By Dick FriedmanSenior editor, Sports Illustrated To those, like my colleague Farrell Evans, who still are skeptical of the drawing power of 19-year-old LPGA rookie Michelle Wie: You’re wrong.
At last week’s SBS Open at Turtle Bay, Wie lost a three-shot lead on the back nine in last Saturday’s final round and finished three strokes behind victor Angela Stanford.
But the Valentine’s Day effort clearly won viewers’ hearts. As reported today by SportsBusiness Journal’s Jon Show, “Wie’s second-place finish in her first event as a member of the LPGA tour resulted in near-record interest from TV viewers and Web surfers.”
The three-day telecast by Golf Channel averaged 323,000 households, up 34% from the 2008 number. Final-round coverage drew 428,000 households, the fourth-largest audience for a single LPGA round on the channel. Show also reports that during the week of the SBS Open, LPGA.com registered 5.2 million page views, up 55% from last year’s event and the second-highest traffic since the site registered 6.1 million page views for the '06 Evian Masters, an event in which Wie finished tied for second.
No doubt it helped that the telecast each night was live and edged into prime time in the viewer-heavy Eastern time zone.