ESPN will be providing shot-by-shot coverage of Tiger Woods for all of his rounds in this year’s 143rd British Open Championship.
The tournament returns to Hoylake at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, where it last hosted the tournament in 2006. With an almost flawless final-round 67, missing only one green in regulation, Woods won the tournament and secured his third Open championship only two months after the passing of his father.
The decision to feature Tiger on ESPN3 does not come as a surprise, because as in all major championships, all eyes are on Tiger as he tries to move in on Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 PGA major championships. What was once considered a given–that Woods would overcome Nicklaus’s record–now appears far less certain. Tiger has been stuck at 14 major victories with his last one coming in 2008 when he defeated Rocco Mediate in a dramatic 19-hole playoff at Torrey Pines Golf Course.
According to ESPN, golf TV ratings have been down as a result of Tiger missing most of the year due to back issues. Significantly, this year’s Masters first-round coverage dropped 30% in ratings over last year’s largely because Tiger did not play. Moreover, this year’s U.S. Open drew record-low ratings and speculation that the Tiger Effect was responsible.
Notably, Tiger’s pursuit of Nicklaus’s record, his struggle to win his 15th major, his attempt to win his 4th British Open, and unanswered questions about his back surgery should provide viewers with plenty of storylines to tune-in and boost ratings.
ESPN plans 65 total hours of television coverage of the Open highlighted by the live coverage of all four rounds from July 17th to the 20th.