By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) Even if FOX could have found the ball, they would have dropped it.READ MORE: 16-Year-Old Charged In 2 Carjackings In Chicago's Douglas Neighborhood
The drama of Sunday’s U.S. Open finish wasn’t enough to get this broadcast off the hook, with the combination of a legendary choke and a burgeoning star now halfway to golf’s grand slam unfortunately soured by how we had to see and hear it.
Four days of bizarre directorial choices, forced storylines and inconsistent analysis turned the first experience on the USGA’s new network partner into a frustrating weekend of uncertainty and ambiguity.
Too often we saw a golfer in tight close-up, huddling and muttering with his caddy before a shot. What club did he select? Not sure. What was going into their plan, based on the way the hole was playing? No idea. Where did the ball end up? We’ll get back to you on that, after we show Jason Day walking around some more.
Chambers Bay did TV no favors, certainly, with elevation changes limiting sightlines and a lack of natural color contrasts that challenged cameras in varying light. The combination of otherworldly terrain and reliance on graphic tracers for most shots turned this into a 1980s Atari mashup — Moon Patrol meets Missile Command.
Where were the virtual flyovers before each hole, letting us preview the strategies of preferred landing spots for drives and angles of approach? What’s a shot from that lie likely to do, and what options does he have? Too often critical putts went undescribed before the fact, too, with no explanation of anticipated speed or break. That’s why you’re there, guys.
It got worse as it got more important, with key sequences missed completely and not even revisited via replay, as in “This, just moments ago, Spieth … at 12 … for the lead … .” We never saw that, nor did we see Branden Grace’s tying tap-in.
There were no detailed breakdowns of why certain players’ swings yielded certain results, as the instructive artistry of Peter Kostis over super slo-mo is a luxury, we now understand. Indeed, absences all over made hearts grow fonder. No Feherty, no Baker-Finch, no Maltbie.READ MORE: Larry Scott, 32 Charged In May 1 Murder Of Travis Willis In West Pullman
Analyst Greg Norman seemingly disappeared with three holes to play, with those of us craving the bluntness of Johnny Miller or the insight of Nick Faldo left wanting. After Dustin Johnson’s gut-wrenching three-putt, it would have been great if somebody there could possibly be able to describe uniquely the feeling of collapsing on one of the sport’s biggest stages. Oh, wait.
“I’m actually speechless,” he said.
You can’t be speechless there, Greg. It’s your job not to be.
Tom Weiskopf then swooped in with his own observational powers at full blast, weighing in on this unforgettable outcome with, “It is what it is.” OK, then.
FOX’s clubhouse reporter made sure the key questions didn’t go unanswered, like whether Jordan Spieth had packed another outfit for a possible playoff round. This despite the fact that all of these guys are sponsored by clothing companies.
In all, a rough go for the inaugural production of a 12-year arrangement to carry this event. Deep rough, in this case, even with the gift of an ending that couldn’t be scripted any better to keep people intrigued.
It will get better, because it has to.MORE NEWS: While Learning Remotely, Northwest Suburban Band Class Project Spanned The Country