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While the first tournament following The Masters could risk having an “after the Lord Mayor’s show” feel, that clearly wasn’t the case for this year’s RBC Heritage at Harbour Town, which was won in dramatic fashion by Jordan Spieth.
The South Carolina tournament gave US broadcaster CBS Sports its highest final-round ratings in 19 years, with the Spieth effect on full display. Sunday’s coverage earned the broadcaster an average 3.676 million viewers, up 43 per cent on the same stage last year.
Those who tuned in to the coverage were given a treat, with multiple players in contention going into the final round. American Harold Varner III began the day at the summit, but as the action progressed, Australian Cam Davies, South African Eric Van Rooyen and Irishman Shane Lowry all held the lead. Finally, American Spieth and compatriot Patrick Cantlay emerged tied for first, with the former winning in the first playoff hole.
Spieth’s victory, which was his first of 2022 and first since becoming a father, moved the former World No.1 back into the World’s top 10 for the first time since a brief reappearance there in October last year – and clearly his resurgence was enough to capture the imaginations of the TV-viewing public.
At its peak, CBS Sports’ coverage drew 5.037 million viewers, with the tournament becoming the broadcaster’s most-watched PGA Tour telecast of the season to date. Despite a relatively fallow period, with Spieth last winning a year earlier in the 2021 Valero Texas Open, he is still a hugely popular figure among golf fans. He finished fourth in the Player Impact Program despite his poor form, and the viewing figures for Sunday underline the enduring appeal of the 28-year-old.
The figures come just a week after Tiger Woods made a similarly positive impact on viewing figures for The Masters. While CBS’s final-round coverage from Augusta National peaked over eight million higher than the RBC Heritage peak audience, at 13.16m, the figures from the Harbour Town event nonetheless demonstrate that the sport – helped by the Spieth effect – is enjoying a resurgence every bit as encouraging as the new World No.10's return to form.
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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