PGA Overnight: 6.1, Up 56% And Peaks At 8.3! PGA Second Highest Rated Major Of 2018

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Tiger Woods should have another gift basket waiting on his doorstep today, this time from Sean McManus to go with the ones from Mark Lazarus, Mike McCarley and Fred Ridley. Okay, maybe The Masters doesn't do gift baskets. 

Anyway, Tiger helped deliver a 6.1 overnight final round rating for the 2018 PGA Championship. The audience peaked at 8.3 late in the round. 

From Paulsen at Sports Media Watch, who has several other anecdotes about the ratings this year:

Sunday’s final round of the PGA Championship earned a 6.1 overnight rating on CBS, up 69% from last year (3.6), up 56% from 2016 (3.9) and the highest since 2009 (7.5). The previous mark was a 6.0 for the 2014 final round.

The 6.1 is tied as the highest golf overnight outside of the Masters since the final round of the 2012 U.S. Open (6.6).

Some might point out that the 6.1 much better than 2014's 6.0 at Valhalla featuring the unforgettable Rory-Rickie-Phil finish.  However, sports ratings have been on a decline and sizable numbers have moved to streaming, making the rating that much more impressive for CBS.

Also worth noting: the strong final round means the U.S. Open was the lowest rated final round of the four majors this year. The overnights for 2018:

Masters: 7.9
U.S. Open: 3.6
The Open: 5.0
PGA: 6.1

AdAge On What The Open's 18-year Ratings-High Means

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Anthony Crupi of AdAge takes an in-depth look at the Tiger Woods effect on Open Championship ratings and overall in 2018.  The Open final round out-rated the U.S. Open for the first time

Of note is the impact on other tournament numbers enjoying a small bump even when he isn't in the field, suggesting (possibly) that he has had an overall impact on interest in golf. 

Also of note is the boost in ad spending and ad approach in this little renaissance. 

Crupi notes:

Among the markers who spent the most in order to bask in Tiger's reflected glory were Mercedes-Benz, Geico, Rolex, Pacific Life, Travelers, U.S. Bank, Farmers Insurance, Toyota and Volkswagen. According to iSpot.tv estimates, Mercedes racked up some 60.6 million impressions during Sunday's round, which works out to a very reasonable CPM of $25.60.

Callaway also got a fair amount of milage from the Open, as the golf gear brand throughout the four-day tourney was featured several times in NBC's "Playing Through" ad format. Designed to keep viewers plugged into the action on the links while giving the sponsor a chance to shill its wares to a highly-targeted audience of golf enthusiasts, the split-screen execution offered a window on the goings-on in Carnoustie on the left side, while Callaway spokesman Phil Mickelson warned viewers that one of his Chrome Soft balls was about to pass through their living rooms.

Given the amount of complaints I saw on social media, hopefully Playing Through used this way will get more advertisers to endorse the concept for more consistent usage in golf and other sports where there are no natural breaks. 

Say What? AP's Dahlberg Says Tiger Collapsed, Misfired, Flinched And Is A Nostalgia Act

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It's been a while since I've read a total misfire of a column. Even more surprising, it came from one of the best in the business in AP's Tim Dahlberg. 

But after watching most of Tiger's golf over the weekend at Carnoustie, I disagree with Dahlberg's assessment that Woods is the player he describes. No, Tiger is not back to 2000 or 2005 standards nor will he ever be that unbelievably dominant again, but some of Dahlberg's statements are ludicrous given that Woods had a one-stroke lead with nine holes to go on a golf course where the slightest miscalculations by many of the world's best were magnified.

A few of the more excessive lines:

But what felt like old times for a brief moment ended up as just another collapse story, like the ones Woods' fans have seen more recently.

Collapse? Jean van de Velde collapsed. Tiger merely didn't get the job done after putting himself in position to win.

Woods flinched when it mattered most, the nerves of a 42-year-old on display for all to see. Just when he took the lead and everyone's imagination began to swirl about what might be, he kicked away his best chance of breaking a decade-long drought in major championships.

Let's assess where the nerves got to Woods. He stepped on the 11th tee facing a stiff wind, where both he and Molinari missed the fairway. Woods drew a difficult lie, the club face turned and he luckily hit a spectator. On the wedge recovery, Woods definitely got too cute instead of just wedging to 15-or-so-feet past the hole and making bogey at the worst.

A strategic mistake in hindsight when he walked away with double bogey, yes. Nerves getting to him? We'll never know.

Woods had the tournament in his hands after hitting a brilliant fairway bunker shot to make par on No. 10. He walked to the next tee with a one-shot lead.

