More important, what can it do for Phil Mickelson?
Now that the dust has settled from Mickelsons exciting Masters win, now that Leno, Letterman and all the rest have had their chance with him, what will be the future of a player who was already one of the games most popular endorsers?
Back when Phil derision was as popular as Atkins (good luck finding a Phil hater now), many people secretly envied Mickelson. Sure, he was missing a crucial trophy, a victory that helps define golfers through the history of their sport. But what Phil had that so many other people lack is this: Whatever he wants.
Think about it. The eternal kid with the aw-shucks smile had the American Dream long before he won the Masters. Beautiful and charming wife, three adorable children (including one who, thank God, made it through some scary medical difficulties coming into this world), the wherewithal to live where he pleases and still place big bets on the Super Bowl, and on-TV tickets to the World Series. (Remember when he and agent Steve Loy were regulars on Fox during the Arizona Diamondbacks home games in the 2001 Fall Classic?)
He also got to define his workplace. True, Phil trimmed some of the more aggressive edges off his style to get it done in Augusta. But before that, he played high-stakes, risky golf, the glory shot, the adrenaline shot glass.
What more could a guy want?
Apparently, something. Or at least his agent does. Loy refused to discuss The New Phil with me, even though I promised not to get into dollars and cents. (Naturally, the terms of Phils endorsement deals require the parties to keep mum about the specific compensation. But between Ford, Titleist and consulting firm Bearing Point, you can imagine how many millions could be involved.) Word was Loy reasoned that theres no point telegraphing his strategy.
I wonder, though, what Phil wants. Already a golf institution with 22 PGA Tour wins before the Masters, how much better can he eat, live, bet, pay for his kids college educations, now that he has the green jacket?
Phils endorsement, which has always had a substantial portion of integrity in it, may indeed be worth more dollars. But I suspect that the accomplishment itself, the memorable way in which he erased all doubts about his place in golf history, is worth a great deal more to him than any number. In a relative way ' that is, compared to the place each had reached in his career when the last putt fell ' Mike Weir probably got more economic boost out of his Masters win than Phil will.
Top-level endorsers such as Phil and Tiger and Vijay have an opportunity to set a new standard in golf endorsement. Just as enormous success seems to make the top players enter fewer tournaments, increased endorsement value may make them consider curtailing their obligations a bit.
For example, if a player has to give 12 days per year to satisfy endorsement partners, and his stock goes up because of a career accomplishment such as a major victory, perhaps he could get it done in nine days instead. Thats three more days with the family ' which doesnt sound like much until you realize that one of those three days might be the one on which young Evan Mickelson takes his first step.
Hard as I am on Loys telephone difficulties, he is a good agent who keeps his clients interest in the forefront. I wouldnt be surprised if he converts Phils new status into The American Dream Plus. And what will that be?
Whatever Phil wants.
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