At CBS Sports, March Madness Gives Way to Masters Mania

It’s the broadcaster’s 67th straight year covering one of sport’s great events

Masters Week has always been filled with unique traditions. The pandemic changed much of that, but, this week, for the first time since 2019, the tournament (April 7-10) is already going full tilt with the return of events like tomorrow’s Par 3 contest. And CBS Sports and ESPN are primed to deliver all the action to golf fans.

CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus says the quality of coverage and the way CBS presents the event are key to the longstanding relationship that the network has with Augusta National. This is the 67th consecutive year that CBS will broadcast the event.

“I think, year in and year out, the Masters is, in many ways, the most respected golf telecast and, in some ways the most respected telecast in all of sports television,” he says. “That is the primary reason the relationship has been so good for so many years. We’ve adapted and kept the legacy and tradition intact but have also been remarkably innovative in our coverage, going back to the 1950s when Frank Chirkinian thought it was a good idea to have score relative to par rather than a total score. And that began a history of innovation, whether it was the 3D coverage or the first to carry golf in color, and now the RailCams and the drones and the Atlas camera we have. I am incredibly proud that the tradition has been intact but we have also been able to innovate.”

Coverage began on Monday with Masters on the Range, which aired at noon-2 p.m. on CBS Sports Network (it will air at various times for the remainder of the tournament). Today, ESPN had a two-hour practice-round program at noon and, on Wednesday, will air additional hours of practice at 10 a.m.-noon. Expanded coverage of the Par 3 contest will follow, with ESPN+ streaming coverage at noon-3 p.m. prior to TV coverage at 3-5 p.m. on ESPN. Beginning on Thursday, ESPN+ will also have live streams of Featured Groups; Holes 4, 5, and 6; Amen Corner; and Holes 15 and 16 during all four days of the tournament.

The team at CBS Sports is all set for an exciting weekend of coverage. According to McManus, fans will see full 18-hole coverage on Saturday and Sunday. There will also be more than 100 hours of additional live-streamed video.

“We’re also excited to have an all-women–produced show called We Need To Talk on Saturday before our coverage,” he says. “This is also the second year Sellers Shy is producing the Masters, and I could not be happier with our entire talent and on-air–production team. I think we’re hitting our stride in a terrific golf season.”

Shy, who assumed the role of CBS Sports’ lead golf producer in January 2021, is happy with the tech complement at his disposal this week: “I think we’re gonna have some fresh, inspirational angles, and we will have things like the FlyCams at Holes 12 and 16 and some of our super-slo-mo shots and jib shots. There’s a lot of excitement for us.”

Obviously, many eyes will be on Tiger Woods to see if he will be able to play and provide additional storylines. But one unique aspect of the Masters is how the course, the pressure, and the history and traditions collide to create moments that simply cannot happen anywhere else. Last year, one of those moments occurred when champion Hideki Matsuyama’s caddie, Shota Hayafuji, bowed to the course as a sign of respect. CBS Sports lead play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz calls that moment the shot of the year.

At last year’s Masters, Hideki Matsuyama’s caddie bowed in a gesture of respect to the course at Augusta National.

“Sellers rolled it, and I was awestruck the minute I laid eyes on it as it was so powerful,” Nantz recalls. “I called it the shot of the year in golf. Most times, you would think [the shot of the year] would be a heroic up and down or holing a bunker shot to win a tournament. But that was my favorite shot in golf because of the respect that was shown for the opponent: in this case, the course. And what’s extraordinary about it is the camera operator who captured that, Eric Leidel, is at his 25th Masters.”

Leidel worked handheld 25 years ago, capturing the close-up shot of Tiger Woods and his father, Earl, in the scoring hut following his first Masters victory. Last year, Leidel was in the 18th tower, a camera position formerly occupied by Sports Broadcasting Hall of Famer Davey Finch.

“The action had long left that stage,” adds Nantz, describing the capture of the shot. “Leidel could have been breaking down [his gear], but he noticed the caddy was going back to the playing surface, and he framed it and stayed with it. It’s that kind of ingenuity and presence of mind that [makes Leidel] an artist, and he deserves all the credit in the world.

“We have great people,” he continues. “[They] have been coming for years and years and have more meaningful jobs than anyone. What they do to present the Masters through their lens is pretty amazing, and I’m proud of everyone. We have veteran people that work football, basketball, and golf, and, if you had a straw poll of those people that work multiple events, they would say this is their greatest challenge and often their highest reward.”

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