Brilliant shot it was, but the tournament in his hand with a one-stroke lead, 20-25 m.p.h. winds and so many incredible players right behind him on a firey links? Wow.

Then his tee shot went right, and his second shot veered way left. Woods got a break by hitting someone in the gallery, but then left his pitch hanging precariously on the side of a pot bunker.

When he missed an 8-footer to make double bogey he was out of the lead. Another bogey on the next hole, and he was basically out of the tournament.

It used to be that Woods was steely and superhuman, and no one dared get in his way. Now he's more of a nostalgia act teasing fans with sparks of his past greatness.

Nostalgia act seems like a wildly short-sighted thing to say given how far Woods has come since January. Remember when folks used to debate his swing mechanics, his short game or whether he'd finish a round. Or if we'd ever see him play again?  Now he's written off after taking a small lead with nine to go!

It wasn't like the course wasn't gettable.

Wasn't gettable? Did I miss the part where all of the leaders shot 65 and declared Carnoustie vulnerable?

Final round scores of the top 11: 69, 69, 70, 74, 74, 67, 71, 73, 71, 72, 76.

Also, the 67 by Eddie Pepperell was low round of the day and posted well before the leaders.

And finally...

Another major would have validated years of struggles. A tie for sixth means nothing.

Three strokes is the difference between validation and a meaningless week? 

Golf at this level, played with the intensity, difficulty, consistency and precision that was on display at Carnoustie is so much more complicated than the sport Dahlberg describes. 

Yes, Woods did not finish off this major the way he or many hoped. I'd argue that the quality of his play under major pressure and after everything else that's happened was not only his greatest career performance without registering a win, but suggests incredible things are to come if he can remain healthy.

A nostalgia act, Tiger Woods most certainly is not. 

U.S. Open V. The Open: Green Speeds Make The Difference

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After playing his first Open, Luke List is wishing the USGA mimic the R&A in setup philosophy, reports Tony Jimenez for Reuters.

A similar refrain was repeated many times by players, observers and fans who enjoyed the tough-but-fair and noticeably faster golf, though as I note in this assessment of Carnoustie for Golfweek, the issue is layered but also incredibly simple: green speeds made the difference between complimenting Carnoustie's architecture, and ruining it.

Pace of play was noticeably better and as a "product," The Open proved infinitely more pleasurable to watching without having to spend so much time watching players grind over short putts for four days.

While professional golfers are praising the R&A coming off the U.S. Open setup issues, there were more than a handful of silly hole locations saved only by green speeds in the high 9s when leaders reached them.  Had the USGA slowed greens at Shinnecock down to the high 9's, there would have been softer and bumpier conditions that today's spoiled-by-bent-grass players would loathe. But on a seaside links with a blend of poa, fescue and bent, with a links mindset, the players are more accepting of a bumpiness.

And really, the ball goes too far.

On another day we can continue to lament how much course setup manipulation must take place to mask regulatory mistakes and debate how vital it is for golf to slow greens down.

In the meantime, I'd prefer to celebrate a magnificent week at Carnoustie made special by Mother Nature baking out an outstanding course. As I note in the Golfweek piece, Carnoustie has had a troubled relationship with the rota at times, but brilliant maintenance management by Craig Boath's team, mostly great work by the R&A and a hot, dry summer allowed the links to remind people of its great strategic character.

Carnoustie 2018: Ingredients In Place To Have Finish For The Ages

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I present five scenarios for today's potentially epic final day at Carnoustie. Keep an Open mind.

Not surprisingly Jordan gets nearly half your votes, but interesting to see how much respect the voters have for Xander Schauffele and Tiger Woods. 

In The Telegraph, James Corrigan's game story leads with Woods over the three co-leaders. Same with Ewan Murray at The Guardian, noting that Saturday will be a moving day we never forget. 

Speaking of Tiger, he captivated Carnoustie Saturday and no matter what happens, many fans here went home very happy getting to enjoy some Tiger roars as he topped a major leaderboard for the first time in years. Dan Kilbridge on Tiger's strong 66 that leaves him four back of Jordan Spieth.

Ian O'Connor gives us all permission to root for Tiger, even sportswriters who are not supposed to. I certainly didn't fight the goosebumps yesterday seeing the reaction and thrills he provided in playing like the 14-time major winner most remember.

Jordan's haircut is all the buzz.

A win by Spieth would quickly erase what has been a frustrating year, Brian Wacker writes in setting up the final round.

