View image | gettyimages.com Tiger Woods was No. 1 in the 2015 GD 50 money list with $54.5 million; Phil Mickelson No. 2 at $50.7 million; Rory McIlroy No. 3 with $49.2 million and 85-year-old Arnold Palmer No. 4 at $40 million. No. 5 was Jack Nicklaus with $22 million. By slipping on the green jacket, Spieth will almost certainly leapfrog Nicklaus and 10 other players into that spot right behind the big four with off-course money alone nearing $20 million. The victory for Spieth is worth so much because he hits all the benchmarks agents and endorsement partners are looking for. First is believability. No one thinks this was a fluke. They believe there are more major victories in his future. Second is longevity. Because of his age business partners are confident he will be around for a long time, generating publicity for their products. Third is likeability. Spieth is a nice guy with no off-the-course baggage. He's polite, devoted to his special-needs sister and articulate. And fourth, he won the right major in the Masters.
"The Masters is definitely No. 1 in terms of the most lucrative to win," says Andrew Witlieb of the Legacy Agency, whose client Jim Furyk won the 2003 U.S. Open. "The whole world is tuned in." The Masters is on an island by itself. There hasn't been a major in eight months and it's two months until the next one. It also generates the highest TV ratings of any golf tournament, in part because golf season is just starting in much of North America. It is also televised to more than 100 countries around the world. Winning a major triggers bonus clauses in existing contracts, leading to the kind of media exposure that generates new deals -- look for Spieth to make a tour of the TV talk shows -- and will increase Spieth's overseas appearance fee from about $400,000 a pop to $2 million just for showing up at a tournament. And because the Masters is in April, agents have the time to add overseas appearance-fee stops later in the year. One agent, speaking anonymously, said Adam Scott and Justin Rose earned "an extra $3 to $5 million annually" for winning majors in 2013. It will be even more lucrative for Spieth because of his age. Both Rose and Scott were more than a decade older than Spieth when they won their first major. Luck also plays a role in your earning potential. Ideally, you win a major in a year your contracts are expiring. While Spieth just signed an extension with Under Armour through 2025, the deal carries large up-front money because of its unusually length -- and has bonus clauses. "It's almost impossible not to pick up a deal or two after winning a major," says Mac Barnhart of Crown Sports LLC. "Companies know that the major winners are going to be on TV a lot [the next year] no matter what they shoot. If your timing is right you can really cash in big time." Spieth's timing was right, and he's really going to cash in big time.