What Rickie Fowler, one of golf’s most popular players, thinks about sport’s new $40 million bonus pool

Golf star Rickie Fowler is all good with the PGA Tour’s sizable new $40 million bonus pool dubbed the Player Impact Program, which is designed to reward the game’s most recognizable players. 

“With social media and everything being a part of our everyday world now — and the power of social media to build your brand and having an off course presence, there is something to that. Not that that should be the priority or the main focus, but it’s all about golf. And you know, if you are not playing well the social media following doesn’t necessarily continue. So I do think it’s moving properly with the current times. I think we have seen there is a lot of power to be held on social media and based on how people are following you, and what kind of people are following you,” Fowler said on Yahoo Finance Presents. 

Golfweek first reported this week the Player Impact Program began on Jan. 1 of this year, somewhat under the radar to the public. Its goal is to compensate players who are judged to create the most fan and sponsor engagement.

Categories being measured for the year-end payout of a whopping $40 million: (1) position in the year-end FedEx Cup rankings; (2) Google search popularity; (3) Nielsen brand exposure rating (value to sponsors by how much a player is on TV); (4) Q rating (appeal of a player’s brand); (5) MVP Index (value of engagement across social media); (6) Meltwater Mentions (number of times a player generates mentions across different platforms. 

The Tour handed out simulated impact scores using 2019 figures, Golfweek reports, and no shock that Tiger Woods took the first spot. Woods was followed by FedEx Cup champ Rory Mcllroy, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson. No. 5 on that spot, perhaps unsurprisingly, was Rickie Fowler.

Rickie Fowler during the first round of the Masters golf tournament Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

At 32-years-old and despite being mired in one of his worst slumps as a professional (he fell to 101st in the world rankings), Fowler remains one of the tour’s brightest stars. He is a fan and player favorite, known for his colorful Puma clothes and ability to be in contention in the final rounds of golf’s biggest tournaments. 

He has amassed eight wins globally and nearly $40 million in career earnings. 

Fowler’s success on the course has followed him off the course. He boasts an impressive 1.6 million Twitter followers and 1.8 million Instagram followers. Fowler has major endorsement deals with Cobra, Puma, Rocket Mortgage, and CBD player Kadenwood.

So in short, the Player Impact Program is tailor-made for an internet/TV friendly Fowler. But he acknowledges that despite his popularity, he needs to get his game back up to par to truly be in contention for the bonus pool.

“I’d love to be able to get a bonus, but I got to step up my game,” Fowler said. 

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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