NBC Sports executives circulated a news release Sunday crowing about their overnight TV ratings from Saturday's third-round coverage of the U.S. Open. The network, which pushed back the timetable for weekend rounds to guarantee a prime-time finish in most U.S. markets, drew a 5.3 overnight rating (12 share) for Saturday's dramatic third round, which included two back-nine eagles from Tiger Woods.
It marked a 15 percent spike over third-round ratings from 2007 and was the largest third-round rating at the Open since 2002, when the event was played in suburban New York (Bethpage) and won by Woods. In 2002, the third-round numbers included a 6.4 rating and 16 share.
So this year's planned finish in prime-time did not produce the record ratings that NBC officials envisioned. Nor did Sunday's telecast produce a winner. Woods and Rocco Mediate both finished regulation play at 1-under par and must return Monday for an 18-hole playoff that most golf fans will not be able to watch because they will be at work.
Monday's playoff begins at 11 a.m. on ESPN. Coverage shifts to NBC at 1 p.m. and NBC will continue coverage until the playoff concludes.
_ Jimmy Burch