The best golfers in the world are in Massachusetts this week for the 122nd US Open at The Country Club in Brookline. The historic club hosted the 1913 Open, immortalized in print and on film by The best game ever playedwhile the 2022 version will be “The Most Awkward Game Ever Played” as some of LIV Golf’s 17 banned players will play with their partners for the first time.
The 10 highest-paid golfers earned a combined $328 million in prize money and endorsements in the 12 months through May 2022, led by Tiger Woods ($73.5 million), who will not play this week as he rehabs from injuries, and Rory McIlroy ($38.4 million), but the Saudi-backed LIV Golf has set the sport’s financial landscape on fire going forward.
The playbook for golfers to make money was relatively straightforward for decades. Winning events (the bigger the better) and wealthy corporate vendors came up with rich endorsement deals to supplement the prize money or, in the case of the biggest stars, vastly exceed it. By simply avoiding controversy, top players could rely on the sport to serve as an ATM for decades. The playbook is dead.
LIV Golf offers events with prize money of more than double what players earn on the PGA. Charles Schwartzel pocketed $4 million for winning the inaugural 54-hole LIV golf event in London. First place at this week’s Open is $3.15 million, up from $2.25 million in 2021, in what is usually one of the most challenging course setups on the Tour annually. On Wednesday, the United States Golf Association, which organizes the tournament, announced that the total prize money will be increased by $5 million, bringing the total purse to $17.5 million.
For rising rivals from Saudi Arabia, the $255 million in LIV prize money and bonuses across eight events in 2022 is just the icing on the cake for the biggest stars. The competition tour offered entry fees reportedly in excess of $100 million in the cases of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and Bryson DeChambeau. Our earnings estimates for the year to May do not include any LIV payments.
Backers have fled from Mickelson (Amstel Light, KPMG, Workday), Johnson (Royal Bank of Canada) and DeChambeau (Rocket Mortgage), along with Graeme McDowell (RBC) and Lee Westwood (UPS). Mickelson got the most early fallout, from fans and backers, when his derogatory comments about the Saudis were revealed to author Alan Shipnuck. The other golfers signed with the Greg Norman-led series had similar consequences, but the opportunity to earn more than any sponsor could provide for light work was enough to get commitments.
“It was a business decision, first and foremost,” DeChambeau said Monday, in his first public comments since LIV announced he had joined the new tour. “That’s all there was. It has given me a lot more opportunities outside of the game of golf and it has given me more time with my family and my future family.”
The PGA saw the writing on the wall with LIV and adjusted its system to try to keep the stars in the fold. Last year, it introduced the Player Impact Program, with $40 million in prize money to the 10 players who generate the most interest in the sport; the PIP is worth $50 million this year and will have three openings after 2021 winners Mickelson, Johnson and DeChambeau committed to LIV.
In 2022, the Tour also raised prize money by 16% to a record $427 million and increased the FedEx Cup fund from $60 million to $75 million, with a 20% increase for the winner to 18 millions of dollars. None of those carrots was enough to stop the defections.
SportsEarnings estimates, based on conversations with golf industry experts, include prize money, sponsorships, introduction fees, licenses and golf course design work performed in the 12 months ending May 31.
Woods had been the highest-paid golfer signed annually when he turned pro in 1996, armed with a five-year, $40 million contract with Nike. He only played two official PGA Tour events during our scoring period, but he still earned an estimated $65 million off the course from endorsements, memorabilia, appearance fees and his course design business. Additionally, Woods placed first in the inaugural PIP, despite injuries keeping him off the field, and he received the top-tier bonus of $8 million.
LIV went to great lengths to land the biggest star in the game, with a “high nine figure” offer, according to Norman. “I’ve decided for myself that I’m rooting for the PGA Tour,” Woods said at the PGA Championship last month. “That’s where my legacy is.”
The highest paid golfers in the world
1. Tiger Woods: $73.5 million
Prize money: $8.5 million (including PIP); Of course: $65 million
The Swoosh is still under Woods’ sponsorship, but the other names have changed. It has a dozen other sponsoring partners, including Rolex, Bridgestone Golf, Centinel Spine, Hero, Kowa and Monster Energy.
2.Rory McIlroy: $38.9 million
Prize money: $10.9 million; Of course: $28 million
McIlroy signed a multi-year extension this year with his club and ball sponsor, TaylorMade. His association began in 2017. The 33-year-old won four major titles, but the last one was in 2014. His third place finish in the PIP earned him $3.5 million.
3. Phil Mickelson: $37.1 million
Prize money: $7.1 million; Of course: $30 million
Mickelson’s endorsers didn’t drop Lefty until most of our earnings scoring period was over, so his endorsement earnings will drop much more. In addition to the defections, Callaway “paused” his relationship with the 45-time PGA Tour winner. The luxury watch brand Rolex stays with Phil. His association dates back three decades to 1992.
4. Jordan Spieth: $32.4 million
Prize money: $10.4 million; Of course: $22 million
The former World No. 1 had his ranking drop as low as No. 92 at the start of 2021, but 10 Top 5 finishes since then have pushed him back into the Top 10. In April, Under Armor announced he had signed a four-year extension. with the Texan being added to the end of the 10-year deal signed in 2015. The partnership now runs through 2029.
5. Patrick Cantlay: $28.3 million
Prize money: $23.3 million; Of course: $5 million
Cantlay took home the biggest cash prize on the PGA Tour last year, the FedEx Cup. He outpointed Jon Rahm in the Tour Championship to capture the winner’s share of $15 million. The 30-year-old has won four Tour titles in the last 12 months, after winning three during his first nine years as a professional. His sponsors include Marcus, Hugo Boss, Titleist, Footjoy and ADP.
6. Justin Thomas: $26.4 million
Prize money: $13.4 million; Of course: $13 million
Thomas gave the golf apparel industry a new look in 2022 when he rocked joggers on the course, thanks to an endorsement deal with Grayson Clothiers. Good time for the clothing brand. Months later, the American captured his second major title, the 2022 PGA Championship. Other JT sponsors include Acushnet/Titleist, CITI, Lineage Logistics, Rolex and Whoop.
7. Jon Rahm: $24.9 million
Prize money: $15.9 million; Of course: $9 million
Last year, the Spaniard joined Callaway’s backup roster, having worked with TaylorMade since turning pro in 2016. The team switch didn’t hurt his game, as he won the Player of the Year award from the PGA and the Vardon Trophy, awarded to the Tour. leader in scoring average. He also took home $5 million for his runner-up finish in the FedEx Cup.
8. Dustin Johnson: $23.9 million
Prize money: $6.9 million; Of course: $17 million
Johnson ranks third in prize money with $74 million, behind Woods ($121 million) and Mickelson ($95 million). His off-course earnings were boosted by Coca-Cola’s $8 billion purchase of BodyArmor. Johnson joined the sports drink as a brand ambassador in 2016 and received an equity stake as part of the deal from him. Those shares were worth about $6 million after the Coca-Cola deal, according to a source who was not authorized to speak publicly.
9.Hideki Matsuyama: $22.3 million
Prize money: $6.3 million; Of course: $16 million
Matsuyama and his marketing team have taken a measured approach to their off-course commitments following his historic 2021 Masters win that made him the first Japanese player to win a men’s golf major. He added a three-year pact with Japanese IT and consulting firm NTT Data.
10. Colin Morikawa: $20.1 million
Prize money: $11.1 million; Of course: $9 million
Morikawa has made his wins count, with two majors among his five tournament victories, including the 2021 British Open, which brought in lucrative bonuses from his more than a dozen sponsors, including Adidas, Kowa, Grant Thornton, UGP and US Bank. .