Turner Network Television will pay tribute to the “Golden Bear” during its coverage of the 134th British Open.
Jack Nicklaus will play his last major championship at the Old Course at St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland, with TNT on the scene from July 14 to 17. Golf’s all-time greatest player has won 18 major championships.
Interest in the final competitive walks on the course Nicklaus loves could improve TNT’s ratings for the British Open, which averaged a 0.8 household ratings average a year ago, down from a 0.9 mark for its first year of Open coverage in 2003.
All told, TNT, working with ABC, will use 20 cameras to supplement the 50 available through the British Broadcasting Corp.’s international feed, in supplying 28 hours of coverage, including 12 hours from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. on both July 14 and 15. It will also have live early-morning presentations during the tourney’s final two days.
Turner Sports senior producer Chris Carmody said the network has produced a number of Nicklaus features, building packages that are slated to run on July 14-15. The first will highlight his first major championship at the 1962 U.S. Open and his last in 1986 at The Masters. A second will focus on Nicklaus’s two victories at St. Andrews in 1970 and 1978.
Another will look at Nicklaus’s final major tournament appearances at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in 2000 and The Masters this April.
In addition, TNT will present an interview correspondent and essayist Jim Huber conducted with Nicklaus, in which he discusses his career and his thoughts about St. Andrews. The eight-minute interview, divided into two segments, will also be available on PGA.com, according to Carmody.
But it won’t be a case of all Nicklaus, all the time on the drama network.
“We have to walk a fine line in terms of celebrating Jack and covering the rest of the tournament,” said Carmody. “There’s a balance we must find.”
To that end, Carmody said it is unlikely that TNT’s coverage will focus on stroke-by-stroke action from Nicklaus.
Moreover, TNT also has plenty of other features in store for golf fans: “Like No Other Course” is a segment detailing the idiosyncrasies, challenges and unique atmosphere presented by the Old Course at St. Andrews; “Only at the Open” looks at the Claret Jug, and the colorful stories of what past winners did with this legendary British Open trophy; and “Bobby Jones: A Hero at St. Andrews” tracks the life and career of golf legend and Atlanta native, who became a favorite son here after he won the British Open in 1927.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of Jones winning the sport’s then-Grand Slam: the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur Open, British Open and British Amateur.
Still, Carmody has mixed emotions about the prospects of TNT being able to provide coverage of the retiring golf champion on the weekend.
“Jack’s been playing well and this is not an extremely long course,” he said. “If he’s fortunate enough to make the cut, he will be on our air Saturday and Sunday. But if he’s live with us on Sunday, he won’t be in contention.”