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April 14, 2011

Nantz, Faldo on how CBS covered "exhilirating" Masters

Posted at 4:25 PM by Alan Bastable | Categories: Jim Nantz, Masters, Nick Faldo

CBS Sports announcer Jim Nantz has yet to watch a replay of Masters Sunday, but when he does get around to it, he’s not sure what to expect.

“We might have a different winner,” Nantz joked in a phone interview Thursday. “We might have a different winner every time.”

Nantz was alluding to the riveting, highly volatile conclusion during which eight different players had at least a share of the lead on the back nine: Tiger Woods, Angel Cabrera, Geoff Ogilvy, Luke Donald, and on and on. Charl Schwartzel eventually prevailed, but not before birdieing the last four holes.

“I still can’t believe, with just 45 minutes left in that broadcast, how many people could have conceivably won it,” Nantz says. “It was so exhilarating because that’s what you want—to have the chance to keep people on the edges of their seats. I can’t tell you how many e-mails I got from people saying, ‘I couldn’t even go to the bathroom. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to miss anything.’ ”

The thrill-a-second drama was great for fans, but it also meant that behind the scenes the CBS Sports production crew had its hands—and earpieces—full, madly scrambling to get every shot, putt and snap hook (sorry, Rory) onto the telecast as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

“At one point, we had six guys hitting or putting at the same time with a significant putt or shot that might allow them to take the lead,” said CBS’s Nick Faldo, who was commentating in the 18th hole tower next to Nantz. “It was just like, ‘Wow, where are we going next?’”

CBS couldn’t predict that with any more certainty than couch potatoes watching from home. “Obviously there were shots being played at the same time and you can’t be three places at once,” Nantz says. “That’s why you have tape and digital playback. But our guys had a rhythm and a confidence and a pacing to that show, from A to B to C, and on down the line.

“They didn’t miss a single shot,” Nantz adds. “There was no instance of, ‘How come I didn’t see the birdie putt by Schwartzel over at 15?’ ”

Faldo agrees that it was far less taxing in the tower than in the truck. “We’d rather there be chaos [on the course] as opposed to those days when the leaderboard doesn’t change,” he says. “That can be hard work.”

When the curtain finally dropped on the most spellbinding Masters in recent memory, Faldo, who won three green jackets of his own, says he actually felt a tinge of melancholy.

“As I drove out, I thought, ‘God, what a shame it’s all over. I’m really going to miss that.’”

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