Major money for Padraig

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington's Open Championship victory will make him a major earner for the rest of his life.

But the Dubliner will have to be careful not to get too greedy if he is to avoid burning out.

Just how much lifting one of golf's four majors is worth will depend on Harrington himself and how often he is prepared to say no.

But he is certain now to earn enough to buy the private jet he has had his eye on for quite some time.

Last year, the South Florida-Sun Sentinel cited a tournament source as saying that Harrington received $150,000 from the Ford Motor Co just for playing a corporate outing alongside Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia and Retief Goosen just days before the Honda Classic at Doral.

All four players are managed by sports management giants IMG and Harrington can expect to receive dozens of similar offers as a major champion - for an even higher fee.

Darren Clarke's manager Chubby Chandler, who also handles the affairs of three-time major winner Ernie Els, explained that when a major star wins a major, the sky's the limit in terms of their earning potential.

Chandler said: "If it is somebody who has been around a while, like Padraig Harrington or Lee (Westwood) or Monty, then I would say he'd stand to make an awful lot.

"Paul Casey would earn a lot, too, as would Luke Donald. But if it is someone less well known, one who had been slightly off the radar, then he wouldn't make as much in endorsements.

"The strange thing is that it doesn't make that much difference in America. It's everywhere else that would generate the increase in earning power.

"If you only play the PGA Tour, winning a major isn't going to boost your income a whole helluva lot. If Justin Rose won the US Open he'd play a lot less in America during his year as holder. He'd be daft not to."

IMG's Guy Kinnings, who represents Colin Montgomerie and Thomas Bjorn, reckons that a major win would be worth somewhere in the region of $5 to $10 million for a player like Garcia.

But he added: "It would also depend on how much the next winner would be prepared to do in terms of international travel, and all the rest.

"If he is going to play most of his golf on the PGA Tour while he is a major champion, then his potential earnings are not going to be as much as if he is happy to make trips to Asia or wherever and play enough in Europe."

Chandler once said that a major win for someone like Westwood or Clarke would simply make them bigger - and more expensive.

He said: "If a real star like Ernie wins a major, everything takes off. His appearance fee goes up. He'd get new endorsement deals.

"And I'd think he would pick up some non-golf endorsements, too. Ernie is already big enough to transcend golf in that way."

Harrington is already an iconic figure in Ireland and will retain legendary status in this country until he is an old man.

Compare the charisma of 2003 US Open winner Jim Furyk to Harrington's and you can start multiplying.

The minute Furyk's ball rolled into the 18th hole at Olympia Fields, he instantly became a wealthier man.

The $1.08 million purse for winning his first major championship was just the beginning.

Hershey's quickly concluded a multiyear, $2 million-plus deal to put its Reese's candy bar logo on Furyk's sleeve and the back of his shirt.

Mortgage giant Argent signed Furyk to a $1.5 million contract to appear in its commercials and at company events.

Exelon energy company doubled his endorsement fee to $1 million and he also collected a $500,000 bonus from Callaway.

According to Andrew Witlieb, an agent with New York-based Goal Marketing, everything doubled.

He said: "Nobody batted an eye because they were getting a major champion. Winning the US Open increased his earnings potential by $10 million to $15 million over the next five years."

After winning the US Open, Furyk's appearance fees for tournaments in Asia and Europe jumped to $600,000 the next day, about twice what he could command before.

His daily price to play with corporate executives doubled to nearly $100,000, according to industry experts.

Major champions are marketable for like and 1987 Masters champion Larry Mize is still raking it in despite the fact that he ranked 643rd in the world alongside Ireland's David Higgins.

Titlelist and clothing company Straight Down The Middle still pay to associate themselves with Mize.

According to this year's Golf Digest ranking of golf's top 50 earners, Harrington was 14th last season with total income in excess of $12.5 million.

His off course earnings alone were estimated at $8 million and that figure is set to soar over the next few years.

Already this season he has earned just over $3 million on the course alone.

Golf Digest's top earners in 2006

1 Tiger Woods 1 $11,941,827 $87,000,000 $98,941,827
2 Phil Mickelson 2 $4,256,505 $40,000,000 $44,256,505
3 Arnold Palmer 4 $42,850 $27,500,000 $27,542,850
4 Vijay Singh 3 $4,811,026 $20,000,000 $24,811,026
5 Greg Norman 5 $127,202 $22,500,000 $22,627,202
6 Michelle Wie 15 $735,224 $19,500,000 $20,235,224
7 Ernie Els 7 $3,866,435 $14,500,000 $18,366,435
8 Jim Furyk 16 $8,886,084 $9,100,000 $17,986,084
9 Jack Nicklaus 8 $180,167 $17,500,000 $17,680,167
10 Retief Goosen 14 $4,024,184 $12,000,000 $16,024,184
11 Sergio Garcia 6 $5,882,744 $13,000,000 $15,882,744
12 Adam Scott 9 $5,641,198 $8,500,000 $14,141,198
13 Annika Sorenstam 13 $2,261,509 $10,750,000 $13,011,509
14 Padraig Harrington 18 $4,567,499 $8,000,000 $12,567,499