Friday 31 October 2014

Rory millions not in Tiger league

William S Callahan

Published 24/01/2013 | 05:00

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods

TIGER WOODS still stands colossus-like at the top of golf's rich list, but nobody else earned as much as Rory McIlroy on the world's fairways in 2012.

Just one player came remotely close to the spectacular $15.583m prizemoney accumulated by the Holywood star in a year which saw McIlroy (23) win five times and establish a commanding lead over Woods in the world rankings.

That man was Brandt Snedeker, but the $15.427m he earned directly from playing golf last season included the $10m bonus the American received for winning the US Tour's FedEx Cup in September.

McIlroy's bonus for finishing second in the season-long US Tour championship was $3m, helping lift him six places to fifth in Golf Digest's annual list of the game's top-earners on and off the course.

McIlroy's grand total of $22.583m in 2012 includes an estimate of $7m for the amount the Ulsterman made in sponsorship deals, endorsements and appearance fees last year.

That figure is more than $63m shy of the total earned by Woods in 2012, as Tiger's marketing profile continues to recover slowly from the Thanksgiving crash of 2009 and ensuing sex scandal which caused half a dozen blue chip sponsors to walk away.

Naturally, the Golf Digest estimate for last year does not include the reputed $20m-per-annum contract McIlroy has just signed with Nike.

With Banco Santander, Audemars Piguet watches and EA Sports still in the youngster's portfolio, and a deal yet to be struck with a sponsor for his golf bag, another good year on course in 2013 would almost certainly propel McIlroy past the men immediately ahead of him in this year's list – Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

These two legends have all but stopped playing. However, along with Greg Norman and Gary Player, they still have massive profile in the sport, rule over extensive golf design operations and enjoy a range of other outside business interests.

Given McIlroy's Tiger-esque ability and his wholesome corporate and public appeal, the sky's the limit for the presentable young man, especially if he keeps winning Majors.

McIlroy is one of four Irishmen in Golf Digest's latest top 50, including Graeme McDowell (17th with $9.1m), Padraig Harrington (21st with $8.7m) and Darren Clarke (46th with $5m).

Phil Mickelson lies second only to Woods, with $45m-plus earnings on and off the course in 2012, which may help explain his ill-judged outburst against the 39.6pc federal and 13.3pc state taxes he pays annually as a resident of his native California.

In total, Mickelson pays an estimated 52pc tax on his income, which would fall to around 40% mark if he moved to Flordia, where state taxes are not imposed. Mickelson has apologised for last Sunday's rant, so the focus will once again turn to golf when he tees off with US Masters winner Bubba Waston and defending champion Snedeker in the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines today.

Woods has high hopes at La Jolla, where he won the US Open – his most recent Major title – in 2008. He also has six other tournament wins at Torrey Pines on his CV.

Meanwhile, a splendid 68 left Damien McGrane in a tie for 11th after day one at the Qatar Masters.

The Kells native was four behind Europe's 2012 Rookie of the Year, Ricardo Santos of Portugal, who posted a superb seven-under-par 65 as usually troublesome desert winds failed to blow at Doha Golf Club.

Michael Hoey was the only other Irishman under par after an opening 70. Peter Lawrie and Gareth Maybin were one outside the projected cut after 72s, while Ryder Cup skipper Paul McGinley opened brightly with back-to-back birdies, but has work to do after signing for a 73.

Manchester United's players had a pleasant day at the golf before they return home today from their brief training camp in the 'dry' Gulf state.

Qatar Masters,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 6.30/11.0am

Farmers Insurance Open,

Live, Sky Sports 3, 8.0

Irish Independent

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