| 20.8°C Dublin

McIlroy, G-Mac and Harrington in top 50 'highest paid golfers' list: Here is a breakdown of what they earned in 2016


Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy

Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy: top earner

Rory McIlroy: top earner


Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy wants to be the world number one again, but in the meantime he has reached the top in another elite list - the Golf Digest magazine's report on the 50 'Highest Paid Golfers 2017.'

Yes, the Holywood-born star has outperformed the biggest earners in the game to claim the number one slot in the prestigious magazine's annual survey of on and off-course earnings by golfers.

McIlroy was fourth in the 2016 rankings, but helped no doubt by his $10m bonus for winning the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour, he tops the poll with total earnings of $49,514,505 (€46.3m).

That's made up of tournament earnings of $17,514,505 (€16.3m approx) and off course, an estimated $32m (€29.9m).

Not bad for a lad who left school early to focus on his ambition to win major championships and compete against the best golfers in the world.

It helps, of course, to have shown a precocious talent for golf from an early age, and to have that gift supported by devoted parents.

He is also fortunate to be playing in an era when television money and sponsorships offer unprecedented earning potential from golf.

Tiger Woods' arrival on the scene in 1996 inspired new levels of investment in the game by corporate and media entities.

Woods dominated the Golf Digest 'Highest Paid' rankings for the first 12 years, staying at number one until last year when Jordan Spieth took over.

Now it's McIlroy number one, with the late, great Arnold Palmer who died last September, in second place with $40m (€37.4m).

Mickelson is third on $37,767,628 (€35.3m).

Tiger Woods slots in at fourth place on $34,607,000 (€32.3m) while Jordan Spieth is fifth with $30,403,470 (€28.4m).

Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington are in the top 50.

McDowell moves from 39 in 2016 to 23rd on $8,811,008 (€8.3m), of which just over $3m dollars (€2.8m) was on-course.

Harrington, winner of the Portugal Masters last October, slipped one place from 49th last year to 50th this time round with $5,269,786 (€4.9m).

The Dubliner's playing earnings were $1,269,786 (€1.187m).

Interesting to note that only one woman - New Zealand's 19-year-old Lydia Ko - made the list.

Ko is in 44th place on $5,941,642 (€5.6m). Just over half of her income came on the LPGA Tour.

The magazine compiled the figures "through interviews with agents, players, executives of companies involved with endorsements, industry analysts and through the official money lists of the professional tours."

It's important to note that not every penny goes into the golfer's bank account. A Tour player at top level is a self-employed businessman who needs a team around him so he can concentrate on doing the business inside the ropes.

Managers, coaches, physical therapists, trainers, sports psychologists and caddies are all on the payroll.

And don't forget the taxman who is always hovering in the background awaiting his slice of the action.

Tour fees also have to be paid and then there are contributions to charitable Foundations, either of money, or the golfer's most precious asset - his or her time.

It would be quite easy for the top professionals to lose sight of their blessings, but most of the main men have set up charitable Foundations through which they help the less well off in society.

McIlroy donated all of his winnings in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and also conducted a major fund raiser "An evening with Rory McIlroy" on the Tuesday of Irish Open week.

The outcome was over €900,000 divided between three charities for specific projects.

Last week during the SA Open, the four time major champion spoke of the motivation he receives from using his talents for the wider good where possible.

"To be able to help people that are really in need - that's huge for me," he said. "We're in a fortunate position where we can give back and we can really help people. It's a very privileged position to be in. I take that role very seriously."

Irish Independent