AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 04: Phil Mickelson smiles during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 4, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
What was Phil Mickelson doing at Augusta National some six hours before his opening-round tee time? Watching the Big Three hit the ceremonial first drives of the 2012 Masters Tournament, of course.
Tiger Woods may have the oddsmakers’ edge over Phil Mickelson in this week’s Masters Tournament, but is there any wonder why Lefty is the favorite of corporate sponsors?
With a 1:53 p.m. tee time for his opening round on Thursday, Mickelson, replete in one of his three green jackets, showed up at Augusta National Golf Club some six hours early to watch the Big Three stripe their ceremonial first tee shots.
"That was pretty cool," Mickelson said to his coach, Butch Harmon, about seeing Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Arnold Palmer toss out the first pitch of the 2012 Masters, according to a Twitter blast from Golfweek’s Sean Martin.
Player was equally impressed with Mickelson’s early arrival. "I feel it was remarkable," he said, according to The Associated Press.
Selfless acts, like participating in a historic moment hours before your curtain call, make Mickelson far more marketable from a sponsor’s perspective than Tiger Woods, according to a new Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research’s N-Score survey, which measures celebrities’ endorsement potential among 1,100 participants. Woods, who can come off as self-centered and petulant, scored a 41 on the appeal-o-meter compared with Mickelson’s 75 -- and that bodes ill for Tiger’s endorsement possibilities down the line.
Woods scored high in N-Score’s awareness category, with 73 percent of consumers knowing about his "brand," but only 17 percent found golf’s former No. 1 agreeable. Some 52 percent said they liked Mickelson.
"Although Tiger Woods continues to draw viewers and just won his first tournament [the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks ago] since his off-the-course issues arose in 2009, he is still challenged from a marketability standpoint. His appeal numbers have not recovered, and he is still a polarizing figure," Stephen Master, Nielsen’s vice president of sports, said in a statement. "It will be interesting to see if another green jacket at the Masters this year can win back the favor of the public and corporate America."
Off-the-course marketability has little to do with TV ratings, and both golfers measure off the charts when it comes to viewership. Mickelson’s 2010 Masters victory drew 13.7 million eyeballs, while Woods remains the overall champ among the recline set, as 15.8 million people -- the most in recent history, according to Nielsen -- tuned in to watch his victory in 1997.
Here’s how Nielsen rated the marketability of the top five active golfers:
- Mickelson -- 75 N-Score/52 percent appeal
- Tom Watson -- 54/63 percent
- Tiger Woods -- 41/17 percent
- Fred Couples -- 35/57 percent
- Ernie Els -- 32/51 percent