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Scott Van Pelt: I Believe Golf Events Are More Important Than My Peers Do

“It’s really important to me. That’s what I try to bring to covering the event.”

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Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

ESPN will cover the Masters Tournament for the 15th year, bringing viewers live coverage of the first and second rounds next Thursday, April 7 and Friday, April 8. Through ESPN+, viewers will be able to follow featured groups and holes for the entirety of the four-day event, and enjoy the Masters Par 3 Contest on Wednesday, April 6, the day before the Masters Tournament officially begins. ESPN will also bring viewers various preview shows prior to the honorary tee-off signifying the start of the first round, and SportsCenter at the Masters will keep viewers informed about the latest tournament happenings from the iconic Butler Cabin.

Throughout the tournament, ESPN on-air host Scott Van Pelt, along with golf analysts and two-time U.S. Open champions Andy North and Curtis Strange, will be on-hand at Augusta National to take in the action and provide fans with unique perspectives drawn from their knowledge and expertise of the tournament and the game of golf. While a goal of this year’s broadcast is to introduce viewers to the field of younger golfers emanating onto the scene, all of that may change if a recent arrival ends up partaking in the competition.

“I was texting with a player yesterday and joking, ‘If Tiger [Woods] plays, you guys could play nude and no one would know you were there,’” said Van Pelt. “And I’m kidding obviously, [but] he is the singular player in the sport. There’s people tracking his plane yesterday like it’s an SEC coaching search…. If he plays, that becomes its own lane of coverage.”

Woods, 46, is a five-time Masters Tournament champion, winning the tournament while battling back problems in 2019, but since he was involved in a February 2021 car accident in Los Angeles, Ca. where he suffered numerous leg injuries requiring hospitalization and surgery, he has yet to play in a major tournament.

While North and Strange were professional golfers in the 1970s and 1980s, it could take up to eight years for viewers to familiarize themselves with the golfers, according to North. Coverage of the Masters Tournament was much more stringent and limited based on the broadcast capabilities of the time, meaning that exposure to emerging talents was somewhat finite.

“I think when I started playing, you had two hours of TV on a Saturday and two hours of TV on a Sunday,” said North. “If you were in the last group and double bogeyed the first hole, you never got a shot on TV. The coverage was so limited.” 

Fast-forward to the present day. While the style of coverage has not significantly aberrated from how it originally began, the magnitude and amount of the coverage has increased in scope. With the increased capabilities of ESPN to cover the event both linearly and digitally, it has become more accessible for professional golfers to grow their following. 

Van Pelt’s role in covering the Masters Tournament is unique in that he currently serves as the host of the midnight edition of SportsCenter. He has been covering golf throughout his broadcast career, originally joining ESPN in 2001 as its lead professional golf reporter after working as an anchor and reporter on The Golf Channel for seven years. Rather than sticking to solely working in a studio-based role covering the world of sports as a whole, Van Pelt feels it is important to hone in the coverage of golf and its major tournaments to continue to expand its psychographic; that is, capturing the interest of those familiar with sports whether that interest be insouciant or absorbed.

“I think I look at these events perhaps differently than some of my peers in terms of how important I believe they are,” said Van Pelt. “Hopefully my respect for the events and leaning into the expertise of the people that I’m lucky to be sitting next to… shines through. It’s really important to me. That’s what I try to bring to covering the event.”

Amid the ethereal setting filled with green grass and natural foliage, a 160-year-old oak tree serves as the gathering place for attendees to reconnect, create new memories and ingratiate themselves in the competitive serenity of the Masters Tournament.

“As always, under the tree you talk early in the week about the storylines,” explained Strange, “and every year… there’s so many different storylines. Who can win; who can play well; who’s been playing well. You know, you look forward to the entire major championship season.”

The anticipation for the Masters, while it may seem jaded to viewers from afar, is genuine and hardly trite for regular attendees of the event. It is safe to say they are looking forward to being back on the course and in the quaint, vivacious setting of Augusta National next week.

“We’ve still got some snow on the ground up in our neck of the woods in Wisconsin,” said North. “People are fired up about getting up and hitting golf balls. Getting that first major [championship], it feels like the year is really going full tilt once you get to that point.”

