LIV golfers (from left) Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Harold Varner III and Talor Gooch leave the no. 14 tee during a practice round at Augusta National Golf Club. LIV golfers (from left) Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Harold Varner III and Talor Gooch leave the no. 14 tee during a practice round at Augusta National Golf Club. Usp Pga The Masters Practice Round S Glf Usa Ga

The hype before the 2023 Masters was dominated by the impending showdown between PGA Tour loyalists and the handful of LIV Golf players who would be sharing Augusta National that week.

Once the Masters got underway, there were quite a few noteworthy storylines, including Tiger Woods’ appearance, Phil Mickelson’s press conference drama, Rory McIlroy playing while mic’d up, a tree felled by massive winds causing the tournament to adjust its weekend schedule, Mickelson’s late surge, an exciting weekend leaderboard topped by Brooks Koepka until he eventually fell off, clearing the way for Jon Rahm to win the green jacket.

All of it culminated in strong Sunday ratings that were not only up 19 percent from 2022, but ended up as the most-viewed round of golf on any network since the 2018 Masters final round.

While you could say that many of the aforementioned reasons all came together to cause the Sunday ratings boost, LIV Golf CEO is of the mind that his golfers were the actual reason.

During a press conference in Adelaide on Thursday, Norman was discussing the news that DP World Tour won its arbitration case against LIV, allowing for the reinstatement of fines and suspensions against LIV golfers, when he noted what he sees as tangible proof of what the Saudi-backed golf league brings to the table.

“I do hope there gets to a position where there is resolution to this, because the game of golf doesn’t need to suffer. These guys don’t need to suffer. OWGR doesn’t need to suffer,” Norman said, via “Augusta National recognized that, and look what happened with their ratings when the LIV players came in. It was up 19 percent. Who was the benefactor of that? Augusta National, right?”

Norman added that he thinks golf’s biggest network partners will want to see more of LIV’s top players in the coming months and years.

“LIV is the force for good, and now guys want to play,” Norman said. “They want to play in the majors. You don’t think CBS, NBC, you don’t think the corporations that sponsor those major championships don’t want Cam Smith, the Open champion, in their major tournament? Of course, they do. It’s a crying shame if they take their shallow view of, caused by LIV, where because of another product they’re going to ban these guys? Well, I think Augusta National proved that case point very clearly.”

The situation is, of course, a bit more nuanced than Norman wants it to be. Yes, it’s almost certainly true that the potential of LIV golfers Koepka and Mickelson winning the Masters intrigued audiences. And there’s no doubt that the hype surrounding the LIV-PGA player showdown kept people wondering what drama was ahead. But the other aforementioned touchpoints also played a role in what ended up being a fairly competitive Sunday as well.

And yes, it’s true that NBC and CBS would love to see more of Cam Smith, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Mickelson, and Koepka, but considering the ratings that LIV is getting over on the CW, it seems so far like that interest is specific to the individuals, not the league.


About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to