AUGUSTA, Ga., Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Masters Chairman Billy Payne announced Wednesday the first two rounds of the prestigious U.S. golf tournament will be telecast by ESPN beginning next year.
The Masters gathers some of the highest sports television ratings in the country and changing one of its television partners is a rare event for the tournament.
The opening two rounds previously had been aired by USA Network and the final two rounds by CBS. There will be no change in the third and fourth rounds of the tournament.
“With the worldwide reach of ESPN, and their demonstrated leadership in new media, we think ESPN is uniquely positioned to showcase the Masters and golf to new audiences,” Payne said.
“For sports fans, the Masters represents a most hallowed rite of spring with its rich tradition and indelible imagery,” said ESPN President George Bodenheimer. “We are honored by the opportunity to work with the tournament to help it achieve its goal of growing the game of golf around the world.”
Television times for Thursday and Friday will remain as they were in 2007 -- from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. EDT. Next year's tournament will be played April 10-13.