Talking Business in Sport: Endorsements and Sponsors Make Golf the Bountiful Game for the Top Players

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), July 13, 2002 | Go to article overview

Talking Business in Sport: Endorsements and Sponsors Make Golf the Bountiful Game for the Top Players


Byline: Peter Sharkey

THE 2002 Open Championship that starts at Muirfield next week has a total of pounds 3.8m on offer in prize money.

Amazingly, pounds 700,000 will go to the eventual winner, pounds 605,000 more than Nick Faldo collected for winning the trophy the last time the championships were contested at the Scottish course 10 years ago.

Even players making the halfway cut are guaranteed pounds 8,500, more than Tom Watson picked up for winning the event in 1975.

The rewards for winning a professional golf tournament have increased dramatically in the past decade. As recently as 1993, Greg Norman's Open victory earned him pounds 100,000, a sum that had doubled three years later when Tom Lehman lifted the title.

In the space of the subsequent years, the size of the Open winner's cheque has more than trebled as the sale of television rights has pumped colossal sums into the game.

The increasing scale of European Tour prize money has followed suit. In 1996, the total prize money avail-able on the European Tour was $26.6m; by last year, this had grown to $90.6m, with average prize money per event exceeding $3.2m. The player who finished 115th on the European Tour collected pounds 100,487.

However, for many of the top players arriving in Scotland next week, the Royal & Ancient's not inconsiderable winning bounty will be a distant second to the huge sums generated from endorsements and sponsorship.

Take Jumbo Ozaki, 10th in thePGA endorsement money league and an outsider of Foinavon proportions to lift the Open title. Even if the Japanese star were to win the next four Grand Slam events, his total prize money would still be $1.43m short of what he collects from his main sponsor, World One, every year.

Jack Nicklaus, Open winner in 1970 (winner's cheque: pounds 5,250) and 1978 (winner's cheque: pounds 12,500) is still seventh in the endorsement league, generating $5.4m a year, courtesy of companies such as Rolex, Pepsi and Visa.

And Greg Norman won't be smarting too much at the memory of his relatively paltry winnings in 1993, for his latest reported endorsement earnings alone are 122 times greater than his pay cheque nine years ago.

Winning (or even doing well) in the Open creates a plethora of financial opportunities for the world's top golfers, the value of which is far in excess of the monetary recompense for actually coming first.

Three players who may be expected to fall into the contending cat-egory of ``being there or thereabouts,'' but who have never won the Open, are Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, and Colin Montgomerie. Between them, they collected nearly $20m in sponsorship and endorsement deals last year.

Their motivation to win the Open, or any other Grand Slam event, can hardly be considered to be monetarybased; these players are not ``hungry'' golfers in the old-fashioned sense.

However, in many respects, their professional drive is even greater than that of an up-and-coming player.

To retain the determination and focus on winning, when they could easily retire and hack around on a Sunday morning like the rest of us, takes tremendous dedication. …

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