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TV has broadened scope of its Masters coverage

Thursday, April 09, 2009
By Matt Middleton
Staff Writer

Longtime television viewers of the Masters Tournament have been conditioned to understand every nuance of the final nine holes, such as the perilous club choice at the par-3 12th or the risk and reward of attempting to reach the par-5 holes in two shots.

CBS, broadcasting the tournament for the 54th consecutive year, has expanded its final-round coverage by 30 minutes, though the course's final nine holes should still dominate the tournament's four days on television.

CBS begins its Sunday telecast at 2 p.m. and will broadcast from 3:30-7 p.m. Saturday. Today and Friday, ESPN will show 30 more minutes of golf than it did last year, broadcasting from 4-7:30 p.m. each day.

"It's not the endless coverage that we have for the other major championships, but there is still that anticipation for the mid-to-late afternoon," ESPN host Mike Tirico said.

CBS host Jim Nantz will cover his 24th consecutive Masters. Three-time winner Nick Faldo is the analyst.

"In my 24 years of coming to Augusta, I've never seen as compelling storylines as we have this year," Nantz said, mentioning Tiger Woods' return from injury, Padraig Harrington's chance at a third straight major and three-time runner-up Greg Norman's first Masters since 2002.

Though both networks have expanded coverage slightly this year, their executives spent much of a teleconference this week trumpeting the interactive component. On the tournament's Web site, www.masters.com, CBS is offering one hour of additional coverage before the television broadcast begins. It will also have live cameras at Amen Corner and holes Nos. 15 and 16.

"Working with Augusta National, we wanted to make sure something in the coverage was unique," said Sean McManus, the CBS News and Sports president.

Analysts at ESPN and CBS said Woods' victory two weeks ago at Bay Hill means the buzz has increased.

"It was the best thing that could happen for our business," ESPN analyst Andy North said.

Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or matt.middleton@augustachronicle.com.

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