The Masters may be "a tradition unlike any other" on CBS, but I can see with great certainty that the High Definition broadcast over on ESPN on Thursday and Friday was a better experience for me. In fact, it was so breathtaking that I'd have to put watching the Masters at Augusta National in the top 10 reasons to own an HDTV. Simply gorgeous, and it really gives you the feeling of being there. On Friday, when Tiger Woods was hitting his second shot on 18 from the pine needles and needing to clear the trees in front of him, I felt like I was standing right behind him.
The CBS experience is unlike the ESPN experience for me because the ESPN experience looked much better -- because it actually was in High Definition! I'm not sure what the problem is. Whether CBS has issues, and all of its HD cameras are broken, whether they ran into technical difficulties with their HD broadcast (I just watched 30 minutes, and none of it looked like it was in HD) or whether it could be an issue with my Comcast as well. I'm not really sure. I'm sure other stuff on Comcast looks great on HD, but not CBS today.
Whatever the problem is, it's too bad. Because the HD made such a difference on Thursday and Friday. I could practically read the greens from home - it was that stunning. CBS broadcast today is allowing me to follow the action, but it's not giving me the HD experience and this is one instance where it really does make a big difference to me. Hopefully, whatever the problems I am experiencing, they'll get it sorted out for the final round.
You can see the historical Nielsen ratings for the Masters here. As of this writing Tiger is still in the hunt - he's five under for the tournament and four under for the day through 17 as I write this. Leaving him 4 back of the leader (Brandt Snedeker - not exactly a household name). Tiger again put his drive on 18 in the pine needles, but today put his second shot on the green. As you can see in the ratings chart, Tiger being in the hunt is very important to CBS. More important than whether I'm getting crystal clear HD.
But I'm selfish, I wish the thing had been on ESPN all weekend, ensuring beautiful, crystal clear HD. Whether it's a CBS thing or a Comcast thing, I can't say. What I can say is it makes a difference. Augusta National on HD is one of the best reasons to own an HDTV I've seen...at least when the Masters is actually being broadcast in High Definition.
Update: Tiger will be six out heading into tomorrow's final round. CBS kept running the stat that Tiger's never won a major when he wasn't leading after three rounds. His hill to climb may seem fairly steep, but some combination of his picking up three strokes while the leader(s) give up three doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility.