Originally created 05/16/03

Sorenstam has networks on her side



We always knew Vijay Singh had a big mouth.

Now we know that when the blowhard's days on the PGA Tour are over, he has absolutely no chance of landing a job as a network TV executive.

Maybe Singh doesn't want Annika Sorenstam to make the cut at the Colonial next week. But you know the folks at CBS Sports and USA Network are champing at the bit and pulling for the world's greatest female golfer to come through.

With Sorenstam set to become the first woman in 58 years to compete in a PGA Tour event, CBS and USA Network plan to expand their coverage of the Colonial in anticipation of what should be a ratings coup for both outlets.

A Weekend with Annika would all but guarantee CBS a significant ratings boost over the 2002 Colonial, when the network hauled in a measly 2.4.

USA Network will carry the first two rounds of the tournament Thursday and Friday, and has added LPGA Hall of Famer Patty Sheehan to its broadcast team.

According to USA Today, the cable network is also considering staying on the air longer than the scheduled 4-6 p.m. telecast. What's more, the network isn't ruling out the possibility of covering Sorenstam on all 36 holes.

CBS Sports is also hoping to cash in on Annikamania. The network will begin airing the Colonial live at 2 p.m., one hour earlier than originally scheduled.

The network will also show Sorenstam's final two rounds if she makes the cut, and plans to show highlights of her first and second rounds if she doesn't make it to the weekend.

There's only one thing that would be sweeter than CBS showing highlights Saturday of Singh storming off the course after he misses the cut.

That would be a Sorenstam-Singh weekend pairing.

COLUMNIST OFF AIR: One week after the Boston Globe suspended sports columnist Bob Ryan for one month without pay for making disparaging remarks on a TV sports panel show about the wife of New Jersey Nets star Jason Kidd, ESPN has pulled Los Angeles Times sports columnist T.J. Simers from its rapid-fire Around The Horn show.

Simers, who has been a regular on the show along with other prominent sportswriters around the country, at times has taken jabs at the show in his column.

In his latest column that appeared in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times, Simers had this on his ouster from Around the Horn:

"The folks who run ESPN's scream-fest, Around the Horn, called to say they were muting me and taking me off the show indefinitely, replacing me with Times columnist Bill Plaschke because I was quoted correctly in the San Diego Union Tribune Sunday. U-T columnist Nick Canepa, writing under the headline 'Bob Ryan, columnist, trips over Bob Ryan, TV personality,' asked me about Ryan and the show, and I said the show is awful, promotes conflict and the outrageous, and I do it only to pay for a wedding. I've written the same thing, and spoofed the show many times over in The Times, but I guess it takes time for news out west to work its way east."

Last year, ESPN also suspended Washington Post sports columnist Tony Kornheiser for ripping the network on his morning sports talk show on ESPN Radio. Kornheiser also is the co-host of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption with fellow Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon.

Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.