April 18, 2024

Wyndham Clark believes that “it makes no sense” that fewer people watched this year’s Masters after Rory McIlroy blamed the PGA Tour’s continuing drama with LIV Golf for the decline.


The first major championship of the year had a 20 percent decline in viewership for the final round on Sunday. This is a concerning figure for the premier golf event. Furthermore, Augusta’s figures are not exceptional; in fact, they have been a recurring theme on the PGA Tour in recent weeks.


In addition to the decline at Augusta, there was a 35% drop in the Waste Management Phoenix Open final round in February, a 30% decline in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and a 15% decline in the Players Championship final round in March.


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In recent seasons, McIlroy has found himself at the center of a battle between the Tour and its LIV rivals, and he thinks this may be turning off golf fans. “If you look at the TV ratings of the PGA Tour this year, they’re down 20 per cent across the board,” he stated last month.


That represents a fifth. That is significant. In terms of viewers, I would argue that LIV’s ratings aren’t that bad either. People are simply growing weary of the fighting and other events that have occurred over the past several years, and it is detrimental to men’s professional golf as a whole, in my opinion.


“It’s going to be really interesting to see how the four major championships do, or even the three, because put Augusta aside, I think that sort of lives in its own world.”


Notwithstanding the remarks made by the 33-year-old, U.S. Open champion Clark holds a different view. He disputes the notion that off-course politics has had a detrimental effect on interest levels, saying he was startled by the decline in interest in the professional game.


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PGA Tour and LIV Golf were the targets of criticism from Rory McIlroy.

“I just find it really hard to believe that ratings are down,” Clark remarked at this week’s RBC Heritage event. “It’s great if you’re at the event. Those that I do know who are viewing it, I believe, really enjoyed it. I believe that golf is becoming more popular. Golf sales have probably increased. I am aware of the rise in golf memberships.


“It makes no sense that the professional level that the viewership would be down.” Clark surmises that the reason for the declining TV ratings is that fans are switching to streaming websites. “In my thought, is it because everyone is streaming and people are watching it from different avenues than maybe the normal telecast,” he said.


“That seems like a slightly biased statistic to me because it defies logic that while the professional level isn’t increasing, every aspect of the game is. That’s kind of how I feel about it.” Clark, teamed with fellow American Sahith Theegala, will begin his week at Harbour Town on Thursday in the opening round.


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