Tiger Leads PGA to Record TV Ratings


Tuesday, August 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


NEW YORK (AP) — Each time Tiger Woods comes up with an unprecedented victory, an unprecedented audience tunes in.

And the TV networks are more than happy to be along for the ride.

Woods' duel for the ages with Bob May at the PGA Championship drew the event's highest preliminary TV ratings on record.

CBS Sports' coverage of Sunday's final round, when Woods finally put away May in a three-hole playoff, got a big-market overnight rating of 10.0 with a 23 share.

That means about 10 million homes tuned in, and 23 percent of TVs that were on during the 1:30-7:45 p.m. EDT broadcast were tuned to CBS.

The rating is 30 percent higher than the 7.7 overnight that CBS got last year at the PGA, when Woods beat Spanish sensation Sergio Garcia by a stroke.

That 1999 overnight rating was the previous best for the final round of a PGA Championship since at least 1986. CBS' overnight records don't go back beyond that year.

Sunday's telecast peaked, naturally, during the playoff, pulling in a 17.6 overnight with a 33 share from 7-7:30 p.m.

``People who never, ever watch golf — wives and young kids and daughters who never watch golf — are tuning in to watch Woods,'' CBS Sports president Sean McManus said Monday. ``I don't see it leveling off for a long time.''

May, a 31-year-old journeyman seeking his first career PGA Tour victory, led Woods by as many as two strokes early in Sunday's round, and then matched Woods stroke-for-stroke down the stretch.

``Once in a while you get that kind of story,'' McManus said. ``You couldn't have scripted it better: For Tiger to be behind a guy nobody's ever heard of, at a major.''

The victory was Woods' latest full of ``firsts.''

He's the first player to win consecutive PGA Championships since 1937, and the first to win three majors in a year since 1953. Woods also became the first player to own the scoring record in relation to par at all four major championships (he shares the PGA mark of 18 under with the unheralded May, of course).

When Woods won the U.S. Open by a record 15 strokes in June, NBC's telecast drew the highest Sunday rating for the tournament since 1981. His victory a month later at the British Open — by eight strokes to complete his career Grand Slam at 24, the youngest player to do so — helped ABC pull in that tournament's biggest ratings for a Sunday.

The Sunday overnights for each of those were bettered by the PGA, which was 33 percent higher than the British Open and 14 percent higher than the U.S. Open.

``One of the best things about this summer was that all three networks that have a major investment in major golf had their moments,'' McManus said. ``Woods has been very magnanimous about spreading around the wealth to NBC, ABC and CBS.''

When Woods won his first major title by a record 12 strokes at the 1997 Masters, CBS got a record 14.1 national rating.

Each rating point represents 1 percent of the nation's estimated 100.8 million TV households, and the overnight ratings for the PGA Championship were based on the country's 47 largest TV markets. National ratings will be released later in the week.

The share is the percentage of in-use TVs tuned to the program.