Phil Mickelson career crisis, scores, contract value, earnings, value, prize money
Phil Mickelson is filling his coffers faster than he has ever done on the PGA Tour while playing some of the worst golf of his career.
In any other year before Saudi-backed LIV Golf came on the scene, Mickelson wouldn’t have earned a dime on the course since February due to his devilish form.
However, this is a new reality of golf in which Mickelson is getting richer by the day – and by the way – regardless of the results.
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According to reports, Mickelson earns a guaranteed $200 million (A$286.6 million) just for playing on the LIV Golf Tour for at least three years.
That glorified appearance fee is more than double his prize money earned over a 20-year PGA Tour career of $96,470,603.
He can also earn up to A$5.75 million for winning a LIV event and at least $172,000 for coming in last.
Forbes last week it calculated that Mickelson “probably received up-front” half of his $200 million entry fee, making him golf’s top earner for 2022.
Forbes estimates Mickelson earned $138m (A$198m) this year at the top of the list, with Tiger Woods slipping behind LIV golfers Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka to fifth.
The first one asset The PGA Tour player on the list without a LIV Golf membership is Rory McIlroy, who ranks sixth with $43 million (A$61.7 million).
Of McIlroy’s earnings, only $9 million came on course, with the rest coming from endorsement deals, mostly with Nike (apparel) and TaylorMade (equipment).
Ironically with Mickelson now being the richest player in golf, despite a series of bad displays, no one will be lost after looking at the numbers.
McIlroy has the lowest scoring average on the PGA Tour this season at 68.595. He’s won two events this season and finished in the top 10 at four majors, including a second-place finish at the Masters and third at the Open.
Mickelson’s combined PGA Tour and LIV Golf average this season is 72.846.
He missed the cut at both the US Open and The Open with tournament scores of 11 and five.
The 52-year-old hasn’t fared much better on the LIV circuit either. His first round in London is the only time he has shot under par since February.
His three scores at the LIV tournament were 10 out, 10 out and six out – good enough for 34th, 42nd and 35th respectively in a field of 48 players.
Comparing scores shot on different courses can be like comparing apples to oranges, but it’s worth noting that Mickelson was 17, 23 and 17 shots behind the winner of all three LIV tournaments.
The decline began in February when Mickelson took an indefinite hiatus from the PGA Tour after controversial comments to biographer Alan Shipnuck were made public.
In the comments, Mickelson acknowledged the appalling human rights record of LIV Golf backers and cited the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He nevertheless said he was dealing with the Saudis – whom he also called “scary motherfuckers” – to “gain influence” against the PGA Tour.
Mickelson drew widespread condemnation and did not play again until the opening event of LIV Golf in London in early June. This was soon followed by the US Open where he missed the cut, while last month’s Open Championship is the only time he has played on the PGA Tour since.
LIV Golf’s launch was largely dependent on Mickelson’s status – along with Johnson – getting off the ground in London.
And while organizers will be delighted to have the six-time major winner on their books, it’s still an undesirable scenario given the fuel he will give LIV Golf’s many critics.
The main concern with LIV’s game model is that there are guaranteed wins for players, and no discounts, as well as lucrative entry fees.
The theory goes that all of the above could discourage performance, especially the lack of a cut line, below which players win nothing on the PGA Tour (except at the Masters).
It was a concern raised earlier this year by Woods, who LIV Golf chief Greg Norman said turned down a membership offer that was “breathtaking; we’re talking high nine figures.
Woods said: “What are these players doing for guaranteed money, what’s the incentive to practice?” What’s the motivation to go out there and win it in the dirt?
“You just get paid a lot of money up front and play a few events and play 54 holes. They play loud music and have all these vibes that are different.
Woods’ concerns are more about young players with a long career ahead of them, but the same could apply to Mickelson, who won the PGA Championship last year.
Nevertheless, despite a dramatic turnaround, Mickelson seems to be miles away from conjuring up anything close to that magic again from 2021.
His cashing in big paychecks while playing poorly does nothing for LIV Golf’s legitimacy, however, others are doing their best to counter that.
Look no further than Henrik Stenson who, after years of playing irrelevance on the PGA Tour, won his first LIV event on Monday (AEST).
Stenson hadn’t finished in the top 10 at an official PGA Tour event since the 2019 US Open, and hadn’t won since the 2017 Wyndham Championship.
But after relinquishing his European Ryder Cup captaincy to pocket an A$69million entry fee, he won at Bedminster with a score of 11 under.
Johnson is also proof that players can stay competitive despite big guaranteed paydays.
He came sixth at the Open this year as he finished in the top 10 in every LIV Golf event with an aggregate score of 19 under.
That’s 45 strokes behind Mickelson in just nine rounds of golf.
MICKELSON SINCE FEBRUARY
US Open – 78, 73, 11+ – CUP
The Open – 72, 77, 5+ – CUP
London – 69, 75, 76, 10+ – 34th (2nd as a team)
Portland – 75, 75, 76, 10+ – 42nd (3rd as a team)
Bedminster — 75, 73, 71, 6+ — 35th (4th as a team)
The highest paid golfers in 2022 (H/T Forbes)
LIV Golf No. 1: Phil Mickelson – AU$198 million – scoring average of 72.846
PGA Tour No. 1: Rory McIlroy – AU$62 million – 68.595 scoring average