When Phil Mickelson speaks — or tweets — it’s often worth taking a closer look. Is he saying something because he means it? Because he’s entertained by the conversation? Or is it possibly because there’s the potential for massive financial gain?
Enter Mickelson’s final couple weeks of 2021, as seen on social media. While Lefty has gone on semi-regular Twitter sprees since joining the app three-plus years ago, this one felt more targeted than some others. Mickelson decided to wade into a couple hot-button issues, first by thanking Elon Musk for paying $11 billion in taxes and next by asking some open-ended questions about Covid-19.
“Serious question since I’m not a dr,” he wrote on Dec. 23. “If omicron is contagious but not deadly (25,000 cases in Africa with no deaths) why try and control it? Why not let it go and let people get it and develop immunity? Especially for those who won’t get vaccinated? Pls no hate, I’m just curious.”
Was Mickelson genuinely curious? Does he get a kick out of kicking a hornet’s nest? Or was he juicing the end-of-year-numbers on the Player Impact Program, that “PIP” you’ve heard so much about. If that was the intent, well, it worked. More than 6,000 people had responded to Mickelson by the time of this writing. More than 11,000 had retweeted or quote-tweeted it. More than 56,000 had liked it. Spirited debate (and plenty else) raged in the replies.
Mickelson was far from done with the app for the week. First he posted an optimistic message about the future of his Los Angeles Chargers (although his timing was rough as they were in the midst of losing to the subpar Houston Texans):
He weighed in on greens books being banned:
Then came the real drop: Mickelson announced he had won the PIP. At least, that’s how most people read it. But with Mickelson there’s always that chance the tweet was written for his own entertainment — or his own financial improvement.
After all, wasn’t the competition supposed to extend through the end of the year? Golfweek reported that according to a Tour spokesman, the year-long program runs through December 31 and a number of metrics have lag time in their reporting. If there’s a lag in reporting and Tiger Woods is No. 2 in the standings, his showing at the PNC Championship could certainly sway things. In other words, Mickelson could be out over his skis — or he could be exactly where he wants to be.
At first he confirmed his win was real:
Then he poked fun at Tiger Woods (and himself) after letting it slip that Woods had finished No. 2.
But maybe the Elon Musk tweet was more than a hat-tip. Maybe it was a nod to Mickelson’s inspiration. Could Lefty move the markets with his tweets? Our Sean Zak suggested that Mickelson was seeking to juice his mentions — and Mickelson seemed to agree with that.
Then Mickelson further tipped his hand in a tweet to Max Homa, who announced he’d missed out on the PIP’s top 10.
“Also, trying tweeting about hotbed political issues. That also works,” he wrote.
The Player Impact Program is a $40 million prize pool awarded to 10 players at the end of the year. Search engine traffic, TV time, global media attention, and Q-score and yes, social media engagement are all factors in the rankings. While the Tour hasn’t planned to release the final rankings, they’re expected to send them to Tour membership in February.
We’ll see if Mickelson’s name remains at the top of the list.
Oh, and while we’re at it: Mickelson explored a few other topics in his days at the Twitter dials, including his thoughts on mini-tour subsidies:
…exploring San Diego’s muni golf scene:
…and Arizona St.’s chances against Wisconsin:
Tweet on, Phil. After all, those metrics restart in the new year!