Tiger Woods gives NBC massive ratings boost for Valspar
Mar 13, 2018, 06:01
Tiger Woods said it after his nailbiting runner-up finish in the Valspar Championship: "I've missed this".
Thousands lined the fairway at every hole Woods played and his galleries dwarfed those for the rest of the field with attendance at a tournament that past year drew 112,000 soaring to more than 150,000 for his first appearance.
Betrayed all day by iron-play that was just slightly less than sharp, and a putter that constantly scared the cup but could never split it, Woods nonetheless hung around near the top of the leader board all day, and finally drained a 44-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to give himself a chance on the tournament's final hole.
Woods carded 70 and had to settle for second with fellow American Patrick Reed (68), who made an embarrassing bogey at the last when his first putt, through the fringe, failed to make it up the hill and rolled all the way back to his feet.
Woods didn't find another birdie until the 17th, where he drained a putt of nearly 45 feet to close within one stroke of Casey's clubhouse lead and send his massive gallery into a frenzy. He had a 40-foot birdie attempt on the 18th hole to force a playoff with Paul Casey and came up short.
"Tiger, this is what you're meant for", shouted one spectator.
Casey, whose only previous PGA Tour win came at the 2009 Houston Open, had moved into contention with a three-under front nine, before surging to the top of the leaderboard thanks to three birdies in a row from the 11th.
"It's the only time he's congratulated me", Casey said.
The low rumble felt across the southeastern United States this weekend was the great, ancient machinery of the Tiger-Industrial Complex, which once propelled the entire sport forward until it was put in storage a few years ago, groaning back to life. Woods thrilled galleries at Innisbrook with an outstanding 9-under 275, and millions more gathered to watch him on TV late on Sunday afternoon.
There was definitely a huge buzz coming out of Innisbrook this weekend.
Sports also saw a record 3.26 overnight rating on Saturday for its coverage of the third round. But the thing is even with a disappointing ending for Woods, the golfer will win again. "I've been here before a few times", the 42-year-old said when asked if he had felt any nerves. You were reminded that golf is simply richer and better with him in it.
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