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GolfNewsMeasuring the ‘Tiger effect’ – doubling of Tour prizes, billions into players’ pockets

Measuring the ‘Tiger effect’ – doubling of Tour prizes, billions into players’ pockets

by

Roger PielkeBy Roger Pielke Jr

6 August 2014 

With the final Major of the golf season starting on Thursday at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, most of the talk in anticipation of the PGA Championship is about a player who almost certainly has no chance of winning, even if he were to play. I’m of course referring to Tiger Woods.

Woods reinjured his back last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational leading to questions about his future – not just this week, but as a professional golfer. With Tiger on everyone’s mind, I thought it worth taking a look at his impact on the game, specifically Tiger’s role in boosting purses and the corresponding financial benefits to his peers.

From 1990 to 1996 the total purses on the PGA Tour increased from $82 million to $101 million, a respectable increase of about 3.4% per year. (All data in this post comes from PGATour.com and is adjusted to constant 2014 dollars to eliminate the effects of inflation). Tiger burst on the scene as a professional in 1996, winning 2 of the 8 events that he entered.

Before the Masters this year, Phil Mickelson explained what Tiger’s success and corresponding fame did to the game:

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“Look at what he’s doing for the game the last 17 years he’s played as a professional. It’s been incredible. .. I remember when I was an amateur and I won my first tournament in Tucson in 1991, the entire purse was $1 million, first place was $180,000 and Steve [Loy, my agent] and I would sit down and say, ‘I wonder if in my lifetime, probably not in my career, we would have play for a $1 million first-place check.’

“[Now] it’s every week. It’s unbelievable the growth of this game. And Tiger has been the instigator. He’s been the one that’s really propelled and driven the bus because he’s brought increased ratings, increased sponsors, increased interest and we have all benefited, but nobody has benefited more than I have, and we’re all appreciative. That’s why we miss him so much; we all know what he’s meant to the game.”Tiger dollars

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The numbers bear out Mickelson’s observations. By 2008 purses totaled $292 million, representing an increase of 9.3% per year since Tiger joined the Tour. This difference in the growth in prize money from 3.4% in the years before Tiger joined the Tour to 9.3% in the years after can be called the ‘Tiger Woods effect.”  I was curious as to what financial impact the “Tiger effect” had on his peers, so I looked at the data.

The results are astonishing. Tiger effectively more than doubled the prize money for every other golfer, adding billions of dollars to fellow players’ pockets. How can we demonstrate this?

Here is what I did. I considered all players who earned a pay cheque on the Tour in 2013. I then calculated their total earnings from 1997 to 2008 (176 players). I then calculated how much of those earnings were due to the “Tiger Woods effect” under the assumption that golf purses would have grown at the earlier rate of increase. I then subtracted this value from what they actually earned leaving a residual due to the “Tiger Woods effect.”

Other assumptions are of course possible, but the overall conclusions will be much the same – Tiger’s peers have benefited enormously in competition from his successes, even though Woods himself took home almost $100 million in prize money over that period.

Looking at the data Mickelson is almost right. He has benefitted more than anyone except Vijay Singh from the “Tiger Woods effect.” Singh earned an extra $36 million over his career thanks to Tiger and Phil an extra $29 million. (This is PGA tour alone). Here is a table with the top 10, and a full list appears at the end of this post.

Article continues below

Tiger effect

Further evidence for the “Tiger Woods effect” can be seen in the fact that since Woods’ infamous car crash in 2009, and subsequent loss of form, purses have decreased by 2.3% per year. It was a remarkable run, but one that now appears to be over.

It is important to point out that these numbers for the 176 players on the 2013 money list represents just a portion of the overall PGA Tour prize money from 1997 to 2008.

Those 176 golfers earned about $1.7 billion over that time period with about $867 million due to the “Tiger Woods effect.” In other words, slightly more than half the prize money was down to the ‘Tiger effect’. Overall, however, there was about $3.1 billion in total prize money won over that period, meaning that the overall Tiger Woods effect Tour-wide was more than $1.6 billion. This does not even begin to consider the possible knock-on effects on increased prize money in the other major international golf associations. So even if we were to ascribe only a fraction of the improved fortunes of golfers from 1997 to 2008 to the “Tiger Woods effect” it would still be a very, very large number.

Here is the list of the other players not in the graphic above who benefitted from the “Tiger Woods effect” from 1997 to 2008 on the PGA Tour. It’s safe to say that Tiger will never again have to buy a round at the 19th hole.

