This is the third year I have watched the Evian Masters and each year, The Golf Channel has come up with a different method of providing the coverage. In 2005, Brian Hammonds and Dottie Pepper were on-site at Evian calling the action over the French video feed. Last year (and I voiced my displeasure at the time) they had Hammonds and Rosie Jones voice-over from their Orlando studios, obviously doing it over the tape and not live.
This year, they took the audio commentary from an overseas network. Unfortunately I didn’t record the coverage and I missed the names of the two ladies. One’s first name was Nikki (sp?), and she is/was a player on the LET. My first thought was “Nikki Garrett” – if it’s her, we REALLY need to get a visual before the end of the weekend. Their accents sounded British to me, but they could have been South African or Australian (Nikki Garrett is Australian). I’ll try to find out more about them. UPDATE: It's not Nikki Garrett. She's playing in the event. That might have just increased our chances of that visual.
The TGC coverage lasted two hours but it was obvious the host network’s coverage lasted at least five hours (thanks to the Rolex clocks at the tee boxes, I was able to determine that) and TGC elected to jump ahead from time to time. If you’re going to be airing it tape-delayed anyway, the first round of an event is the perfect time to do that. You can present it as a combination of live-action and highlights. It would have been nice to point out when they jumped ahead to avoid too much disorientation. One commercial break split Michelle Wie teeing off on one hole and hitting her approach two holes later. Most likely starting today, they will show the action in more of a real-time fashion since the leaders will be coming off last. I wouldn’t have a problem if the networks used this “time-jumping” method in the future for any tape-delayed coverage.
Another positive about the coverage was the wide variety of players we got to see. Of course we got our shots of Creamer, Wie, and Sorenstam but we also saw Amy Yang, Sophie Giquel and Virginie Lagoutte-Clement. Even more unusual – we finally saw Morgan Pressel play a shot when she putted for eagle at 18, even though she was paired with Wie. An American production crew would never have ignored Morgan for so long. Also, the pace of the production was a little slower. They didn’t jump from player-to-player as quickly and tended to show a little more of a player’s pre-shot routine which doesn’t often get much airtime. Also, having an unknown pair of commentators (with a decidedly foreign approach of not yakking when they didn't have anything to say) brought a fresh viewpoint to the action. The voice-over interview with Pat Hurst was a good one.
We’ll see how the remainder of the coverage goes, but Round One worked for me. Did I forget to mention that I didn’t have to listen to Grant Boone?