Tiger Woods has won $8m (£5.99m) for generating more media interest than any other golfer in 2021 – even though he played just one tournament all year.
Woods is the first winner of the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Programme (PIP).
The scheme was introduced to reward competitors for generating positive interest in the American circuit.
The former world number one has career earnings on the tour in excess of $120m (£89.96m), despite not having played an official tour event for over a year.
An exhibition parent-child tournament last December was his only competitive action in 2021.
Tour officials originally stated that they would not make PIP results public, but the 10 players who profited have been revealed in a memo to PGA Tour members.
In December, Phil Mickelson mistakenly claimed that he had won the biggest share of the $40m prize fund. He actually finished second to Woods and received $6m.
The 51-year-old became the oldest major winner with victory at the US PGA last year.
Rory McIlroy – whose PGA Tour career winnings total $63m) – Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson all received $3.5m from the programme, which is based on metrics measuring a player’s ability to generate interest.
Auditors Grant Thornton verified the results following analysis of internet searches, articles, social media, sponsor exposure and awareness among the US population.
Woods was seriously injured in a car crash in February 2021 and was not seen publicly for much of the year. In late November a social media post of him hitting golf balls under the title “making progress” attracted 7.8m views on Twitter.
A month later, the 15-time major champion partnered his son, Charlie, in the PNC Championship. They finished second after making 11 consecutive birdies in the final round.
Woods, who used a buggy to play the Florida tournament, still does not know when he will be fit enough to return to the main tour.
The other PIP beneficiaries were major winners Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm and Bubba Watson. Each player received $3m.
This year, the PIP bonus pool will increase to $50m, a move criticised by Open champion Collin Morikawa.
“That’s crazy to me,” Morikawa stated a fortnight ago.