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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Forgotten Legends

At least it seems that way to me. The Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf -- the event that really launched the Champions Tour way back when -- has been all but unnoticed so far. While the LPGA received at least 3 hours of prime time coverage (well deserved after being ignored for so long) and the PGA Tour showed rounds taped earlier in the day because of bad weather (and replayed them after the LPGA broadcast), the Legends tournament got 2 hours of coverage from 12:30pm to 2:30pm Friday and a repeat broadcast well after midnight. They didn't even get much time on Golf Central.

I'm a realist. I know there are only so many hours in a broadcast day. I know that advertising drives the broadcast industry and the LPGA and PGA are the prime movers in the golf world. I'm not griping about that at all. I'm thankful that we can watch golf at all, especially with the NBA Playoffs on the horizon.

I just think it's sad that the flagship event of the Champions Tour, which does get some coverage on CBS today and tomorrow -- something the LPGA won't get -- is receiving so little attention. I can't help but wonder why.

It could be the team format, but my best guess is a lack of starpower.

Yeah, I know Fred Couples is playing and he's still extremely popular. Couples is teamed with Jay Haas, and they were paired with the team of Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman. The first round wrap-up on PGATOUR.com said they clearly had the biggest galleries at the event.

But "at the event" isn't the same as generating TV ratings, is it?

Whether we like it or not, and regardless of how much we debate the virtues of parity on the various tours, the fact remains that golf is driven by stars. Tiger and Phil can draw an audience all by themselves. Ditto for Jack and Arnie, especially since they appear together so infrequently these days. But none of these players are in the Legends of Golf, and it's beginning to look as if the networks give it minimal support because it's a tradition of sorts.

I'm afraid the Legends of Golf is going the way of the Skins Game. Is it an event whose time has come and gone? I honestly don't know. But I'm not sure even Fred Couples is enough to keep it alive.

After all, he was a regular at the Skins Game as well.

CBS is showing the Legends of Golf both Saturday and Sunday from 1pm - 3pm ET.

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