An absent Tiger Woods has muffled some of the usual outcries about Augusta National's policy of restricting TV coverage of their most dignified golf tournament. It was Tiger who so often ginned up the most anger, when the wider sports audience, the one that doesn't always watch golf, realized that he was playing his first or second round in obscurity.
The limited coverage, however, is still incredibly frustrating and leaves so many big names and leaders simply out of view for a good portion of the first two days of the tournament. ESPN will carry the broadcast again on Friday, not coming not the air until 3 p.m. ET, which is about six or seven hours later than they would when they carried the U.S. Open and British Open. The livestreams on Masters.com have mitigated some of this frustration, but it's still crazy that you can't just watch it on TV. And despite the improvement in stream offerings, you are still actually missing major portions of some of the biggest superstars' rounds.
The odd man out on Friday will be Rory McIlroy, who tees off just after 11 a.m. ET. Sure, he won't be done before ESPN comes on the air, but he'll be pretty damn deep into his second nine. He's also not on the Featured Groups stream because he was already on there Thursday, when he played most of his round during the actual TV window late in the afternoon. So here you have one of, if not the most compelling stories and players in the field, playing most of a second round that nobody can see. But but but ... tradition!
ESPN has had the Thursday-Friday rights to the Masters since 2008 and have a done a good job in their restricted and limited role. The broadcast is run on ESPN, but it's still really a CBS -- the 61-year partner of the Masters -- production all around. They use the CBS producer and truck, CBS talent, and their traditional Masters graphics package. On Thursday, ESPN did do a fair amount of live look-ins, trying to show as much live golf outside the actual the coverage window that they could, which is commendable. It's what first put the video of that horrendous Ernie Els' six-putt quintuple bogey on the 1st hole out into the bloodstream.
If you don't want to wait for the TV broadcast, and who would, there will be a couple ways to ignore work on an April Friday and watch golf. The earliest stream that will be live is the Featured Groups stream, which now goes live right from the very 1st tee. The two groups on Friday will be the 9:37 a.m. Bubba Watson group and the 9:59 a.m. Jason Day group. Shortly after that goes live, the Amen Corner stream will kick in followed by the Nos. 15/16 stream about an hour after that. Here are all your media options for the second round:
Friday's second round coverage
3-7:30 p.m.: Live second round coverage - ESPN
8-11 p.m.: Replay of second round coverage - ESPN
3-7:30 p.m., 8-11 p.m.: Simulcast of TV coverage on WatchESPN
Available at Masters.com
9:26 a.m.-completion (~7 p.m.): Featured groups stream
10:45 a.m.-6 p.m.: Amen Corner live stream
11:45 a.m.-7 p.m.: Nos. 15 and 16 live stream
2 p.m.-completion: Masters Radio - Masters.com
* * *
Watch Ernie Els seven-putt from six feet out
Be sure to subscribe to SB Nation's YouTube channel for highlight videos, features, analysis and more