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Phil Mickelson career slump, scores, contract value, earnings, worth, prize money

Phil Mickelson is filling up his coffers quicker than he ever did on the PGA Tour while playing some of the worst golf of his career.

In any other year, before Saudi-backed LIV Golf burst onto the scene, Mickelson wouldn’t have made a cent on-course since February due to his diabolical form.

However, this is a new golf reality in which Mickelson is getting richer by the day — and handsomely so — regardless of results.

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According to reports, Mickelson is making a guaranteed $200 million (A$286.6m) to simply play on the LIV Golf circuit for at least three years.

That glorified appearance fee is more than double his prize money earned in a 20-year PGA Tour career of $96,470,603.

He can also earn up to A$5.75m for winning a LIV event, and at least $172,000 for coming last.

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Forbes last week calculated that Mickelson “likely got upfront” half of his $200 million sign-on fee, making him golf’s top earner for 2022.

Forbes estimates that Mickelson has made $138 million (A$198m) this year to top the list, with Tiger Woods sliding behind LIV Golfers Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka to fifth.

The first activate PGA Tour player on the list without LIV Golf membership is Rory McIlroy, who ranks sixth at $43 million (A$61.7m).

Of McIlroy’s earnings, only $9 million came on-the-course with the remainder coming in endorsement deals, chiefly with Nike (apparel) and TaylorMade (equipment).

The irony of Mickelson now being golf’s richest player, despite a string of poor displays, won’t be lost to anyone after looking at the numbers.

McIlroy has the lowest scoring average on the PGA Tour this season at 68,595. He’s won two events this season, and finished inside the top 10 at all four majors, including a second-place finish at the Masters and third at The Open.

Mickelson’s combined scoring average on the PGA Tour and LIV Golf this season is 72,846.

He missed the cut at both the US Open and The Open with tournament scores of 11-over and five-over.

Mickelson has been in shocking form since February.Source: AFP

The 52-year-old hasn’t been much better on the LIV circuit either. His debut round of him in London is the only time he’s shot under-par since February.

His three LIV tournament scores have been 10-over, 10-over and six-over — good enough for 34th, 42nd and 35th respectively in a field of 48 players.

Comparing scores shot at different courses can be like comparing apples with oranges, but it’s worth noting that Mickelson was 17, 23 and 17 strokes off the winner at the three LIV tournaments.

The dip began in February when Mickelson took an indefinite hiatus from the PGA Tour after controversial comments to biographer Alan Shipnuck were made public.

In the comments, Mickelson acknowledged the appalling human rights record of LIV Golf’s funders, and cited the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He nonetheless said he was dealing with the Saudis — who he also called “scary motherf***ers” — to “gain leverage” against the PGA Tour.

Mickelson drew widespread condemnation, and didn’t play again until the opening LIV Golf event in London in early June. That was soon followed by the US Open where he missed the cut, while last month’s Open Championship is the only time he’s played on the PGA Tour since.

LIV Golf’s launch largely hinged upon the status of Mickelson — along with Johnson — to get off the ground in London.

And while organizers will be pleased to have the six-time major-winner on their books, this is still an undesirable scenario given the fuel it will give LIV Golf’s many critics.

Chief among the concerns about LIV’s playing model is that there are guaranteed winnings for players, and no cut, as well as lucrative sign-on fees.

The theory goes that all of the above could disincentivize performance, especially the lack of a cut line, below which players make nothing on the PGA Tour (except for at the Masters).

This was a concern raised earlier this year by Woods, who LIV Golf chief Greg Norman says turned down an offer to join that was “mind-blowingly enormous; we’re talking about high nine digits.”

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Woods said: “What these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practice?’ What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt?

“You’re just getting paid a lot of money upfront and playing a few events and playing 54 holes. They’re playing blaring music and have all these atmospheres that are different.”

Woods’ concerns are more for younger players with long careers ahead of them, but the same could be applied to Mickelson, who just last year won the PGA Championship.

Nonetheless, notwithstanding a dramatic turnaround, Mickelson appears to be miles away from conjuring anything close to that magic from 2021 again.

His cashing of big pay checks while playing poorly does nothing for the legitimacy of LIV Golf, however, others are doing their best to counteract that.

Look no further than Henrik Stenson who, after years of irrelevance on the PGA Tour from a playing perspective, won in his debut LIV event on Monday (AEST).

Stenson came to life upon joining LIV Golf.Source: AFP

Stenson hadn’t finished inside the top 10 of an official PGA Tour event since the 2019 US Open, and hand’t won since the 2017 Wyndham Championship.

But upon relinquishing his European Ryder Cup captaincy to pocket a reported sign-on fee of $A69 million, he won in Bedminster with a score of 11-under.

Johnson is also proof that players can remain competitive despite guaranteed, big pay days.

He came sixth at The Open this year while he has finished inside the top-10 of every LIV Golf event with an accumulative score of 19-under.

That’s 45 shots less than Mickelson in just nine rounds of golf.

MICKELSON SINCE FEBRUARY

PGA Tours

US Open — 78, 73, 11+ — CUT

The Open — 72, 77, 5+ — CUT

LIV Golf

London — 69, 75, 76, 10+ — 34th (2nd in team)

Portland — 75, 75, 76, 10+ — 42nd (3rd in team)

Bedminster — 75, 73, 71, 6+ — 35th (4th in team)

Highest paid golfers in 2022 (H/T Forbes)

LIV Golf No.1: Phil Mickelson — A$198m — scoring average 72,846

PGA Tour No.1: Rory McIlroy — A$62m — scoring average 68,595

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