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Player / 1997-2008 Earnings / Due to the “Tiger Woods Effect”

Stuart Appleby $27,069,938 / $14,076,368

Kenny Perry $26,961,363 / $14,019,909

Scott Verplank $25,897,096 / $13,466,490

Chris DiMarco $24,968,127 / $12,983,426

Retief Goosen $23,663,124 / $12,304,824

Robert Allenby $23,332,671/ $12,132,989

Adam Scott $22,762,323 / $11,836,408

K.J. Choi $22,369,711 / $11,632,250

Jerry Kelly $21,514,784/ $11,187,687

Rory Sabbatini $21,140,214 / $10,992,911

Steve Flesch $20,956,948 / $10,897,613

Chad Campbell $19,450,954 / $10,114,496

Geoff Ogilvy $19,085,741 / $9,924,585

Tom Lehman $18,710,749 / $9,729,589

Stephen Ames $18,673,342 / $9,710,138

Bob Estes $18,317,272 / $9,524,982

Tim Herron $18,111,067 / $9,417,755

Charles Howell III $17,872,120 / $9,293,502

Steve Stricker $17,777,975 / $9,244,547

David Duval $17,736,622 / $9,223,044

Jesper Parnevik $17,212,977 / $8,950,748

Billy Mayfair $16,745,084 / $8,707,443

Frank Lickliter II $16,524,062 / $8,592,512

Jeff Maggert $15,643,691 / $8,134,719

Kevin Sutherland $15,304,258 / $7,958,214

Luke Donald $14,999,283 / $7,799,627

Fred Couples $14,936,589 / $7,767,027

Joe Durant $14,573,984 / $7,578,472

Zach Johnson $14,355,856 / $7,465,045

Woody Austin $14,243,436 / $7,406,587

John Rollins $14,162,658 / $7,364,582

Rod Pampling $13,992,920 / $7,276,318

Tim Clark $13,640,723 / $7,093,176

Carl Pettersson $13,373,838 / $6,954,396

Jose Maria Olazabal $13,253,510 / $6,891,825

Chris Riley $12,430,834 / $6,464,034

Padraig Harrington $12,427,442 / $6,462,270

Bart Bryant $11,864,046 / $6,169,304

Lee Janzen $11,752,711 / $6,111,410

Scott McCarron $11,741,850 / $6,105,762

Billy Andrade $11,344,069 / $5,898,916

Duffy Waldorf $10,896,552 $5,666,207

Peter Lonard $10,843,814 / $5,638,784

Ben Crane $10,843,207 $5,638,468

Heath Slocum $10,816,834 / $5,624,754

Jonathan Byrd $10,805,101 / $5,618,652

Brian Gay $10,688,178 / $5,557,853

Aaron Baddeley $10,653,603 $5,539,874

J.J. Henry $10,057,300 / $5,229,796

Skip Kendall $9,914,401 / $5,155,489

Tim Petrovic $9,662,516 / $5,024,508

Pat Perez $9,622,105 / $5,003,495

Lucas Glover $9,567,037 / $4,974,859

Ben Curtis $9,448,947 / $4,913,453

Glen Day $9,441,199 / $4,909,424

Joe Ogilvie $9,433,871 / $4,905,613

Trevor Immelman $9,242,956 / $4,806,337

Justin Rose $9,210,276 / $4,789,344

Sean O’Hair $8,994,327 /$4,677,050

Camilo Villegas $8,895,967 / $4,625,903

Bernhard Langer $8,807,491 / $4,579,895

John Senden $8,807,100 / $4,579,692

John Daly $8,688,582 / $4,518,062

Hunter Mahan $8,587,849 / $4,465,681

Matt Kuchar $8,530,993 / $4,436,116

Bo Van Pelt $8,446,441 / $4,392,149

Vaughn Taylor $8,307,598 / $4,319,951

Dean Wilson $8,276,009 / $4,303,524

D.J. Trahan $8,268,906 / $4,299,831

Cameron Beckman $8,249,619 / $4,289,802

Brandt Jobe $7,865,093 / $4,089,848

Ted Purdy $7,698,420 / $4,003,178

Robert Gamez $7,629,100 / $3,967,132

Mark O’Meara $7,550,361 / $3,926,188

Ryan Palmer $6,915,552 / $3,596,087

Ryuji Imada $6,819,511 / $3,546,146

Jason Bohn $6,421,360 / $3,339,107

Ian Poulter $6,143,533 / $3,194,637

Neal Lancaster $6,084,437 /$3,163,907

Paul Stankowski  $6,051,261 / $3,146,656

Todd Hamilton $6,025,489 / $3,133,254

Mark Wilson $5,743,377 / $2,986,556

Boo Weekley $5,654,770 /  $2,940,481

Charlie Wi $5,529,715 / $2,875,452

Kent Jones $5,352,222 / $2,783,156

Nick Watney $5,175,327 / $2,691,170

