"DR. DOOM is taking a lesson from the Voice of Doom," NBC commentator Peter Jacobsen said last Saturday. He was watching Today weatherman Al Roker—dubbed Dr. Doom for his predictions that Noah-worthy precipitation would extend an already waterlogged U.S. Open to midweek—banter with NBC's caustic golf analyst, Johnny Miller. The Doomsday twins, it should be noted, were all smiles.
It was the same story on Sunday as NBC crews fanned across Bethpage Black checking cables and camera platforms after a long night of the promised rain. "We've had every vehicle imaginable stuck up to its axles and lots of people slipping and falling," said NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol. "But our guys live for this. This is like Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one."
Or Halloween? NBC had to pad its Thursday-afternoon hours with video of flooded greens and highlights of the 2008 Open. To capture as many live shots as possible, the network went to Bethpage four hours ahead of schedule on Saturday, staying on the air until an evening downpour caused another suspension of play. That set up a seat-of-the-pants Sunday telecast that began at 11 a.m. EDT (2½ hours earlier than scheduled) and climaxed around dinnertime with a sun-splashed showdown among Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood and Rocco Mediate—i.e., more year-old video from Torrey Pines. (The USGA needed a half-hour for re-pairing before sending the 60-man field into the gloaming for the start of the final round.)
"The hours are not easy," Miller said on Sunday evening, pulling off his headphones and pushing back his chair. "The last two days we've done the equivalent of 24 Seinfeld episodes," he said, actually underestimating by several episodes. "That's a lot of announcing." The prospect of a Monday-morning finish, however, didn't spoil his mood. "I've been around golf so darn long, nothing bothers me anymore. If you lose yourself in what's happening and who's going to win, the hours fly by."
Miller waved to his announcing partner, Dan Hicks, and ducked out the door with a rain jacket on one arm and his umbrella under the other. Dr. Doom was nowhere in sight.
ANALYZE THIS NBC had plenty of time to show unlikely contenders such as David Duval from every angle.