The Match 9 draws record-low viewers

The Match 9 was the least-watched in the history of the series, drawing an average of 511,000 viewers on Monday night, according to the Sports Business Journal.

The Excel Sports-produced event was broadcast on TNT, truTV and HLN and included LPGA stars for the first time. Lexi Thompson and Rose Zhang teed it up in a 12-hole skins game against PGA Tour stars Rory McIlroy and Max Homa.

McIlroy won a closest-to-the-pin tiebreaker to earn $1.6 million at the end of the match held under the lights at The Park golf course in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The previous low came when the same networks averaged 782,000 viewers last June. That’s when Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs took on Steph Curry and Klay Thompson from the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

Monday’s event did draw 160,000 female viewers, per the SBJ. That eclipses the typical average for an LPGA event on the Golf Channel this year, and is up 23 percent over what the Golf Channel has been drawing for PGA events so far in 2024.

The final quarter-hour that included McIlroy’s sudden-death victory was 18 percent higher than at the start of the match. Golf Digest said engagement on Instagram was up more than 150 percent compared to last June’s event.

After McIlroy won three skins for a combined $800,000 for charity on Monday, no player emerged to win any of the final four holes.

At the par-5 12th hole, McIlroy announced that an unidentified friend of his was donating $500,000 to bring the total remaining stakes to $1.6 million. After McIlroy missed an eagle putt and was given the birdie, Homa drained a longer birdie putt to match him.

So the four players returned to the fairway from approximately 100 yards out for a tiebreaker. McIlroy went first and stuck his wedge shot to 4 feet, 2 1/2 inches, and none of his counterparts came close to beating him.

The only other player to win a skin was Thompson at the second hole, when she sank a lengthy eagle putt to net $200,000. Homa and Zhang did not get on the board.

The Match events have raised $41 million for charities and philanthropies.

The second edition featuring Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in May 2020 drew an average of 5.8 million viewers.