For a few hours on Sunday, I felt like I traveled back in time. Yes, 2008 had its challenges: the failed banking system, the stock market crash and the start of a major recession. It also had a golfer that transcended the sport, we would hang on every shot and putt. We’d guess how many shots he’d win by and how many Major victories he’d claim. I’m of course talking about Tiger Woods, who once again had us in his paws as he rolled to an improbable but not impossible win at the Masters.
The telecast was incredible. Jim Nantz, not surprisingly, was up to the task. Big moments are his signature. Nantz set the stage beautifully as Tiger lined up the clinching putt, “…many doubted we’d ever see it, but here it is” he said. Then as the 2-foot put headed into the jar, Nantz simply said, “A return to glory!”
The most incredible thing Nantz did, was what he didn’t do – talk.
Nantz let the pictures tell the story, as he “laid out” for 2 minutes and 42 seconds. No words could have ever done those pictures justice.
The raw emotion captured was incredible. The embrace he shared with his caddie Joe LaCava and the words “we did it” several times were quite visible though not heard. The use of natural sound captured the crowd at its apex. The chants of “Tiger! Tiger!”. Then came the tear-jerking moment, Tiger’s embrace with his young son, then his mom and then his daughter. Incredible.
Nantz broke his silence with, “I never thought we’d see anything that could rival the hug with his father in 1997, but we just did.” A reference to Tiger’s first Masters win and the embrace with his late father Earl.
Speaking of that famous hug. Kudos to the CBS Production team for coming back with the flashback of the ACTUAL moment between Tiger and his father and then a slow fade back into the present day of Tiger and his son. Amazing stuff that really brought it home. That moment came just before Nantz and Nick Faldo, a two-time green jacket winner, interviewed Tiger in Butler Cabin. Nantz called it, “one of the greatest days in the history of this 83-year old tournament”.
It’s incredible to me to think that this CBS crew had less time to prepare for the final round and the possibility of a Tiger win than they normally would have. There was a possibility of severe weather on Sunday afternoon, so Augusta National officials opted to move the start time for the fourth round up a few hours. CBS started its national broadcast of the final round at 9am ET. The leaders teed off about 20 minutes later.
Director Lance Barrow said he found out about the early broadcast before going on the air Saturday. CBS sports chairman Sean McManus told the Associated Press that even with the earlier airtime, it still had the feel and drama of a final round at Augusta. “During huge events like this, everyone steps up. I am very proud of what we did and it was a great broadcast,” McManus said.
A lot has happened to Tiger in the 14 yeas between his wins at Augusta. Its why Nantz’s words “A return to glory” really sum it up. Tiger was on top of the world, the number one golfer in the world. His Sunday red & black was feared by others. Then it all went away.
A very public and bitter divorce. Addiction issues. Injuries. Tiger wasn’t a jungle cat anymore. It was sad to watch the fall from grace.
Now, one win doesn’t mean that Tiger is back, but Tigermania has returned to the mainstream. It’s definitely one for us all to celebrate.
TV viewers couldn’t get enough on CBS, in the time frame of 9am ET to 2:30pm ET Sunday, 21 percent of all televisions that were on in the US were watching Tiger. It was the highest rated morning golf event in 34 years. Tiger can still draw them in and Nantz and his CBS crew still know how to tell the story.