PGA Tour ups ante as prize money pushes toward $500 million
New York: The PGA Tour is raising purses even higher in five of its biggest events, with two FedEx Cup playoff events now offering USD 15 million in a schedule that pushes prize money closer to the USD 500 million mark this year.
The increases, which include USD 12 million purses in the three invitational tournaments, were approved at a board meeting two weeks ago in Houston and outlined in a memo PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan sent to players on Monday.
"We are positioned to grow faster in the next 10 years than we have at any point in our existence," Monahan said in the memo, which was obtained by The Associated Press.
Monahan said the tour's forecast is for 55% of revenue going back to the players in prize money, bonus programs and other benefits. The $838 million allocated to the players includes USD 32 million from the reserve fund.
Prize money from official events comes out to USD 360.1 million. That doesn't include the USD 75 million from the FedEx Cup, and it doesn't include the majors, which now are lagging behind regular PGA Tour events.
The majors typically don't announce their purses until closer to the event. A year ago, the richest major was the US Open at USD 12.5 million. The PGA Championship purse was USD 12 million and the Masters and British Open awarded USD 11.5 million.
The memo was a year-end message that was delivered earlier than usual, in part because of an announcement earlier this month that a Greg Norman-led group funded by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund plans to inject USD 200 million into the Asian Tour as a step toward creating a world tour promising guaranteed riches.
Monahan did not mention competing tours in his memo.
The tour already posted the 2021-22 schedule that showed most tournaments increasing prize money by nearly USD 1 million.
The updates approved by the board include the postseason events the FedEx St Jude Championship and the BMW Championship going from USD 11.5 million to USD 15 million in prize money, meaning the winner would get USD 2.7 million. That's a boost from a USD 9.5 million purse a year ago.
Also, prize money at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera, the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and the Memorial at Muirfield Village are going up to USD 12 million, compared with USD 10.5 million previously listed and USD 9.3 million a year ago.
The World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play also will have a USD 12 million purse.
The average purse on the PGA Tour, not including the four opposite-field events, is roughly USD 9 million.
Along with prize money, the FedEx Cup bonus pool goes from USD 60 million to USD 75 million, with the winner getting USd 18 million. The Comcast Business Tour Top 10, which offers bonuses to the top finishers in the regular season, doubles its total bonus to USd 20 million.
The Player Impact Program, which awards the leading players based on various media metrics, goes from USD 40 million to USD 50 million.
The tour said USd 685 million from the USD 838 million allocated to the players would be player compensation, such as prize money and bonuses. The rest goes into retirement and benefits plans.
The increases come largely from the nine-year media rights deal (network and digital) worth roughly USD 7 billion that goes into effect in 2022.
"Over the past 20 months as we have managed through the pandemic and restored our operating reserves we have prioritized purse and comprehensive earnings growth across all FedEx Cup positions," Monahan said in the memo, adding the tour was "bullish on the forecast" going forward.