Column: Spieth crosses $50M, a reminder of Tiger’s standard

Tiger Woods' dominance cannot be diminished by inflation.

19 April 2022 Tuesday 13:45
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Column: Spieth crosses $50M, a reminder of Tiger’s standard

Hilton Head was the latest reminder. Jordan Spieth won a playoff against Patrick Cantlay to win his 13th career PGA Tour title.

Spieth also earned $1,440,000. He was given a tartan jacket because he looks better in it. He became the 11th player to reach the $50 million mark in career earnings in PGA Tour history.

Officially, he is the youngest player with a age of 28 and nine months. He will eventually reach $50 million.

This is where inflation comes in.

Woods is the only player to have earned $50 million more in career tours than he did before turning 30. Woods was 29 years old and six months when he won the Western Open 2005 runner-up title. This milestone was quickly forgotten.

Woods only needed seven years more to reach $100 million. Now he's at $120,895,206

Spieth was one of a dozen players who watched inconspicuously as Woods was inducted into The World Golf Hall of Fame. Woods would have been quick to admit that a figure like $50 million wouldn’t exist without him.

Yes, there was a substantial difference in purses.

The total prize money for Woods' pro career in 1996 was $65.95million. Spieth became pro in 2013, just like Woods. The total prize fund was $260million.

Both reached $50 million over nine years. However, Woods achieved it in 41 fewer tournaments (218 for Spieth) Woods won $173.8 million in total prize money during this stretch. It was $322.56 Million for Spieth.

Rory McIlroy offers a better example. Spieth was six years younger than McIlroy and he has maintained a global schedule, with two tours memberships. McIlroy only needed 173 events on PGA Tour to reach $50 Million at Bay Hill in 2020. This was six weeks before he turned 31, and he had already reached 31.

The scores are falling and the prize money is increasing. This is the evolution in sport. Victories will always be the best measure.

Woods holds a total of 82 on the PGA Tour, 11 on Asia, Australia, Japan, Europe, and 15 majors. These are his numbers. Woods had already won 43 tours when he reached $50 million.

Woods still believes money is important, but not completely. A few months back, he was asked by Riviera whether he knew how much he had in his deferred compensatory package.

"Nope. He said, "Nope.

Is he interested in knowing?

He said, "Uh-uh!"

This feat can still be added to the long list of accomplishments that might never match his 142 consecutive cuts, and only seven starts to qualify to play in the Tour Championship.

Woods is a top PGA Tour player for over 22 years.

It was once a contest. Greg Norman won the World Series of Golf at Firestone in August 1995, taking the lead from Tom Kite. He kept the title until January 2000, when Davis Love III passed him.

Love was on top for only two weeks before Woods became runner-up at Torrey Pines. From his "Hello, world", introduction, to Woods becoming the career money leader, it took 73 tournaments. The gap has only widened.

Spieth isn't ready to say he is all the way back. He said, "close but far" after winning the RBC Heritage. Spieth has notched two wins in a little over a year. He also finished seventh out of 25 after winning the Texas Open last season and missed three cuts this year.

He will be remembered for the way he began his career.

Spieth was 21 years old and playing his third year at Valspar Championship 2015. He played a practice round alongside three other children born in the same year -- Ollie Schniederjans, Daniel Berger, and Justin Thomas. They gathered together to take a group picture, from oldest to youngest. Spieth was the youngest.

This was just one week after he had earned $9 million in career income.

Spieth won five times that year, including U.S. Open and Masters. He missed the British Open playoff by one shot, and finished second in the PGA Championship. Spieth finished in the top 10 with a rate of 60% and earned $12,030 4,465 which is a PGA Tour record.

In 2000, Woods won nine times including three majors. Woods was runner up four times, and only three times did he finish in the top 10, all in 20 starts. That year, he earned $9,188,321

The money is increasing. The Players Championship paid $3.6 Million to the winner. Woods' first year of playing was $3.5 Million.

Does it suffice to catch Woods?

McIlroy, who will be 33 in two weeks' time, is $59 million behind. Spieth is $70million behind Justin Thomas, but not nearly $4 million ahead of his contemporaneous, Dustin Johnson. Dustin Johnson's career earnings are just over $74million. He will turn 38 in June.

They all seem far away, even with today's money. As always.



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