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Searching The Web

Tiger Woods (duh) again tops Google searches of golfers, though other popular choices are surprising

December 21, 2023
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Tiger Woods laughs during the 2023 PNC Championship.

Mike Ehrmann

Tiger Woods and LIV Golf were Google’s most searched-for golf subjects in the United States in 2023, according to data provided by the search engine. At least with 15-time major winner Woods, that comes as no surprise. But break the search interest down by month and there are some eyebrow raisers—Sam Ryder, Sam Bennett and even NBA legend Steph Curry.

The most popular golf topics in the search engine for 2023 were split into categories of golfers (overall), golfers (monthly) and golf-related term (overall). To get a ranking for each, Google listed searches according to its trends data within the search engine. It analyzed “search interest” for subjects using a sample of all searches and then indexing the topics in relation to the top item on each list. So the top player in each category tops the list at 100 percent, and the percentages decrease from there. Google did not provide raw numbers for 2023 search volume.

Let's start with Woods. He also topped the Google list last year, and likely every year since it was created, despite the fact the 15-time major winner played just two official PGA Tour events in 2023.

At the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles that he hosts each February, Woods made the cut in his 2023 debut before shooting a thrilling 67 in the third round at Riviera. At Augusta National two months later, the 47-year-old matched a tournament record already held by Gary Player and Fred Couples with 23 successive Masters cuts made. But in cold temperatures and constant rain, Woods succumbed to his ongoing plantar fasciitis and withdrew before the delayed third round resumed. He didn’t play again until December’s Hero World Challenge, though Woods was in the news for ramping up with the TGL simulator league that ultimately had to be postponed, and for joining the PGA Tour Policy Board following the June framework agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

World No. 2 Rory McIlroy was second in Google searches, generating 88.7 percent of the search interest of Woods. McIlroy caused a stream of headlines, including several wins and close calls. He won the Dubai Desert Classic on the DP World Tour in January, and at the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club, a late bogey thwarted his hopes of ending a nine-year majors victory drought. In July, McIlroy won the Genesis Scottish Open the week before the Open Championship. At the end of September, the Northern Irishman had a blow-up outside the clubhouse of the Ryder Cup following a verbal altercation with Patrick Cantlay’s caddie Joe LaCava on the 18th green during a Day 2 match. In December, McIlroy stepped down from the tour’s Policy Board, citing inability to commit to its time requirements.

Coming in third was LIV Golf’s Brooks Koepka (70.8 percent of the search interest), who caused many Google queries when he was shown in a vulnerable, injured light during a dedicated episode of Netflix’s “Full Swing” docuseries. He finished second to Masters winner Jon Rahm and a month later, at the PGA Championship, Koepka became the first LIV golfer to win a major, capturing a fifth career title and third PGA. He also featured on the losing U.S. Ryder Cup team in September.

Predictably, the top five most-searched golfers by month highlighted the gap between what the Internet finds interesting and what the biggest golf-centric storylines were.

For example, you might think the biggest golf story in January was Rahm winning twice on the PGA Tour, at the Sentry on Maui and the American Express in the California desert. The internet would disagree. Sam Ryder wearing maroon jogger pants at Torrey Pines—and getting criticized on social media for doing so by John Daly and Phil Mickelson—catapulted him to the most Googled golfer in January. In February, Woods making the cut at Riviera gave him the No. 1 spot, while in March, Scottie Scheffler took the mantle on the strength of him winning the elite Players Championship.

In April, Rahm winning the Masters for his second career major was not enough for the Spaniard to be the most Googled golfer that month. Instead, it was a fellow Masters competitor and amateur, Sam Bennett, with Rahm at No. 2. Bennett, the U.S. Amateur champion and Texas A&M star, contended deep into the weekend at Augusta National and had a moving backstory that compelled sports fans to root for him: He lost his father, Mark, to early onset Alzheimer’s disease in June 2021. Bennett got a tattoo on his arm to honor his dad.

