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US TV ratings for Open sharply down

With Tiger Woods back in the pack, the Open's preliminary TV ratings were the lowest in five years.

ABC's coverage of David Duval's victory at Royal Lytham & St. Annes drew an overnight rating of 4.6 Sunday - 39 percent lower than the final round last year, when Woods won easily.

The third round produced a 3.9 rating this year, 26 percent lower than the British Open's Saturday rating in 2000.

The numbers for both Saturday and Sunday were the worst for the tournament since 1996.

The ratings were pulled down both days by extra coverage in the morning. ABC opened its broadcast at 9 a.m. EDT on Saturday and 8 a.m. EDT on Sunday -- both an hour earlier than in the past. The TV audiences for the extra hour were much smaller than the rest of the telecast each day.

The lower ratings came despite a much tighter finish than in 2000 - but with Woods far out of contention.

Last year, Woods beat runners-up Ernie Els and Thomas Bjorn by eight strokes, the largest margin of victory in the British Open since 1913. He became, at 24, the youngest golfer to complete the career Grand Slam.

This year, Woods wound up tied for 25th place, nine strokes behind Duval.

While this weekend's tournament didn't have a Woods walkover, what it did have was tight competition. There were 27 players within four strokes of the lead heading into the final round.

Each overnight ratings point represents 1 percent of TV homes in the country's largest 51 markets. Overnights cover about 60 percent of the United States.

The full national ratings will be available later in the week


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