Garry Smits talks to Bill Kratzert about the new TV deal and as expected, the reality is setting in: "Losing ESPN was a step backward," he said. And...
"You can say what you want about ESPN, but when guys travel, and get to the hotel room, or when they go into a bar, ESPN is on," Kratzert said. "They've got almost everything now -- Monday Night Football, college football and basketball, the NBA, Major League Baseball -- and golf was right there."But Kratzert did agree with the Tour's stance on what was obviously the deal killer, and understandably so:
Several published reports since the Tour's contract was announced said one stumbling block was that ESPN was demanding the best players in events it covered be given afternoon starting times in each of the first and second rounds. The Tour balked, according to the reports, because it would be a competitive disadvantage for those players to get late starting times two days in a row. By starting in the afternoon both days, they would likely get more mercurial weather conditions (such as the afternoon sea breeze in Ponte Vedra Beach for The Players Championship) and greens spiked up.
"I had heard that," Kratzert said. "If that's the case, it was the right thing to do for the Tour to tell ESPN they couldn't have their way. I understand a network wanting to showcase the top players. But you can't penalize those players by making them putt on spiky greens and windy weather both days."