Boomer Esiason Photo credit: CBS Sports Network

18 LIV golfers participated in the 2023 Masters, although you may have been hard-pressed to notice during CBS’ coverage of the tournament.

ESPN and CBS vowed not to cover LIV golfers differently from the PGA Tour players during the Masters. But many viewers noticed the treatment was unalike, especially when it came to Phil Mickelson.  On Monday morning, WFAN radio host Boomer Esiason said he saw a difference in the way CBS covered golfers from the controversial Saudi-backed LIV tour, and he didn’t necessarily fault the network for its production decision.

“CBS did treat the LIV golfers differently,” Esiason admitted to his WFAN co-host Gregg Giannotti. “I totally understand why they downplay those guys because those guys tried to ruin the PGA Tour. The Masters isn’t part of the PGA Tour, but they are partners in a lot of different things.”

“CBS is in a weird spot and NBC will be in a weird spot for the U.S. Open and ESPN will be in a weird spot for the Open Championship because they will have to deal with the same kind of stuff,” Esiason added. “CBS has a contract with the PGA Tour and they (LIV golfers) tried to torpedo that!”

CBS covered LIV golfers when they had to from Augusta National, with Jim Nantz even dropping in an “on The CW” reference for Brooks Koepka. But the broadcast appeared to mask budding storylines from the non-PGA Tour players. A couple years ago, Mickelson being on the leaderboard or on the verge of a historical Sunday round would have been must-see TV. But with Mickelson now being a painted as a villain for his allegiance to LIV Golf and their ties to Saudi Arabia, CBS didn’t relish the 52-year-old’s success at Augusta.

“It’s not less of a story because Phil went to LIV, it’s more of a story,” Giannotti argued. “Phil Mickelson doing what he did yesterday, journalistically that needs to be treated as a huge thing. It just has to be. You can’t have your personal or business feelings going into the broadcast like that. …Here is Phil Mickelson at 52 shooting a 65 in windy conditions on Sunday at the Masters, and it was treated like an ‘Oh, by the way!’ situation!”

Esiason is a long-time employee of CBS on The NFL Today. WFAN’s morning show is also simulcast on CBS Sports Network. That didn’t stop Giannotti from calling out CBS for seemingly letting their feelings influence the way Mickelson was covered at the Masters.

While LIV will relish the fact that some of their golfers performed exceptionally well at the Masters, and the PGA Tour will celebrate Jon Rahm winning the event, the prestigious tournament reiterated how much golf fans have lost because of the ongoing battle between tours. No one is watching LIV, but the PGA Tour is definitely hurt by having a depleted cast of performers in non-major events. Having the sport’s best golfers from both tours on display at the Masters felt like a heavyweight fight, even if CBS didn’t attempt to capitalize on it.


About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to