For the world’s top professional golfers, success on the fairway provides a pathway to partnerships with blue-chip corporate sponsors potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of a career.
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As the most successful player of his era, Tiger Woods has a firm grip on the PGA Tour’s all-time money list. To date, the 44-year-old superstar has earned more than $120 million in prize money during his career, outpacing Mickelson, his closest competitor, by nearly $30 million.
Woods’ winnings represent a fraction of his overall earnings. He is considered the richest golfer, and one of the richest athletes, of all time.
A 14-time major tournament winner, Woods has earned more than $1.4 billion from corporate sponsors alone during his career, according to Forbes. In 2016, he ranked second on Forbes’ list of the highest-paid players of all time, trailing only fellow Nike pitchman Michael Jordan.
The legendary Arnold Palmer, who died in 2016, was Woods’ closest competitor in terms of earnings on and off the course. While he earned less than $4 million in prize money as a pro golfer, Palmer became a sought-after brand ambassador and successful businessman.
When adjusted for inflation, Palmer earned an estimated $1.35 billion from his various revenue streams, according to Forbes. Aside from his sponsorship deals, Palmer designed golf courses and lent his name to several business ventures, including golf apparel and AriZona Beverage’s lemonade-iced tea drink.
Other top earners in the golf world include Jack “The Golden Bear” Nicklaus, who earned an inflation-adjusted $1.15 billion as of 2016, and Mickelson, who has earned more than $700 million from sponsors in addition to his $91 in career winnings.