Rory McIlroy, four back, intends to attack Sunday, writes Eamon Lynch.

Kevin Chappell's resurgence can be attributed to a change in teachers, now with Sean Foley who is helping him take pressure off his back, writes The Forecaddie.

Final round tee times and hole locations from Golfweek.

Most spectators will arrive here by train and leave, after a long line, by train. Christopher Clarey for the New York Times on the history of Open Championships and trains (thanks reader John). 

Enjoy the final round! Full coverage and analysis to follow at Golfweek.com and ShackHouse.

2018 Open Championship Ratings: Round 1 Up 27%, Round 2 Up 4%

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Tiger played Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, likely explaining round one's big increase on Golf Channel.

For Immediate Release:

MOST-WATCHED ROUND 1 OF THE OPEN ON GOLF CHANNEL EVER:

Golf Channel’s Round 1 coverage of The Open posted a Total Audience Delivery (TAD: Live Linear + Streaming) of 1.024 average viewers, up 27% vs. 2017 and the most-watched Round 1 at The Open in its three years on Golf Channel (8:01 a.m. – 4 p.m. ET).

It also became Golf Channel’s most-watched Thursday ever, and the fifth-best Total Day on record (2006-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 1 cable sports network for Total Day by 9%. And from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, Golf Channel was No. 1 cable sports network by 314%, and third for all 114 Nielsen measured cable networks.

And Friday:

MOST-WATCHED EARLY ROUND TELECAST OF THE OPEN EVER ON GOLF CHANNEL:

Golf Channel’s Round 2 coverage of The Open (8 a.m. – 3:58 p.m. ET) posted a Total Audience Delivery (TAD: Live Linear + Streaming) of 1.141 million average viewers, up 4% vs. 2017 and the most-watched Early Round telecast at The Open in its three years on Golf Channel. Friday’s Round 2 TAD was up 11% vs. Thursday’s Round 1 (1.024 million average viewers) and became Golf Channel’s most-watched weekday telecast since the 2016 Ryder Cup Friday coverage (1.3 million).

Poll: Who Will Win The 2018 Open Championship?

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It's a simple question! Here is the leaderboard in case you have questions. Spieth, Schauffele, Kisner lead at -9, while Chappell is two back, Molinari three back and Woods and friends four back. Winds are forecasted to be up and from the west. Cheers!

Who will win the 2018 Open Championship?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Tiger At Carnoustie: "This is how the game should be played."

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Tiger's opening 71 at Carnoustie would have looked at lot better had he taken advantage of 8-irons into both par-5s, but with afternoon conditions turning fierce and fast, Woods displayed many positive signs. 

And while he's not the first player to say this in the history of golf, it's still great to read:

I haven't played this championship for a few years now, and I've always loved playing over here. This is -- to me, this is where I got introduced to links golf. I played here in '95, and then follow that up with St. Andrews. That was my introduction to links golf. It doesn't get much better than that.

And I've always loved playing this championship. I've been able to win it a few times. I've just always enjoyed -- this is how the game should be played. It should be creative. It should be played on the ground. You can utilize the ground as an ally. When we play home in the States, that's not the case. Everything is going straight up in the air, but this is very different. It's amazing the shot -- the creativity. I mean, you can roll the ball 100 yards if you wanted to, or you can throw it straight up in the air. I like having those shot options.

Brandon Stone Takes His Hickories To The Old Course

The perks of being the Scottish Open winner and kicking off the 2018 Open at Carnoustie with a 68: Brandon Stone breaking in his hickories at the Home Of Golf:

USGA, R&A To Take The Teeth Out Of Green Reading Books Starting In 2019

While the exact wording as to how green reading books will be defanged is set to come in the coming weeks, I report for Golfweek on the USGA and R&A having agreed to new language that will take the teeth out of green reading books starting January 1, 2019.

As noted in the Golfweek exclusive, the restrictions on presentation and information allowed will be made to protect the art of green reading. But there are also slow play considerations as players have begun to study the books on all parts of the course. Hole locations are calculated for players the night prior, which has never exactly exuded a sense that golfers are playing the course as they find it. 

The move is fascinating in the context of other issues facing the governing bodies on distance and de-skilling. By going after a technological advance that they view as de-skilling the game, the stage is set to consider an array of factors that have led to major distance increases. Could this lead to considering a reduction of driver head size or some other restriction to restore skill?

While I've never been offended by players using the books from a play perspective, the books become are offensive when players are not penalized for taking longer than 40 seconds.  

