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Writing And Videos

If you’re going to be a player people will remember, you have to win the Open at St. Andrews.



U.S. Open Ratings: Up From '14, Plunge Vs. West Coast Opens

The 2015 U.S. Open final round drew an average 4.2 overnight Nielsen rating, up 33% from last year's record low but well down from the 6.6 for the last west coast U.S. Open (2012).

Here are the highights from Fox's press release...

The final round featured a crowded leaderboard with a number of players narrowly off the pace and Sunday’s action posted a 4.2 household rating, averaging 6.7 million viewers on FOX broadcast network, a +46% increase over the U.S. Open’s final round in 2014 (4.6 million). The 4.2 rating versus 2014’s 3.0 marked the largest year-over-year gain for the final round since 1991-1992 (4.7/15 to 7.0/19).
Four-day coverage of the 115th U.S. Open Championship averaged a combined 3.5 million viewers each day across FOX and FOX Sports 1, a +40% increase over last year’s combined average on ESPN and NBC (2.5 million viewers). According to a custom analysis provided by Nielsen, the almost 40 hours of coverage of the 2015 U.S. Open reached a total of 34.9 million viewers.
Final Round Highlights:

Sunday’s final-round broadcast peaked with 11.2 million viewers from 10:00–10:30 PM ET as audiences watched Spieth birdie the 18th hole and runner-up Dustin Johnson finish in the final group with a disappointing three-putt to finish one shot back.

The primetime portion of Sunday’s telecast averaged a 5.3 rating and 8.7 million viewers from 7:00-10:46 PM ET, winning the night among the broadcast networks and giving FOX its most-watched Sunday night in primetime since Jan. 4 (NFC Wild Card Playoffs).
In comparison to 2014’s final round, the final round broadcast showed significant ratings jumps across multiple key demographics, including: men 18-34, +63% (1.3 vs. 0.8) and men 18-49, +46%, (1.9 vs. 1.3).

With Martin Kaymer's blowout 2014 victory leading to the lowest rating of modern times, Fox had no where to go but up. Not helping matters: Fox was also on for an unprecedented eight hours and some of those early telecast moments were showing little golf on a golf course that turned off casual viewers. That could not have helped momentum.

Since this was a west coast U.S. Open where the numbers are supposed to be better due to east coast viewers watching in prime time and coupled with the exciting finish, makes Fox's performance the worst ever for a Pacific Time Zone U.S. Open.

Past west coast overnights:

6/21/1992           6.8
6/21/1998           6.7
6/18/2000           8.8
6/15/2008           8.5
6/20/2010           6.9
6/17/2012           6.6

For average viewership of 3.5 million viewers in the prime time window, perhaps a more accurate number given the added length of Fox's weekend presentations:

Four-day coverage averaged a combined 3.5 million viewers in the prime time hours. The west coast Opens on record:

1998 Olympic  -20% 1998 (4.4 million)
2000 Pebble Beach -47% 2000 (6.6 million)
2008 Torrey Pines -24% 2008 (4.6 million)
2010 Pebble Beach -19% 2010 (4.3 million)
2012 Olympic  -27% 2012 (4.8 million)

The buried lede may be Fox's massive performance on digital streaming coverage, which was generally far more compelling and innovative than the main broadcast, sporting many fun bells and whistles that barely made the main show.

Digital Highlights:
Sunday’s final round was the second most-watched event ever on FOX Sports Go.
Through FOX Sports GO, and the U.S. Open official app, total live streams started were up +354% (5.9 million vs. 1.3 million) over 2014.  Additionally, total streamed minutes reached 158 million, eclipsing the U.S. Open’s previous high of 130 million minutes in 2012

For the earlier rounds, Sports Media Watch analyzed the second round numbers from Chambers Bay and Friday's telecast did not fare as well as Thursday's telecast with Tiger Woods.

The numbers were down from the 2012 Friday telecast (another Tiger afternoon day).

Second round coverage of the U.S. Open drew 2.0 million viewers on FOX and Fox Sports 1 Friday, up 50% from last year (1.3M), but down 5% from 2013 (2.1M). Prior to this year, the event aired on NBC and ESPN.

