For three decades, Phil Mickelson has thrilled golf galleries with both epic victories and defeats, including a half-dozen runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open. “Lefty” delivered another performance for the ages this week, becoming the oldest major champion in golf history with a two-stroke victory in the 102nd PGA Championship in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. It was his sixth major, tied for 12th-most ever.
The win was worth $2.16 million, the richest PGA Tour purse in Mickelson’s career—he did pocket $9 million for a made-for-TV exhibition, The Match, against Tiger Woods in 2018. It brings his career prize money to $94.6 million, second all-time behind only the $120.9 million for Woods (Jim Furyk ranks third at $71.5 million). Only Woods has won more majors among active players.
The PGA win came completely out of nowhere. Mickelson had won only twice on the PGA Tour over the last eight years before Sunday. He had not finished in the top 20 in his previous 17 events. Mickelson entered the PGA Championship as a 250-1 longshot to hold up the Wanamaker Trophy.
“It is a nice boost to his legacy,” said Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert at Baker Street Advertising, who figures the win could add $5 million to Mickelson’s annual haul off the course. “He’s already an iconic athlete, a household name and making boatloads of money, but it is a very, very, big cherry to top things off.”
Mickelson, 50, has played second fiddle to Woods most of his career, but it has been a lucrative spot, as prize money and sponsorships in golf exploded with the interest generated by Woods since he turned pro in 1996.
Mickelson has pocketed close to $800 million off the course from sponsors during his career and has ranked among the world’s 25 highest-paid athletes most of the past two decades. He continues to add to his robust endorsement portfolio, with Amstel Light and Melin hats coming onboard in 2020. He ditched his private jet in 2021 to team up with subscription flight service Vistajet for his flying needs. Other partners include Intrepid Financial, Callaway, KPMG, Grayhawk, Mizzen+Main, Rolex and Workday. Mickelson earns roughly $40 million a year off the course.
He launched a new line of coffee last year, Coffee for Wellness, in collaboration with friend and performance coach Dave Phillips. Mickelson is a master marketer and gave the new brand some play when he placed a coffee mug with the company’s branding on the green as he putted during the final round of the 2020 Memorial Tournament.
The beverage space has been a lucrative spot for golfers, with Arnold Palmer’s line of ice teas and lemonades for AriZona Beverages generating more than $200 million in annual sales. Palmer is the blueprint for golfers in retirement. Up until his death in 2016, Palmer still earned more than $30 million a year from endorsements and licensing 40 years after his last PGA Tour win.
Mickelson has been compared often to Palmer for his high-risk style of golf. Both were also wildly marketable stars, while their contemporary rivals, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, racked up more major titles. Mickelson has set himself up to have a lucrative post-golf business career, similar to Palmer, but Sunday was a reminder that Mickelson still has the game that attracted partners in the first place.