Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy at the 'Duel at Jinsha Lake' one-day golf challenge in Zhengzhou, China, in October. (AFP) Rory McIlroy may be No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings, but Tiger Woods still has the most fans and delivers the most money for sponsors...for now.
According to a Forbes report, Tiger Woods generated $18.9 million in media value for his sponsors this year, $6 million more than McIlroy. Woods also remains the most popular player in the game, while McIlroy ranks fifth.
McIlroy might have usurped Woods as the No. 1 player in the world on the course, but he still badly lags Woods in popularity. Consider the percentage of people that picked Woods (45%) and Mickelson (42%) when asked to select their three favorite golfers in Repucom’s monthly survey of sports fans. McIlroy ranks fifth at 16% sandwiched between Fred Couples (19%) and Tom Watson (15%). Bubba Watson was named 23% of the time. “McIlroy is an interesting case because he has not caught on as much as one might think with the American public. But he is certainly trending upward,” says Laatz.
Tiger also still dominates the golfing conversation on social media. There were three times as many posts on social media about Woods as McIlroy during 2012. And while Woods certainly has his detractors, the percentage of posts with a negative sentiment were 50% higher for McIlroy than Woods (Mickelson had the most posts with a negative sentiment among the top golfers).