Tiger Woods still king of golf sponsorships

Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods might be third in the world ranking, but he remains No. 1 when it comes to sponsorship value, according to a new study.

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Friday, November 30, 2012 | 12:00 p.m.

Rory McIlroy won the PGA Championship, captured the money titles on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, and stretched out his lead as the world's top-ranked golfer.

About the only thing he didn't do was knock Tiger Woods off the top of the golf sponsorship heap.

Woods generated $18.9 million in media value for his sponsors, Nike Golf and Fuse Science, during U.S. golf telecasts this year, the most of any golfer, according to Forbes. The bulk of that value -- $18.1 million -- belonged to Nike, based on a Repucom formula that quantifies the time a logo spends on-screen as well as its clarity and the cost to reach that audience.

The reason for that, of course, is that Nike essentially has a clean sponsorship deal with Woods – meaning that Nike commands virtually all of Woods' advertising space. The Fuse Science logo appears only on his golf bag.

"Tiger's generally strong, consistent play, combined with him simply getting coverage because he is Tiger Woods, generated tremendous value for his sponsors," Repucom executive Peter Laatz told Forbes.

McIlroy finished a distant second in the sponsorship derby, generating $12.9 million worth of value for his backers, which include Jumeirah Golf Estates, Oakley, Titleist, FootJoy and Audemars Piguet. He seems very likely to move closer to Woods in value generation next year, Forbes believes, if – as is widely speculated – McIlroy signs an equipment deal worth more than $200 million over 10 years.

Rounding out the top five in the Repucom survey are Phil Mickelson ($11.8 million), Jim Furyk ($8.5 million) and Louis Oosthuizen ($8.2 million).

One other interesting note in Forbes' report: Repucom found that Woods remains the game's most popular player, with 45 percent of people in a survey putting him at the top of their list. Mickelson is a close second at 42 percent, with Bubba Watson third at 23 percent, Fred Couples fourth at 19 percent and McIlroy fifth at 16 percent.

"McIlroy is an interesting case because he has not caught on as much as one might think with the American public. But he is certainly trending upward," Laatz told Forbes.