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.
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Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories.
He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game.
Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course.
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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