Four Ways Tiger Can Make His “Invitational” Special

While most fans will not feel much impact from the Genesis Open’s new “invitational status”, Tiger Woods has an opportunity to leave a special legacy with a few moves.

He can use the example set by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer with their events, put his own twist on the Genesis, and give fans reason to believe last week’s announcement will have a profound impact on this historic PGA Tour stop.

 

Maintain The Open Status 

Last week when the new “invitational format was announced, I was a bit surprised to watch PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan unable to answer a straightforward question about whether the 94-year-old Los Anglees “Open” would retain components of its original status in the form of Monday qualifying, a spot given to the local PGA section and an amateur spot of some kind. After the new invitational format was announced, I heard from many Angelenos wondering if it meant the end of Monday qualifying. The answer we got: TBD.  And the name? Genesis Open is out, to be replaced by something clunky like Genesis Invitational, Genesis Classic or The Genesis.

The narrative for Tiger is a simple one if he agrees to maintain elements of this tournament’s past: “I love Jack and Arnold’s events but this has always been an ‘open’ event, and as long as I can remember I dreamed of qualifying before I got an invitation in 1992 to play that was vital to my career. So even as we go from 144 to 120 players, my foundation will use sponsors invitations to maintain the open nature of this tournament: two Monday qualifying spots, an exemption to the Collegiate Showcase winner, an exemption to the local PGA of America sectional qualifier, and of course, the Charlie Sifford Exemption. Those five spots will maintain ties to this tournament’s past while also not prevent any worthy players from participating. Tiger would be a hero to golf geeks in SoCal and even PGA Tour pros would have to tip their cap at him maintaining the tournament spirit and name.”

 

Hooray For Hollywood 

Tiger has the ability to attract star power like no one else in golf. Since the LA Open’s early days, stars have either been part of the week as spectators or the pro-am. This connection is an essential to distinguishing the Genesis Open going forward for marketing and atmospheric purposes.

The new Celebrity Cup brought out A-listers from screen and sport, while the Wednesday pro-am played in lousy weather brought out fascinating names from sports, business and Hollywood. From a word-of-mouth point of view, the sight of big names early in the week helps attract local television and national media attention. From a fan point of view, seeing major names whapping it around Riviera gives the stop something no other tournament will enjoy.

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Create The Western Hollywood Bowl 

If you’ve ever been at Riviera’s 18th green when a large crowd has assembled, you know there is nothing remotely close in golf. A few thousand people can fit in a very small, shockingly vertical space and the atmosphere is electric. But there is also a tradition at the 18th green dating to the tournament’s early days as a popular place to sit and watch the players come to you. Some of that tradition was built on Scotty Chisholm’s back. For decades, the tournament co-founder would announce every group and their score as they came to the 18th in his trademark kilt. He even performed a modified version in Follow The Sun (1:25 in). I say bring back an 18th green announcer—Chris Harrison and Carson Daly are Tiger/Riviera friends—and get a modern video board situated so that fans can follow the action—there was just a small PGA Tour stock board in the trees 100 yards short of the green.

The focus has clearly been on elaborate corporate structures that do look sensational, but the focus going forward should be on making the 18th green at Riviera one of golf’s most important places to be all week, but especially on Sunday. An announcer, a video board and some promotion as the February edition of the “Bowl” will work wonders for attracting even more fans.  

 Go to the 1:25 mark to see Scotty Chisholm in Follow The Sun:

Win No. 83 At Riviera

With two wins in 2019 and Tiger can return to Riviera next year looking to break Sam Snead’s record at a course where the all-time PGA Tour leader in victories won twice. It would also mean Tiger breaks the record at his event.

The script writes itself!

Hooray for Hollywood!

Genesis Open Moving To Jack And Arnie Status, Field Reduction To 120 Should Liven Up The "Playing Opportunities" Chatter

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ESPN.com’s Bob Harig reports that the Genesis Open hosted by Tiger Woods will move from 144 players to 120 in 2020 and see boosts in both purse and exemption-legngth from winning.

Sources told ESPN that the Genesis Open will receive "elevated status,'' which means it will have a significantly higher purse, offer a three-year PGA Tour exemption to the winner (up from two years) and will have an invitational field that will be reduced to 120 players. This week's tournament at Riviera will have 144 players.

