I don't know if having been blessed to have seen all but one hole in person or if was John Hawkins doing such a superb job, but I'm leaning toward the latter for the sheer joy I found in reading his Tiger-Rocco-Torrey story for Golf World's Newsmakers issue.
The clippings below are for my little archives here just in case the story were to disappear. But just read the whole thing, I suspect you'll savor it.
In a large part because it stuck to the 18-hole format, Torrey Pines became the USGA's finest hour, a slam-dunk triumph with a twist of irony for an organization criticized for its old-world mentality. Woods-Mediate was an extended-play encore with everything on the line, a fifth round that turned a superb tournament into one for the ages.
"Having done this for 20 years, I can say that it was my favorite broadcasting day," says NBC on-course analyst Mark Rolfing. "I've done a lot of good ones, but that day was special. The playoff had everything. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced." The sharp turns in momentum gave it character and amplified the crescendo effect."
On the way to her departure gate, Joan Fay ran into a bunch of NBC employees also flying back to New York but on a different airline. "They asked why she wasn't on their flight," David says. "Joan tells them, 'I'm on JetBlue, and they've got TVs in every seat.' All at once, the NBC people jump up and make a mad dash for the JetBlue ticket counter. Her flight went from almost empty to absolutely booked."
The PGA Tour arranged for a charter from San Diego to Hartford, site of the Travelers Championship that week. About 30 players were on the flight, plus their wives, kids and a few caddies. "We all had TVs, and the timing was pretty much perfect," says Lee Janzen. "We took off around 8:30, and a half-hour later, the playoff started. It seemed like everybody on the plane was pulling for Rocco."
And the still astounding numbers...
It was 2:30 p.m. on the East Coast, 11:30 a.m. local time, and the entire country, or so it seemed, had stopped to watch a golf tournament. The USGA offered live streaming video of the playoff on its website -- the full-day audience of 2.3 million viewers and 615,000 concurrent streams are by far the largest numbers ever generated by a sporting event on the Internet.
"The fact that it was a Monday and people had to work obviously helped," Davis says. "We were told it actually slowed down Internet service worldwide in terms of [available] bandwidth."
ESPN's two hours of coverage produced a rating of 4.2, which was 35 percent higher than the previous record for a golf tournament shown on cable. NBC, meanwhile, generated a whopping 7.6/20 share with its telecast of the back nine, a 90-percent increase over the 2001 U.S. Open playoff between Retief Goosen and Mark Brooks.