If you’ve got a wager on anyone but Rory McIlroy, you may want to stay away from the NBC broadcast of The 150th Open Championship.
Through two days at St Andrews, it no longer seems like a race for the season’s final major, with storylines emerging organically. Instead, it’s become something of a forced reality show, starring a beloved Rory McIlroy, who’s been scripted into the four-day docuseries as a conquering hero type, carrying the hopes (and smugness) of golf’s gatekeepers on his Nike-funded shoulders.
The glowing spin is so embarrassingly over the top that you half expect Dan Hicks and Paul Azinger to appear on camera smoking a cigarette after one of their overly dramatic Ode to Rory tales.
According to Justin Leonard, “Rory’s become the conscience of golf.” We weren’t told why, but we assume it’s due to his pro-monopoly stance.
“Rory’s carried the weight of the tour on his back for the past six months (or something to that effect),” said Mike Tirico.
When Rory missed a birdie putt on the 18th hole, Azinger, whose job is to analyze shots and strategy – not root for storylines, said, “Ugh, what a shame.”
Azinger’s predecessor, the blunt-talking Johnny Miller, must have “gagged” hearing that kind of puffery.
My wife, who’s a casual golf fan and knows the name ‘Rory McIlroy,’ strolled by the TV several times, and on her last walk-by said, “What’s the deal, why is he being talked about like he’s the second coming?”
She was talking about Rory.
My buddy Tim joked, “I know. The syrup is giving me a damn toothache.”
Accompanying the firehose of Rory propaganda was the bias by exclusion of LIV golfers. For instance, when a PGA Tour player would make a long putt, or hit a good shot, NBC would include graphics on the screen to boost the highlight and build a potential storyline. If the shot were made by a LIV golfer, however, NBC would quickly show the replay, provide limited commentary with no graphics, and then quickly cut away.
One of the most ridiculous examples of exclusionary bias occurred during a Golf Channel update: Rich Lerner and Brandell Champagne came on to recap the top-4 players of the day, and they started with Scottie Scheffler, who was in 5th place on 8 under. They then jumped from Scheffler in 5th to Rory in 3rd, skipping right over LIV Golf’s Dustin Johnson, who was alone in 4th on 9 under.
It was quite remarkable – in a North Korean-like way.
More to come…