If you haven't heard, there's a golf tournament starting Thursday in Augusta, Georgia that's generating more interest than any golf tournament in the history of mankind because of the return of a certain free-swinging megastar. The overlords at Augusta National have heard — and they're completely unmoved by it.
When Tiger Woods tees off at 12:42 (CST) on Thursday afternoon, you will able to watch exactly one shot of his first several holes live. His very first shot. The Masters is allowing ESPN to break into its regular programming by special arrangement to show that one shot, but then it's bye bye TV for several hours. The Masters is sticking with its ultra-restrictive TV policy and not allowing ESPN, which holds the TV rights for the first two rounds, to come on the air for full coverage until 3 p.m.
But then Woods will probably be through nine holes. The Masters web site will start streaming live coverage at 2 p.m., but you're still talking about four to five holes of Tiger, the very first holes of his return, that golf fans who aren't inside the gates of Augusta will completely miss. The situation is even worse on Friday when Woods tees off at 9:35 a.m. ESPN still isn't allowed to broadcast from Augusta until 3 p.m., which means that the entire second round of the world's No. 1 golfer and current No. 1 tabloid target will be largely unseen as it happens.
Instead, all of Tiger's second round will be limited to replay shots. (New Masters slogan: It's like the Olympics, only even more annoying!)
Oh, those old guys in green jackets and their hilarious sense of humor.
Sure, the Masters barely tolerated non-white members and women (remember Hootie Johnson and Martha Burk's near slap fight?) for years. But these old Southern gentlemen may have finally gone too far. Mess with American TV viewing rights? That's asking for a fight you might not be able to win.
TMZ might have its whole staff storm the gates at once.