Francesco Molinari held off competition from Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods to claim victory at The Open Championship 2018 earlier this month.
That was the first major championship of his career, after close to a decade competing at the highest level. It was a new peak in what has been an incredible year for the Italian star.
It follows his first ever PGA Tour victory at the Quicken Loans National earlier this month. That was wedged between a second-place finish at the John Deere Classic and his European Tour victory at the BMW PGA Championship late on in May.
A lucrative year
Since becoming a member of the PGA Tour in 2015, Molinari has slowly but surely climbed up the money list. He placed 31st in the 2017 tour, taking home $2.88m from 21 starts. That was his best placing yet. However, he will top his previous record for a third consecutive year in 2018.
There are two months still to go until the 2018 PGA Tour reaches its conclusion. Yet 2018 is already a record-breaking year for Molinari. He currently sits eighth on the money list, with winnings of $4.25m.
To put that into perspective, in his last nine seasons competing on the tour, Molinari has made $7.1m in total. His total PGA Tour earnings now stands at $11.3m according to the Career Money Leaders list.
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Including the winnings that he has received from competing on the European Tour, Molinari has made $6.4m so far this year by our calculations.
The Open was his biggest pay day, providing $1.9m of that total. He also earned $1.3m from his victory at the Quickens Loan National and $1.2m from the BMW PGA Championship.
An attractive partner
For his first two years as a member of the PGA Tour, Molinari went largely unnoticed by major brands.
According to sports market intelligence company Sportcal, the Italian golfer didn’t sign his first endorsement deal until 2016. His first sponsor was financial service provider SAS-Funds. As part of the deal, Molinari serves as a brand ambassador and displays the SAS-Funds logo on his kit bag.
Molinari has since added sports equipment companies Titleist and Bettinardi to his list. The former provides the player with golf balls to use during play, while he must use Bettinardi’s BB56 putter as part of the latter deal. Those were two of the deals signed by Molinari in 2017, along with a third signed with Italian fashion house Laura Biagiotti.
This year Molinari became one of the major athletes to join sportswear giant NIKE, confirming the company as his official kit supplier in January.
The exact amount that Molinari makes from endorsement and sponsorship deals is unknown. Those involved kept the financial terms of the deals confidential. However, they likely provide a lucrative second income on top of his golf earnings.
With four of those five deals set to expire at the end of the year, the Italian’s incredible rise over the last few months leaves him in a great position when it comes to renegotiating terms.
More to come
Looking back at past winners of the British golf tournament, there are very few that saw no boost as a result of their feat.
American Zach Johnson, who won The Open back in 2015, signed with equipment manufacturer Parsons Xtreme Golf in January 2016, six months after his victory.
Likewise, Phil Mickelson signed with two new brands – financial services firm KPMG and equipment manufacturer Callaway – after winning it in 2013. The Callaway deal, the renegotiation of a deal that has been running since 2004, was worth at least $4m annually according to Sportcal.
South African Ernie Els, winner of The Open in 2012 also signed new sponsorship deals after prevailing in the tournament. As did 2010’s champion Louis Oosthuizen.
Given the exposure that his latest victory at The Open has provided, a few more brands will surely come calling for Molinari.
His fellow golf stars, like Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, make tens of millions of dollars each year in endorsement earnings. If he can continue to rival them at the biggest tournaments in golf, it’s only so long before he is matching their earnings too.
There is a long road ahead for Molinari. However, he has stepped up in 2018, as he has done each year since becoming a member of the PGA Tour. His latest feat bodes well for the future, but at the very least he will be remembered as one of the star performers of the 2018 tour.