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The return of Tiger Woods was met with a huge increase in the TV audience for this year's Masters, on both sides of the Atlantic.
While Scottie Scheffler was impressive as he claimed his first Major at the tournament, Woods' return to competitive action following injuries he sustained in a car crash 14 months ago created massive interest during the build-up, and that clearly had an impact on the overall figures.
Woods began his final round almost four hours earlier than Scheffler, and US commercial network CBS had an average of 10.173m viewers as the final day's action unfolded. That figure represents an increase of over seven per cent on the previous year. Not surprisingly, as Scheffler stood on the verge of victory after seeing off challenges from Rory McIlroy and Cameron Smith to claim his first Green Jacket, the numbers became even more impressive. A total of 13.16m watched the closing moments as Scheffler won by three shots – despite a nervy four-putt on the 18th.
Not since 2019, when Woods won the Augusta National tournament for the fifth time, have the figures been that encouraging. Last year, only 9.45m viewers watched the final round on CBS, while in 2020, the Covid-hit tournament could only muster 5.59m viewers at the same stage. That was the lowest number since viewership data was first recorded in 1995. Overall, the figures for CBS for this year’s final round made it the most watched golf telecast on any network in the US since Woods’ 2019 win.
There were early signs that this year would see an increase in numbers for the final round. The first round saw ESPN record a 21 per cent year-over-year increase with an average of 2.8m viewers tuning in to see Woods' return, while the second round fared even better, with an average of 3.5m watching, representing a 31 per cent year-over-year increase.
It wasn’t just Stateside where the impact of Woods' appearance gave the tournament's viewing figures a significant boost, either. In the UK, it became Sky Sports’ second most-watched final round, excluding the 2020 tournament, with an average audience of 852,000.
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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