How Jordan Spieth could beat Tiger Woods at the bank
(CNN) — Jordan Spieth is one win away from overtaking Tiger Woods as the youngest male winner of all four golf majors.
He could also become the sport’s top earner.
Woods was 24 years old when he won the 2000 British Open at St. Andrews to join Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen and Gary Player as the only men to have completed the career grand slam in golf’s Masters era.
If Spieth wins this week’s PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, he would join golf’s most exclusive club.
He’ll also be six months younger than Woods was when he achieved the feat.
“Winning the PGA would be monumental for Spieth,” Bob Dorfman, creative director at San Francisco-based Baker Street Advertising, told CNN.
“He’s just turned 24, he’s an incredible competitor, he’s very likeable, very clean-cut and doesn’t seem to have any sort of scandals that could cause problems for him,” Dorfman said.
A win at Quail Hollow could catapult Spieth, the winner of this year’s British Open and the Masters and US Open in 2015, into “Tiger Woods-status” when it comes to earnings, Dorfman added.
Woods, a fourteen-time major winner, had been named the world’s best-paid athlete for 11 consecutive years by Forbes until a much-publicized sex scandal in 2009. A string of injuries have kept him sidelined for much of the past few years.
“A lot of it depends on performance,” Dorfman said. “It requires total domination of the Tour which Tiger was able to do for a while. It’s very hard for anyone to do that, but Spieth certainly has the potential.”
In the past year, Spieth made $34.5 million from prize money and endorsements with the likes of US athletic apparel manufacturer Under Armour, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Titleist and Rolex, according to Forbes. He’s also only the fourth golfer to adorn the Wheaties cereal boxes in the US.
“He’s nearly doubled his awareness among sports fans in the past two years,” Henry Schafer, executive vice president of Manhasset, New York-based Q Scores Co., which measures celebrities’ consumer appeal, told CNN.
Spieth was known by 27% of US sports fans in 2015, compared with 46% at the start of this year.
“That is a big jump,” Schafer said. “But even though his awareness is growing dramatically, his appeal is staying steady. That sends a message about his charisma and his persona. He’s got a long way to go. He isn’t getting enough exposure outside the golf universe.”
Spieth is known by just 20% of the general population in the US, compared with 80% for Woods and 37% for men’s tennis sensation Roger Federer. That may explain why the Texan is trailing Woods at the bank.
The sport’s money leader is Rory McIlroy, the favorite to win the PGA Championship which starts Thursday. The 28-year-old Northern Irishman, a four-time major winner, banked a cool $50 million over the 12 months up to June 2017 — according to Forbes.
“All of those guys that are ahead of him, they’re not on the upswing, they’re more on the downswing,” Dorfman said.
“Phil Mickelson is near the end of his career, Woods may not play again and Rory is just not panning out the way everybody thought he would and needs to get back and become a major player.”
Although golf generally attracts an older demographic of fans, they tend to be high-income, big-spending individuals.
This makes its stars highly sought after by the world’s biggest companies as potential endorsers.
“Spieth has tremendous potential to leapfrog those guys, certainly if he wins the PGA,” Dorfman said. “He is only going to get better. Golfers have such a long shelf-life which makes them very marketable. He certainly has another 20 years to play and compete and be a successful pitch man.”
Schafer said Spieth needs to present himself to the general population in a different light if he really wants to cross over into the main stream the way Woods did.
“He could do that by going on US talk shows, where you get a good mix of viewers, male and female,” Schafer said. “That way he can get much more needed exposure. But it’s a personal decision an athlete has to make, how they want to grow their marketability.”
“Maybe he isn’t that spicy a personality,” Dorfman said. “But in terms of his performance and chance to become one of the greatest golfers of all time, he’s certainly on the way.”