Monday, June 18, 2007

Tiger not so ferocious

Somehow Tiger Woods failed to win the U.S. Open yesterday, despite needing just a birdie on the last hole to force a tie. Typically, and yesterday was no exception, Tiger is the only golfer who gets a news story when he doesn’t win a major. Angel Cabrera of Argentina shot a 1-under par 69 to win the tournament.

On first look the real loser in the U.S. Open may have been Jim Furyk, who tied for second with Tiger after a bogey on the 17th hole. No one’s even talking about him! But with over $33 million in career winnings – about $2m a year since he joined the tour in 1992 and the 5th largest overall – I don’t think he minds too much.

So just how much money do these golfers make? Tiger has over $70 million in career earnings. Rounding out the top five are Vijay Singh with $52 million, Phil Mickelson with $43 million, and Davis Love III with $35 million. By the way, Jack Nicklaus comes in at 143rd on the all time money list with just $5.7 million in career earnings.

These numbers are paltry compared to baseball. Barry Bonds earned $172 million so far, following by Alex Rodriguez with $147 million (who will likely become #1 given he has a $252 million contract, the largest of any sports player in history) and Randy Johnson with $143 million. Roger Clemens is baseball’s highest paid single-season player, with a one year deal pro-rated from $28 million. Of course it’s with the Yankees. And so far if that’s possible Roger appears to be earning his money.

Atlanta Falcons Michael Vick has football’s largest contract with $167 million over ten years, and Fernando Alonso has auto racing’s with $160 million over 4 years, which makes auto racing the sport with the highest individual salaries, although coming close is soccer’s David Beckham, who just signed a quarter-billion dollar deal with the LA Galaxy.

But so far no one has reached the heights of boxing promoter Don King, who accumulated $350 million in career earnings. You might say, wait a minute, boxing promotion’s not a sport. That may be true but these days, it’s hard to tell where sports end and promotion begins.

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