NBC'S MASTERS PLAN
After extending its contract for the Ryder Cup through 2005 last
week, the Peacock couldn't resist spreading its feathers. NBC
Sports president Dick Ebersol is "five strokes ahead of the
field," said golf producer Tommy Roy, who also thumbed his nose
at the competition by saying that CBS and ABC are "out of
position and receiving penalty strokes," while NBC has become
"the network of golf."
Not so fast, Tommy. As your people are so fond of saying,
there's still some work left to be done.
CBS carries the Masters and the PGA Championship. Before NBC can
even hope to knock off CBS and become No. 1, it must swipe at
least one of those events. Considering the business NBC already
does with the PGA of America, the PGA would seem a logical
choice. However, a bolder move would be making a play for the
Masters. Losing the tournament would deal a devastating blow to
an already reeling CBS.
Of course Ebersol would be a fool to publicly woo the lords of
Augusta. You don't call them; they call you. And after 41 years
there is no apparent reason to believe that they are not
satisfied with a Gary McCord-less CBS. Still, self-serving
bluster aside, Ebersol and NBC clearly are on a roll, building
the sort of momentum you either use or lose.
By winning the HealthSouth Inaugural a week after finishing
second in the season-opening Tournament of Champions, Karrie
Webb of Australia went into the LPGA record book for the best
start by a rookie. Although Beverly Hanson won her first start,
in 1951, and Amy Alcott won her third, in 1975, no rookie has
placed first and second in her first two weeks.
Webb, who qualified for the Tournament of Champions by winning
the British Women's Open, still had to attend Q school because
the British winner does not automatically earn an exemption.
Despite playing with a fractured right wrist, Webb came in
second in the Q school. This week, when the LPGA resumes its
schedule at the Cup Noodles Hawaiian Ladies Open, she will
attempt to become the first player since Laura Davies in 1994 to
win back-to-back tournaments.
THE SHORT GAME
Gary Player has asked Jack Nicklaus to team with him in the
Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. It will be Nicklaus's debut in
the event and only the second time Player has played.... Annika
Sorenstam, the 1995 LPGA Player of the Year, this week passed on
a third straight tournament and says she will begin her season
March 14 at the Ping/Welch's in Tucson.... Here's why the PGA
Tour is considering a satellite Senior tour: A total of 179
players attempted to qualify for three available spots in the
GTE Suncoast Classic.... Lee Trevino, 56, is finally hinting
about retirement. "I used to say I'd keep playing until somebody
threw sand over me," Trevino says, "but now you've got to
remember that I've got two kids growing up, and they're going to
need me."... Mac O'Grady, who in his only start this year missed
the cut in the Hawaiian Open, is scheduled for back surgery in
March that he says will put him in a body cast for up to six
months. "I told them to fuse my brain, too," O'Grady says.
COLOR PHOTO: BRAD MANGIN [Alice Cooper]
COLOR PHOTO: RETNA [Ken Griffey Jr.]
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER [Lou Holtz]
COLOR PHOTO: GARY GERSHOFF/RETNA [Michael Bolton]
COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN [Larry Bird]
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BURGESS [Jim Nantz]
It used to be that commercial endorsements of golf products were
done almost exclusively by famous Tour pros. Nowadays, while it
still helps to be famous, you don't have to be a player to hawk
a driver or star in a golf infomercial. Here's the evidence
(clockwise from bottom left).
Alice Cooper CALLAWAY Even in golf, the
mascara makes the man.
Ken Griffey Jr. TAYLOR MADE What's next, bubble-shafted
Lou Holtz PHIL RITSON We've seen the swing, Lou.
GOLF SCHOOL Take a remedial course.
Michael Bolton CALLAWAY The king of soft rock
tries the hard sell.
Larry Bird MYRTLE Make him give you trey
BEACH a side.
Jim Nantz ASHWORTH Surgically attached to
Fred Couples's shirttails.