The strongest field of the year has been cut in half, but the coverage will only ramp up on the weekend at The Players Championship. It's not a stretch to say that this weekend is the most comprehensively covered golf tournament of the year, with NBC, Golf Channel, and the PGA Tour hitting every angle in multiple ways.
This weekend marks the return of Golf Channel's "spotlight coverage" -- a broadcast running concurrent to the typical NBC broadcast that focuses on just three holes and peppers the screen with graphics and stats. Golf Channel and NBC fall under the same Comcast umbrella, so they obviously share a lot of resources and there's no worry about having a competing option to flip to while the normal broadcast is live. There's also not that annoying half-hour blackout period we get when Golf Channel has to make the switch over to CBS when they have the rights on the weekend.
I explained the spotlight coverage a little more in depth earlier this week, but it's definitely a broadcast that, as Geoff Shackelford wrote, is "probably the future of televised golf." Golf Channel put it in play for most of the Florida swing, usually on the final three finishing holes at a venue like PGA National, Doral, or Bay Hill.
But those courses can't compete with this week's final three, the iconic end to Pete Dye's Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. There's the risk-reward par-5 16th, where the chance for an eagle is just as likely as the chance your ball lands in the water. It's an amazing hole that gets overshadowed by the last two, with a tree hanging out over the fairway for a menacing obstruction on what's a gettable two-shot par-5 for both long and short hitters. The par-3 island 17th doesn't require much explanation, and the par-4 18th might be the toughest tee shot of the season. It's jail if you blow it through the fairway into the mounds of rough on the right, and obviously the entire left side is lined by the lake that runs right up to the first cut. So needless to say, watching the spotlight coverage is an especially good option this week and that will run from 2 to 6 p.m. ET. Here's how the screen looks:
In addition to the two TV broadcasts, there will be three separate streams available online. There's the regular simulcast stream via GolfChannel/NBC of the TV coverage, and then PGATour.com will again have featured hole and featured group streams. This is obviously their biggest event of the year, and the Tour, unlike Augusta, maintains no prentenious tradition of limiting the coverage of their marquee event. Here are all your media options for Saturday's third round at TPC Sawgrass:
Saturday's third round coverage
12:30 to 2 p.m. -- Golf Channel
2 to 7 p.m. -- NBC
2 to 6 p.m. -- Golf Channel "Spotlight Coverage" of holes 16 through 18
9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. -- PGATour.com featured groups stream for both AM and PM group
Noon to 7 p.m. -- PGATour.com featured holes stream (No. 17, with additional coverage of Nos. 8, 18)
12:30 to 7 p.m. -- Golf Channel/NBC Sports LiveExtra simulcast stream
Noon to 7 p.m. -- PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 93/208)