According to sources, an announcement on the new status for the tournament is expected to be made Wednesday, when Woods addresses the media after playing in the tournament pro-am.

I have mixed feelings as anything that elevates such a historic stop is exciting while rewarding the role of Woods and Genesis for making a long term commitment. It’s a wealth of riches for the L.A. stop given Tiger’s involvement, the cachet of Riviera and a prime spot on the calendar for drawing big audiences.

Reducing the field from 144 to 120 is, in part, a statement about the inability of getting a full field around Riviera this time of year. As I noted for Golfweek, a tournament that has gone from 156 to 144 to 120 should open a few eyes to the perils of chasing distance to the point a course cannot defend itself or function. Slow play is often more than just about golfers not making up their mind.

The downside to this news?

The event has been an “Open” competition since 1926 and with that comes a spot for the local PGA section, amateur qualifiers or the successful “Collegiate Showcase” replacement. Throw in four Monday qualifying spots and we know larger fields deliver more storylines, diversity and competitiveness. They also help offset some of the dead weight that turns up too often ( welcome again to LA Vijay, enjoy LAX on a Friday night!).

PGA Tour Orders Takedown Of Funny, Harmless And Viral Video Of Tiger Getting Rejected For Pizza

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As an eyewitness to this adorable little moment in Wednesday’s Farmers Insurance Open pro-am, I can attest that it was 100% comedy and totally innocent.

Here’s what happened: Tiger Woods tees off at the 13th and walks to the forward tee where a local pizza vendor has been commissioned to hand out pies to pro-am participants. The legendary golfer and one of the most famous people on earth is rejected because, it turns out, a health inspection was taking place at that moment and they could not hand out pizza. Tiger doesn’t know this but laughs off the rejection with Joe LaCava and his pro-am partners.

Everyone had a good chuckle at the sight of Woods getting turned away in the same way Roger Federer’s rejection from entering the Australian Open locker room last week went viral.

Brandon Stone of San Diego’s KUSI captured the whole thing and posted it on Twitter. He also wrote about the light moment here and the star-struck lad who loves Tiger but had to say no because of the inspection taking place. Stone’s video of the moment went viral, of course. But Stone also Tweeted the news of the video takedown notice from the PGA Tour.

Copies are floating out there and while I’d like to share one, I don’t want the blood of a takedown notice on my hands here.

But the bigger point: the PGA Tour runs the dreaded “Live Under Par” ad campaign encouraging fans to post photos and videos of fun things happening at PGA Tour events.

As they are getting killed by the European Tour on the social media front when episodes like this happen, you can bet the Euros would have had a blast with Tiger over this. Why common sense did not prevail, we can only imagine.

New Rules: Even Tiger Toying With Leaving The Flagstick In

I would have figured the old man is set in his ways, but Bob Harig of ESPN quotes Tiger discussing the new flagstick rules and the Big Cat is warming to the idea. In some situations.

This in particular caught my eye:

"I've been experimenting trying to hit putts downhill at home and see how that feels, and I didn't find that I hit better putts. It just felt like I could hit it more aggressively, which I did. Then I started running it 8 or 9 feet by. It might be more advantageous when we get on faster greens, a little bit more slope, i.e. Augusta. Where you have that sense of security on a 3-footer, a 4-footer down the hill, you can just take a cut at it."

This is going to be fun!

Farmers Intrigue: Tiger Is Back, Rory Returns For The First Time, The Rough Is Up And Defender Day Is Ready

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The Farmers Insurance Open returns to Torrey Pines with stout rough and even better weather forecast.

While it’s a bit silly to enlist Tiger Woods as a favorite here given the strong recent play of Torrey lovers like Jon Rahm, Marc Leishman, Tony Finau and even defender Jason Day. We debated that notion as Woods kicks off his campaign and having not seen his game when bickering with Matt Adams, I now revise my assessment. He showed no signs of rust and appears to have the same rhythm and swing confidence as he did by the second half of 2018.

As Dan Kilbridge notes in this Golfweek assessment, Wood is mentally refreshed after overloading from a playoff and Ryder Cup run last year. If the putter cooperates, look out.

