The Masters will continue its tradition of antagonizing television viewers on Thursday when the round of No. 1 player in the world Tiger Woods will not be available for viewing. Tiger tees off at 10:45 a.m. ET, which means his opening round at Augusta National should finish around 3 p.m., just as ESPN is coming on the air for four hours of TV coverage.
Surely then, Tiger and playing partners Scott Piercy and Luke Donald will be one of the two Thursday "Featured Groups" on the Masters.com livestream channels? No, no they will not, according to Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Billy Payne, who referred to the club on Wednesday as a "beacon in the golf world."
Augusta National chairman Billy Payne says that a player can only be in the featured group one day - so Tiger's in Friday, not Thursday.— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) April 10, 2013
To clarify, Tiger will be in the featured group on Friday, when he tees off at 1:41 p.m., just 80 minutes before ESPN comes on the air to broadcast a majority of his second round. That's some expert trolling from Mr. Payne and ANGC, although you can't be a "beacon" for the golf world when you obstruct coverage of the No. 1 player, the only reason why many casual observers care to tune in. Here's the Chairman Payne expanding on the tradition of keeping viewers confined (via ASAPSports):
That's an age‑old question, Bob, about how much TV is enough. We have through time expanded a little bit, and you know, we know everybody wants more. And we know we're at the beginning of what digital platforms can do for you in terms of having your own control over the experience, and we are right in the middle of all that trying to learn. But you know, I think it's fair to say that one of the tenets that we hold to most dearly is that, you know, it is limited. And I think because it is, it makes it a little more special.
You can catch Tiger play holes 11 through 13 and then 15 to 16 with the two other livestream channels dedicated to Amen corner and the back-to-back iconic par-5 and par-3. But it's a frustrating start to a week in which all of the anticipation is centered on a streaking Tiger's bid to end his majors drought.