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PGA Championship turns in surprising Sunday TV viewership numbers

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Maddie Meyer/PGA of America

Television ratings for the final round of the 2023 PGA Championship probably don’t rank very high among the things that Brooks Koepka cares about. That’s different for the network that broadcasted that round, CBS, and the viewership numbers being reported from Sunday’s action at Oak Hill Country Club.

According to Sports Business Journal and Sports Media Watch, CBS drew an average of 4.517 million viewers for Koepka's win on Sunday, the lowest number for a final round of a PGA Championship on CBS since 2008, when Padraig Harrington outlasted Sergio Garcia and Ben Curtis at Oakland Hills for his third major title.

As compared to 2022, when Justin Thomas beat Will Zalatoris in a playoff at Southern Hills, the viewership average was down 14 percent from 5.27 million, which seems surprising given some of the similarities in the action that transpired. Last year, Thomas emerged from a pack that included Zalatoris, Cameron Young and Matt Fitzpatrick, in addition to Mito Pereira, who suffered a brutal collapse at the 72nd hole. In other words, the 2022 PGA had a lot of things going for it.

But one could say this year's PGA had a similar level of excitement brewing. You had Koepka completing his comeback tour—and the narrative of a LIV golfer trying to win a major—while battling a rising star in Viktor Hovland down the stretch. Scottie Scheffler made a Sunday charge, Bryson DeChambeau was lurking and Rory McIlroy hung around. Oh, and did we mention the fairytale story that was (and still is) Michael Block? To think that all those factors led to a 15-year low ratings number is quite stunning.

According to Sports Media Watch, the viewership average for Saturday's third round at Oak HIll was 3.22 million, down 11 percent from 2022 (3.62 million) and the lowest since 2017 (3.21 million).

These numbers are in contrast to the numbers for CBS from last month’s Masters, where the final round was the most-watched golf telecast on an U.S. network in five years. And the following week, the ratings for final round of the RBC Heritage (a designated event, mind you) on CBS were up 13 percent from 2022.