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Nantz: It'd be grand but ...

By SHARON GINN

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 6, 2001


Already this year, CBS announcer Jim Nantz has hosted Super Bowl coverage and, most recently, called Monday's NCAA men's basketball championship game. But his favorite duty remains calling the 18th hole at the Masters.

Nantz may be a high-profile broadcaster whose bosses love hype and high ratings, but he's also a golf purist. In his mind, a victory by Tiger Woods on Sunday would unquestionably not complete a Grand Slam.

"Personally, I don't think it is," said Nantz, who played golf at the University of Houston, where he roomed with former Masters champ Fred Couples, before beginning his broadcasting career. "That's not to diminish what would be an achievement that stands on its own as its best in the modern era. It's got to be in one year, one season."

Nantz's colleague, David Feherty, doesn't quite agree.

"To me it's not really an issue of whether it's a Grand Slam," Feherty said. "It's just freaking amazing. If anyone owns the (the championship) of all four majors at any one time, they have a right to call it anything they want."

If Woods wins Sunday, Nantz will have to call it something. Just what is anybody's guess -- even his.

"I complained last year that I need a whole new glossary of terms," Nantz said. "My reservoir of superlatives is bone dry. I was on Dan Patrick's (radio) show (Monday) and said, "If you have a superlative that you have not heard that would apply to a Tiger moment, please let me know.' "

MORE MASTERS: Almost every major sports broadcast these days includes added bells and whistles -- some more successful than others -- but Masters coverage will remain nearly the same. CBS has added a few cameras, but "nothing (will get) in the way of golf," producer Lance Barrow said.

In addition to its tournament coverage, CBS will air two two-part specials this weekend: Nicklaus: A Final March Through the Majors at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 Sunday and The Story of the Masters at 2:30 Saturday and 3 Sunday.

RATINGS: CBS and ESPN Final Four broadcasts beat the trend of declining sports ratings. For Monday night's men's championship game, ratings on CBS were up 11 percent, to a 15.6 rating/24 share from a 14.1 rating/23 share in 2000. The overall tournament averaged a 6.5 rating/14 share, up 2 percent from last year's 6.4/14. One ratings point equals 1 percent of U.S. households with televisions; share is the number of TVs turned on that were tuned in.

ESPN's coverage of the women's Final Four averaged a 2.64 rating, meaning 2.64 percent of the network's subscribers were watching. That's a 9 percent increase from 2000 (2.43).

MIKE FEVER: Evidently the hottest new sports accessory is the microphone. ESPN will mike Amy Alcott -- a first for an official LPGA, PGA or Senior PGA Tour event -- Thursday during the first round of the Office Depot hosted by Amy Alcott (which is, we assure you, the actual name of the Los Angeles tournament).

TENNIS ANYONE?: Who knows when Venus and Serena Williams will play each other again in a WTA Tour event, but the sisters will battle in an exhibition singles match for charity Saturday in Delray Beach. Sunshine will air the match live, along with the Williams' exhibition doubles match against Luke and Murphy Jensen. Coverage begins at 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, CBS gets a thumbs-down for the way it condensed Saturday's Ericsson Open final between Venus and Jennifer Capriati. The network failed to show most of the third-set tiebreaker because of its rush to get to NCAA tournament coverage at 3:30, even though the Final Four games didn't start for two hours. CBS was working with a 60-minute tape delay; it's hard to imagine it couldn't have found a better way to trim the fat.

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