Woods is also sporting a lot of new clubs in the bag.

Rory McIlroy actually was going to play the Junior World here and even took part in ceremonies before not playing, so he only played Torrey Pines for the first time Wednesday. The course is different than he thought it would be, writes Rex Hoggard.

But as Steve DiMeglio notes, McIlroy’s issues on recent Sundays will be thought about by most. Just not Rory.

I also penned this short item on McIlroy’s views of Hosung Choi and whether he should have received a sponsor’s invite to Pebble Beach.

Jason Day’s relaxed and confident approach makes the defending champion here dangerous, as does a change in irons after a disastrous 2018 campaign approaching the greens.

Here is our Golfweek preview of all things Farmers, including telecast times and more.

And my look at the rough, which is going to play a huge role as it did in 2018:

"Tiger Woods’ biggest moment didn’t last very long"

One highlight of Tiger’s pre-Farmers Insurance Open press conference was the revelation that he’s gone back and savored the final round NBC telecast of the Tour Championship, as well as many of the photographs from his 80th PGA Tour win.

Doug Ferguson of AP pieces together how the iconic moment in a career full of them felt to Woods and those around him.

Was there a more indelible image than Woods walking up to the 18th green, red shirt blazing, as thousands of fans rushed under the ropes and followed him down the fairway to create a stage worthy of the occasion?

“It gives me chills almost every single time I see it,” Woods said. “At the time, it didn’t seem like that because I didn’t really look back. I only looked back a couple times over my right shoulder. … I got on the green, I looked and I’m like, ‘Holy cow, there’s a lot of people out there.’

“But the rush and the commotion that happened … I’ve experienced things of that nature, but not that energy.”


The highlights:

Golf.com Anonymous (European Tour) Player Survey: Dinner With Tiger Or Phil?

There are several interesting questions and several serious ones as executed by Adam Schupak, but these two on the lighter side were fun:

WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE DINNER WITH TIGER OR PHIL?

Tiger: 79%
Phil: 9%
Table for one, please!: 12%

HOT TAKES

“Table for one because Tiger would probably stick me with the check.”
“I’ve had dinner with Phil and I didn’t enjoy it.”
“I’d like to pick Tiger’s brain on how he overcame his suffering. That could really help me.”
“Phil. He’s got more to say.”

12% for neither!? They’re legends! Suck it up Euros!

WHICH AMERICAN PLAYER MOST IRRITATES YOU?

Bryson DeChambeau: 16%
Bubba Watson: 11%
Several tied (including Mickelson): 5%
Declined to answer: 68%

HOT TAKES

“Any of them that act like babies.”
“Wait, I can only pick one?”

Hmmm…tension between the tours!

Reminder...ESPN Debuting Tiger Woods: Return Of The Roar

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With a birthday debut and other airtimes (above), ESPN is wrapping up Tiger’s tremendous 2018 comeback season. The preview doesn’t show us much, but I wouldn’t read much into that…**

**I have since watched the show and while there were several fine moments featuring some of Tiger and Joe LaCava’s moments on course we otherwise would not have known about, the show exuded an infomercial vibe below ESPN’s standards. Not coincidentally, it was a PGA Tour Entertainment production.

Steiny: No Deal In Place For Another Match

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Agent Mark Steinberg is refuting a GolfDigest.com story suggesting there is a three-year deal for The Match and spinoffs, telling ESPN.com’s Bob Harig that discussions will soon take place. But nothing more.

“We -- and that's a very big we when I say the Woods camp, the Mickelson camp, the Turner camp -- have a lot to talk about,'' Steinberg said. "We don't have any specifics on what it might look like, whether it's Tiger-Phil, two others, four others.''

Oops!

This could be a negotiating ploy since his client was amazingly generous with the knee-knockers and is without question the primary attraction. But it sounds more like a traditional conservative approach by the Woods camp on high-profile deals and no rush to commit to something.

A couple of months removed from The Match, the question I keep coming back to relates to the paywall issues: who will try to pay for a sequel of some form after getting it for free?

That may be a question Tiger and Steinberg will be raising when discussions take place.

