Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.
Tiger Woods returns, reminding world that golf exists
The Golf Channel has adopted an understated approach to its coverage of Tiger Wood's return this afternoon.
Just kidding. It is taking an approach comparable to the coverage of the Apollo 11 crew's return to Earth.
NBC, which will produce the coverage for the Golf Channel, is crossing its peacock feathers hoping Tiger makes it to the semifinals Saturday, of course.
Click below for quotes from the conference call NBC held Tuesday to preview the event. I did not participate in the call, as I was busy reading emails from angry Yankees partial season ticket holders at the time.
Photo: APPRODUCER TOMMY ROY ON TIGER'S RETURN: "What a time to get started up again with the PGA Tour with Tiger Woods coming back. It has turned into a happening. It was a golf tournament and now it's a happening, and quite frankly a news story."
HOST DAN HICKS ON TIGER'S RETURN: "There couldn't be a better scenario to start with. Outside of a major championship, this tournament has the chance to really build up into something that's special. It has that kind of hype, that kind of feel. It will keep building, if Tiger continues to win and we get him another weekend on NBC. From an entertainment standpoint, with Tiger back in the field and Phil Mickelson winning in L.A., if they could get on some sort of collision course and meet in the semifinals on NBC on Saturday, it would be just an unbelievable way to start off the year."
ANALYST JOHNNY MILLER ON TIGER'S RETURN: "He would not be coming back if he didn't think he was pretty darn good right now. He would not do it. I thought this was the perfect spot for him. He's probably thinking, hey I can come back for the Match Play and scare these guys a little bit. He's not here to test his knee, he's here to win this thing.
"If I was Tiger and I didn't want to tee it up to answer to a score and I was feeling pretty good, I'd try the Match Play because he can make a couple of doubles and still win your matches as long as you make a bunch birdies. This is a really good way to wet your feet if you're Tiger Woods because you're not playing medal play and you're not answering to a score, plus he has the intimidation factor going for him. It will be tough for Tiger to get to the weekend, but knowing Tiger he's probably ready, far more than ready."
REPORTER ROGER MALTBIE ON TIGER'S RETURN: "Let's be honest, the golf world needs Tiger. They have missed Tiger terribly. Not only has he been gone the last eight months, but he's only played six tournaments in the last 14 months. It is great to have him back. I thought the tour and golf in general was very fortunate last year in that in his absence, we had Padraig Harrington win a couple of majors, we saw Camilo Villegas step up at the end of the year in the FedEx Cup playoffs, we saw a wonderful Ryder Cup. All that was terrific, but I really have felt that golf was a little flat starting this year. Phil winning last weekend was a big boost and now with Tiger's return I just feel like the golf season is getting started here, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. It's pretty exciting stuff."
MILLER ON DIFFICULTY IN RETURNING FROM KNEE SURGERY: "He's like Superman so I don't know if he counts. Tiger's got so much muscle in his body that he's able to generate enough energy and power with less torque on different parts of his body including his knees."
MILLER ON IF TIGER IS THE BEST GOLFER EVER: "I think every 10 or 20 years, you've got a player or two who is given the classification of a Bobby Jones or a Jack Nicklaus or a Ben Hogan or a Sam Snead or an Arnold Palmer. Tiger's already passed everybody. A lot of people say that he's going to have to break the major record to pass Jack but I think if people look at the scores he shoots and everything, I think he's the best that every lived right now. Tiger, right now, I would give him the edge over Jack just barely, but major championships, you've got to give it to Nicklaus. As far as best player ever, Jack never won a U.S. Open by 15 shots or a Masters by 12. Tiger's done some stuff that's just been crazy good."
MALTBIE ON HOW THE INJURY COULD AFFECT TIGER'S GAME: "What's going to be interesting from a technical or golf standpoint is this now stronger and better leg and knee and how he'll react to it. He has a different leg to work with. Does he have to shake off some of the things he was doing before to accommodate that leg now on to a healthier leg? Those are the kind of things that we just don't know and frankly I don't think Tiger probably knows right now. It's one thing to play golf at home and practice, to always be able to throw down another ball, hit a second ball, do whatever. It's another thing to do it in competition."
MILLER ON INJURY IMPROVING TIGER'S GAME: "I think the one thing he learned dealing with the leg is that he ended up being a better iron player than he was before. He slowed down his swing. He took more club. He had more rhythm. He smoothed it a lot more."
MILLER ON THE STATE OF GOLF: "You have some awfully good things happening in golf. You have Camilo Villegas being a star and he's very appealing to both guys and girls so to speak. You have Anthony Kim coming up, and you've got Mickelson still and Vijay [Singh]. There's actually a pretty good supporting cast. Golf is bigger than any one player, I can tell you that."
MILLER ON MICKELSON: "You're going to have to hit great irons or be really good around the greens, which will obviously help a guy like Mickelson. If you look at Mickelson right now, he's going to have a lot of good feeling. He loves Tucson and the area. He's going to be hard to beat."
ON ANTHONY KIM:
MALTBIE: "Everybody's kind of waiting for Anthony Kim to explode. I don't expect Kim to have any kind of fall off. It's going to be great to see Anthony Kim in a match play format. Some guys kind of wilt in the match play environment, in the limelight, and some guys will rise to the occasion when it's just me and you. I think Anthony Kim is one of those me guys, where if it's just two guys playing, he wants to make sure he's the guy that stands out, he's the guy that people come to watch. Match Play, it's more of a single stage for two guys. One guy is going to shine and one guy is not. Anthony Kim has that kind of personality that just I think thrives in the match play."
MILLER: "Perfectly said. The will the win is a lot. Some guys just won't let themselves lose, like Nicklaus was that way. You're not going to get me, I don't care what happens."
ROY ON IF TIGER DOESN'T MAKE IT TO THE WEEKEND: "We will have to deal with showing what happened to Tiger because this has gone from being a golf tournament to a news event, and there's a lot of people who aren't going to be able to watch his play on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday if he makes it that far. People tuning in on the weekend, we'll document whether he's out or he's still alive. We'll make sure they have a chance to see that. There's a definite buzz about golf and about this event that we know will carry over to the weekend."