Jordan Spieth’s credentials as the “Real Thing” have been rubber-stamped after he earned a bumper deal with Coca-Cola on the same day he became the first player to topple Tiger Woods as golf’s biggest earner.
Fresh from getting his 2016 campaign off to a flying start with an eight-shot win in the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii last weekend, the 22-year-old has signed a multi-year deal with the drinks giant. It is rumoured to be similar in monetary terms to Coca-Cola’s contract with basketball player LeBron James and sees Spieth become a brand ambassador.
“I look forward to bringing greater awareness to the sport of golf globally and engaging with fans in exciting new ways,” said the Masters and US Open champion. “It’s a special brand with a rich history, and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of that history.”
The announcement came hot on the heels of Golf Digest revealing that, for the first time since the list was published 13 years ago, Woods had been usurped as the game’s top earner last year. Helped by five victories in total, Spieth raked in $23,030,465 in on-course earnings in addition to the $30m he received through his sponsorship by clothing company Under Armour.
In comparison, injury-hit Woods picked up a meagre $551,098 through playing while his off-course earnings were estimated to be $48m. It meant that he was also leapfrogged by Phil Mickelson with total earnings of $52,301,730, of which $50m was made up through off-course income.
Rory McIlroy was fourth on the list with $46,968,190, followed by Arnold Palmer ($40,000,000) and Jack Nicklaus ($22,041,500) while Gary Player ($15,000,000) also made the top 10.
Those totals make the $5.8m purse up for grabs in the Sony Open starting in Hawaii today look small in comparison, but Russell Knox will be out to secure a chunk of that in an event that sees Jimmy Walker bid for a title hat-trick.
On the European Tour, seven Scots – Paul Lawrie, David Drysdale, Craig Lee, Jamie McLeary, Scott Henry, Peter Whiteford and Bradley Neil – are playing for a pot of just under £700,000 in the Joburg Open, also starting today.