via press release:
NBC SPORTS GROUP PRESENTS 16 HOURS OF LIVE COMPLETE-ROUND COVERAGE OF HONDA CLASSIC
Defending Champion Camilo Villegas & WGC-Accenture Winner Luke Donald Highlight Competitive Field
NEW YORK – Mar. 2, 2011 – The NBC Sports Group will present 16 hours of live complete-round coverage of the Honda Classic from the Jack Nicklaus re-designed PGA National Championship Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Thursday through Sunday on Golf Channel and NBC. The Honda Classic is the first full-field, stroke-play tournament covered by Golf Channel and NBC Sports since both organizations became members of the NBC Sports Group on Jan. 28 when the Comcast-NBCUniversal transaction was completed.
Golf Channel will air live first- and second-round action on Thursday and Friday from 3-6 p.m. ET. In addition to its traditional early-round coverage, Golf Channel is adding two hours of live action on Saturday and Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. ET, which leads directly into “Golf Channel on NBC” coverage (3-6 p.m. ET both days). Golf Channel will also replay 10 hours of the Honda Classic in primetime from Thursday-Sunday, including replays of “Golf Channel on NBC” on Saturday and Sunday.
NBC SPORTS GROUP SCHEDULE (all times ET):
First Round 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 8:30-11:30 p.m. (Replay) Golf Channel
Second Round 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 8:30-11:30 p.m. (Replay) Golf Channel
Third Round 1-3 p.m. (Live) / 9:30-11:30 p.m. (NBC Replay) Golf Channel
Third Round 3-6 p.m. (Live) NBC
Final Round 1-3 p.m. (Live) / 9:30-11:30 p.m. (NBC Replay) Golf Channel
Final Round 3-6 p.m. (Live) NBC
COMMENTATORS: Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller, in their 12th season together, will anchor ‘Golf Channel on NBC’ coverage Saturday and Sunday from the main tower. Gary Koch and Mark Rolfing will serve as tower reporters while Roger Maltbie and Dottie Pepper will report from the course. Jimmy Roberts will serve as interviewer/essayist.
Kelly Tilghman and Frank Nobilo will host Golf Channel coverage. Koch (tower), Rolfing (tower), Maltbie (course) and Pepper (course) will also work Golf Channel’s coverage, joining interviewer Todd Lewis.
GOLF CENTRAL: Golf Central will precede every live round of Golf Channel’s Honda Classic coverage with a half-hour program. It will also air from 6-6:30 p.m. ET on Thursday-Saturday and 6-7 p.m. ET on Sunday. Golf Central is Golf Channel’s studio show that provides the only live, daily source for comprehensive and up-to-date news from around the world of golf.
DIGITAL: Fans can access exclusive behind-the-scenes content of the NBC Sports Group’s golf coverage via Facebook (WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/GOLFCHANNEL) and Twitter (@golfchannel). NBCSports.com’s ProGolfTalk will feature previews, recaps and analysis of all the stories and results of the event.
COURSE: The Honda Classic enters its fifth year at the Jack Nicklaus re-designed PGA National Championship Course with its signature 15th, 16th and 17th holes, a daunting test known as “The Bear Trap.” The 17th hole is a 190-yard par three over water. The course played host to the 1983 Ryder Cup and 1987 PGA Championship.
FIELD: Defending champion Camilo Villegas and five of the world’s Top 10 players, including last week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play champion Luke Donald (No. 3), highlight a competitive field. In addition to Donald, Top 10 players include: Lee Westwood (No. 2); Graeme McDowell (4); Rory McIlroy (8); and Matt Kuchar (10). Also competing are Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler, Ian Poulter, Anthony Kim, Y.E. Yang, Vijay Singh and U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III.
VIEWERSHIP: NBC Sports and Golf Channel generated significant viewership increases for the combined 28 hours of live coverage (55 hours total coverage) of the 2011 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championships. With Tiger Woods eliminated on Wednesday and Phil Mickelson eliminated on Thursday, and with England’s Luke Donald defeating Germany’s Martin Kaymer in Sunday’s final, Golf Channel’s three-day average viewership was up 84 percent from last year while viewership for “Golf Channel on NBC” coverage rose 71 percent.
Golf Channel’s strong viewership for the WGC-Accenture helped propel the network to its second most-watched February ever (15.3 million unique viewers). Through the first eight weeks of the 2011 season, viewership of the PGA TOUR on Golf Channel is up 59 percent over last year.
The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship continued Golf Channel’s streak of delivering higher ratings for every PGA TOUR round this year versus comparable rounds in 2010.