Sport Golf

Friday 20 April 2018

Rory McIlroy hits the jackpot after triumph at Valhalla

A delighted Rory McIlroy talks to the media after landing his second USPGA at Valhalla
A delighted Rory McIlroy talks to the media after landing his second USPGA at Valhalla

Ben Rumsby

Rory McIlroy’s dramatic US PGA Championship triumph has put him firmly on course to become the wealthiest star European sport has ever produced.

McIlroy’s victory in the dying light at Valhalla cemented the Holywood native’s status as the game’s greatest player since Tiger Woods burst on to the scene.

Not since Woods has someone enjoyed such a stranglehold on the sport and looked so capable of transcending it, McIlroy earning almost €3.6m in the past four weeks, having also won the Open and WGC-Bridgestone.

His two previous Major triumphs in 2011 and 2012 landed him a contract with Nike said to be worth up to €7.5m a year, as well lucrative endorsement deals with Omega and Santander.

But his 2014 earnings are now guaranteed to dwarf the near-€20m he made last year, with marketing experts predicting he could soon rake in as much as €65m per annum.

That would confirm his place as the richest Irish sportsman in history.

McIlroy’s four Tour wins this summer have boosted his earnings to €5.1m in the Race to Dubai – more than twice the money banked by Sergio Garcia in second place.

Sunday’s win also lifted the 25-year-old’s prize money total from seven years as a pro to over €34m.

Sports marketing expert Nigel Currie revealed: “He’s on course to be the highest-paid sportsman that Europe has ever seen.

“If you take the guys who have dominated an individual sport for five, six, seven years – the likes of Michael Schumacher, Tiger Woods or Roger Federer – the earnings can get up to £50m a year. If you’re at the top of golf or tennis, you’re a prime candidate for huge global earnings.”

Mick O'Keeffe, Managing Director of Pembroke Communications, added: "Rory McIlroy’s commercial deals are currently estimated to be worth €20 - €25 per annum, with Nike accounting for almost half of this, but with his elevation to the top of the tree of global superstars, it should rapidly increase over time,"

"Sponsors will trip over themselves to be associated with him and win bonuses kick in. He could earn in excess of €40m alone in commercial partnerships per annum in the coming years."

While O'Keeffe concedes that McIlroy is now the "most marketable Irish sportsperson of all-time", last year he fell well behind the likes of Katie Taylor or Brian O‘Driscoll in the popularity stakes at home. While recent success has changed this dramatically, it is his popularity in the US which will prove to be extremely lucrative for the Holywood native.

"McIlroy’s popularity in the United States is the key as this is where the big decisions are still made from a sports marketing perspective."

"His future earnings and potential marketability now surpasses the likes of Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods and he is really the number one sports marketing asset in golf in the world and there is a huge amount of money in golf as it is a global game.

"His decision to play for Ireland in the next Olympics was astute as it enhances his marketability."

McIlroy collected $1.8m (€1.3m) in winnings for his tournament victory at Valhalla.

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