Masters TV Ratings Fall 22% as Bubba Watson Wins in Playoff

The final round of the Masters Tournament drew its worst preliminary television ratings since 2004 as Bubba Watson topped Louis Oosthuizen in a sudden-death playoff and Tiger Woods had his worst finish as a professional.

Yesterday’s fourth round at Augusta National Golf Club was watched on CBS in an average of 8.1 percent of households in the top 56 U.S. television markets, Jerry Caraccioli, a spokesman for the CBS Corp. network, said in a telephone interview. That’s 22 percent lower than the 10.4 rating CBS drew a year ago, when Charl Schwartzel captured the title and Woods contended before faltering over the final nine holes.

Watson, 33, won on the second playoff hole after hooking an approach shot from out of the trees to 10 feet of the cup. That set up a two-putt par for the win after Louis Oosthuizen made bogey. It was Watson’s first major championship.

It was also the Easter holiday yesterday and television viewers who did tune in didn’t get a chance to see much of Woods, who began the day at 3-over par and shot a 2-over 74 to tie for 40th place. A 14-time major-tournament champion who hasn’t won a one of golf’s four biggest tournaments since the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods entered the tournament as the favorite after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 25.

Phil Mickelson, another fan favorite, did contend, finishing at 8-under -- two strokes behind the leaders -- to tie for third with Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar and Peter Hanson. Mickelson had an even-par round that included a triple bogey.

Audience Breakdown

Full national ratings won’t be available until April 12. Mickelson’s win at the 2004 Masters drew a 7.3 national rating. The previous low before that was Bernhard Langer’s victory in 1993, which drew a 6.8 for the final round.

Demographic breakdowns of the audience, including female-male viewership, won’t be available until the full national numbers are released, Caraccioli said. This year’s Masters played out against the renewed issue of Augusta National’s all-male membership.

Bloomberg News first reported the conflict between Augusta’s men-only membership and International Business Machines Corp.’s new chief executive officer, Virginia Rometty, on March 28, setting off a nationwide debate on whether she should be admitted.

The previous four CEO’s of IBM have been Augusta National members. Billy Payne, Augusta National’s chairman, repeatedly refused to discuss the club’s membership during a news conference on April 4, the day before the tournament started.