Spieth cashes in, but at what price?

Sun Apr 3, 2016 10:07am EDT
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By Steve Keating

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Having spent a large chunk of last year as the world's number one ranked golfer, it was no surprise to see Jordan Spieth's name at the top of the leaderboard at any tournament where he chose to tee it up.

Yet the well-mannered, clean cut Texan who is getting set to defend his Masters title barely managed to crack Forbes' Top 100 list of the highest paid athletes in 2015, checking in at number 85.

When Forbes releases its 2016 spread sheet, however, Spieth is likely to find a new number one attached to his name as golf's top earner among the sporting world's best paid pitchmen with a portfolio of endorsements that would make Tiger Woods envious.

Spieth banked $53 million in 2015 according to a report in Golf Digest, nearly $23 million coming from on-course earnings (including a $10 million bonus for winning the PGA Tour's season-long FedExCup) while the remainder was generated from deals with blue riband sponsors like Coca-Cola and Rolex.

Such are the recognition and riches that flow from a season that produced five PGA Tour wins, including back-to-back major victories at the Masters and U.S. Open.

Spieth also swept golf's major awards: PGA Player of the Year and PGA Tour Player of the Year, Vardon Trophy and Byron Nelson Award for leading the tour in scoring average, and the Arnold Palmer Award for leading the tour's money list.

But success comes with a price and Spieth returns to Augusta National as his own golfing brand, an industry where those fans and sponsors who have invested in him look for even greater return on their investments.

The dividends continued to roll in as Spieth started the year with a bang by capturing the Hyundai Tournament of Champions but the results since then have not been as bullish.   Continued...

Apr 1, 2016; Humble, TX, USA; Jordan Spieth hits out of the trap on #18 during the second round of the Shell Houston Open at Golf Club of Houston - The Tournament Course. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports