Phil Mickelson claims (prematurely) that he won the PGA Tour's Player Impact Program and $8 million
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Phil Mickelson claims (prematurely) that he won the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program and $8 million



Phil Mickelson made a splash on Dec. 29, announcing to his social media followers that he was $8 million richer thanks to winning the PGA Tour's Player Impact Program for 2021.

The PGA Tour Player Impact Program, first unveiled in March 2021, started with a $40 million prize pool paid out to the top 10 players that, by the program's measure, have the biggest positive impact on the PGA Tour in terms of audience engagement and retention. In other words, the players that have the most to do with bringing fans to the PGA Tour's programming -- either online, in person or on TV -- would be compensated for their influence.

In the first year of the program, according to Golf Digest, the winner would receive $8 million. The runner-up would receive $6 million. The 10th-ranked player would net $3 million.

The program has been criticized as a slush fund for the most popular players. However, with the perceived looming competition coming from a Saudi-backed tour -- that, at this point, is just conceptual -- and the perception among top players that they weren't being paid enough for their influence on the Tour's business, the Player Impact Program is a way of compensating the most influential players inside and outside the ropes.

Mickelson shared the news with appreciation to his supporters that drove his apparent popularity with the Player Impact Program formula.

However, there is a catch. For players to collect half of their awarded money, they have to compete in a PGA Tour event they had not played in recent years. Mickelson's tweet suggests that his decision to play in the year-opening Sentry Tournament of Champions -- an event he hasn't played in since 2000 -- was motivated by the strings attached to half of his $8 million haul.

But wait just a second. The Player Impact Program runs through the end of the calendar year, and, according to Eamon Lynch of Golfweek, there is a lag in reporting. Tiger Woods, despite not playing an official event in 2021, still has a huge influence on the PGA Tour. As Brandel Chamblee often likes to say, Woods doesn't move the needle; he is the needle.

Tiger Woods' appearance as host of the Hero World Challenge and competing with his son at the PNC Championship -- which had ratings on par with The Open Championship, a major championship -- may well provide a formula change that could propel him into first position.

In other words, Mickelson may be celebrating prematurely, but he's still going to come out well ahead.

 

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Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

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