Sunday, June 16, 2002

Notes on the US Open

Jeff Maggert (68) turned in the first bogey-free round of this US Open Championship and Nick Faldo (66) shot what is essentially the course record. The two men received virtually no coverage, despite the fact that NBC Sports was on the air for 6.5 hours yesterday and despite the fact that both are still very much in the real tournament (the one where we find out who's the Best of the Rest).

NBC's coverage has been generally excellent (the camera work has been outstanding) but it's getting ever more verbose. The key to multi-hour broadcasting is to let the story tell itself; to stop trying to force drama when there's real drama slowly unfolding. Phil Mickelson's moment on the 17th green, after he sunk a perfect birdie putt to go into red figures for the first time since Thursday, was both moving and powerful. The Islanders gave him a huge, rousing standing ovation and there were tears in his eyes. A connection was made. But the NBC booth blathered through it all, always anxious to hear themselves talk. And so they not only missed the moment, they almost spoiled it.

There's been a lot of talk about the crowd and its behavior. Various euphemisms have been employed by the NBC crew to describe this behavior. This is what they mean:

1) The crowd is too big.
2) About one-fifth of the crowd is drinking.
3) About one-seventh of the crowd have no manners or sense of golf etiquette. ("Martina Can Eat Me" is the mildest thing Sergio Garcia heard yesterday)
4) About 5% of the crowd should probably be arrested on drunk and disorderly charges.