Tiger Woods Win = TV Ratings Win
The long term average for US Open Golf Tournament viewership has held quite steady at somewhat over 6 million average viewers over the past 20 years, but a Tiger Woods win has meant a ratings win as well. The notable recent exception being 2001 when the Retief Goosen win in a playoff did quite well too.
The two years Tiger Woods has won, 2000 & 2002, have been the highest rated since 1987 (although much of the spike in 2002 can be attributed to the fact that the data is for just the 2 final rounds instead of 4 as in most years). However, when Tiger is simply in contention on the final day (2005 & 2007, Tiger finished 2nd), ratings don't break out above the long term trend.
With Tiger's recent knee surgery, the PGA and NBC have to be hoping for a miraculous recovery to push him to the top of the leaderboard on Sunday to produce ratings magic.
This year the US Open is trying something different to increase ratings in the first two rounds. Instead of randomly assigning the playing groups, they have put the top 12 ranked players together in 4 groups. I think that's a great idea for fans and am interested to see what effect it has on the Thursday & Friday ratings. The weekend groupings will be based on the players scores at the beginning of each round as they always have been.
Complete US Open Golf Ratings, 1971-2007
2006-2007 Data is Live+SD viewing, all previous years are Live viewing.
Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2008 Nielsen Media Research, Inc. All Rights Reserved.