Jordan Spieth’s yearlong wait to don a green jacket as the winner of golf’s Masters Tournament will pay off.
The soft-spoken Texan who is as focused on proper manners as a proper putting stroke, Spieth is positioned to take over as golf’s next American star on and off the course. He could add as much as $10 million a year in endorsements to his golf winnings, according to Bob Dorfman, executive creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco.
“He’s tremendously poised for a 21-year-old, and his game and future is looking decidedly Tiger-esque right now,” Dorfman said. “Sure, he could still use a little more style and charisma, but his youth makes him a desirable pitchman for many brands, especially golf marketers trying build interest in the game to the elusive teens and 20-somethings.”
After entering the final round at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia with a four-shot lead, Spieth shot 2-under par 70 over his final 18 holes to finish at 18-under. The score tied Tiger Woods’s record for the lowest in the event’s 79-year history. Spieth became the event’s second-youngest champion behind Woods, who was five months younger when he won his first of four titles in 1997. Spieth finished second behind Bubba Watson 12 months ago,
This year, he beat Phil Mickelson (-14), Justin Rose (-14), and Rory McIlroy (-12), who have combined to win 10 major titles.
In a Sports Business Daily poll this month of marketing experts, Spieth was ranked as the No. 5 most-marketable golfer with Northern Ireland’s McIlroy ranked No. 1. Rickie Fowler, Woods and Mickelson were ahead of Spieth. This Masters win may vault Spieth over McIlroy to the No. 1 spot, said Dorfman, who participated in the poll.
“Unlike McIlroy, Spieth is American born and bred -- a Texan -- can we call him ‘America’s Golfer?’ It’s always a little harder for foreign-born athletes to connect with U.S. consumers,” Dorfman said. “He’s very hard not to like, and certainly more approachable and accommodating than Tiger.”
McIlroy, who has won four major titles and shares Nike Inc.’s golf spotlight with Woods, finished fourth in the Masters, coming up short of his quest for a first Masters title to go with wins in the U.S. and British Open and two PGA Championship titles.
As marketers, fans and media continue to seek out golf’s next star, they may have finally found him with Spieth, said Casey Alexander, a New York-based analyst who covers the golf industry at Gilford Securities Inc..
“Time marches on and we have to eventually find new heroes,” Alexander said. “And I’m not too sure, at least as American golf goes, that Jordan Spieth can’t be that guy. He has an awful lot of All-American boy to him.”
Spieth, even while leading the final round of the Masters, still was composed enough to be polite to other competitors. When playing partner Justin Rose hit a shot out of the trees on the seventh hole to within five feet of the cup, leading to a birdie, Spieth gave the Englishman a thumbs-up.
“It’s how the game was founded,” he said. “It’s a game of integrity. There’s no referees out there. We all respect each other. I don’t think in any other sport do you see two opposing teams that are complimenting after each shot or touchdown or whatever it is. I think it’s not just me. I learn from example, and I have great examples set before me.”
In March, Spieth was ranked 16th on Golf Digest magazine’s annual list of the game’s top 50 earners with $12.3 million, including $5.9 million off the course. A year earlier, he was 18th with a $9.2 million total.
On the course, Spieth is the first golfer to be outfitted head-to-toe by Baltimore-based Under Armour Inc. He also signed an endorsement agreement with AT&T Inc. a month after last year’s Masters, making him the first golfer to carry the Dallas-based company’s logo on his golf bag since Woods. He has additional agreements with Fortune Brands’ Titleist and Rolex.
With his $1.8 million Masters victory, Spieth has amassed a U.S. PGA Tour-leading $4.1 million in winnings since March 15 when he won the Valspar Championship for his second U.S. PGA Tour title. He then finished second at the Texas Open and Houston Open before coming to Augusta.
The Masters win won’t change the values Spieth prides himself on, said Jay Danzi, the golfer’s agent with Lagardere Unlimited.
“The nice thing is, it’s real, it’s genuine,” Danzi said in an interview.“Nothing that he does is not honest and genuine. He’s a marketer’s dream.”