Sorenstam drives USA

Around 1.5 million viewers tuned into golf tourney

HOLLYWOOD — Annika Sorenstam’s historic first day at the Colonial golf tournament produced record ratings for the opening round of a regular PGA tour event on the USA Network.

According to Nielsen, Thursday’s seven-hour coverage of the first woman to play in a men’s professional event in 58 years produced a 1.6 rating in the roughly 87 million U.S. homes with cable television, meaning that about 1.5 million viewers were watching.

The previous record for the first round of a regular PGA Tour event on USA was a 1.58 rating at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The network has netted higher ratings for the first round of the Masters, one of four major events in men’s golf.

CBS was prepared to offer expanded coverage of Sorenstam and the final two rounds of the tournament over the weekend but reverted to its regularly skedded hours when she missed the cut following Friday’s second round.

Those who tuned out once Sorenstam was eliminated missed an exciting finish to the tournament. On Saturday, Hal Sutton got a hole in one on the par-3 16th hole and eventual winner Kenny Perry shot a course record 61. On Sunday Justin Leonard tied that course record to finish second, six shots behind Perry.

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