Tiger Woods, who hasn’t played in an official PGA Tour event for more than a year while recovering from injuries suffered in a car wreck, won the tour’s inaugural Player Impact Program, which measures a player’s popularity based on a set of criteria.
Woods, a 15-time major champion, collected the $8 million top prize, the Tour announced on Wednesday. Phil Mickelson, who seemed to indicate in December that he had finished first in the PIP race, was second and will get $6 million.
Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas will each be paid $3.5 million, while Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm and Bubba Watson will each collect $3 million bonuses.
Some players, including defending FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay, have criticized the PIP program and said they would rather see the money be rewarded based on on-course performance.
“I think I’m old-school in the respect that I would like the money to be doled out relative to play, and I don’t think the PIP does that,” Cantlay said last month. “It may be the first departure that the tour has had from rewarding good play to rewarding social media or popularity presence, so I don’t like that departure.”
The PiP bonus pool was increased from $40 million to $50 million this year. It rewards the top 10 players by an “Impact Score,” which is determined by using five metrics, including their popularity in Google searches, their Q rating, the Nielsen Brand Exposure rating, the MVP index rating and their Meltwater Mentions, which measure the frequency that a player generates coverage across various media platforms.