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Money men eager for Harrington to climb

IRELAND'S richest ever sportsman, Padraig Harrington, has earned a whopping $48.2m in the four seasons since winning his first Major title at Carnoustie in 2007, according to the figures of 'Golf Digest'.

That has sent his overall income from 15 years as a Tour professional soaring over the $75m mark.

Harrington's estimated earnings for 2007 were $14.8m and rose to $17.6m in 2008 as he snapped up the British Open and US PGA titles and then signed a series of multi-million dollar contracts with FTI, Wilson and Footjoy before the end of that year.

Harrington's income fell to $14.8m in 2009 and tumbled three places to 12th in the 2010 'Golf Digest' money list with an estimated $11.6m earned.

This reflected more the Dubliner's inconsistent form on the golf course than the Irish economic downturn ... though Bank of Ireland were not in a position to renew their three-year sponsorship deal with Harrington when it expired last May.

Financially, it will be important for Harrington, currently 25th in the world rankings, to force his way back into the top 10 in 2011.

A couple of impressive showings at the Majors would be timely as his $10m deal with Wilson reputedly is coming up for renewal, while he hasn't given US financial consultants FTI a lot to cheer about on the circuit since they came on board in those heady days of late 2008.

Europe's top two earners last year were ultra-consistent world No 1 Lee Westwood at No 8 and fellow Englishman Luke Donald at No 10.

World Player of the Year Graeme McDowell was the highest newcomer in the 'Golf Digest' charts at No 14 with $9.7m earned in 2010, the great bulk of it in prize money.

It takes time for on-course success like a first Major title to be fully reflected in terms of endorsements. The $10m new club contract McDowell has just signed with Srixon will be included in next year's figures, along with another couple of lucrative deals in the pipeline for the Portrush man.

All told, Ireland's hottest three golfers at present earned a cumulative $29.5m in 2010, though one suspects the $8.1m attributed to Rory McIlroy in 24th place is a tad conservative. The gifted Holywood youngster's ever-growing retinue of sponsors surely stumped up more than $2.75m to be associated with one of the hottest prospects in golf after his spectacular breakthrough win on the US Tour at Quail Hollow.

Irish Independent