Nantz and Faldo Tout "Wide Open" Masters
By Torleif Sorenson on 4/9/14
In his latest column for the Chicago Tribune, the excellent author and blogger Ed Sherman reports that the principals at CBS Sports are not worried about a potential drop in Masters week ratings with Tiger Woods absent.

Sherman reports that Sir Nick Faldo, CBS's lead golf analyst, predicts that the 2014 Masters will be the most "wide open" in years, saying that as many as 30 players have a legitimate shot to win. Faldo's broadcast partner Jim Nantz, speaking during the same teleconference last week, agrees:
"I think we have something special in this rookie class. Once the tournament gets started, we'll have a quick transition from the headlines of Tiger not being here to these young players and the impact they will have on golf.

"If Rory wins, I will be the least-shocked guy in the world."
Another reporter apparently asked about ratings; Nantz shot down that question with aplomb:
"I don't think the golf fan cares about the ratings. I've never had anybody say, 'Tell me about the ratings when Jack Nicklaus won in 1986.' I never had anyone say, 'Phil's victory was great in 2004, but too bad about the rating.' It was on Easter Sunday that year (which generally means a smaller rating).

"Yeah, we're going to miss Tiger, but this tournament never has been about one player. It's going to be thrilling, and I can't wait to see what the next script is to be written."
Sherman also reports that ESPN's Thursday and Friday coverage will include Paul Azinger as a broadcast analyst, and included a quote from "Zinger" about the notable missing star:
"The real irony here is that he's arguably the most fit golfer who has ever played the game, and now he's kind of at the mercy of an unfit body. Maybe not an unfit body, but a body that's breaking down. I think his issues are going to be as much emotional as they are physical. He has not hit the ball very well and sometimes because you don't feel well, you don't hit the ball well. There's probably not one player who would have said, going into the Masters, 'I wish I hit it like Tiger Woods.'"
Interestingly, at his presser on Wednesday, Mickelson opined that only a dozen-or-so players have a realistic chance of winnning. In stark contrast, Rory McIlroy said "at least 70" had a chance.

Whether or not Mickelson, McIlroy, and/or Azinger will be proven correct, this writer agrees with Nantz and Faldo: The 78th Masters Tournament will be no less exciting and compelling, just because Woods is absent.

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