For the sport, defanging green reading books will impact only elite players and college golfers, but will certainly lay the groundwork for future discussions on the de-skilling topic.

R&A Chief Slumbers Says They're In Listening Mode On Distance And Touts "Collaborative" Relationship With Players

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Alistair Tait of Golfweek sums up R&A Chief Martin Slumbers' explanation of driver testing conducted at Carnoustie and notes that the random effort looks like it's part of a more proactive approach.

The R&A has had capabilities at previous Opens to test drivers for COR (coefficient of restitution) and CT “characteristic time.” In laymen’s terms, the spring-like effect of driver faces. But the governing body is becoming more proactive this year.

“We’ve always had an equipment test capability down on the range, certainly since I’ve been involved in the Open,” Slumbers said. “It’s been an option for players or the manufacturers to take their equipment in and have it tested. We felt it was an appropriate next step to more actively seek to test players’ drivers straight out of the bag.”

And from the transcript, it's worth noting that Slumbers sees the players as having a positive impression of the R&A. Whether that means in contrast to the USGA or in general, I'm not sure.

It was a request to players, and I think many of you underestimate, we have a very good relationship with our players, and it's a very collaborative relationship, and we had absolutely no problems with the players coming and were interested in what we're doing. A lot of them actually wanted to know how does the test work, and what is it really testing for?

I'm sure they loved giving up their drivers and their caddies to go find out if their club is conforming! 

Tiger Admits His Open Prospects Are Best Over The Long Term

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Reading between the lines, I was not surprised to hear Tiger suggest The Open is his best major opportunity over the next few years. I was, however, surprised to hear that a player averaging 304 off the tee this year can see the day coming where Augusta is too long for him. 

My Golfweek item on Tiger's pre-2018 Open Championship press conference.

Hmmmm: R&A Conducts Surprise, Random(?) Driver Test

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Thirty players were greeted with letters from the R&A ordering them to offer up their drivers for a COR test. It's not clear if the tests were random or if the players were specially chosen by their manufacturer affiliation or driving distance average.

Welcome to Scotland!

Tim Rosaforte reports for Golf Channel on what appears to be a step-up in the effort to ensure there are conforming drivers in this week's Open Championship

Keegan Bradley, Brendan Steele and Brooks Koepka all confirmed that their drivers all passed the COR test (coefficient of restitution, or spring-like effect) administered by the R&A.

This was the first time the R&A took measures that were not part of the distance insight project being done in conjunction with the USGA.

 

There are two ways of looking at this. 

The sunny side up take would believe this is just part of normal monitoring and amidst some rumblings that this year's distance increase could be fueled by hot drivers.

The cynical take says this is the act of a desperate governing body looking for something to blame this year's increases on, instead of simply anticipating that a combination of technology, athleticism, fitting and a generation of players reared on modern clubs have passed the testing procedures by. AKA, anything not to do something about the Joint Statement of Principles.

Tiger: Carnoustie's Fairways Faster Than The Greens

Some fun stuff from Bob Harig's Carnoustie account for ESPN.com of Tiger's first practice round for the 2018 Open.

The course is already rife with examples of players finding the ball going extraordinary distances, whether it be due to the wind or the firm and fast conditions. For example, Woods hit a 7-iron off the No. 4 tee to position himself short of bunkers; it went 215 yards. His normal distance with that club is 180.

"Right now the fairways are faster than the greens," he said. "I am sure they will probably speed the greens up a touch, but I'm sure this will be one of those weeks where the fairways are a little quicker than the greens."

Also interesting on the narrowness factor:

As for adjusting to the links style of play and learning how far to hit shots on each hole, Woods said: "It is mainly trajectory. You can get the same numbers [yardages] with different trajectories. That's what is going to be important, how hot you want the ball coming into the fairways. You can really make the ball roll 60, 70, 80 yards. Is it really worth it or not? Some of the holes, can you carry bunkers? It is a risk/reward golf course, and the way it is set up right now, it is going to play very narrow because it is so fast."

Gearing Up For Carnoustie: Tommy Armour Wins In 1931, And There Is Film To Prove It!

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They didn't call him the Silver Scot for nothing, as Tommy Armour looks as eloquent as we've always been told in winning Carnoustie's first Open Championship.

Or, gulp, as the gentleman presenting the Claret Jug dares to call it, the British Open. In Scotland!

The final leaderboard, where Armour outlasted Argentina's Jose Jurado, and a write up can be viewed here.

The highlights with audio, including Armour's use of the word "domiciled":

The Pathe version without sound includes some different footage, including a monster flagstick screen captured above.