The day started at the Northern Trust Open with the most stacked leaderboard of the young year. There were bombers and world-class millionaires all over the first page of the board. Bubba Watson led, and Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, and Justin Rose were all within shouting distance. None of those guys really need another winner's check.
But as we come down the stretch, it's the relatively unknown and unheralded Jason Kokrak who is closing in on the first win of his career. Kokrak holds a two-shot lead with four holes to play and has been the one player on the board who has not looked sloppy or given away shots in this final round at Riviera. If you're a close follower of the Tour then you've heard his name before, but he hasn't exactly hauled in the cash over the years. He's a bigger guy who drives the ball a mile, but has not found the winner's circle.
Well, a win on Sunday in Los Angeles will net Kokrak a $1,224,000 first-place check. The purse at the Northern Trust Open is one of the richer prizes for a regular PGA Tour event (not counting the majors, WGCs, Players). The total is $6.8 million, the second-highest of the year so far behind last week's $7 million purse at Pebble Beach.
Kokrak is facing a nervy final four holes, but even if he does give away that two-shot lead, he should cash a hefty six-figure check from wherever he lands on the leaderboard. As ESPN Golf noted, the winner's check would just about equal the earnings of his best year on Tour ($1,267,525).
For comparison's sake, Kokrak's career earnings total $4,901,149, while Bubba Watson, his closest chaser, has banked $33,997,929.
We'll update the official payout totals when the tournament goes final.
UPDATE: Welp, Kokrak opened the door for Bubba over the final four holes, and the 2014 winner at Riviera took advantage to win again and take home another $1 million-plus paycheck. The final payout totals:
|T20||Tyrone van Aswegen||-6||$73,667|
|T26||Harold Varner, III||-5||$44,385|
|75||Charles Howell III||6||$13,056|