Kevin Na $5,116,818 / $2,660,745

Nick O’Hern $5,071,805 / $2,637,339

J.B. Holmes $5,044,949 / $2,623,373

Ken Duke $4,959,224 / $2,578,796

Greg Chalmers $4,882,436 / $2,538,866

Brandt Snedeker $4,844,096 / $2,518,930

Troy Matteson $4,807,491 / $2,499,895

Lee Westwood $4,722,506 / $2,455,703

Bubba Watson $4,696,308 / $2,442,080

Brian Davis $4,607,788 / $2,396,050

Nathan Green $4,503,907 / $2,342,031

Ryan Moore $4,358,163 / $2,266,245

Charley Hoffman $4,209,967 / $2,189,183

David Frost $4,153,357 / $2,159,746

Kevin Streelman $3,814,208 / $1,983,388

Greg Owen $3,614,521 / $1,879,551

Steve Marino $3,590,828 / $1,867,230

Angel Cabrera $3,511,173 / $1,825,810

Tag Ridings $3,457,862 / $1,798,088

Marco Dawson $3,446,424 / $1,792,140

Bill Haas $3,194,965 / $1,661,382

John Mallinger $3,189,475 / $1,658,527

George McNeill $3,163,681 / $1,645,114

Dicky Pride $3,151,821 / $1,638,947

Russ Cochran $3,056,177 / $1,589,212

Michael Letzig $3,029,926 / $1,575,561

Robert Garrigus $2,855,665 / $1,484,946

Jeff Overton $2,764,765 / $1,437,678

Johnson Wagner $2,686,510 /$1,396,985

Tom Watson $2,681,860 / $1,394,567

Jeff Gove $2,612,659 / $1,358,583

Arjun Atwal $2,536,872 / $1,319,173

James Driscoll $2,374,530 / $1,234,756

Nicholas Thompson $2,328,498/ $1,210,819

Sandy Lyle $2,276,029 / $1,183,535

Andres Romero $2,233,902 / $1,161,629

John Merrick $2,149,254 / $1,117,612

Henrik Stenson $2,131,978 / $1,108,628

Hank Kuehne $2,002,238 / $1,041,164

Kevin Stadler $1,997,796 / $1,038,854

Michael Bradley $1,971,492 / $1,025,176

Dustin Johnson $1,936,659 $1,007,063

Wes Short, Jr. $1,856,870 / $965,572

Darron Stiles $1,619,522 /$842,151

Chez Reavie $1,562,513 / $812,507

Russell Knox $1,537,423 / $799,460

Paul Casey $1,484,065 / $771,714

Shawn Stefani $1,456,317 / $757,285

Marc Turnesa $1,438,968 / $748,263

Jason Dufner $1,345,346 / $699,580

Chris Stroud $1,278,222 / $664,675

Alexandre Rocha $1,274,125 / $662,545

Joey Snyder III $1,259,266 / $654,818

Brendan Steele $1,213,240 / $630,885

Andre Stolz $1,121,887 / $583,381

Tom Gillis $1,049,304 / $545,638

Doug LaBelle II $1,045,187 / $543,497

D.A. Points $946,902 / $492,389

Martin Laird $937,646 / $487,576

Justin Bolli $852,046 / $443,064

Matt Jones $839,520 / $436,550

Jason Day $830,316 / $431,764

Jimmy Walker $669,188 / $347,978

Peter Hanson $668,180 / $347,454

Will Claxton $650,806 / $338,419

Tommy Gainey $608,304 / $316,318

Brendon de Jonge $502,416 / $261,256

Y.E. Yang $499,586 / $259,785

Graeme McDowell $413,570 / $215,057

Andres Gonzales $360,427 / $187,422

Bryce Molder $289,416 / $150,496

Jin Park $245,723 /$127,776

David Hearn $235,525 / $122,473

Russell Henley $225,910 / $117,473

Steven Bowditch $164,890 / $85,743

Robert Karlsson $152,054 / $79,068

Brendon Todd $66,520 / $34,590

Troy Kelly $54,483 / $28,331

Steve LeBrun $19,348 / $10,061

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Roger Pielke Jr. is a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, where he also directs its Center for Science and technology Policy Research. He studies, teaches and writes about science, innovation, politics and sports. He has written for The New York TimesThe GuardianFiveThirtyEight, and The Wall Street Journal among many other places. He is thrilled to join Sportingintelligence as a regular contributor. Follow Roger on Twitter: @RogerPielkeJR and on his blog

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