For those that followed the U.S. Open this weekend, Rory McIlroy did what no golfer in the history of the sport had ever done. The 22-year old product of Northern Ireland shattered several U.S. Open records en route to becoming the youngest golfer to win one of golf’s most coveted majors since Bobby Jones accomplished the feat 88 years ago.
In a major tournament that did not feature Tiger Woods, golf’s biggest name, NBC was desperate for viewership this week.
McIlroy provided that.
In his first major test since collapsing on the back nine at the Masters earlier this year, McIlroy responded to the pressure by firing a first round 65 and followed by carding a 66 in the second round to put the young gun 11 strokes under par entering the weekend – a U.S. Open record.
With McIlroy holding a six-shot lead over Y.E. Yang heading into Sunday’s finale, NBC had all that it could ask for in a tournament that did not feature the sport’s biggest name – a captive audience seeking to witness history.
However, with a brief 110 second introductory clip (watch here) that was to open coverage for Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Open, NBC made a controversial call to omit the words “Under God” from the pledge of allegiance which sparked the twitterverse into a frenzy.
In an attempt to be politically correct, NBC executives made a move that was politically incorrect. With the news of the omission spreading like wildfire on various social media platforms and backlash quickly coming to the attention of NBC, Dan Hicks issued this on-air apology from the network.
“We began our coverage of this final round about three hours ago,” Hicks said, “and when we did it was our intent to begin the coverage of this U.S. Open with a feature that captured the patriotism of our national championship being held in our nation’s capital for the third time. Regrettably, a portion of the Pledge of Allegiance that was in that feature was edited out. It was not done to upset anyone. And we’d like to apologize to those of you who were offended by it.”
In an era in which social media and public relations is imperative to the success and failure of a corporation, NBC should have been more cognizant of who their target audience was and the ramifications that would follow by inducing such a controversial change to the nation’s pledge.
As for golf, the sport is safe for the foreseeable future with likes of Rory McIlroy leading the charge. In the rich history of the U.S. Open, the curly-headed kid from across the pond was nothing short of magnificent this weekend.