Miller notes "we were all gushing over Tiger" after he this season won the Bay Hill Invitational and then "fell apart at The Masters with the pressure of another major." Still, Miller says the Memorial "gave me more confidence (in him) because guys would fold around him like in the old days."
Miller grew up in San Francisco and started playing at the Olympic Country Club, the Open's site, at age 12 — "I know Olympic better than anybody playing this year." It's an "awkward course where if you normally shoot 80, you might hit 95-100" with "slopey fairways" that "don't favor the long hitters. Tiger should probably just forget his driver."
The kind of player suited for an Open at Olympic: "Unflappable ones with semi-boring personalities, showing no emotion — almost automatons. … And every one of the top 10 finishers in last year's Open is playing lousy now. So it's wide open, except for Tiger."
ESPN early-round Open coverage, before NBC's weekend coverage, will get a made-for-TV player group in Woods being teamed with Masters winner Bubba Watson and golf's other ratings mover, Phil Mickelson. And Miller gives a plug to ESPN's show: "The secret of the U.S. Open is that first round. Viewers should watch because somebody in that day's top 15 will probably win it all."Import:
Rebecca Lowe is a soccer TV "presenter" at ESPN UK but is now in ESPN's Bristol, Conn., offices as a host for ESPN/ESPN2's 31-game coverage of the UEFA European Football Championship in Poland and Ukraine. And yes, she says, she'll call it football on-air, "because that's what it is."
Lowe, one of just two women on TV soccer in England, says she "can't get over how many women there are at ESPN." At home, she says, she's had objects thrown at her. "I've had a huge amount of sexual abuse — beyond sexism — coming down over me over the years. You guys here seem to accept women in top-level roles. … But it's ingrained in the culture in England that football is a man's game."
It's almost a tradition for announcers leaving ESPN to make fun of placid Bristol. But Lowe says so far she "likes to work in a place where I don't get stared at, like I'm an object, even on the street where you hear, 'There's that girl who does football.' ''Running numbers:
After drawing 5% of U.S. households for Wednesday's series-clinching Oklahoma City Thunder-San Antonio Spurs game, TNT finishes its NBA playoff coverage averaging 3.1% of U.S. households for 42 games — its second-highest-rated NBA playoffs in 28 years, trailing only last year's ratings. … The NHL's tiny Stanley Cup Finals ratings remained tiny with the New Jersey Devils-Los Angeles Kings Game 4 on Wednesday on the NBC Sports Network cable channel drawing 1.2% of U.S. households — down 33% from the Boston Bruins-Vancouver Canucks Cup Final Game 4 last year. NBCSN's Game 3 drew 1% — down 33% —while the first two games on NBC averaged 1.8% — down 25%.Belmont connections:
NBC Belmont Stakes producer Rob Hyland has a connection to Saturday's race: His father-in-law, Michael Matz, is the trainer of Union Rags, considered to be a prime threat to I'll Have Another's chances.
While co-producing NBC's Florida Derby in 2006, Hyland met Matz's daughter Michelle, who was working as an NBC production assistant for that race. Married in 2009, Rob and Michelle recently had a daughter, Chloe. During the race, mother and daughter will sit with trainer (and dad/grandad) Matz, who will have an NBC camera focused on him. But Hyland says they shouldn't expect preferential treatment. Matz "stays out of my business and I stay out of his. I treat him and Union Rags no differently that I do any other trainer or horse," Hyland says.Spice rack:
Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, in an interview with BobCostas on MLB Network on Saturday (2 p.m. ET), will explain what he would have done for work if he hadn't gone into baseball.
"I'm embarrassed," Leyland says. "I love to sing. … I love soft rock. I'm not into rap too much, obviously." Why should that be obvious?
The main game in Fox's five-game regionalized MLB prime-time coverage Saturday is — surprise! —New York Mets at New York Yankees, going to 48% of the U.S.Parting shot:
With the San Antonio Spurs out of the NBA playoffs, TNT's Charles Barkley says he hopes Spurs star Tim Duncan retires now. "He is obviously slowing down. I want to remember him as a great player," Barkley says.Engine change:
As TNT on Sunday inherits NASCAR Sprint Cup racing from Fox, it will add a NASCAR Generations segment to its pre-race show in which announcers and guests share racing memories. On Sunday, TNT's Kyle Petty will share an especially touching one about his father Richard: "The King always used to say, 'When I walk through my house, there are a lot of memories in the trophies. But I don't know where the money went.' "http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/hiestand-tv/story/2012-06-07/hiestand-miller-says-Open-wide-open-except-for-tiger/55452084/1