GRAEME McDOWELL has agreed the first of a series of mega-buck contracts which in the New Year will establish him as one of the top earners in world golf.
US Open champion McDowell has accepted a "multi-year" deal worth a reputed $3m (€2.25m) per annum with Japanese equipment giant Srixon.
A year of spectacular success on the world's fairways had already established McDowell as the highest new entry at No 14 in the sport's unofficial 'rich list' -- when Golf Digest's top 50 earners in 2010 was published on Thursday.
As his contract with Callaway did not expire until midnight last night, McDowell's new equipment deal with Srixon is not included in the $9.7m (€7.3m) which Golf Digest estimate Ulster's world No 7 banked on and off the course in the past 12 months.
Tiger Woods remains the top earner in golf. However, Golf Digest reckon his infamous follies cost Woods a whopping $47m as his income plummeted from a record $121.9m in 2009 to 'just' $74.2m in 2010.
McDowell has agreed to play with the Srixon golf ball, wear their hat and glove and, along with his choice of Srixon clubs, use wedges produced by sister company Cleveland, the acknowledged world-leaders in this department.
His heroics at Pebble Beach, in the Ryder Cup and in beating Tiger at the Chevron World Challenge last month propelled McDowell to a new level in the game and this is reflected in his status at Srixon, where he has replaced Jim Furyk, now at Taylor Made, as the brand's undisputed No 1. Significantly, his Srixon deal allows McDowell more flexibility than he had at Callaway, where all 14 clubs in his bag had to be of their manufacture.