Australian golfer Adam Scott will be counting the cost of his incredible British Open meltdown in more ways than one, with the world No.13's Greg Norman-like collapse set to cost him a small fortune in sponsorship arrangements.
Sports marketing experts say Scott's breakdown overnight on the greens of the Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club, in which he carded four consecutive bogeys on the last four holes to lose, could set Scott back at least $2 million in endorsements.
"I think it's enormous, everybody loves a winner at the end of the day," sports marketing consultant John Tripodi told Crikey. "Particularly corporations when they want to get on board in terms of endorsement deals. It could be millions and millions of dollars worth."
Tripodi, who runs Twenty3 Sports and Entertainment, reckons it will hurt Scott's image if he inherits the choker tag from his hero Norman, who infamously coughed up a six-stroke lead to Nick Faldo on the final day of the US Masters in 1996.
"If you look at Greg Norman, he went through his entire career with that stigma of being a bit of a choker," he said. "So it's whether he [Scott] can regroup and have a series of wins from this type of situation. Because if he doesn't have another big win, and he's certainly got plenty left in the tank, he'll be remembered for this one event."
One of the factors that could help or hinder Scott, depending on which way you look at it, is his international profile. As one of the few Australian athletes playing a sport that reaches into the US and Europe, he has the potential to attract a series of big sponsors. Conversely, that also means a big loss has the potential to reverberate much further.
Tripodi says consistency will be the key for Scott if he is to convince those companies to start signing cheques. The lost sponsorship arrangements were worth "at least a couple of mill", according to Tripodi.
"He's already got a good array of sponsors, he might just have a few more come on board and want his international images rights," he said. "Cadel Evans is a good example, if you ask him what's the difference between being a runner-up over the few years of the Tour de France versus winning it, it's black and white."
Still, those with sympathy for Scott can be assured he is in no financial difficulty. Scott has already trousered more than $US27 million in prizemoney during his PGA career, with an extra $US800,000 in his golf bag after Sunday's effort. And despite his series of golfing major disappointments, Norman managed to turn his pro career into a multimillion dollar goldmine through golf course design and other business interests.
Sports management expert Professor David Shilbury from Deakin University says Scott won't be short of a dollar, despite the elusive major win, but his earning potential could still suffer if he doesn't turn things around.
"The reality is, he's still a world-class golfer and he's still commercially well off," Shilbury told Crikey this morning. "But if the trend continues to be, let's put this way, Norman-like, then he's not going to be remembered as one of the greats. And that will affect his commercial standing."
The good news for Scott is that at age 32 he's still got plenty of years left in his career to become a marketable golfing superstar. Tripodi and Shilbury believe Scott has plenty of time to go to that next level, as long as he manages to win a major soon.
"If there's one thing this has done, even though he and we would have liked him to win it, it's certainly made him top of mind again, whether it's national or international sponsors who were looking at him," said Tripodi. "The story will be told in 10 years' time when you look back and ask 'did he win some other majors?'. Today's event, we won't even remember it."
Shilbury said the bad headlines will eke away when the London Olympics come around this week, giving Scott the opportunity to concentrate on his next opportunity: "But the bottom line is, it does have an impact on his standing commercial and image-wise. He's only got to win an open in the next 12 months or so and everyone forgets the fallout from this one."