Fox's first foray into golf broadcasting featured one compelling moment in four hours dominated by too much announcer talk and a rough-edged production. For six minutes, however, everything came together when Billy Horschel and partner Ian Poulter both drove into a far portion of the 17th-hole fairway bunker only to find their path to the green obstructed by a camera tower.
What happened next reminded viewers that (A) Tour players can be remarkably whiny and rude even when they know they're on camera, and (B) that there is no more compelling scene than the combination of great pictures, sound, well-timed commentary and a little controversy.
When PGA tour rules official John Lillivis arrived on the scene only to tell Poulter and Horschel that a drop away from the temporary immovable obstruction would give them a line they did not care for, the two grew pouty and wanted the camera on the tower removed."I don't want that camera there. Because if this thing is cutting…" Poulter said.
The harassment continued as the Fox announce team (for once Saturday) kept quiet. Horschel kept up the badgering.
"What if he just lowers it to underneath the bar? Can you lower it?"
The cameraman finally spoke. "I'm going to walk away."
Not the answer Horschel was looking for.
"Who told you to walk away? No no no, buddy, don't walk. Don't leave yet. Who told you can't do it?"
"The guy on the other end," the cameraman said meekly, not wanting to be the story.
At this point Fox's shrewd decision to be different than other networks by having former USGA Executive Director David Fay on hand proved brilliant, as Fay was able to explain the dynamics of the situation while allowing Norman to point out that Poulter and Horschel would not have wanted to take drops anyway because their golf balls would have plugged in the sand. Norman and Buck mocked the badgering of the cameraman, with Buck noting it was against union rules.
Meanwhile the PGA Tour's Slugger White was contacted by Lillivus and it was agreed they could take the camera off its tripod. Once the cameraman disassembled the camera from the base, Norman threw in a subtle jab to let it be known what he thought of the dramatics.
"Okay Ian Poulter, you better step up there 'sunshine' and hit a good shot here."Poulter chunked his shot badly, appearing to try a line that proved his point about need a drop. Horschel took a safe line but also only advanced his ball a hundred yards or so. The entire escapade had wasted a lot of time but gave the Fox team a chance to shine by largely staying out of the way.
"That camera was in no danger," Buck concluded after the two poor shots never sniffed the tower. Norman agreed.
The Golf Gods took note too, as Poulter and Horschel threw away any chance of winning the tournament on the final hole with a best-ball bogey. Hardly a surprising thing considering the lousy karma accrued from their 17th hole antics.