MediaApril 17, 2019

Masters 2019: The most critical golf shot CBS didn't show during Sunday's final round

Francesco Molinari reacts to his third shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the 2019 Masters.
Andrew RedingtonFrancesco Molinari reacts to his third shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the 2019 Masters.

To all those golf fans who think TV networks show "Too much Tiger!" during broadcasts, you're not going to believe this. CBS did not—I repeat, did NOT—show every Tiger Woods shot during Sunday's final round at the 2019 Masters.

OK, so they basically did, only missing one of his 70 strokes (a tap-in for par on No. 1) on his way to winning a fifth green jacket. The network was nearly as thorough with Woods' playing partner and 54-hole leader Francesco Molinari, showing all but two of his actual strokes (Molinari was also penalized two shots during a final-round 74). However, one of those two swings turned out to be critical to the outcome of the event.

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Thanks as always to ClassicTVsports.com for charting all the shots televised during the final round of a major. The site confirmed what I believed to be true while being in and out of the Augusta National media center on Sunday: Molinari's second shot on No. 15 never made it on TV.

Even after his disastrous double bogey on No. 12, Molinari arrived at the Augusta's final par 5 tied for the lead with Woods, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Xander Schauffele. So why wasn't his second shot shown? Well, it was just a layup after a poor drive, but that punchout from the right pine straw proved to be pivotal. It wound up running through the fairway and into the left rough. It should be noted you can see the shot on the Masters digital platforms, which, remarkably, attempted to show every shot from the tournament.

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Although Molinari only had 79 yards for his third, which was shown live, his angle was so extreme that his golf ball caught a pine tree and dropped into the pond guarding the green. A surprised Molinari, who had just one bogey through the first 60 holes of the tournament, never recovered from his second double bogey in four holes. Meanwhile, Woods hit two great shots on the hole to find the green. And two putts later he had the solo lead for the first time all week, a lead he would not relinquish.

Other interesting notes from ClassicTVsports.com's rundown? Molinari (70), Woods (69), Koepka (59), and Tony Finau (59) combined to hit 59 percent of the shots shown during the final-round broadcast, which came on five hours earlier than originally scheduled thanks to storms in the area. Aaron Wise (solo 17th) was the highest finisher not shown, and other than No. 18 (38 shots), the most shots shown on any hole came at No. 5 (33), including five by Woods as he bogeyed the lengthened par 4 for a fourth consecutive day.

All in all, CBS aired a total of 450 golf shots on Sunday or 1.38 shots per minute. Although that number was slightly lower than the previous two Masters (1.41 in 2017 and 1.38 in 2018), it's the third-best rate since ClassicTVsports.com started tracking this at the four majors starting in 2014. So you can't complain about that kind of coverage and you can't blame CBS for not choosing to show a punchout. But that shunned shot turned out to be more important than anyone could have imagined.

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