Fox rode the “Tiger Effect” to a boost in overnight ratings for the third round of the U.S. Open.
Tiger Woods went out at 11:24 a.m. ET Saturday and helped the network average 4.23 million viewers from noon until 10 p.m. during the third round at Pebble Beach Golf Links. It was the first time in six years Woods played on the weekend in the national golf championship.
Gary Woodland and Justin Rose battled for the lead into the evening, with Woodland taking a one-shot lead into Sunday play.
That average number is the highest overnight rating in the third round of the U.S. Open since 2013, which was the last time Woods played in the third round of a U.S. Open.
Woods did not play in the 2014 U.S. Open given its proximity to surgery he underwent to repair a pinched nerve in his back in March of that year. He missed the cut in 2015 at Chambers Bay. He skipped the Open in 2016 due to his ailing back. His Memorial Day DUI arrest and subsequent rehab sidelined him in 2017. And Woods missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills last year.
The 2019 Round 3 telecast drew an 18 percent increase in viewership over the third round last year – which was lowlighted by Phil Mickelson’s double-putt penalty on No. 13 at Shinnecock Hills.
The audience peaked at 5.569 million from 5:45 – 6 p.m. ET, right as the final pairing of Justin Rose and 54-hole leader Gary Woodland was starting play and Woods was finishing his round of 71.
The telecast also featured a brief visit by CBS announcer Jim Nantz, who responded to an on-air invitation from Joe Buck earlier in the week. Nantz, who has called the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am 34 times for the Tiffany Network is a long-time resident of Carmel, Calif., lives within close walking distance of Pebble Beach Golf Links and has a 50 percent-scale replica of No. 7 in his backyard.
Nantz delivered a brief play-by-play call of Phil Mickelson teeing off from No. 8 in what was his first-ever time calling a U.S. Open. He has called the Masters and PGA Championship for CBS, and the British Open for the BBC.