I knew there was a silver lining in the Tour's failure to reach an agreement with ABC.
"I'm going to be no holds barred this year. If I think it, I'm saying it," Paul Azinger tells the USA Today's Tom Spousta.
"You're always a little guarded," Azinger adds. "If I make any kind of critical comment about the Tour, somebody from the Tour calls the producer in about 45 seconds. That's how much they watch."
Spousta lists a few more Azinger comments, some you've probably read in the last week and some you haven't.
On 2007 schedule player input:
"There's not a player out here that gets to vote on it. Input? They didn't ask anybody I know," Azinger says.
It is apparent the limited reach, limited appeal and limitless cross promotion on The Golf Channel is starting to sink in. Azinger again:
"You have to look for golf to find it on The Golf Channel; you stumble on golf to find it on ESPN. You've got ESPN on in all the bars, and then golf comes on, which is good for the players. The Golf Channel's not on in too many bars." He also questions whether viewers will be objectively served: "The Golf Channel already treats the Tour with kid gloves. You won't ever see an exposé of any player coming off The Golf Channel."
And check out John Hawkins' lastest Golf World column:
"I know there's some question about losing ABC and ESPN," said three-time winner Joe Durant [and Tour policy board member], "but this is going to take The Golf Channel to a whole new level."
Really? I can see how a "Big Break XII" featuring Jessica Simpson, Halle Barry and Mischa Barton might take the niche network to a whole new level, although the same probably won't be said of holding the rights to the first two rounds of the FBR Open. The weekday telecasts represent a nice step forward for the new bride, but if this is a marriage of opportunity for TGC, it's one of need for the tour. After ESPN and USA Network pulled out of the Thursday-Friday bidding, where else could Camp Ponte Vedra go?
"Tim [Finchem] said he couldn't be happier with the outcome," said Peter Jacobsen, whom some consider a candidate to succeed Finchem as commissioner. "I think he would have been happier if we had ABC and ESPN. Like every other tour player, I've got my fingers crossed this is the right thing."
Remember, Hawkins was very positive in the initial portrayal of the Fed Ex Cup.
Next week look for more comments questioning the length of the Golf Channel deal.