Four-Foot Gimme's Rejoice! Two More Editions Of "The Match" On Tap

As we’ve had time to mull Thanksgiving 2018’s The Match with it’s pay wall gone bad and gimme’s from a stout range, organizers are still planning on going forward with two more editions, reports Golf World’s Dave Shedloski.

The good news? A partners match seems likely with Tiger and Phil either pairing up, or not. While that will prolong the day, hopefully an enticing match will be put together on a different golf course.

If you are prone to believe the numbers put out be unnamed sources, the financials were amazing:

…but knowledgeable sources told Golf World that the $9 million showdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on Nov. 23 in Las Vegas drew nearly one million customers who paid the $19.95 fee.

So nearly 1 million paid but because of pay wall issues at match time, the wall was quickly dropped, exposing organizers to returns of nearly $20 million? Charitable.

Forbes: Tiger's Net Worth Up To $800 Million

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Tiger has giggled at the annual Forbes measurements of his wealth and in recent years it was very believable that he was no where near the figures.

But as Kurt Badenhausen writes, Tiger’s comeback along with his win at East Lake and new Discovery deal suggest he’s about to have a lucrative run to the tres-comma club. At least, as Forbes sees it.

Woods' current sponsors include Nike, TaylorMade, Bridgestone, Monster Energy, Hero MotoCorp and Kowa.

Kowa, of course. How could I have forgotten?

Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, has been inundated with sponsorship and business opportunities since Woods’ victory at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

The golfer signed a multi-year content deal this fall with Discovery’s new over-the-top (OTT) streaming service, GolfTV, which launches in January. Woods will do weekly golf instructional videos and give fans a look into his “life, mind and performance.” In a press release announcing the news, Woods said: “I want to talk to golf fans and golfers everywhere, directly, and straight from me.”

Translation: I’ve got equity, baby!

More Evidence That Par-5's Aren't What They Used To Be

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Christopher Powers compiles a list of the 14 “most telling” stats from 2018 and while they’re all worth your time, Tiger’s 4.57 scoring average on par-5s stands out.

Powers writes:

The number matches the worst mark in Woods' career; in 2013 he also had a 4.57 average. However that year it was good enough to tie him for fourth on tour. This year, that mark tied him for 24th, by far the worst standing of his career in the category. Prior to this season, Woods had never finished worse than T-6 for a season in par-5 scoring average.

While it may stand out to Tiger as something to consider, the notion that the same number this year was only good for 24th compared to 4th just five years ago is yet another remind kids to do your Wall Planks!

Tiger On His 2018 And The Game Changing Dramatically

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Evan Priest scores a year-end Golf.com exclusive with Tiger and this answer got me wondering if any other all-time great player experienced more dramatic equipment advances during the course of his or her career? I don’t think so.

Well, it depends. In that era, 280 was a long drive. Now it’s, “Hey, can you carry it 320 in the air?” The game has evolved and, I was telling some [people in Melbourne], when I came down here to play the Presidents Cup in 1998, some of the guys were transitioning out of persimmon. The game has changed dramatically since then.

2019 Rules Reminder: No Penalty For Double Hits

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We’ll be talking the 2019 Rules of Golf changes this week on Morning Drive and in reading up on some of the newbies, I was reminded that double hits like Tiger’s wipey shot at the 2018 Hero would not have been up for a 25 minute reply discussion.

From the USGA website:

2019 Rule: Under Rule 10.1a, if the player’s club accidentally hits the ball more than once during a single stroke:

  • There will be no penalty and the ball will be played as it lies.

"The rules, with some of the recent changes, are making the player less responsible for what he or she does. And that diminishes the game."

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As he’s prone to do, Michael Bamberger at Golf.com tackles a question many of us were trying to formulate after Tiger’s wipey 2018 Hero Challenge shot resulted in no penalty.

The rule changes taking responsibility off of the player when HD catches something only visible to a modern camera have made great sense. But the introduction of intent questions and other elements have also possibly softened players in Bamberger’s mind. He cites several recent examples where fans felt uneasy about the conclusion and writes:

Any of those actions would have improved the game. Any of those statements would have been a way for a player to say, “The game is bigger than I.” Any of those statements would been an opportunity for the player to take control of the situation in the most honorable way. That’s golf.

