GOLF

Golf Expert Dan Mason had his eye-balls on this weekend’s Masters; He shares his expertise!

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Mason

Spring and golf season has officially started across America.

The 88th playing of The Masters is in the books with now two–time champion and now the World’s number #1 Scottie Scheffler firmly established himself as the most dominant force the game has seen since Tiger Woods ruled the sport for two decades. The steady hand of CBS and ESPN once again guided viewers through four days of riveting coverage.

Let’s  get to the grades:

Let’s start with the production team, led by Sellers Shy at CBS. He continues to implement many new technological angles for CBS’ Masters coverage the past couple years. The  stunning overhead drone visuals of Augusta National and the entirety of the surrounding landscape is mesmerizing. Yet this year, I felt that Sellers’ early week work around the elements that the players had to contend with struck the exact chord the viewers had to understand as the iconic canvas that we’ve become so accustomed to was overtaken by high winds on Thursday and most notably on Friday.

Who can forget the wind literally causing a sandstorm out of the deep bunker on #18 as Tiger Woods stood on the green shielding himself from the grains of sand that swirled through the air. It was a moment that won’t fade quickly when Friday’s round unfolded. Player after player gazing to the heavens on #12 tee at Amen Corner muttering to themselves as the short par 3 wreaked havoc on the world’s best. It was flawless, the  work by Sellers and his team.

And the shot of Tiger shaking the retiring Verne Lundquist’s hand after Tiger completed #16 on Sunday will remain an indelible moments for both participants, including Verne’s famous 2005 call of Tiger’s chip in. (“In your Life”)

Now for the criticism and this has been a complaint of mine the past few years. We just didn’t see enough shots of other prominent players who were forging into contention the first couple rounds. Former winner Patrick Reed had gotten himself to -2 at one point and there was little mention.

Ditto for Euro fan favorite Tommy Fleetwood. Would’ve liked to see more of Xander Schauffele in the final round, particularly as he was fading, Why? It was important to demonstrate why players who were in contention and why they faltered.

This would provide an understanding of what front runners would face a short time later and keep millions of viewers engaged. Clearly the strategy has been to focus on five to six players and let the story play out from there. But in my opinion a mistake was made by production to not widen their lens on more players as the course conditions at Augusta as were brutal as seen in some time. Golf viewers love a good train wreck.

We needed a little bit of that to relay the whole story.

The Grades:

Production:  B+

Lead announcer Jim Nantz deserves an A. I’ve written many times that Jim Nantz is the greatest ever to call professional golf and once again he came through. His keen challenge was really trying to articulate some of the toughest conditions that the world’s best golfers faced due to a brute of a golf course.

And his, “That might help, that might help, can you believe it?” of Bryson DeChambeau’s  hole-out, to close out round #3 will be replayed for years to come.

Lastly, Nantz’ clear affection and reverence with his sendoff Sunday evening for the great Verne Lundquist who was incredibly touching as Verne signed off after 40 years working for CBS and the Masters.  As Nantz delivered his remarks to Verne, he ended with, “Thank you for a wonderful soundtrack for all of our lives,” who among us didn’t have a tear!  Nantz has a way of marking time. Once again, he delivered eloquently. And let’s not forget to mention another goodbye he delivered for the Chairman of  CBS Sports, Sean McManus.  Outstanding work and recognition.

 

Lead Reporters, Analyst and Course Reporters:  A-

Trevor Immelman, Frank Nobilo, Dottie Peppers and Verne Lundquist

Love the former champ Immelman. His preparation was outstanding as always and really his insights on Scheffler with a lead were particularly useful. Pepper gave us a very good understanding of the Par 5, 15th when she remarked saying it doesn’t matter where you hit your 3rd shot whether the ball was on the green as a putt or from the fairway, it’s just a really hard 3rd shot regardless. (Jim Nantz with Dan Mason in the famed Butler Cabin)

Such an insightful comment and I never heard it described that way but after watching The Masters for 4 decades, it had me thinking of the hole differently than I ever did.  Excellent work.

Frank Nobilo was on his game Sunday. He remarked how the Masters rookie, Ludvig Aberg, really seemed to be playing the course with some veteran type course knowledge. Perhaps some foreshadowing for potential future success for the young Swede?

And Lundquist, as per usual, delivered right to the last group he would call from his iconic 16th tower as Scheffler made birdie and he remarked as only Verne could, “Why not?  Why not get in the hole?”  Thanks Verne!  We all need it and welcome that folksiness each April! On the other side of the coin, Sunday brought this grade down a little bit as there was an anti-climatic feel as Scheffler seized the lead and the last couple hours of the broadcast were more a coronation and less a duel that CBS had hoped for.

Analysts grouped – grade B+ 

Amanda Balionis  She felt a bit off and rushed. For example, her final round interview with Colin Morikawa seemed unsettled. Good question was asked of a leader who faltered but I wanted more. Incomplete is the grade here perhaps due to network time constraints.

ESPN Coverage  Scott Van Pelt and Curtis Strange. They do such a wonderful job, year in and year out, of setting the scene at Augusta and this year was no different. SVP has a way of uniquely kicking this tournament into high gear as you can almost feel that he’s getting viewers hyped for the coming four days of coverage. This year was no different with one notable and large gaffe, he and Strange made  As the weather really caused trouble on Friday the cut line really was starting to become interesting. Unfortunately for SVP and Strange they made too early of a call on who would be sent packing. For example as Ricki Fowler finished up, they essentially said it was good to see Fowler back at Augusta after an extended absence but he would not be playing the weekend.  Not true.  As the weather worsened, the cut line went to +6 and several players made it to the weekend, including Fowler.

ESPN Grade C+ and that’s really a reflection of the early cut line call. Can’t have it. It was a glaring mistake.

 

 

 

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Dan Mason

Dan Mason has been in sports broadcasting since the 1980s, doing play by play, color and covering the ACC. He previously hosted programming for ESPN Radio in Raleigh. He can be reached at danmason206@gmail.com twitter: @mason87dan

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