By Bryan Cross
Heading into the 2010 Masters, it was thought that this year could possibly break the all-time record for the most watched tournament in history. This theory was spearheaded by the fact that Tiger Woods was returning to golf following a 144-day self-imposed absence from the game following a sex scandal and acts of infidelity, for which he spent 45 days in an in-treatment rehabilitation facility.
Woods announce several weeks ago that he was to make his return at Augusta National, site of where has has won four times previously, with the last coming in 2005.
The world tuned in to watch how Woods would respond to all the events that had transpired in the months leading up to the Masters.
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Woods came out an fired a 4-under par round of 68 on day one on Thursday and wowed the Augusta Patrons with no apparent signs of rust. While that did not continue through the rest of the week, Woods was in the second-to-last group on Sunday paired with K.J Choi, while Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson were in the final pairing.
The tandem of Woods and Mickelson were paired together in the final round of the 2009 Masters, and put on quite a performance on the front-nine and challenged the leaders on the back-nine, only to fall short. However, those five hours on the golf course catapulted viewership.
This year at the 2010 Masters, the final round on Sunday on CBS received a 12.0 overnight ratining to go along with 25 share. This was a 36 percent increase in from 2009, in which Angel Cabrera prevailed in a playoff over Kenny Perry.
As all eyes were on Augusta, Mickelson came through and notched his third green jacket and fourth career Major Championship victory, with a three-shot win over Westwood, while Woods finished in a tie for fourth place.
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While a significant increase in viewers, it was not enough to eclipse the 1997 Masters, in which Woods won his first Major Championship in record setting fashoin, winning by 12 shots.
The 2010 Masters earned the third-highest overnight rating for the tournament.
Mickelson’s victory was quite emotional, as his wife and mother had been battling cancer throughout the past year, and for the first time his family traveled with him to a tournament since the diagnosis.
“I wasn’t sure if she was going to be there,” Mickelson said after the round referring to his wife Amy Mickelson.
“In the last year, we’ve been through a lot and it’s been tough. And to be on the other end and feel this kind of jubilation is incredible,” he added.
Entering the final round on Sunday, Mickelson was installed as the betting favorite to win the 2010 Masters on Online Sportsbooks, with Westwood and Woods following.