No Tiger. No Phil. No Dustin, no Jason, no Rory. And apparently, no viewers.
The U.S. Open was a triumph of golf for Brooks Koepka, but from a broadcast perspective, the returns were far less favorable. Initial numbers, per Austin Karp of SportsBusiness Daily, indicate that this U.S. Open is the second-lowest-rated of all time, after 2014:
Early numbers: Fox drew 3.6 overnight rating for U.S. Open yesterday. 2nd lowest ever for final round at the event. 2014 remains low (3.3)
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) June 19, 2017
For reference, 2014 was the Pinehurst Open, which Martin Kaymer held from the start and ran away with by Sunday; it was one of the least compelling major tournaments in recent memory.
Fox is now in the third year of a projected 12-year deal. The broadcast had its highs and lows; Joe Buck will always draw firestorms of criticism, and mistakes like mis-identifying Koepka’s girlfriend won’t help that. The preponderance of analysts and the absence of Holly Sonders’ outfits also brought criticism, but technological elements like shot trackers warranted justified praise. Fox has a challenge, parachuting in to do this tournament before some of the most discriminating, knives-out viewers in all of sports. But regardless of how polished the presentation, Fox has no control over what happens between the ropes … and this time around, star players didn’t hold up their end of the deal.
Some perspective is always useful when viewing these numbers, given that they don’t include online streaming or other methods of review. Still, it’s impossible to draw any conclusions other than the idea that golf on TV is in desperate need of both star power and a competitive finish; Sunday’s closer at Erin Hills, unfortunately for Fox, had neither.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.