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November 12, 2009 10:55 AM

NBC, USGA make dark decision

nbc sports.jpgThough the lords of golf profess one of their primary aims is to grow the sport around the world, sometimes I wouldn't trust 'em to hit the hole from six inches out with a putter in their hands.  

NBC, in conjunction with the United States Golf Association, has announced it will be going prime time with its weekend coverage of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach next year.

I suppose this is a wonderful thing if you live stateside, and particularly in the eastern time zones. Check that, it is a wonderful thing if you live in one of those places. Hard to argue with dinner, drinks and one of golf's grandest tournaments on the tube.

If you don't live stateside, and believe it or not, the game is played and viewed elsewhere on the globe, this is a fairly devastating development.

It looks like the coverage of the third and final rounds will leak into the prime-time, 7-10 p.m. slot on the East Coast.
So, if you live in Scotland, where the game was born, you'll be up until 3 a.m. Monday morning watching to see what new, creative ways any number of your UK contenders manage to botch another major.

If you live in the Asian Rim, where the game booms, you'll need to skip work on Monday, or hope you work for one helluva benevolent boss if you want to see if another Asian can knock down a major barrier.

In Australia...
Well, you get the picture -- or lack of picture in this case.

It gets worse.
Because of the USGA's sudden western fetish, the Open will be played at San Francisco's Olympic Club in 2012, and at a place called Chambers Bay outside of Tacoma, Wash., in 2015. So, guess what? If the Yanks tune in next year, and the ratings are good, count on those two tournaments, running late on the Peacock Network.

It'll be interesting to see if there is any hue and cry from the overseas communities, or better yet from the Royal and Ancients of St. Andrews, to this black news.
Not that it will matter.

One of golf's most important tournaments gets under way today. Who knew, eh?

The Children's Miracle Network Classic at Disney World marks the official end of the PGA Tour 2009 season. Yes, the golf season actually ends at some point. Another thing you didn't know.

That means it is the last tournament where players can accrue what is called 'official' money. This is especially important to players hovering around the 125th spot in earnings. The top 125 money-earners for the year keep their tour cards, and secure their playing privileges the following season.
To say this is huge is an understatment.

Yeah, players finishing 125-150 in earnings get some conditional status next year, but there is nothing like locking yourself into the top 125, and being able to set your schedule as you like for the following year. It also allows the fortunate ones to  avoid the grueling PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament December 2-7. 

There are some marquee names vying to keep their sacred tour cards this year. Take a look at some of the players around the magic 125 spot:
Ricky Barnes No. 121
Steve Flesch 122
Rich Beem 124
David Duval 125
Jeff Maggert 127
Tim Herron 128
Todd Hamilton 133
Stuart Appleby 134.

Turst me, by Sunday, many of these guys will know about what kind of number they have to shoot to get the cash needed to secure their card. Shoot that number and you are employed for another year.
Miss it, and enjoy throwing up all over yourself in the PGA Tour qualifier where over 160 guys will be vying for 25 spots on the tour next year.

That one isn't pretty.  

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