Keep in mind this year’s U.S. Open is taking place on the West Coast, allowing for extensive primetime coverage. Compared to previous West Coast editions of the tournament, Friday’s viewership declined 31% from 2.9 million in 2012 and 6% from 2.1 million in 2010. also found the first two rounds lacking compared to 2013 at Merion and well down from 2012 at Olympic Club, but up from 2014 at Pinehurst.

In its first year televising the U.S. Open Golf Championship it’s convenient for Fox to compare its numbers to last year’s, but this results in an apples-to-oranges comparison since this year’s tournament is being played on the west coast and airing in primetime in the east coast and last year’s tournament didn’t.


Francesa Rant Fox's U.S. Open Telecast: “They’re in kindergarten. The other guys are in graduate school.”

While collecting a few thoughts on Fox Sport's golf debut, it's clear there is not enough time to go through all of the issues.

But Mike Francesa's rant about sums things up on the telecast side of things for me, particularly his fuming about the split screen of Jason Day walking as Rory McIlroy was making a huge charge. I'm not sure if they were hoping to see if Day could survive the walk from 3 to 4, or maybe a button was stuck in the truck, but it was a low point of the day right after the missing blimp views of shots at 18 or the lack of a Jordan Spieth cam in scoring as he watched Dustin Johnson's tournament winning three-putt.

Here's Francesa:


Poll: Should The U.S. Open Return To Chambers Bay?

Before you cast a vote, I'd ask you to check out my evaluation at The Loop and Jaime Diaz's Golf World story on Chambers Bay.

Both make somewhat similar points: for all of its flaws, issues and missed design opportunties, Chambers Bay deserves another chance. The greens became an issue as we feared late last week, and not necessarily for the right or fair reasons. That's fixable.

Whether Pierce County and the USGA are willing to do what is necessary to make this venue work for fans and golfers, I haven't a clue. The USGA's working relationship with local governmental agencies is always vital in determining whether they or any golf organization brings their circus to town. In this case, getting to the course was not an issue. The issues can be solved, but it'll take more money and improved problem-solving vision than was brought to the table after the 2010 U.S. Amateur.

What say you?

Should The U.S. Open Return To Chambers Bay? free polls


Instant Poll: Your Overall Sense Of The 2015 U.S. Open?

Insulated here at Chambers Bay and mostly looking to Twitter for feedback, it's tricky to evalute a tournament week and easy to merely declare it a success because it ended on Sunday night with a great winner.

Still, let's keep it simple: your overall sense of the 2015 U.S. Open week. (We'll talk TV and the future for Chambers Bay later as I have some opinions on those fronts.)

So vote and comment away...

Your Overall Sense Of The 2015 U.S. Open? free polls


React: Jordan Spieth Wins The 2015 U.S. Open

What a nutty finish, but did you expect anything less from Chambers Bay? The first game story from USA Today's Steve DiMeglio.

We have a Grand Slam march headed to St. Andrews and an American superstar golfer. Pretty exciting times!

Your kneejerk reactions...


2015 U.S. Open Final Round Open Comment Thread

The U.S. Open's final day arrives with a compelling four-way tie, a golf course on edge but set up for some big risk-reward opportunity and mercifully, a finishing hole as the architect intended.

As for a winner, 37% of you think Jordan Spieth is the man, 30% like Dustin Johnson. Personally, I think Spieth is the one if he channels his energy well. I'm all for his poor man's Trevino chatter, but yesterday the adrenaline swings were strong and he's going to need all of his youthful exuberance to cope with Chambers Bay.

Fox is on, the sun is out and the wind is up, with the forecast calling for a swith in the late afternoon. 

Your US Open Leaderboard.


Live course stats.


Broccoli Or Cauliflower Greens, Par 4 or Par 5, The 2015 U.S. Open Final Round At Chambers Bay Should Be A Dandy

A four-way tie heading into the final round should be enticement enough to park yourself in front of the screen Sunday. Then throw in the wacky Chambers Bay and it's hard to rule out even the +1's.

