New BBC deal for Augusta

Extended coverage of the US Masters set for 2002

Golfmagic correspondent
Thu, 4 Oct 2001

New BBC deal for Augusta
Augusta's 9th hole.

Look out for Gary Lineker, the BBC's golden boy sports presenter, strolling around Augusta's hallow'd turf next April, now that the corporation has claimed a new exclusive deal to cover the US Masters.

Lineker, the five handicap member at Sunningdale and former England soccer star, made his impressive Open championship television debut as a highlights presenter at Lytham in July and BBC Sport are likely to let him loose in Georgia now that they have secured extended live coverage of the world's most prestigious invitation tournament for the next three years.

The new deal, negotiated with the Augusta National Golf Club, which owns the rights to broadcasting, marks the first time that the BBC have secured longer than a one-year contract for the event. Earlier this year the BBC clinched rights to extended coverage of The Open from 2002 to 2006.

Said head of general sport, Barbara Slater:"The BBC has covered The Masters since 1986 and we are delighted to be able to continue such a valued partnership."

More than three million viewers watched Tiger Woods lay claim to the Masters' famous green jacket this year and earn his place in the record books by becoming the first player of the modern era to hold all four Major titles simultaneously.

The new deal also includes more live coverage over the final two days' play than previously. In the past Augusta allowed only live broadcasting of the back nine holes on the final day.

Augusta - new coverage of 7th.

Now it has been extended to all 18 holes offering a unique opportunity to see the leaders live, taking on the newly extended, sweeping downhill second hole, the notoriously difficult par-3 fourth and sixth greens and the re-modelled 8th and 9th holes.

Four years ago Lineker's sidekick Alan Hansen attended the event to narrate a film on the history of Augusta and told me he was more excited than stepping out at Wembley for Liverpool or Scotland.

Now Lineker will have to curb the butterflies as he achieves his ambition to visit golf's mecca.