Tiger's Wipey Shot Saved By The Replay Rules

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It wasn’t a double hit, but one really long strike of the ball that Tiger Woods says he couldn’t feel.

Here’s the full video posted by the PGA Tour:

Mark Russell’s explanation covers the rule changes that leave HD situations like this up to the player since the long wipe could not be seen with the naked eye. The Decision, for a few weeks longer anyway, is 34-3/10, Limitations on Use of Video Evidence.

From Dan Kilbridge’s Golfweek story:

“Well, Tiger was under a bush and we did determine that he did make a stroke at it. He didn’t scrape or spoon or push the ball. And when he did that, Tiger said that he did not think he hit the ball twice. Looking at it in the regular speed on a high-definition television, you couldn’t tell that at all, but when you slowed it down to ultraslow motion high-definition television, you could see where the club [sic] did stay on the clubface quite a bit of time and it looked like he might have hit it twice, but there’s no way he could tell that.

Kilbridge also posted this blow-by-blow of the situation. He has the time to determine at over 20 minutes, Rex Hoggard had it at 25. That’s kind of a long time for a rule theoretically cut-and-dried.

Maybe they were working off a streaming replay.

Bob Harig notes here that Woods faced a similar rules issue at the 2013 BMW where he was penalized prior to this change in the rules.

If nothing else, the Hero World Challenge round 2 episode is another reminder of positive changes to the HD replay rule and that the 18th hole at Albany is his silly-season kryptonite. It’s also debatable that he took a backswing.

Zaslav On CNBC: "We're trying to create a golf Netflix"*

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Like many stories on Tiger’s new deal with Discovery and the PGA Tour, this interview Discovery CEO David Zaslav glosses over one key element of the Tiger Woods-is-coming-to-your-living room-next-year-narrative: he’s not, if you live in the United States. (At least not on Discovery’s GolfTV, he will be seen on PGA Tour Live, Golf Channel, NBC, CBS and TNT, among others).

Nor is Tiger going to be seen on American screens until 2022 at the earliest as part of this content play that more like the PGA Tour building its own network while wisely consolidating its international presentation, as something looking to satisfy viewers.

More interesting for those on the television side of this story is the increasingly debatable vision of a world where we all watch things on a phone. Zaslav emphasizes repeatedly in this interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box, even holding up his phone twice to highlight his predictable “Netflix” comparison.

Anyone who has watched golf on a phone can tell you that the viewing experience is generally limited since it is not shot for such devices nor can it ever be made compelling as a cell phone product give the length of a round. Then again, maybe this will finally encourage the PGA Tour to do something about slow play!

Conversely, on a large screen golf is brilliant, giving the sport an aesthetic advantage over others. Sponsors pay handsomely to be viewed in as many homes as possible and to have their logos seen as easily as possible, without being obtrusive. The phone push seems to conflict with the needs of sponsors.

Maybe they see a future without the sponsorship model, with golf tournaments bankrolled by streaming fees?

Anyway, check out the interview, if nothing else to hear one particularly incoherent question at the 3:50 mark or so from Andrew Ross Sorkin. The New York Times columnist appears to know no particulars of the Discovery-PGA Tour deal. Zaslav rides it out artfully. That’s why he gets the big bucks.

Here is the full chat with Zaslav:

Tiger appeared after with Zaslav joining the questioning and talked about getting to answer fan questions, including the ones he really wanted to answer after all of the dumb ones the media asks. Ok.

Tiger also speaks of getting to do content on his own terms and bringing “new youngness” to the game.

He also speaks about getting to make direct contact with his fans by putting instruction and content on phones and tablets. Yet again, no mention that this grow the game effort is only outside the United States for the next three years. Seems misleading. But maybe that’s the point?

Tiger Signs Exclusive Partnership With Discovery's GOLFTV

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Lots to chew on here with Tiger Woods signing a content deal with the PGA Tour’s oversees streaming distributor for exclusivity. Given how few homes will be seeing this channel the first few years, he’s signing up for a lot of work here with few eyeballs. But if the Discovery cash spends, then good for him.

Also noteworthy is the PGA Tour sending out this release and working in conjunction with Discovery to broker a deal with a player. Granted, it’s a legend of the game who is deservedly treated differently, but nonetheless intriguing.

