Tiger Woods wins PIP first prize as Phil Mickelson gets it wrong again

Woods receives $8million bonus for topping the charts in the PGA Tour’s inaugural Player Impact Program.

He's hardly been seen on the course this year but nothing has changed: no-one moves the needle more in golf than Tiger Woods.

The 15-time Major winner has been out of action following a car crash last year and hasn't hit a single shot on the PGA Tour since The Masters in November 2020.

And yet despite the only sighting of Tiger swinging a club coming at a Father-Son event, the PNC Championship, with his boy Charlie, Woods has been declared the first winner of the PGA Tour's Player Impact Program.

PIP, as it's known for short, is a measure of five metrics relating to a player's appeal and popularity on social media: Nielsen ratings, Google searches, MVP Index, Meltwater Mentions and Q-Rating.

Notably, it does not take into account on-course performance.

Tiger's overall score of 0.9664 was enough to put him ahead of Phil Mickelson in second place.

Rory McIlroy finished third - the only European to break the top five - ahead of Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau.

Tiger finishing top is hardly the biggest surprise but the delicious twist is that Mickelson had already boasted that the title was his.

The left-hander announced on Twitter in late December that he had scooped the $8million jackpot.

But, not for the first time in recent weeks, Mickelson has shot himself in the foot.

The confusion lies in the Nielsen ratings being compiled quarterly which meant their Autumn figures weren't available until February, nearly two months after Mickelson had called the result in his favour.

Mickelson, who gained huge criticism for his controversial comments about the PGA Tour and potential breakaway Saudi Golf League, still pockets $6m for finishing second. But he seems unrivalled in the game for generating poor PR at the moment.

Woods gained only positive attention - and an awful lot of it, hence his PIP win - when he and 12-year-old son, Charlie, finished runner-up in the PNC Championship in December.

Seeing Tiger hit a club again was welcomed throughout the golf world although Woods himself played down an imminent return.

"I can't compete against these guys right now, no," he said in December.

"It's going to take a lot of work to get to where I feel like I can compete with these guys and be at a high level."

He reiterated those comments at the Genesis Invitational a fortnight ago, saying: "I can walk on a treadmill all day, that's easy, there's no bumps in the road.

"But walking on a golf course where there's undulations… I have a long way to go."

Tiger Woods addressing injury situation

Still, pocketing $8million won't have hurt his mood and the egg on Mickelson's face may just have raised a wry smile too.

READ MORE: Tiger Woods and Bay Hill: A tale of dominance at Arnie's place

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