Every year during Players Championship week, there's an endless debate on what constitutes a major championship in golf and whether the PGA Tour's marquee event should be tacked on as a "fifth major." It's a tradition now. The Players will probably never be considered a major but if one of the main criteria for defining one was purse size, well, it would be the most prestigious event in the game.
One way the PGA Tour and The Players have always tried to wedge this event in at the adult table is by offering the largest pot of prize money in the game. It's always boasted the biggest purse in golf, but in recent years, the other majors have joined the party and pushed theirs to eight figures too. The whole recent arms race started in the fall of 2013, when the PGA Tour and the PGA of America made a joint announcement that they were pushing their purses to $10 million. It was a major bump and one done jointly, with The Players and PGA Championship passing the other three majors to become the biggest cash game in the world. The Players had already been there, but now they were working in concert with the PGA of America.
Since that announcement, the other majors made their moves to get to $10 million and now this year The Players has reacted with a $500,000 bump to $10.5 million. That 2013 announcement was done with Ted Bishop, and well, he's long gone from the PGA of America so we'll see if the PGA Championship bumps its purse as well this summer. The Masters stayed at $10 million back in April.
The normal purse on the PGA Tour usually ranges from the low $6 millions to the low $7 millions but it varies based on the venue, title sponsor, and time of year. It's crowded at the top, however, with the majors and the PGA Tour pouring a ton of money into The Players and the WGC events. The latest numbers from some of the biggest events in golf:
- $10.5M -- The Players
- $10M -- The Masters (2016), U.S. Open (2015), British Open (2015), PGA Championship (2015)
- $9.5M -- World Golf Championship events
We'll see if the final three majors of the year react at all to this incremental bump at TPC Sawgrass, or stay at $10 million for another year. One thing is clear -- this arms race will continue and we're going to have a winner that takes home $2 million some day, and probably soon. This year's champion is juuuuust shy of earning a $1.9 million payout, and the second place finisher (barring no ties) still gets seven figures. Not bad work at TPC Sawgrass, even if the greens have brutalized the best in the world this week.
Here are the payout totals for this year's Players (amounts will obviously be impacted by ties and we'll update when final totals come in):
Update: Jason Day doesn't need the money, at all, but now he's got the richest winner's check in golf. The final payout totals from TPC Sawgrass:
|T23||Si Woo Kim||-4||$93,450|
|T57||Harold Varner, III||3||$23,100|
|T57||Brendon de Jonge||3||$23,100|
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