Broadcast Alert – The Kodak Challenge

I’m putting this short post out early because there is a remarkable possibility of an extraordinary occurrence on the PGA Tour broadcast tomorrow.

In my preview of this week’s Children’s Miracle Network Classic at Disney’s Magnolia and Palm Courses in Orlando, Florida, I noted that this was the last chance to win the Kodak Challenge, the $1 million, year-long race to post the lowest aggregate score on 18 of 30 pre-selected holes throughout the year.

Troy Merritt had a one-shot lead over Rickie Fowler and Aaron Baddeley coming into the tournament.

The selected hole for this tournament is the par-4, 487-yard 17th hole on the Magnolia course. Fowler and Baddeley both birdied the hole early in the week to tie Merritt at 17-under par. So it comes down to this: either Troy Merritt birdies the hole during his round and wins the $1 million outright (the other two would have to make an eagle-2 to improve their scores on the hole), or there will be a one-hole playoff for $1 million.

If this occurs, it will take place after the end of the tournament itself. Because of that and the possiblity that it will be dark by then, the hole will be lighted if necessary. We’ve seen that before, in some exhibition, made-for-television, million-dollar events involving Tiger Woods, but they were 18 holes. This is one.

The only hole to be used for the playoff will be the 17th, but the yardages will be changed if additional holes are needed to break the tie. The first extra hole will be played from 430 yards, which is where the tees were played for the first and second round this week when Fowler and Baddeley made their birdies. The second extra hole will be played as a drivable par-4 from 290-295 yards. The third extra hole will move the tees back to 487 yards, which is where they were located for Saturday’s round and will be for Sunday’s round.

And here’s the capstone on all the drama: with water all around on the tee shot and the approach shot to the green, the 17th hole played the toughest on Saturday. There were only 8 birdies against 27 bogeys and 6 double bogeys.

Because Merritt is well back in the field, he will be starting on the back nine, close to the starting times of the leaders on the front nine. So his initial effort to make his birdie should be later in the broadcast as the leaders are coming down the home stretch. (CORRECTION: In fact, Merritt’s effort will come mid-way in the broadcast; his front nine will coincide with their front nine.) Believe me, it will get plenty of play too and, since they’re not well known, might even overshadow the leaders themselves.

If he birdies during his round, that’s it. But if he doesn’t, they’ll have an interminable wait for the main tournament to be over (including any playoff they might have). And after that, it could be over in one hole since it’ll be playing short. Or it could go on all night.

From a mastery point of view, be sure to watch the eyes. That should be a pretty good predictor of how the shots will come out.

The broadcast begins at 1 PM (Eastern) on the Golf Channel. Enjoy. Who knows when we’ll see it again?

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