For Immediate Release…

Tiger Woods and Discovery’s GOLFTV Announce 
Exclusive, Long-term Global Content Partnership

NEW YORK – In a major development as part of the strategic partnership between Discovery, Inc. and the PGA TOUR, GOLFTV today announced an exclusive multi-year global content partnership with 80-time PGA TOUR winner and 14-time Major champion Tiger Woods.

Starting in January 2019, GOLFTV powered by PGA TOUR, the new global live and on-demand video streaming service jointly developed by Discovery and the TOUR, will collaborate with Woods on a wide range of programming, content creation and storytelling opportunities that will offer fans an authentic and regular look into the life, mind and performance of the game’s ultimate icon.

The GOLFTV partnership will reveal Woods as fans have never seen him before, providing an unparalleled opportunity to get close to Woods’ practice routines, preparation and life on the road through a variety of programming showcased exclusively on GOLFTV. 

At least, fans in other countries. Who like to stream golf coverage. Hope Turner isn’t handling the credit cards! Tiger’s quote is fun:

“I’ve been watching Discovery and David Zaslav build up a global sports platform with Eurosport, the Olympics and the launch of GOLFTV with us at the PGA TOUR, so I think they’re the perfect partner to help grow the game.

Grow the game drinking game success!

“They’re global, they get sports and know how to build new, younger and big audiences. 

It’s about the children!

“It’s a perfect fit and I’m so excited to be a real partner with the Discovery Sports team,” said Woods.  

“I love the vision of GOLFTV and the ambition for it to become the premier destination for golf entertainment worldwide. To have my own platform to communicate is the culmination of a lot of hard work from my team and the team at Discovery. 

Loooooong negotiation!

“We’re going to build content for everyone, whether you’ve been playing golf for a long time or just starting out. I’ll be sharing stories and giving insight into my approach that has never been seen before. This is such an exciting time for golf and for me, so to be part of the vision to grow the game all around the world is fantastic. I can’t wait to share my knowledge on GOLFTV,” he said.

And we can’t wait to hear what people say about it in Russia and Spain! Wait, there’s more. This must be a BIG check.

“I want to talk to golf fans and golfers everywhere, directly, and straight from me. That’s important to me. Talking about what we care about: what’s happening on the course, how to play better, how can I shoot lower scores tomorrow, how can I beat my friends?  David explained how GOLFTV is for the fans and the players, a single place they’ll all want to go, and he’s building something everyone will want,” Woods remarked.

Wow, so much. The fine print:

Among the plans, Woods and GOLFTV are collaborating to develop:

  • Weekly practice and instructional videos to improve your game;

  • Exclusive access into Tiger’s preparation routines;

  • Behind-the-scenes access before and after PGA TOUR rounds;

  • Unique and exclusive post-round commentary,

Another post round interview? Oh yeah, 8 figures!

“Getting the chance to do instruction is exciting.  I’ve always been focused on my own game and this experience can help players everywhere.  Whether you’re a long-time player or a beginner, there are some things that help us all play better.  It’s one way I want to give back to people who love the game like I do.  If I can help the next generation enjoy the game more and play better, that’s pretty special,” Woods concluded.

You know I’ve always thought when Tiger wakes up in the morning, he’s just dying to do instruction videos and not getting the chance!

A first for Woods on video, this content will be exclusively owned by GOLFTV globally, including in the United States, where Discovery has the opportunity to execute an owned or partner distribution strategy.

Interesting wording there.

David Zaslav, President and CEO, Discovery, said: “I am excited to welcome Tiger to the Discovery family and to GOLFTV, a true superstar joining our company of world-class storytellers and brands. At the heart of Discovery is high-quality storytelling, told through the most authentic, credible and trusted voices.  Tiger is the ultimate example of a world-class athlete and cultural figure with whom audiences are enamored, and follow closely around the world. Our global partnership with Tiger is a perfect example of our strategy to collaborate exclusively with top talent to extend global media platforms, and take advantage of our international distribution and technology infrastructure and aggregate audiences and build long-term value.

Whew covered all the key words. An activate would have been nice though.