In May, Michael Block and his story—a club pro who scored an ace during the final round at the PGA Championship while playing with McIlroy en route to a T-15 finish—made him the most Googled golfer. In June, McIlroy held the top spot courtesy of finishing second at the U.S. Open and being the focal point of the framework agreement news. July was a layup on Google for celebrity golfer Steph Curry, with the Golden State Warriors icon making a hole-in-one and winning the American Century Championship with a final-hole eagle. Unlucky was the second-most searched golfer in July, Brian Harman. All he did was win the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

In August, we're unsure if Lucas Glover winning back-to-back weeks—or his incredible sweat patches during those victories—caused him to be the most searched golfer, but he was. Viktor Hovland's $18 million FedEx Cup win had him No. 2 on Google for the month. In September, Woods returned to his Google throne but was then No. 2 in October behind Andy Bean, the 11-time PGA Tour winner who died aged 70 after undergoing a double-lung transplant. Woods then returned to No. 1 for November, while in December the announcement of Rahm signing with LIV Golf allowed him to topple Woods.

Finally, we get to golf-related topics. For the second straight year, “LIV Golf” was the most Googled subject this year, while “US Open golf” was second. The one phrase including a player’s name among the top 20 might surprise you: “sam bennett golf.”

Most Googled golfers for 2023—top 5 (per month) and top 10 (indexed search interest)

January

  1. Sam Ryder
  2. Davis Thompson
  3. Max Homa
  4. Tiger Woods
  5. Rory McIlroy

February

  1. Tiger Woods
  2. Brooks Koepka
  3. Joel Dahmen
  4. Rory McIlroy
  5. Scottie Scheffler

March

  1. Scottie Scheffler
  2. Tiger Woods
  3. Rory McIlroy
  4. Jordan Spieth
  5. Rickie Fowler

April

  1. Sam Bennett
  2. Jon Rahm
  3. Tiger Woods
  4. Brooks Koepka
  5. Phil Mickelson
Masters 2023

Then amateur Sam Bennett gained national attention when he contended at the Masters in April.

Ben Walton

May

  1. Michael Block
  2. Brooks Koepka
  3. Rory McIlroy
  4. Tiger Woods
  5. Harry Hall

June

  1. Rory McIlroy
  2. Wyndham Clark
  3. Rickie Fowler
  4. Nick Taylor
  5. Sam Bennett

July

  1. Steph Curry
  2. Brian Harman
  3. Rickie Fowler
  4. Rory McIlroy
  5. Lee Hodges

August

  1. Lucas Glover
  2. Viktor Hovland
  3. Rory McIlroy
  4. Tiger Woods
  5. ​​Bryson Dechambeau

September

  1. Tiger Woods
  2. Rory McIlroy
  3. John Daly
  4. Ludvig Aberg
  5. Andrea Lee

October

  1. Andy Bean
  2. Tiger Woods
  3. Lexi Thompson
  4. Rory McIlroy
  5. John Daly

November

  1. Tiger Woods
  2. Jon Rahm
  3. George Bryan
  4. Rory McIlroy
  5. John Daly

December 1-18

  1. Jon Rahm
  2. Tiger Woods
  3. Rony Finau
  4. Rory McIlroy
  5. Nelly Korda

2023 (full year to date)

  1. Tiger Woods (100 percent)
  2. Rory McIlroy (88.7)
  3. Brooks Koepka (70.8)
  4. Jon Rahm (62.1)
  5. Rickie Fowler (58.5)
  6. Scottie Scheffler (51.1)
  7. Jordan Spieth (49.9)
  8. Phil Mickelson (46.0)
  9. Justin Thomas (35.5)
  10. Viktor Hovland (34.6)

Top 20 most Googled golf terms (full year)

  1. liv golf
  2. us open golf
  3. golf channel
  4. callaway golf
  5. golf now
  6. golf shoes
  7. golf clubs
  8. pga tour
  9. golf leaderboard
  10. used golf clubs
  11. nike golf shoes
  12. world golf rankings
  13. golf scores
  14. sam bennett golf
  15. pga golf
  16. golf simulator
  17. liv golf leaderboard
  18. global golf
  19. jordan golf shoes
  20. golf balls