Last year's inaugural Asahi Ryokuken International Championship had almost everything tournament organizers had hoped for: a top-notch field with Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb, and a purse that exceeded $1 million.
The only thing missing was live television coverage.
The Golf Channel will fill that void this year, showing at least 12 hours of live coverage from Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club.
Coverage begins today with the first round shown live from 1 to 4 p.m. Second-round coverage Friday also will be from 1 to 4 p.m., while Saturday and Sunday the network will televise the tournament from 2 to 5 p.m. If the leaders are still playing on the weekend past the allotted air time, The Golf Channel plans to carry the extra action.
"We have not yet left the leaders on the course on Saturday or Sunday," said Keith Hirshland, senior producer for the network's live tournament coverage.
Thirteen cameras will follow the action, with eight fixed cameras behind greens. Four hand-held cameras will allow the network to go anywhere on the course, and a 150-foot crane camera can cover all but Nos. 6 and 7 on the course.
Most of the television coverage will focus on hole Nos. 9-18, Hirshland said. For those who miss the live action, a replay show will air each night from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The Golf Channel strives to show more golf action than other networks, Hirshland said, adding that it is not uncommon for the network to show more than 50 players during a broadcast.
Grant Boone will serve as host for the broadcast, and former LPGA player Kay Cockerill will provide analysis. Jerry Foltz will be the on-course commentator.
LPGA Tour players Lisa Kiggens and Val Skinner are scheduled to spend time in the booth after their rounds today and Friday.
The hilly terrain at Mount Vintage Plantation could cause problems for cameramen trying to follow shots.
"It will be a challenge for our camera guys with the change in elevation," Hirshland said. "But they're professionals, and it's going to look great."
Reach John Boyette at (706) 823-3337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.