“With Tiger joining us, I am confident that GOLFTV will be the new gold standard for comprehensive sports streaming, nourishing golf fans when and where they want to consume what they are most passionate about,” Zaslav added.

Nourishing?

This partnership with GOLFTV comes at an ideal time in Woods’ career, on the heels of a comeback season that saw him return to form in spectacular fashion, culminating in a history-making win at the 2018 TOUR Championship in September.

Alex Kaplan, President and General Manager, Discovery Golf, said: “It’s a privilege for us to welcome Tiger to the GOLFTV team. No one else in the game resonates globally the way Tiger does or has the global fan base, and he has great wisdom to share, on and off the course.  We’re thrilled to give him the global platform to do just that, and to provide our audience in more than 200 markets and territories a closer look at Tiger on the greens and behind the scenes.

“Our long-term partnership with Tiger reflects our broader ambition as we roll-out the service over the coming years, seeking to grow GOLFTV into a true ecosystem for all things golf: watching, learning and playing,” Kaplan added.

Ecosystem. Nice.

GOLFTV powered by PGA TOUR will be available to fans starting January 2019*. It will present more than 2,000 hours of live action each year as well as a wide range of premium content on-demand, featuring the sport’s most exciting moments, superstar players and tournaments on every screen and device. Live coverage of the PGA TOUR will be extensive and include THE PLAYERS Championship, the FedExCup Playoffs and the Presidents Cup.

DISCOVERY SPORTS is the global leader in live sports with extensive brands and exclusive partnerships with premium sports and events including: Eurosport and the Eurosport Player, the Olympic Games, the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, La Vuelta a España, The Championships - Wimbledon, US Open, Roland Garros, Australian Open, ATP Tour, Bundesliga, English Premier League, UEFA Europa League, Eliteserien, PGA TOUR, Six Nations Rugby, FIS Ski World Championships, Moto GP and Formula E to name only a few. 

-ENDS-

*Excludes PGA TOUR rights in the United States.

**He’s really getting a lot of money for this.

Tiger Lays The Groundwork For An Even More Targeted 2019 Schedule

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Having reflected on his triumphant 2018 comeback, Tiger has wisely concluded what seemed apparent before the PGA Tour playoffs: he should not be playing more than two weeks in a row at this point in his career.

Given his age, focus on majors and desire to be physically ready each time he goes, it sure sounds like Tiger won’t surface again until February and will definitely play a light schedule after The Open in July.

But hey, we have him here in LA for sure!

Dan Kilbridge reporting from the Bahamas on Tiger’s presser:

“Only thing set in stone is I’m playing Genesis and the four majors,” Woods said. “Other than that we’re still taking a look at it as far as, what is too much? We know seven of nine was too much. What can I handle going forward? I need to make sure I’m rested and ready to play. I have found through all of that, I’ve played all my good tournaments when I had time off and I felt rested. If I didn’t feel rested I didn’t play well. Maybe that’s being a little bit older, but I just think it’s important. Playing seven of nine last year was too much.”

The Match: The Great, Good, Bad And Ugly

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Here goes....

The Great

Charles Barkley - He should have been on the full broadcast, in hindsight. He got right to the point as Tiger and Phil struggled horrible to read Shadow Creek’s greens. He jousted as only he can with Justin Verlander’s Tweets, too. But sadly, Barkley also was not around for the last couple of hours to put a bow.

The Audio - Turns out, a feed of just open microphones would have been enough for most people. Phil was in hard sell mode early but once he settled into a normal round of golf, basically narrated the proceedings. Tiger chimed in with enough to make a player-only feed functional had that been an option. Yes, Phil was winded at times and a breather was distracting, but the real potential for this production came together as both players had driven beautifully down the 6th, the cameras were tight to both players as we could hear each in between clubs for the approach. The kind of gripping cinematic moment that the organizers had envisioned.

ShotLink Putt Probables - A simple graphic told us how far the player was from the hole and his career make percentage (ShotLink era) from that distance. Simple, clean and informative.

The Good

Live Drone Shot Down The First Fairway - It was pretty cool to move from one last player interview to a live shot down the first fairway. Unfortunately, the technology appeared limited from there on out. Perhaps too many competing cell signals?

