After all the “Avatar”-level hype and all the Phil Mickelson magic, the 2010 Masters still didn’t come close to being the most watched golf tournament of all time. In fact, Lefty’s karmic kick to Tiger Woods’ head only turned out to be the third-most-watched Masters of all time. In sounds impressive — until you realize the No. 1 slot belongs to the 1997 Masters. That wasn’t exactly the dark age of cable TV. It turns out that TMZ interest only takes a sporting event so far.
Ayoung, pure Tiger and his breakthrough romp to the ’97 green jacket still stirs more fans than the current, supposed swear-master Tiger and his fall into the National Enquirer.
Of course, that ’97 Masters was actually covered honestly, which is more than you can say about the Tiger sexting Masters of ’10.
CBS’ team led by Jim Nantz spoke around the whole Wilt-Chamberlain-level cheating spree, noting only how Tiger had been away from the game for five months. As if the world’s greatest golfer was off pulling a Ted Williams and flying war missions or something.
No, Eldrick was just too embarrassed to come out and play.
What Nantz lacked in reality, though, he made up for with hypocrisy.
Nantz and his revolving booth partners, particularly the usually spot-on Nick Faldo, suddenly deemed themselves the morality police of Tiger’s on-course behavior. After years and years of looking away as Tiger slammed clubs like Lou Piniella used to spike baseball caps and unleashed a steady string of F-bombs that would have made an HBO villain wince, Nantz suddenly fears for the nation’s children? Give me a break.
This is one of the most blatant attempts ever to seize on public sentiment. Nantz knows people — real people, not those pesky patrons waltzing around Augusta — are foaming with rage at Tiger for cheating on Elin, so the man who fancies himself as sports’ Tim Russert turns a “God dammit” into a stern lecture.
Masters chairman Billy Payne, another sanctimonious windbag who took Tiger to task, certainly approved. Payne, who calls Nantz his BFF in every Butler Cabin ceremony, is probably commissioning a bust of the most Augusta-adoring announcer in history. These guys are as authentic as Jeremy Shockey in his Facebook date contest.
It’s hard to turn Tiger into a sympathetic figure these days, but Nantz and Payne’s fakeness almost pulls it off. When Woods next wins at Augusta, you hope he turns down both the jacket and Nantz’s sure-to-be-flowery interview.
– Chris Baldwin covers the sports media for Metro
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