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Golfer with $350 in his bank account has to turn down $300K from top 5 PGA Tour finish

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Lee McCoy, who capped a dream week at the Valspar Championship playing alongside and beating Jordan Spieth, would have collected almost $300k in prize money. Instead, he left with $350 in gas money for a 7-hour ride back to Athens, Georgia.

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The total purse for the Valspar Championship, which Charl Schwartzel won on Sunday, was $6.1 million. Schwartzel walked away with a $1.098 million winner's check and as is custom nowadays on the PGA Tour, the chasers behind him in the top 10 all got nice six-figure payouts.

That was not the case for fourth-place Lee McCoy, who finished a dream week at Innisbrook's Copperhead Course at 4-under par. The payout for that result was supposed to be $292,800.

McCoy, who is an amateur and still at Georgia finishing up his senior year, had to leave the money on the table. It was an agonizing prize to turn down, but McCoy knew the deal when he got the exemption from tournament organizers and decided to tee it up as an amateur. He probably thought he may have to turn down some cash, but not $300k. That's why his playing partner on Sunday, world No. 1 Jordan Spieth, who made $22 million in on-course earnings alone last year, told him not to look at the payout table as they signed their scorecards.

McCoy was a good four shots better than Spieth in their Sunday pairing, so at least he's got that going for him.

The UGA bulldog will probably start cashing some nice checks in a few months when he does turn pro and signs deals with equipment companies and other endorsers. But for now, he's got just $350 in his account.

Jordan, we were sitting in the scoring tent and it was a sheet with the winnings there and he told me not to look. I looked. I shouldn't have looked. Lot of money. Lot of money.

I think I got like 350 bucks in my bank account right now so it's mostly gas money. It hurt but there's so much going great for me right now.

McCoy is an elite college player but the primary reason he got an exemption was because the Innisbrook course in Tampa is in the neighborhood where he grew up as a kid. So he knew the course and it showed, posting the lowest amateur score at a non-opposite-field PGA Tour event since Justin Rose at that famous 1998 Open (per Golf Channel). Schwartzel's win was almost a secondary storyline to McCoy's run to the first page of the leaderboard in front of friends and family.

There was not much time to hang out. McCoy fired off this tweet to convey how incredible the week was, and then he had to hop in the car and make a 7.5-hour drive back up to Athens for a 36-hole event with UGA on Monday.

No chartered jets like the other pros, who got to split his forfeited prize money. Two players he beat, Charles Howell III and Graham DeLaet, split the extra $300k, which is a nice little boost to their top-five money.

Here are the payouts for the top finishers at this year's Valspar:

Place Player Score Payout
1 Charl Schwartzel -7 $1,098,000
2 Bill Haas -7 $658,800
3 Ryan Moore -5 $414,800
4 Lee McCoy -4 $0
T5 Charles Howell III -3 $268,400
T5 Graham DeLaet -3 $268,400
T7 Louis Oosthuizen -2 $197,488
T7 Scott Brown -2 $197,488
T7 Steve Stricker -2 $197,488
T7 Patrick Reed -2 $197,488
T11 Matt Kuchar -1 $130,714
T11 George McNeill -1 $130,714
T11 Daniel Berger -1 $130,714
T11 Retief Goosen -1 $130,714
T11 Henrik Stenson -1 $130,714
T11 Jason Gore -1 $130,714
T11 Charley Hoffman -1 $130,714

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