Before last week, it had been 15 months since Tiger Woods had competed in a golf tournament. But Woods’ absence from the stage did little to diminish fans’ appetite to watch him play, with thousands of them tuning in during a work day to watch the opening round of the Hero World Challenge Thursday.
Television ratings for the first round of the small December tournament were up 190% over last year’s, according to Geoff Shackelford. Woods, the tournament host, was at last year’s event but didn’t play.
Thursday’s comeback was also the most watched opening round of this year since the British Open (not counting the Ryder Cup). Friday’s ratings increased 200 percent compared to last year, and ratings remained higher than usual over the weekend, despite the fact that Woods had dropped out of contention.
Saturday’s live coverage was 92% higher on NBC and 162% higher on Golf Channel than last year’s telecast, and Sunday’s was 54% and 126% higher, respectively.