Tiger Woods, it seems, is required only to be in the field to substantially boost the Masters’ television ratings.
ESPN, which airs the first two rounds of the Masters, reported a 2.2 overnight rating for the first round of the Masters, a 40 percent increase over the first round the year before and a 16 percent increase over 2016.
Yet Woods finished his round before ESPN’s telecast began. A majority of his round will fit into ESPN’s broadcast window (3 p.m. to 6 p.m. EDT) on Friday. Woods tees off at 1:27 p.m.
Last week, CBS' Jim Nantz said "this might be the most anticipated Masters any of us has seen in our lifetime.” Other players -- including Rory McIilroy, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson -- contributed to the anticipation.
But it's safe to say that Woods was largely responsible for the increase in Thursday’s ratings. It was the highest-rated first round since 2015, the last time Tiger played in the Masters and was the fourth highest first-round rating since ESPN began televising the first two rounds in 2008.