Phil Mickelson claims (prematurely) he won PGA Tour Player Impact and $ 8 million

Phil Mickelson caused a sensation on December 29, announcing to his social media followers that he was $ 8 million richer thanks to his PGA Tour Player Impact Program victory for 2021.

The PGA Tour Player Impact Program, first unveiled in March 2021, began with a $ 40 million prize pool paid to the top 10 players who, according to the program’s measure, have the greatest positive impact on the PGA Tour in terms of public engagement and loyalty. . In other words, the players who have the most to do to bring fans to PGA Tour programming – whether online, in person, or on TV – would be rewarded for their influence.

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

The program has been criticized as a slush fund for the most popular players. However, with the perceived imminent competition from a Saudi-backed tour – which, at this point, is only conceptual – and the perception among top players that they weren’t paid enough for their influence on Tour business, the Player Impact Program is a way to reward the most influential players inside and outside the ropes.

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

However, there is a catch. In order for players to get half their money back, they need to attend a PGA Tour event that they haven’t played in recent years. Mickelson’s tweet suggests his decision to compete in the year-opener Sentry Tournament of Champions – an event he hasn’t played since 2000 – was driven by conditions attached to half of his $ 8 million. .

But just wait a second. The Player Impact Program runs until the end of the calendar year and, according to Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch, there is a lag in reporting. Tiger Woods, although he hasn’t played 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 in the PNC Championship – which had comparable ratings at The Open Championship, a major championship – may well provide a change of formula that could propel him. in first position.

In other words, Mickelson might be celebrating prematurely, but he’s still going to do well ahead.