Pat Perez - he sounded engaged and as someone who knew the players, through in a few opinionated remarks about being surprised that Tiger was giving putts and at how they were orchestrating the charity-driven side bets. And not one F-bomb!

Hole Graphics - animated hole graphics with tracer technology may have been the most vibrant and eye-catching I’ve seen. Once it was clear the drone was not reliable and the drone flyovers were needed, these jumped out as adding a futuristic feel to the telecast.

Tiger Woods’ Generosity - Wow was that many giving putts! But they all helped in the interest of pace of play and entertainment value of the match. This is a nice way of saying he twice prevented (possibly) having The Match end on a missed putt. Phil returned the favor once, by my count.

Phil Mickelson Wearing A Mic - He should be in the great category, but the hard sell mode a few times (how great is this? how great was Samuel Jackson?) dings the performance a bit. I love how he went off topic with the PGA Tour’s Mark Russell, with brother Tim Mickelson and with others. That’s about how Phil plays a normal round of golf and he gave a window into the types of conversations he has. If only…

The Bad

Announcers Talking Over Players - Everyone was guilty at some point and I’m sympathetic to the cause as this was not a normal broadcast crew, not a normal match and an unprecedented amount of sound for a sporting event to take in. Still, to miss out on Mickelson asking Russell about a rule of golf change he just does not comprehend and several other side chats about shots, was tough for the core golf fan. The more novice viewer may prefer announcer storytelling, which is why lead announcer Ernie Johnson trampled over so much talk.

The Champion’s Belt - sensational buckle design, simple brown leather look but uh, it didn’t fit Phil Mickelson, who looked visibly annoyed he couldn’t put it on. Next time, let’s make two belts, one for those with subcutaneous fat and one for those without.

Ernie Johnson - As Phil Mickelson is looking through his rangefinder for a yardage, Ernie Johnson is telling us on the 18th hole that Phil “has the laser out.” Somewhere Frank Chirkinian was screaming. Unfortunately, Johnson regularly spoke over on-course conversations, stated the obvious (what we saw on screen) and did not embellish the action. He would have been better served by having his Inside the NBA counterpart Charles Barkley in the booth, perhaps.

Natalie Gulbis - She appeared for some first hole observations and surfaced again at the 18th tee for a bad interview after Tiger’s chip-in. Her absence in between was not missed.

The Ugly

The Playoff Hole - a wise move by promoters to be ready for a tight match and sudden death, the 93 yard shot required a hole location change and had a strange feel to it given the amount of money at stake.

Capital One Ads - Presented in Playing Through mode as we saw golfers walking off the tee, we missed out on match discussions to be annoyed by Samuel Jackson and Charles Barkley asking what’s in our wallet. Better than Capital One cafe spots, but still pretty annoying commercials given that some of us paid for the match.

Gambling - All of the stakeholders learned a valuable lesson today: golf is tricky to bet on and real-time gambling is even trickier. While Mark Broadie supplied some stats that were of note. But the whirlwind nature of a two-man golf match—yes it moved amazingly fast—made it hard to embed bets or betting scenarios to enjoy. The most interesting pointed out may have been at the 7th tee when we learned the great 5-1 price punters got on the match being even after nine, was in play. Otherwise, the action moved too fast for fun gaming.

Gambling 2 - We heard about what MGM punters were betting on each hole but was it interesting to hear what punters were putting on each hole, without any real reason to be better players on particular holes? Not at all.

Shadow Creek - The course lived up to its name, serving up shadows while the late light hit the treetops. This created an unimpressive look to a course once ranked in Golf Digest’s top ten in the U.S. Add on the excess of Flinstone rocks, strategically-light design and tree overplanting, and Shadow Creek did not pop. The course exuded underwhelming television appeal in part because of the odd lighting situation. The 17th hole was deemed a genuine centerpiece but came off looking like something even waterfall lover Donald Trump would say was sooooo last century.

AT&T/Turner/Bleacher Report Synergy - Seen as the future of sports broadcasting, the inability to conduct normal transactions and ensuing decision to give away a pay-per-view match overshadowed everything. The disastrous rollout of the supposed future of broadcasting and sports packaging provided a stark reminder that the rush to usher in a new era is just that: rushed.