This is it for NBC at the U.S. Open, their premier golf broadcast and an event in which they've become significant part of its identity. Dan Hicks, Johnny Miller, and the NBC team will sign off Sunday night in their final U.S. Open broadcast, and veteran golf producer Tommy Roy has said they have something special planned as a farewell.
Johnny Miller takes a lot of heat for some over-the-top opinions and curmudgeonly comments often hailing the past glory from his playing days. But he does provide real insight as opposed to cheerleading and if you have the right perspective, his approach can be extremely unintentionally funny and entertaining. I'll miss "Johnny" calling our national championship.
The USGA and NBC split is pretty widely-publicized at this point, given the controversial and contentious negotiations and the way in which a final decision to go with FOX was made, and then subsequently announced to the public. FOX landed rights to all the USGA championships last August in a 12-year deal worth an estimated $1.2 billion. Executives at the USGA were reportedly split on which way to go, and some were angry that NBC was not given a final chance to outbid FOX. Instead, the USGA quickly discarded their history with NBC and went with FOX. They then announced the deal on the Wednesday night before the start of the PGA Championship, the marquee event of a sometimes-rival organization, the PGA of America.
The manner in which the FOX deal was announced, rudely stealing the shine of the PGA, was widely panned and then after further details came out, the negotiation process and the deal to go with the money also took on increased criticism. The whole deal reportedly led to major dissension within the USGA, and most of the marketing and business influences largely responsible for pushing for FOX are now gone, with executives characterized in the "golf pursist camp" (Mike Davis, Tom O'Toole) winning the power struggle. But while those guys may now have the power, the deal is done so we'll get Joe Buck, Greg Norman, and a network broadcasting golf for the first time next year at Chambers Bay outside Seattle.
It's not shaping up to be an ideal Sunday for NBC to go out on, as Martin Kaymer has overwhelmed the field and the course this week and has gone unchallenged. He'll start the final round up five shots and the last player to blow a lead that large after 54 holes was Mike Brady ... in 1919. Pinehurst No. 2 fought back on Saturday, and the conditions should be just as brutal again on Sunday. There's been little moisture since Thursday night, and the winds were up a bit and out of a new direction in the third round. The USGA also made the pin placements extremely difficult. Those tough scoring conditions would usually be a good thing for a player out front as much as Kaymer. If it's that tough again, then the final few hours of U.S. Open golf on NBC may just be a formality on the march to Kaymer's second major title
The broadcast is not scheduled to come on until Noon, although on Saturday, much of that first hour was spent not showing golf but rather features and jabbering from talking heads at NBC's sister network, Golf Channel. Kaymer and Rickie Fowler do not go out in the final tee time until 3:35 p.m. ET, so we will probably end up finishing closer to 8 p.m. rather than the scheduled 7:30 finish.
Here's the full media schedule:
Sunday's final round coverage
Noon to 7:30 p.m. -- NBC
Noon to 7:30 p.m. -- NBC Sports LiveExtra simulcast
Noon to conclusion -- USOpen.com featured holes (Nos. 9, 18)
2 p.m. to 8 p.m. -- PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 93/208)
2 p.m. to 8 p.m. -- ESPN Radio