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Tiger Woods burns Phil Mickelson after $11m Player Impact Program win, Twitter reaction

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Tiger Woods couldn’t help but sledge Phil Mickelson after the latter went off early with a big-money boast that fell flat.

Tiger Woods hasn’t played in a US PGA Tour event in more than a year, but the golf great still won the inaugural Player Impact Program (PIP) bonus that rewards a player’s popularity.

The 15-time major champion collects an $AUD11 million top prize, the tour announced on Thursday.

Six-time major winner Phil Mickelson, who had appeared to indicate in a December social media post that he had finished first, finished second for an $8 million bonus-— and a Twitter poke from Woods.

“Whoops,” Woods tweeted, along with a screenshot of Mickelson’s December post in which he thanked “all the crazies and real supporters too, who helped me win the PIP.”

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Mickelson’s payday comes as he bleeds sponsors after making controversial comments about Saudi Arabia to golf writer Alan Shipnuck, in which he suggested he would look past the Saudi regime’s human rights record and align with its breakaway league to put pressure on the PGA Tour.

“They’re scary motherf***ers to get involved with,” Mickelson said. “We know they killed (Washington Post reporter) Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay.

“Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Americans Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas will all receive $5 million from the $70 million PIP bonus pool.

Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and world number one Jon Rahm of Spain each collect $4 million.

The program rewards 10 players based on an “impact score” determined by their popularity in internet searches, the number of unique news articles that include a player’s name, a social media score based on a player’s reach, conversation and engagement metrics, television sponsor exposure and a “general awareness” score among a broad US population.

Not all players are fans of what amounts to a popularity contest. Reigning FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay is among those who would prefer to see tour bonuses based on on-course performance.

“I think I’m old-school in the respect that I would like the money to be doled out relative to play, and I don’t think the PIP does that,” Cantlay said last month.

“It may be the first departure that the tour has had from rewarding good play to rewarding social media or popularity presence, so I don’t like that departure.”

That Woods emerged as the winner is a testament to the continuing interest he sparks not only among keen golf enthusiasts but also among casual fans and celebrity watchers.

Woods hasn’t teed it up in a PGA Tour event since the rescheduled Masters in November of 2020.

He was recovering from yet another back operation when he suffered devastating leg injuries in a one-car crash in California in February of 2021.

Woods said this month he still doesn’t know when he will be ready for top-flight competition.

But he took part in the PNC Championship family tournament alongside son Charlie in December, and the PGA Tour noted that NBC sports reported a total weekend audience for the unofficial event of 2.3 million viewers was up 53 per cent over 2020.



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