Nelly Korda, Lexi Thompson & Other A-Listers’ Absence Pushes U.S. Women’s Open to Face Cruel Reality Check

The viewership numbers for the U.S. Women’s Open are out. But it won’t impress the LPGA Commissioner, Mollie Marcoux Samaan.  The final round of the broadcast drew 943,000 viewers on NBC, a huge drop of 637,000 from last year’s 1.580 million. Notably, last year’s event was the most-watched U.S. Women’s Open in nine years. The peak audience of 2.2 million was also the highest for women’s golf, even on NBC.

The expectations were higher this time. Considering that the PGA Tour traveled to Canada and LIV Golf didn’t have any events, the national major was presumed to capitalize on a favorable window. Moreover, the LPGA has already witnessed a surge in demand for content. Golf Digest previously reported that the LPGA’s metrics across social media and TV coverage witnessed 11.5 million interactions per week. Almost triple of 4 million in 2022. 

But the U.S. Women’s Open stands on the opposite. The second round drew 204,000 on USA Network, a 39% year-on-year drop. The moving day saw 825,000 viewers on NBC and drew a rating of 0.54, per Sports Media Watch. That’s also a 24% decline from last year. 

A number of factors were behind that. But perhaps, none more so than the shock exits of LPGA’s most promising stars. A cluster of LPGA icons failed to book a weekend spot at the punishing Lancaster Country Club. On top of that, the remaining stars eventually lost steam by Sunday. 

Nelly Korda’s bid was almost over after carding 10 on the par-3, 12th. Although the 14-time LPGA Tour winner tried to erase that with a spectacular second round, she had to pack her bags early. As was Lexi Thompson, who, ahead of her 18th consecutive US. Women’s Open appearance announced retirement at the end of the season. The one-time major winner, possibly in her last dance at the national major, failed to impress with rounds of 75 & 78. 

On the other hand, Lydia Ko’s bid for LPGA Hall of Fame glory remains on ice after a 13-under through two rounds. Rose Zhang, who impressed on her U.S. Women’s Open debut last year, netting a T9, missed the cut as well. As did the defending champion, Allisen Corpuz. In their absence, amateurs and Andrea Lee were leading the charge for American players. Asterisk Talley, a 15-year-old amateur and the youngest player in the field, drew the eyeballs after two brilliant rounds. However, Japanese golfer, Yuka Saso, outlasted them all, including Minjee Lee, who looked all set to earn her third major. 

Saso entered the week as world no. 30 but vaulted to no. 6 courtesy of the 100 rolex running points. The 22-year-old had only one victory prior to the Pennsylvania triumph—at the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open. In between, Saso’s most notable performance came at last year’s KPMG PGA Championship, where she netted a solo second, one shot behind China’s Ruoning Yin.Without taking anything away from Saso’s second major triumph, the Japanese youngster had yet to register the same impact as a Lexi Thompson, or a Nelly Korda in the public psyche. The numbers display that sentiment.  

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