Truth & Rumors: British Open gets lowest final-round TV ratings ever

What’s the opposite of must-see TV? Watching an unheralded South Africa golfer lap the field on Sunday at the British Open. Louis Oosthuizen won praise for his play and his amiable manner at the 2010 British Open, but he didn’t attract many television viewers. In fact, Oosthuizen’s seven-stroke win on Sunday at St. Andrews was the lowest-rated final round in tournament history, according to Bloomberg News.

ESPN averaged a 1.4 rating, or about 1.86 million U.S. households, through the first three rounds and was set to be the highest rating since 2006. Then South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen pulled ahead, winning by seven strokes over world No. 3-ranked Lee Westwood. “Oosthuizen dominated and the lack of drama had a significant impact on the ratings,” spokesman Mark Mandel said in an interview.
The final round rating of 2.1 represents about 2.97 million U.S. households, Mandel said. Last year’s final round received a 3.8 rating, or about 5.55 million U.S. households, for Tom Watson’s playoff loss to Stewart Cink.
Poll: Tiger Woods still America’s most popular athlete (along with Kobe)If Tiger Woods had a secret plan to lessen the endless autograph requests he receives by involving himself in highly publicized sordid affairs, it didn’t work. A Harris Poll released Tuesday shows that Woods is tied with Kobe Bryant as America’s favorite sports star, according to The Detroit News.
Despite his personal troubles, Tiger Woods is tied with Kobe Bryant as America's favorite sports star, according to a just released Harris Poll.
Woods had enjoyed the No. 1 ranking by himself since 2006. Bryant, who led the Lakers to a second consecutive NBA title, was ranked fourth in the poll last year. Derek Jeter of the Yankees was ranked third, followed by Vikings quarterback Brett Favre and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.
But Woods’s indestructible popularity hasn’t helped the latest version of his EA Sports Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf game. Sales are down 32 percent from last year, according to The New York Times.
NPD Group, which tracks video game sales, said that first-month sales of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 were down 32 percent from the previous version of the game a year ago. Jeff Brown, a spokesman for Electronic Arts, blamed the slower sales on “a lot of factors,” including the slowdown in sales of the Wii and the fact that last year’s version of the game was bundled with the Wii, leading to strong sales.
No more changes to St. Andrews, R&A boss says Prior to last week’s Open Championship, the R&A lengthened the famous Road Hole, a controversial move, but one that R&A chief executive Peter Dawson deemed a success, according to The Courier, a Scottish newspaper.
“The new tee was a great success in terms of stiffening the test. We were hoping the road might come back more into play and it did, so we are very pleased."
However, Dawson said he doesn’t expect any major changes to the course when the Open returns to St. Andrews, even though Tiger Woods and other long hitters were treating the iconic 18th hole like a pitch-and-putt, effortlessly driving the green on the 357-yard par 4.
"We could go back more yards, but I think it's fine now," said Dawson. "I'll be proved wrong when the Open does return to St Andrews, no doubt, but we have no plans at all the lengthen the course further." The home hole played more than half a shot under par on average on Sunday but changes there would be almost sacrilegious, he agreed.
Dawson continued, "You'd have your legs cut off for even contemplating that. This week it played downwind and it did serve to split players, but it's a very famous hole and we're still more than happy with it."
The Open is held at St. Andrews every five years, but some speculate that the R&A might wait until 2016 so that St. Andrews is on schedule to hold the 150th championship in 2021. Stray Shots Some things we saw while wondering if Tiger Woods will drop himself as a sponsor after his performance on the greens at St. Andrews...
They tried to get Rachel Uchitel to go to rehab, and she said, “Well, OK, as long as I get to be on TV.” (Via E Online)
Charles Barkley is now trying golf left-handed. No joke here. Barkley’s struggle with the game is something to which we all can relate. (Via Ryan Ballangee’s Waggle Room blog) Louis Oosthuizen’s caddie figured out a great way not to get fired: help your boss win the British Open. (Via Golfweek)
A fan at the British Open didn’t believe the prickly gorse bushes surrounding the course were all that sharp, so he grabbed some branches in a clenched fist -- then let out a scream. You'll never believe it, but he was from Australia. (Via Wales Online)

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