It’s the final day of the 1996 Masters Tournament, and Greg Norman starts the day with a six-stroke lead over Nick Faldo. Surely, this is his tournament. Well, in a way, yes. It was his tournament to lose.
The 1996 Masters is known for “The Collapse at Augusta” where Norman shot a 78 and Faldo shot a 67, with Faldo winning the tournament. It’s always a great story to read about, as it is a prime example of how quickly fortunes change in golf.
But that isn’t all the Masters offered in 1996. That was the same year Masters.com launched. Since then, the Masters tournament has partnered with IBM on a path toward hybrid cloud adoption. This collaboration aimed to enhance efficiency and provide innovative fan experiences through the application of cloud and AI technologies.
The utilization of these technologies has been consistently demonstrated, such as with the unveiling of features like AI Highlights, Round in Under Three Minutes, MyGroup, and Player Insights and Projections which are powered by IBM Watson.
And now, with the 2023 Masters coming up, IBM and the Masters introduced two innovative new features as part of the Masters app and Masters.com digital experience.
Building upon the widely embraced MyGroup feature that permits Masters digital platform users to view their favorite players' every shot on every hole, an AI-generated spoken commentary solution generates comprehensive golf commentary for over 20,000 video clips throughout the tournament. IBM iX experts collaborated with the Masters digital team to use various foundation models to train an AI in the language of golf. The AI was subsequently used to automatically add spoken commentary to video clips, using generative AI to create narration with different sentence structures and vocabulary.
This builds on IBM and the Masters' collaborative efforts in crafting digital fan experiences that provide unmatched admission and profound perspectives into every aspect of the tournament, from the initial tee-off to the last putt on the 18th green.
IBM also developed a new feature that predicts a player's score on each hole throughout a golf tournament. This feature was created by the IBM Consulting team using AutoAI capabilities in IBM Watson Studio and was trained on six years of Masters data, which includes over 120,000 golf shots.
As players progress through the tournament, the hole-by-hole projections are updated based on their performance. This new feature builds upon the predictive intelligence of the existing Players Insights and Masters Fantasy Projections feature. This feature is a boon as it provides insights on the most exciting holes to watch for each golfer, the low/high score for all golfers and projected Masters Fantasy points for each round.
"For more than 20 years, IBM and the Masters have partnered together to create custom solutions that improve the user experience and capture the attention of millions of golf fans globally," said Jonathan Adashek, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for IBM. "We're applying the same hybrid cloud, AI technology and IBM Consulting services that we use with clients across industries to bring an elevated digital experience to one of the most iconic sporting events in the world."
In addition, IBM announced its "What if?" brand initiative, created by Ogilvy and featuring actor Oscar Isaac as the voice-over. The campaign emphasizes the importance of asking big questions to create big technological solutions and highlights IBM's collaborative partnership with the Masters and other clients in areas such as sustainability, supply chain, data analytics and security. The campaign, which begins April 5, includes four ads, one of which features rising golfer Kurt Kitayama and sports commentator Jim Nantz.
The 87th Masters Tournament is set for April 6-9 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. To see IBMs technology in action, visit Masters.com or the Masters app, available on the App Store and Google Play Store.
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