Is the course close to going over the top? I believe it's close, but I also believe they won't lose control because the weather forecast of high 70s and bright sunshine will be taken into account by the USGA. I covered this and some of the player comments about the course at, including Rory re-positioning the Chambers greens on the vegetable spectrum. And regarding the poa issue, here were some thoughts from Golf World reminding that this is a west coast U.S. Open tradition.

And then there is the 18th hole.

Jordan Spieth may just play up the first fairway, depending on wind and his place on the leaderboard as we note at The USGA has always love converting par-5s to 4s and playing to a par of 70. This week the first/eighteenth hole interchangeability hasn't been a big deal because 70 was maintained as the par and because we haven't seen a second day of the par-4 version of the 18th. I fear this will be another Oakland Hills in the par-5-to-4 division, and we all know how that worked out in 1996.

And Steve DiMeglio filed this on Sergio's criticisms of the course.

"Why do they do this to the course?" Garcia told USA TODAY Sports after shooting 70-75-70, adding that only the British Open carries more weight in his soul. "This is a great championship with great history. The U.S. Open deserves so much better than this. It hurts to see what they have done to the course. These greens, come on, let's be honest, you can't say they are good. It's just not right."


"A fan cannot really watch and follow and get inside the action."'s Michael Bamberger has been floored by the scenery, the audacity of the course, the energy of the natives and...a course billed as the first ever built to host a U.S. Open that is the "most fan-unfriendly" course he's seen.

The experience getting to Chambers Bay, from my random polling of fans in merchandise and the coffee line, has suggested mostly unanimous delight with the effort to get people to the course and the on-site amenities. But there is one missing piece: the ability to sit on a dune and see golf.

As for the course, it makes no physical sense. It is so complicated, as an engineering riddle, as a walk, as a living play field that must be maintained. I apologize in advance for the italics but I must: every good golf course in the world has this as a starting point: you play the hole, stumble off the green, play the next. You can see the shepherd’s path! And if not, the architect. The Old Course in St. Andrews. Colonial in Fort Worth. National Golf Links in Southampton, N.Y. Bethlehem Municipal in Bethlehem, Pa. This Chambers Bay course is a 10-mile hike, start to finish. I like hiking. But not while wearing Foot-Joys. The bunkers are so much work. If had to go to a Chambers Bay bunker to buy you a half-gallon of milk, baby would do without.


Poll: Who Will Win The 2015 U.S. Open?

It was a wild day at Chambers Bay but we may have some clarity heading into Sunday as it looks like a four-man race. Maybe. Your pick please...

Who will win the 2015 U.S. Open? free polls


2015 U.S. Open Third Round Open Comment Thread

We've started with very sunny skies and a light breeze. As we discussed on Morning Drive, look for the greens to bake out a little sooner. The 18th is back to a par-5 (mercifully), but the 15th is at the regrettable 243 tee (look out).

Fox Sports has the coverage all day with multiple streaming options at

If some of Fox's new bells and whistles are your thing, you are more likely to find them there and also get to revel in the ramblings of Buddy Marucci! But do note their hole flyover graphics, which are now the industry standard in accuracy, beauty and in revealing green contours.

Also, here's the backstory on your viewing options, including specific holes and featured groups along with the primary Fox Sports 1 broadcast.

Your US Open Leaderboard.


Live course stats.


2015 U.S. Open Seattle Times And News Tribune Coverage

Though not on the level of the UK's best papers, the U.S. Open often brings out the best in local television and print coverage.

But as modern media changes and newspapers become less viable, the "special section" has become almost extinct. Yet this week's coverage from the Seattle Times and Tacoma's News Tribune has been over-the-top good, with full daily coverage and fun extras like "Seattle Sketcher" Gabriel Campanario.

Campanario's work from the week here will resonate with anyone who has been on site.


Gary Player Vents On Chambers Bay: "It's actually a tragedy."

Gary Player appeared on Morning Drive and before the legend could be asked a question, he unleashed a rant for the ages on how Chambers Bay is emblematic of a sport that refuses to do anything about a distance chase bifurcating the game, driving up costs and driving down fun.

Granted, the 50th anniversary marking of his Grand Slam-clinching-U.S. Open win is an awkward way to do it, but what Player says is accurate and timely: this is what happens when architects (and developers) have to build for a game that has not regulated equipment closely enough to keep distance from overtaking skill.

