For more than 20 years, producers and directors at golf tournaments have been criticized for focusing on Tiger Woods to the relative exclusion of the rest of the field – even golfers higher than him on the leaderboard.
But after Woods’ victory at the Masters last month, how can CBS resist doing so for the PGA Championship this week at Bethpage Black?
Coordinating producer Lance Barrow said on Wednesday that it is a balancing act.
“I said this from when I first took over for the great Frank Chirkinian when he retired in ’97 and Tiger came on board: Tiger is a story in a golf tournament regardless if he’s winning or losing,” Barrow said.
“If he’s out playing, people want to know what’s going on with Tiger Woods.”
Barrow said last year’s PGA was a good example, in which Woods was in contention but Brooks Koepka still was on the course en route to winning the event.
“Even if Tiger is not winning, you check in from time to time,” Barrow said. “But you can’t let him get in the way, or any player get in the way, of what’s going on with what’s happening on the golf course.
“Frank Chirkinian used to always say, and I learned from him sitting next to him, that you show the stars. His big deal was he always showed Ben Hogan walking up the 18th or Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus. Well, it’s the same thing in this tournament.”
Said host Jim Nantz, “Coming off his epic win and his first appearance since that victory, you’d better believe [Barrow] will be keeping an eye on him, every stop, and I’ll try to lend a caption or two along with [analyst Nick Faldo].”
Does Faldo believe that Woods, who has 15 major championships, now has a chance now to match Jack Nicklaus’ 18?
“He has to be really fit in April for the next five years,” Faldo said, suggesting the Masters is Woods’ best hope.
“I can’t see how he can survive the roughness here and at Pebble [for the U.S. Open]. He’s just got to be on the straight and narrow. Our [British] Open, that could be weather-proofs on and off six times in a day. ... I’ll be really surprised – interested is a better word – to see how he copes with changing conditions, because that back must be bionic in there. It’s really amazing.”