Snobbery at CBS Sports
If you happened to tune in to CBS last Sunday afternoon, you might easily have concluded that you were watching the final round of a golf tournament in Europe. The event in question, the Travelers Championship, was in fact held at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.
You might have been misled for two reasons. First, the telecast focused heavily on the adventures (and misadventures) of three foreign players: Sergio Garcia of Spain, K.J. Choi of South Korea, and Aaron Baddley of Australia (“Bads” to his buds). The event is over, so I’m not spoiling it for anyone by adding that none of them won the tournament. You would not have guessed it from the coverage, however.
The other reason viewers might have been misled was the proliferation of foreign accents commenting. Usually Jim Nantz is in charge of the telecast, but this time, former British Open winner Ian Baker-Finch (“Finchie,” Australian) ran the show with major winner Nick Faldo (“Sir Nick,” British) as second-in-command and former European Tour winner Peter Oosterhuis (“Oostie,” British) on the course. Two Americans also provided commentary – Peter Kostis and Matt Gogel – but they’re not in the same league as Finchie, Oostie, and Sir Nick.
Finchie and Sir Nick lamented the unimpressive efforts of Sergio, K.J., and Bads to find the fairway on the heavily tree-lined course. Sir Nick – Faldo insists on having his title mentioned at the beginning of the telecast – evidently disapproved of Bads’s swing changes and explained why. Sergio and K.J. also got a raised eyebrow from Faldo. Well, we can’t all swing like Louis Oosthuizen (look him up).
As lead anchor, one would have expected Finchie to realize he must be an objective observer. Nantz never took sides. As an Aussie, however, Finchie is just bubbling with national pride and, I guess, can’t help himself. Though Bads was having a bad day, Finchie piled on superlatives, referring to fellow Aussie as a “master putter.” Next time you hear Finchie talk about Aussie Adam Scott, you may well be struck that he sounds a lot like Nina Totenberg talking about Bill Clinton.
So who won the tournament? With only a few holes to go on the back nine, Sir Nick finally woke up and noticed that American Kevin Streelman was putting together an impressive string of birdies. Streelman ended up making seven straight birdies, from holes 12 to 18, to win the tournament, setting a PGA Tour record. Finchie, Oostie, and Sir Nick were caught with their knickers down. Faldo actually hoped Sergio or K.J. would birdie 18 to go into a playoff with Streelman. Neither did.
Why CBS thinks foreign accents are required on golf telecasts is a mystery. The best golf commentators are Americans: Johnny Miller, Roger Maltbie, and Judy Rankin. With Tiger back in the field this week – woo-hoo – it should be a lot easier for the talking heads to stay focused on an American golfer, at least at a PGA Tour event.