He calls the design here a "tragedy," "devastating" and points out that this is not a model for public golf. Considering the severe terrain used here instead of the more traditional ground that could have been used, and he's not incorrect.

And this zinger towards Robert Trent Jones Jr.:

The man who designed this golf course had to have one leg shorter than the other.

There is good news, however: the players who oppose a ball or distance rollback (overwhelmingly), are made to suffer. So there is that.



Media Files: Dallas Morning News' Spieth Dilemma

Ed Sherman writing for Poynter considers the sad state of affairs at the once-mighty Dallas Morning News, where sending a reporter to cover hometown golfing hero Jordan Spieth is an on-going issue.

Sherman writes:

The Morning News, though, wasn’t at the Masters in April when the 21-year-old Spieth donned the green jacket with a stunning performance. Leavell says he considered sending a reporter to Augusta during the weekend after Spieth jumped out to an early lead. However, the cost was prohibitive for a full-priced airfare.

Leavell went with Plan B to chronicle Spieth’s historic victory. Nichols wrote a 1-A story based on watching the tournament on TV with members at Spieth’s Dallas club. Kevin Sherrington and Barry Horn contributed columns. Leavell also hired former Washington Post golf writer, Len Shapiro, to file a story from Augusta. Add a picture page, and the Morning News had 17 columns dedicated to Spieth.

Nichols is covering the U.S. Open this week for the News. Here's his story on Spieth's second round. Click on it so we can help pay for his airfaire.


Jason Day's Vertigo Appears At The Worst Possible Time

Scary stuff today at Chambers Bay as Jason Day suffered a bout with vertigo while walking down the 9th hole's steep hill.

Three-under-par at the time, Day managed to bogey the hole and sign his card.

Brian Wacker at with the latest on Day's condition as he sits in the top 10 and in his motor home parked on site here.

Day was treated at Chambers Bay, where he is staying for the week with his family, by Dr. Robert Stoecker and Dr. Charles Souliere and is resting comfortably, according to a statement from his agent.

"His condition is being monitored closely and he is hopeful he will be able to compete this weekend in the final rounds of the U.S. Open," the statement said in part. "He wants to thank all who treated him at the Franciscan Medical Group and thank all of the fans and friends who have reached out to he and his family.” 

The scary moment put Fox Sports very much on the spot and they passed their first big broadcasting test with flying colors, handling the scary situation with the right tone. Though I'm not sure Greg Norman leaving the booth to go use his connections to chat with Day while under duress was the Woodward and Bernstein moment John Strege says it was, they handled it to perfection. Though not having an on-staff reporter possibly hurt their ability to shed light on Day's recent issues or his condition.

Fox Sports has posted video of the scary moment.


Spieth On Chambers 18th: "As a par 4 doesn't make much sense"

Fox Sports sound gurus picked up some terrific sound of Jordan Spieth offering his thoughts on the 18th hole, shortened to play as a par-4 in round two of the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.

While it might have sounded like a little of the Jordan that rubbed some the wrong way last year, Dave Kindred suggests that Spieth has become endearing even in his less positive moments.

Then he got after it: "I think the hole doesn't make sense because you can hit it down the left center of the fairway and still end up in the right bunker in trouble. There's a group of about 10, 12 guys that can fly it 310 yard that have an entirely different hole to play there. For anybody else, you have to hit in a five- or six-yard area. And if it's going to be a par 4 (it's sometimes played as a par 5) and you're going to bring that other bunker into play, I think the tee should have been moved up more. . . . I just didn't know where I could hit that tee shot. . . . I wasn't going to hit a 3-iron off the tee and then hit 3-wood. . . . So all in all, I thought it was dumb hole today."

The hole doesn't make much sense as a par-4, both in the landing area dynamic and in the green, which works better for a par-5 approach. Here's hoping it reverts to par-5 status for the weekend.

Lee Westwood also tweeted his views.

This highlight reel of Spieth's finish shows him bungling the hole, but does not include his less than positive architecture analysis.