“It’s the perfect event because it’s the first one, it’s the same place, it’s coming out of the winter,” added Van Pelt. “Just the sense of getting there, what [the] sun feels like on your face, the flowers, the people, the friends, the whole bit. The anticipation – I’m sure people get sick of it or you roll your eyes – but not the people who have been there…. They know what it feels like. That’s why we’re all just – we can’t wait to get back.”

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Warriors Fans Throw Objects At Charles Barkley On Inside the NBA Set

“Barkley yelled back at the crowd but never actually left the set.”

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TNT/Larry Brown Sports

Charles Barkley is no stranger to being the object of fans’ ire. The cities of San Antonio and Cleveland have a history of being the butt of the Round Mound of Rebound’s jokes. Thursday night in San Francisco, fans of the Warriors took things to a different level, throwing objects at Barkley on the Inside the NBA set.

The TNT studio show was broadcasting live from outside the Chase Center. The crowd chanted “Chuck, you suck!” at Barkley before the game. After Golden State clinched a birth in the NBA Finals, things got physical.

Fans threw things at the set, including a rolled-up t-shirt, which hit Charles Barkley in the back of the head. That resulted in Barkley leaving his seat and bowing up to the audience.

“Come on Chuck!” Ernie Johnson pleaded as Kenny Smith repeatedly said “Sit down Chuck.”

Barkley yelled back at the crowd but never actually left the set.

Now that the Western Conference Finals are over, TNT’s NBA schedule has concluded. That doesn’t mean Charles Barkley won’t return to San Francisco for the NBA Finals, but it is highly unlikely given the reception he has received there.

Barkley spent most of the postseason telling Golden State fans they were annoying and need to shut up and saying the city of San Francisco has “dirty ass streets”.

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Jon Miller To Call MLB Sunday Leadoff Game On Peacock

“According to a press release, Jason Benetti has a scheduling conflict.”

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Rich Eisen Show

Legendary play-by-play man Jon Miller will be returning to the national broadcast booth on Sunday. He will call the San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds game for Peacock. He’ll be joined in the booth by Barry Larkin and Shawn Estes.

According to a press release, Jason Benetti has a scheduling conflict. Benetti, the regular play-by-play voice of Peacock’s MLB Sunday Leadoff, is also the television voice of the Chicago White Sox. NBC Sports Chicago has prioritized this weekend’s series between the White Sox and Cubs, making Benetti unavailable to the national broadcast.

Miller has been calling Giants games since 1997 and previously shared the Sunday Night Baseball booth on ESPN with hall of famer Joe Morgan.

The broadcast, called MLB Sunday Leadoff, will begin at 11 a.m. with pregame coverage hosted by Ahmed Fareed. The game broadcast begins at 11:30 a.m.

The game will take place in an exclusive two-hour broadcast window prior to the start of the rest of the league’s day of games.

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Amazon Eyeing Pat McAfee For Thursday Night Football Megacast

“No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.’

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First it was the Mannings. Now it’s McAfee. Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports that Pat McAfee could be at the center of an alternate broadcast of Thursday Night Football on Amazon in the 2022 season.

No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.

Rumors of Amazon’s interest in McAfee began to bubble up last month. While he never directly addressed them, he did make mention on his show that he was “up to something” and insinuated that Amazon wasn’t the only company he was talking to.

McAfee has said on his show in the past that he wants to be part of an NFL broadcast. However, he is firm in that it would not be in the broadcast booth.

“I can’t call games. Not yet,” McAfee said on a show in February. “Have to be done with this show to call games. Because that’s like a 3-day, 4-day thing.” 

In addition to his daily show, McAfee is also committed to the WWE. He is on the road for Smackdown every Friday.

There is no word on exactly what a Pat McAfee-centered broadcast would look like. When reports first came out regarding discussions with McAfee, Ryan Glasspiegel of The New York Post reported that moving The Pat McAfee Show to Amazon was on the table. If that happens, it would make sense to use his entire crew on the Thursday Night Football presentation.

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