For the first time, NBC is getting a fly-by shot of the golf ball on approaches to the 18th green at Pebble Beach.
That is according to NBC golf producer Tommy Roy, who briefed reporters in advance of NBC's coverage of the U.S. Open there this weekend, which will extend into primetime on both Saturday (11 p.m.) and Sunday (9 p.m.).
NBC is splitting coverage with ESPN, which has live coverage of the first two rounds.
Roy said a homeowner took down some bushes and allowed NBC to put a crane in their backyard to catch the shot, the first time that vantage has been available, he said. The 18th is arguably the most famously picturesque hole in golf, and one of the most potentially hazardous ones for for golfers, its fairway and green flanked on the left side by, well, pebbles (make that boulders) and beach.
Roy said that NBC would have more than 50 cameras on the course, the coverage of which poses some logistical challenges because it is so spread out. But he said the coverage was easy from the standpoint of being such a scenic course with such compelling storylines that they essentially just had to turn on the cameras and capture the story.
A big part of that story is Tiger Woods, who will be looking to recapture the magic of 10 years ago when he destroyed the field to win the Open at Pebble by 15 strokes. Analyst and former U.S. Open champion Johnny Miller has called it the greatest performance in golf history, and echoed that sentiment Wednesday on the call with reporters.
Roy said that Tiger would be the focus of coverage early on but would not continue to be if he did not perform well. Other stories include the recent rise of Lee Westwood, who has had a number of near misses in majors tournaments, the Fathers Day connection, a potential Phil Mickelson/Tiger Woods duel, and the pressure of handling the lead on the last nine of a major.