Off the Green, Mickelson Proves He’s Golf’s Master in Marketability

Off the Green, Mickelson Proves He’s Golf’s Master in Marketability

The tight, on-the-fairway battles between pro golfers Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are well-documented, if not legendary. But, when it comes to off-the-green marketability, it’s a runaway victory for Mickelson, according to Nielsen and E-Poll’s N-Score, which measures endorsement potential.

While the two head into this year’s Masters Tournament with Tiger netting four career wins at Augusta and Mickelson with three, it’s the golfer dubbed “Lefty” who has a comfortable lead in Nielsen’s N-Score with a 75 compared to Woods’ 41.

Woods shows a commanding lead in N-Score’s awareness category, with 73 percent of consumers being aware of the Woods brand, though only 17 percent say they like the 14-time major championship winner. Only three percent of respondents thought the golfer was “down to earth.” Conversely, 52 percent thought Mickelson was appealing.

Both golfers are able to drive ratings, however. Mickelson’s Masters win in 2010 drew 13.7 million viewers, while Tiger’s win in 1997 attracted the most viewers in recent history: 15.8 million people tuning in.

Top 5 Active Golfers by N-Score
Name N-Score % Appeal
Phil Mickelson 75 52
Tom Watson 54 63
Tiger Woods 41 17
Fred Couples 35 57
Ernie Els 32 51
Source: Nielsen / E-Poll

“Although Tiger Woods continues to draw viewers and just won his first tournament 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,” said Stephen Master, VP, Sports for Nielsen. “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.”


Using the combined research expertise of Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research, N-Score is an in-depth look at a sports figure’s overall endorsement potential, factoring in the attributes and demographic measures that align brands with endorsers. Each individual N-Score National survey is administered to 1,100 people within that panel via the Internet. The sample is representative of the general population based on gender, income, age, and education. Awareness, as noted in the Wire post above, is determined by showing half of the survey participants a picture of the athlete and half the athlete’s name. Appeal is the percentage of participants aware of the athlete who say that they like an athlete or like an athlete a lot.