The Honda Classic drew a 3.2 overnight rating, its highest in over a decade, and viewership was up 78% from last year. You can pin these ratings primarily on one man: Tiger Woods, who rallied from seven strokes back to finish as the runner-up behind Rory McIlroy, now ranked as the #1 golfer in the world.

Stars draw in ratings, and the PGA Tour is getting some great performances in final rounds from its stars to really help boost those numbers. In addition to Tiger’s surge in the final round on Sunday, Pebble Beach drew huge ratings when Woods was paired with eventual champion Phil Mickelson in the final round. The Northern Trust Open also drew a high rating, thanks in part to Mickelson going to a three-way playoff with Bill Haas and Keegan Bradley that was won by Haas.

With just five events between now and the Masters starting on April 5th, the PGA Tour is on a roll. No star may be more important than Woods, a polarizing figure, but still a fantastic golfer. Woods has played in four tournaments this year, and in addition to the runner-up finish at the Honda Classic, he finished third at Abu Dhabi, and was top 20 in both the Accenture Match Play and Pebble Beach tournaments. After a tumultous 2011, Woods has looked at his best since the scandal that rocked his world a couple years ago. 

But it appears that the future face of the tour will be McIlroy, who is an extremely talented, young, marketable face. He’s played in four tournaments this year and his lowest finish is fifth. After 11 top ten finishes last season, including a major win in the US Open, the time appears to be now for the top-ranked golfer in the world.

Tiger was the reason why the Honda Classic drew huge ratings on Sunday, but McIlroy’s performance may be why viewers stick around after Tiger is gone.

[h/t: Yahoo]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.

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