The Votes Are In and It’s Unanimous, “No!”

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In advance NBC’s coverage of THE PLAYERS; analysts Johnny Miller, David Duval and Justin Leonard answered questions for about an hour yesterday. It didn’t take long for the narrative to shift to, “How we did it versus how it’s done today by the young guys.” Ironically this topic will inevitably outlive both Johnny Miller’s and Jordan Spieth’s generation.

“Green reading books” was the topic. Is it good for the game? Should they be allowed?

Justin Leonard went first, “I played last week at the Texas Open, and Steve Hulka was caddying for me, and he had one of those books with, you know, the arrows and everything. I looked at it twice and I couldn’t — it was too much information for me. I think the reason they are looking at it — and I’ll tell you that I had a putt on Friday on No. 9 to make the cut, about a 25-footer. And Steve told me what the book said, and it did exactly what it said. I made the putt. Absolutely I made it. Of course, I did. I made the cut and played on the weekend.”

He then went on to say he was against the books because of the slow play issue.

THE PLAYERS winner in 1999 and current NBC analyst

THE PLAYERS winner in 1999 and current NBC analyst

David Duval spoke next, “I don’t believe they should be using them. I understand the pace of play aspect of it, but as long as – pace of play isn’t as big a deal to me in that. I think it removes the art of it. Everything has become so scientific. It does remove a bit of the art of putting and takes away some feel.”

Johnny Miller was last, “I was like the second-fastest player on TOUR behind Lanny, and I went with my first instinct and my homework I had done in the practice rounds. If you couldn’t put the line on the ball and you didn’t have these books that basically almost hit the ball for you; I just think it’s taken away – in fact, the older players, the one advantage they had was they had experience on these courses, and now with these super books that they have, that you can buy, it’s just – I think that, you know, you should have to learn these courses. It shouldn’t be that you could walk out there and shoot 63 the first time around, you know, with all this help that you get. So, I’m against anything that slows things down. I just think all these guys, these young kids, they all copy exactly what the pros do. They have taken more time than they need to, I believe. I’m a fast player, so I always go super fast.”

It’s interesting that Justin Leonard is both a yardage book beneficiary and antagonist…

Perhaps this is just another chapter for the, “that’s how it was back in my day” conversation.

In my day,
Music was better
Movies were better
Cars were better
And the way we read putts was better too

In 30 years Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy will gather to discuss the upcoming 90 hours of live programming on Golf Channel and NBC for THE PLAYERS. A change in the game will be discussed; all three will adamantly be opposed.

With a recently renovated Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass serving as the backdrop, NBC Sports Group will dedicate nearly 90 hours of live programming coverage surrounding one of the most-anticipated events on the PGA TOUR schedule, THE PLAYERS Championship, May 8-14 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

THE PLAYERS will be hosted by Mike Tirico, while the familiar pairing of Dan Hicks and Hall-of-Famer Johnny Miller will be positioned in the 18th tower during weekend coverage on NBC. Terry Gannon and Hall-of-Famer Nick Faldo will oversee the 18th tower during early-round coverage on Golf Channel, with Hicks and 1999 PLAYERS champion David Duval also contributing. The remainder of the broadcast team for all four rounds will include Gary Koch, Peter Jacobsen and 1998 PLAYERS champion Justin Leonard in tower positions, with Roger Maltbie, David Feherty, Mark Rolfing and Notah Begay reporting from inside the ropes. Steve Sands will conduct interviews with players, while Jimmy Roberts will offer essays.

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