News & ToursMay 8, 2009

Internal NBC memos: Can't we show the hockey game instead?

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Seated for lunch in the sprawling, opulent, bigger-than-many-federal office-buildings clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass, NBC Sports head Dick Ebersol wore a look of lighthearted contentment.

Is it possible he hadn't looked at a leaderboard?

Because unless there's an unknown pocket of hard core Alex Cejka fans out there among American viewers, this weekend of the Players Championship isn't offering the network much to hang its hat on. Can't you just see the promo now? "Cejka! Johnson! Dufner! These are professional golfers. Honest!"

OK, these are all fine players in contention, and some are more than anonymous touring pros, beginning with the Masters champion Angel Cabrera, who is four shots behind Cejka at seven under. The other part to consider in the Players especially, a 36-hole lead doesn't mean much. In the tournament's 35-year history, only eight halfways leaders have gone on to win, most recently Phil Mickelson in 2007.

So in other words, the leader board on this unpredictable plot of converted swampland is likely to look much different Saturday, and again on Sunday. Maybe Alex Cejka doesn't hope so. But one has to think Ebersol does.

-- Sam Weinman

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