Multi-million dollar man Graeme McDowell has promised himself a 'fantastic Christmas' from his golf treasure trove, with the prospect of more New Year riches to follow.
The Portrush golfer's latest, dramatic $1.2million win in the Tiger Woods tournament took his career earnings to $15million, translating to £9.5million.
He can treble that amount from sponsorship and product endorsements, making him Northern Ireland's richest competing sports star and on course to be our biggest money-maker ever.
Former Grand Prix driver Eddie Irvine, from Conlig, currently tops the rich list with estimated career earnings of £40million and a personal fortune of over £80million from property and stock market investments since leaving the track with four F1 wins to his credit. McDowell's rival for BBC Sports Personality of 2010, Grand National winning jockey AP McCoy, earns an estimated £370,000 a year from racing.
But McDowell (31) has at least another 10 years at the top level in world golf to add to his nine tournament wins, three in the last incredible year, plus his memorable Ryder Cup clinching moment.
His earning potential, off course, has also soared.
McDowell has become hugely marketable, especially in the United States after his US Open win with two more lucrative American deals set to be sealed in the New Year. His two stunning 20 foot putts to deny Tiger Woods a first victory in 13 months made him even bigger box office on US TV.
But with his financial future secure, McDowell insists winning is more important than chasing the dollar.
And he vowed to carry on his relaxed attitude to life, insisting: “It’s going to be a fantastic Christmas. Life’s too short to look over your shoulder — you have to look forward and my glass is always half full rather than half empty.”
That’s rich: big earners in Northern Ireland sport
Eddie Irvine (Motorsport) £40m career earnings
Graeme McDowell (Golf) £9.5m career earnings
Rory McIlroy (Golf) £5.3m career earnings
Darren Clarke (Golf) £6.5m career earnings
Jonny Evans (Football) £1.92m a year
Aaron Hughes (Football) £1.2m a year
Steven Davis (Football) £960,000 a year
Tony McCoy (Horse Racing) £370,000 a year