RBC Canadian Open continues to get hurt by dates
July 30, 2010
The RBC Canadian Open will continue to struggle for the hearts – and entries – of many of the top players on the PGA Tour as long as it is scheduled the week after the British Open.
While history and tradition are big drivers on the PGA Tour, the history and tradition of the RBC Canadian Open has not translated into more attractive dates for what some regard as the “fifth major”.
Even with a purse of $5.1 million US and a winner’s share of $918,000, the RBC Canadian Open was plagued again this year by a field largely devoid of high-profile tour stars and “ticket-sellers”. The result was a placement barely in the top-10 most-watched sports television events in Canada last weekend (at No. 9 for the final round Sunday and No. 10 for the third round on Saturday, both on Global television).
Global television scored average national audiences of around 329,000 for the weekend while TSN hovered around 190,000 for Thursday and Friday. Those numbers paled in comparison to ratings on TSN for the top two TV events of the past week in Canada, both Canadian Football League games drawing in the range of 900,000 viewers.
Scheduled as it is the week after the British Open – arguably the world’s most-coveted golf tournament – makes the Canadian Open a tough sell for top stars on the tour and a tough proposition for others mentally-drained from the weekend before in the U.K. (Going up against the Senior British Open also robs it of other fan favourites such as Tom Watson).
As Jonathan Wall blogged for Yahoo! Sports, having the Canadian Open immediately follow a major such as the British Open was akin to having an opening act follow the main headliner at a concert festival. It is anti-climactic and rarely results in a strong player field.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mikleson were both no-shows in 2010, leaving the spotlight to players such as eventual winner Carl Petterssen of Sweden (who barely made the cut – on the number – and then scored a record 60-67 weekend, finishing remarkably strong by going 10-under over the last nine holes at St. George’s Golf and Country Club near Toronto).
Other analysts, however, suggest the dates and timing of the RBC Canadian Open are only part of the problem; the larger issue being the overall dilution of the PGA Tour.
“The Tour got along fine all those years when (Jack) Nicklaus, (Tom) Watson and (Greg) Norman played only 15 or 17 times,” noted Gary Van Sickle, senior golf writer for Sports Illustrated. “There were four majors once upon a time, and several bigger-than-average Tour events — the Players, Memorial, even the Canadian. Colonial was seen as an exclusive invitational. Inventing the WGC events and the FedEx Cup playoffs completely undermined and devalued all the other regular Tour events and helped create this preoccupation with Tiger and Phil and superstars only. The Tour needs to get back to its roots of democracy, where every event was significant and relevant and not just some qualifier for the FedEx Cup.”
The Canadian Open event is the fourth-oldest golf tournament in the world behind only the U.S. Open, British Open and the BMW Championship.
Television was handled on cable for the first two rounds (TSN and the Golf Channel on Thursday and Friday) and by Global carrying the CBS feed on the weekend. Global had to settle for ninth and 10th place in the Canadian sports television ratings, while TSN’s second round coverage was 14th.
The Top-10 sports television events in Canada (English-language) last week, according to ratings by the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (BBM):
1. CFL football - Saskatchewan Roughriders at Calgary Stampeders, Saturday, TSN: 917,000
2. CFL - BC Lions at Toronto Argonauts, Friday, TSN: 858,000
3. CFL - Edmonton Eskimos at Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Saturday, TSN: 628,000
4. Major League Baseball – Toronto Blue Jays at Detroit Tigers (Game 2), Sunday, Rogers Sportsnet: 562,000
5. NASCAR Auto racing - Brickyard 500, Sunday, TSN: 500,000
6. MLB - Blue Jays at Tigers, Saturday, Rogers Sportsnet: 475,000
7. IRL Auto racing – Honda Indy Edmonton, Sunday, TSN: 399,000
8. MLB - Blue Jays at Tigers (Game 1), Sunday, Rogers Sportsnet: 382,000
9. PGA, Canadian Open final round, Sunday, CBS/Global: 363,000
10. PGA, Canadian Open third round, Saturday, CBS/Global: 295,000
TheSportMarket.biz with files from Chris Zelkovich of The Toronto Star, Jonathan Wall of Yahoo! Sports and Gary Van Sickle of Sports Illustrated.