v viewership of PGA Tour events dipped 12% against the average of the previous five years, but there was also good news. These six Sunday telecasts revealed the trends.
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (CBS)
December 12, 2005
Sunday viewership: 5.82 million
phil mickelson (left) has a knack for winning while the audience is distracted. In 2004 he took the Masters on Easter. This year he won the FBR Open on Super Bowl Sunday and the BellSouth Classic and the PGA Championship on Mondays. On a day when (for a change) not much else was happening, Mickelson's four-shot victory at Pebble was notable because he pulled in 24% more viewers than Vijay Singh did while winning in 2004, proving that everyone loves Lefty.
Ford Championship at Doral (NBC)
Sunday viewership: 7.77 million
the mickelson--Tiger Woods showdown was thrilling (Woods won by a shot), but Tour execs had hoped for more. The last Tiger-Phil showdown, at the 2003 Buick Invitational, drew 8.35 million viewers. The Doral audience turned out to be the highest of the year's nonmajors, but it was also the first sign that even golf's dream matchup can't guarantee ratings.
Shell Houston Open (CBS)
Sunday viewership: 4.53 million
john daly didn't win--he lost to Singh in sudden death--but his presence on the leader board in this second-tier event doubled viewership from the year before, when it was 2.13 million. In October, Daly (left) again demonstrated his appeal, drawing 3.88 million viewers to another playoff loss, against Woods at the usually snoozy American Express Championship.
Booz Allen Classic (ABC)
Sunday viewership: 2.80 million
washington, d.c.'s Tour stop benefited from a visit to Congressional and a delicious controversy when slowpoke Ben Crane was shown up by fed-up playing partner Rory Sabbatini on the 72nd hole. The Booz Allen also ratified a welcome trend on Tour: Sergio García's ability to spike viewership. García (right), who won by two strokes, has improved the previous year's viewership in four of his six network-televised Tour wins. The Booz Allen's audience increased 27%.
British Open (ABC)
Sunday viewership: 6 million
the audience for Woods's win at Augusta (14.63 million) was golf's largest since his victory there in 2001 (19.16 million). But the low viewership for his win at St. Andrews (above) was harder to figure. Not only did this year's British furnish Tiger's lowest number during a major win, it was also only slightly higher than the audience for Todd Hamilton's victory in 2004 (5.99 million).
Chrysler Championship (ABC) Sunday viewership: 1.28 million
every tournament that's up against the NFL gets lousy ratings, but the Chrysler Championship, won by Carl Pettersson, earned the dubious distinction of being 2005's least seen network event. In the six years since its inception the Tampa-based tournament has produced two of the Tour's three smallest Sunday audiences. Football is one thing, but this year the Chrysler couldn't even outdraw pro bullriding on NBC.