Tiger Woods has been rewarded with a $15m bonus from the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program (PIP) despite only playing only nine rounds this year.
PIP rewards players “shown to generate the most positive interest in the PGA Tour”, and assesses factors such as mentions on TV and in the press, as well as on social media. At a time when LIV Golf is attracting golfers with guaranteed contracts the PIP is seen as vital in the PGA’s drive to retain its biggest stars.
Woods won the award for the second straight year while playing slightly more often than he did in 2021. He was recovering from a car crash last year and played only two rounds of the PNC Championship with his son, Charlie. This year, he played in three majors, making it to the weekend in two of them, finishing 72 holes only in the Masters.
Woods still ranked No 1 in four of the five PIP categories. The exception was “TV sponsor exposure,” which is the length of time a player’s sponsor logos appear on the screen during weekend rounds. He played only three of those rounds.
Rory McIlroy finished second, as reported by the Associated Press two weeks ago, and received a $12m bonus. Jordan Spieth narrowly beat out Justin Thomas for third place. Spieth got $9m, Thomas $7.5m with Jon Rahm ($6m) in fifth. Masters champion Scottie Scheffler was sixth ($5.5m). The next four each received $5m: Xander Schauffele, US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, Will Zalatoris and Tony Finau.
Collin Morikawa won the British Open and a World Golf Championship last year and finished out of the money at No 11 when the program rewarded only 10 players. Now the bonus pool has doubled to $100m and expanded to 20 players. He didn’t win this year but still finished 11th.
The PGA Tour also uses factors such as “general population awareness” and “golf fan awareness” to determine where players finish.
According to a tour memo to players obtained by the AP, those who win PIP money must play in a designated tournament agreed upon by the tour, take part in a PIP service event and play 15 times, 12 of them in elevated events. Woods is an exception as he plays a limited schedule because of injuries sustained in his car crash. The commissioner has discretion to waive playing requirements for anyone dealing with a serious injury or family emergency.
Players who signed with the Saudi-funded LIV Golf were not eligible for the award because they were suspended by the PGA Tour if they didn’t resign their membership. That includes Phil Mickelson, who finished second to Woods last year after sending out a tweet that he had won.