TV audiences spike as Tiger Woods fever grips golfing world

When Tiger Woods plays, people watch.

That’s certainly been the case this year, as television audiences for golf’s major championships have swelled since Woods has returned to the fray, most recently with a second-place finish at the U.S. PGA Championship in Bellerive.

The final-round coverage of the tournament on CBS Sports saw a 73 percent increase on last year’s event for the same day as Brooks Koepka finished two shots clear of a resurgent Woods.

An average 8.5 million watched in the U.S. — up from 4.9 million when Justin Thomas secured his first major title last year — the highest figure since 2009 when Woods again finished runner-up.

As the tournament reached its conclusion at 7:00 p.m. ET, viewing numbers peaked at 12.3 million.

While Koepka was winning his second major title of the year, it was the Woods effect that got people watching as the 42-year-old chased a 15th major title and first since 2008.

Woods has recovered from a series of major back surgeries in recent years and shot the lowest final round of his major career on the way to finish just two shots shy of Koepka.

“Tiger Woods wins the 2018 PGA Championship with a score of -14,” tweeted CBS golf writer Kyle Porter. “Brooks Koepka finishes second at -16.”

Woods’ return to major championships has seen a boost to viewing figures throughout the year.

NBC’s final-round coverage of The Open in July, where Woods held the lead before finishing three strokes behind winner Francesco Molinari, was up 38 percent from last year.

The final-round overnight ratings were the best since 2000 when Woods completed his career grand slam. It was also the most-streamed golf event ever on NBC Sports’ digital platforms.

At the Masters, meanwhile, there was an 18 percent increase over the previous year on CBS as Woods starred in his first major since 2015, finishing tied for 32nd.