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Record US TV ratings for US Open

Tiger Woods' victory at the U.S. Open on Sunday delivered the highest overnight television ratings ever for the second of golf's Grand Slam events.

Woods' riveting win by three shots over Phil Mickelson at the Bethpage Black course in Farmingdale, N.Y., was seen in more than 9 million homes, and had a record 9.3 rating and a 21 share for NBC.

The rating, a 33 percent increase over last year's U.S. Open won by Retief Goosen, was the highest for the U.S. Open since Nielsen Media Research began tracking overnights in 1975.

Woods and his playing partner, Sergio Garcia, teed off at 3:30 p.m. EDT Sunday, and the round was interrupted by rain for 50 minutes. Still, the ratings peaked at 14.0/26 from 8-8:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Woods and playing partner Padraig Harrington teed off for the third round at 2:50 p.m. While Sunday's round finished in twilight, the later start enabled NBC to get the final 1 3/4 hours in prime time, which starts at 7 p.m. Eastern time on Sundays.

``Every hour there are more people available to watch,'' NBC spokesman Kevin Sullivan said. ``We work with the USGA to bring the competition to the largest possible audience. We went off with plenty of time, even with a 50-minute rain delay.''

NBC's telecast went from 1:30 p.m.-8:45 p.m.

While last year's final round drew a 7.0 rating and a 17 share, Woods' win in 2000 at Pebble Beach was the previous ratings topper for a U.S. Open at 8.8/21.

The rating is the percentage of all homes with TVs, whether or not they are in use. Each rating point represents a little more than 1 million households. Share is the percentage of homes with TVs in use.

The markets with the highest overnights were Ft. Myers, Fla., at 15.6/31 and West Palm Beach, Fla., at 15.6/29.

Saturday's third-round coverage generated a 6.4 overnight rating and a 16 share -- 16 percent higher than last year's 5.5/14.

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