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Masters’ record is a fore gone conclusion

If ratings were this strong on Thursday at the Masters, how high will Sunday go?Tiger-woods

Based on fast nationals, ESPN’s opening round coverage drew 4.9 million viewers to become the most-viewed golf telecast in cable history. Thanks to the return of Tiger Woods off his fourth-month layoff, the telecast was 47% better than last year’s first-day Masters coverage and a 102% increase from 2008.

With Woods playing well and in contention, CBS is salivating as the weekend telecasts on the Eye should set records. In 1987, when Woods won the first of his four green jackets, CBS drew an all-time Masters high of 20.2 million viewers for its final-day coverage. Four years later, when Woods won again, 19.1 million tuned in on Sunday.

By comparison, last year’s tourney averaged 14.3 million over the final two days. Woods made a brief run on Sunday, but Spaniard Angel Cabrera came out on top.

If Woods and longtime greats Tom Watson and/or Fred Couples are near the top of the leaderboard, expect somewhere in the 25 million range for Sunday viewership.

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