Video: Chris Kirk Eagles 10th At Chambers Bay

It took a while but we finally got a nice hole-out and huge crowd reaction at the wild 10th hole, with its green sandwiched in between the dunes.

The video of Chris Kirk's hole-out:


"Woods' lackluster play creating challenges for golf retailers"

Darren Rovell looks at Tiger's missed cut tendencies and where that leaves retailers stocking Nike gear centered around majors. Most interesting is how retailers were left out in the cold by Tiger sticking with his nurse shoes, just how much gear people buy based on seeing it worn at a major, and how well Under Armour is doing with Jordan Spieth.

Rovell writes:

Nike doesn't yet have a line for Rory McIlroy, but most expect that will be the case. In the meantime, Under Armour -- which sponsors Masters winner Justin Spieth from head to toe -- is making up huge ground.

"We can't keep his stuff in stock," Baker said. "Under Armour did decent before Spieth, but once he won the Masters, it was lock-the-doors good."

Under Armour officials won't give out specific numbers, but a spokesperson did tell that golf sales on the company's website have increased more than 100 percent since the Masters.

Here at Chambers Bay, offers stats on what is his worst performance in a major. Which, as Bob Harig notes, was just his fifth missed cut in a major.

As for Tiger's 80-76 performance, Rex Hoggard writes:

Regardless of what you may think of Como and his philosophies, with opinions ranging from confusion to outright contempt, the tandem are now just a half dozen PGA Tour starts into the experiment and it’s a tad early in the process to start cleaning house.

But what is just as clear is there is no sign Woods has bottomed out, which many believed was the case when he went around Muirfield Village earlier this month in 85 strokes.


Butch: Tiger's A Lost Soul And It's Hard To Watch

Former Tiger instructor Butch Harmon tells the Press Association's Phil Casey that watching Tiger shoot 80 at Chambers Bay is like going to Wimbledon and watching Roger Federer struggle to clear the net.

Casey writes:

"It's kind of sad to be honest with you. I am not sure any of us has the answer. He looks like a lost soul out there. We hope he would go home and take some time off and don't come back until you are 100 per cent ready to play.

"He is not playing a lot of tournaments and the ones he turns up to play are the biggest ones that present the biggest challenge. If you are not ready it's going to find you out."

Dave Kindred on Tiger's game:

It must feel as if someone else did it in what was once his body. Once the lord of all he surveyed, Woods now is forlorn. Once triumphant, winner of 14 majors. Now, defeated.


Fox Sports Off To Strong U.S. Open Ratings Start

An excellent start over a very long day on Fox Sports no doubt learning to love these west coast venues.

Here goes, with comparisons to 2012, the last time the U.S. Open was played in the Pacific Time Zone.

Fox (Network), 8-11 PM ET: 2.4/4

Up 71% from NBC in 2014. In 2012 at Olympic Club, NBC drew a 2.07.

Fox Sports 1

U.S. Open Noon-8 pm ET: 1.28

That's up 20% from last year’s comparable first round coverage on ESPN (1.07), down from 2012 at Olympic when ESPN drew a 1.6.


Will The Chambers Bay Greens Become The Story?

The players are understandably frustrated with the Chambers Bay greens, which look awful on HD TV and not a whole lot better in person.

As I noted in this item for, the speed inconsistency most bothered Phil Mickelson late in his round, though the USGA's Stimpmeter numbers suggest otherwise. (Bob Harig also tackled the topic, with comments from Monty.)

The bigger issue may be the inconsistency in quality from green-to-green. The more recently grown-in fescue greens (7, 13, etc.) are superior to the older ones infested with in-full-bloom poa.

But how much complaining is warranted when, according to Justin Ray, the 72.72 field scoring average in round one was the second easiest U.S. Open start over the last 20 years. Not since Olympia Fields in 2003 have players had it so "easy."

There is also the issue of whether it's the responsibility of the superintendent to provide perfectly consistent speeds from practice putting green to the 18th. I say no. It's up to the player to figure out and note the differences. However, the stress of tournament conditions along with the recent warm spell have added a stress element that has the greens on our radar as the rest of this U.S. Open plays out.

It's hard to say what the weather will do over the next three days, but here's the local expert's take so far.