The PGA Tour Player of the Year award may still hang in the balance, a baffling open chapter that should have been closed on Sunday, but Luke Donald’s six-birdie tear at Disney likely delivered much more than just his second title of 2011 and the circuit’s cash crown.
Standard Tour endorsement contracts have all manner of performance bonuses, including lucrative incentives for money titles and your position on the world golf ranking.
“I think there might be with my clothing deal. I'm not exactly sure what it is,” Donald said on Saturday at Disney when asked about possible bonuses.
It’s not surprising that Donald wouldn’t be entirely forthcoming with his potential financial windfall, but GTC contacted an assortment of player managers in an attempt to quantify what the money title means for the Englishman.
“Until the FedEx Cup came along almost every contract had a year-ending money list bonus,” said one manager who requested anonymity. “The bonuses would be at least $1 million and I had some that were more.”
Since the inception of the FedEx Cup some companies have started basing bonuses on how a player performs in the season-long race. “Very few contracts have money list bonuses now,” said the manager. “(Companies) felt like whatever the Tour considers important was important to them.”
Some manufacturers base year-end bonuses on how many world ranking points a player has earned during a season, which would also net Donald a handsome bonus. No one has earned more world ranking points than he has this year (500) and he’s climbed from ninth to start the season into a commanding lead atop the ranking.
Even more encouraging for Donald, depending on how his bonuses are structured with the companies he has endorsement deals with (Mizuno, Titleist and Polo Ralph Lauren, which resigned the world No. 1 to a new multi-year deal earlier this season) his play in 2011 will likely impact his bottom line for years.
According to numerous player managers, many contracts forego a traditional bonus for an increase in a player’s yearly retainer fee over the life of the contract. That means Donald’s new “multi-year” Polo deal, for example, could be worth millions.