May 23, 2021; Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA; Phil Mickelson putts on the 18th green during the final round of the PGA Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Mickelson captured his sixth major championship at age 50 on Sunday at the PGA, defeating Brooks Koepka, tough conditions at Kiawah Island, and the swarming crowd that broke contain on the 18th hole.

Mickelson isn’t Tiger, but he is just about the only other player still capable of driving ratings and viewers; the novelty of seeing him contend and eventually win at an unprecedented age was also a perfect narrative to hook casual fans who might otherwise be casually tuning into the NBA playoffs, or any number of other options.

Still, golf is tricky to gauge, and of the four majors the PGA does tend to have the least crossover appeal. Last year CBS had the benefit of a West Coast venue (meaning some primetime coverage) and being the first major in 2020 thanks to the pandemic. But the final round itself lacked the kind of drama or established names; no offense to Colin Morikawa, who will probably win more majors, but he doesn’t have Phil Mickelson’s three decades in the sporting consciousness. The numbers weren’t great.

This year, though, saw a different story:

2018 was the last time this event pulled in viewers like this, and that version had Tiger Woods making a real close run at getting his first major since 2008. (One that he’d get at the Masters the next spring.) Brooks Koepka won that version, too; it’s wild how Koepka has played such a huge role in some of the most notable PGA Championships in recent memory. But then again, Brooks has a way of finding himself at the center of things.

The huge number of viewers who tuned in for the final hour were fortunate to get a very quality close to the broadcast. The final hour saw CBS putting us right in the middle of the action, providing a sense of scale that served the course, the crowds, and the moment.

CBS has to be pretty happy with how things played out.

It’s hard to imagine a more appealing ratings scenario than the one that played out this week. One of the best players of the new generation trying to deny an inner-circle hall of fame player like Mickelson, wrapping up in oceanside golden hour light in front of a raucous crowd.

There’s probably a lot to be said for how this was a bonus; how Phil and Tiger still being exponentially bigger draws than anyone else, and how networks and golf itself can’t count on them to consistently contend or even play going forward. But that’s a different deep dive.

For now, though, it’s okay to focus on the positive.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a columnist at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer. He is probably talking to a dog in a silly voice at this very moment.