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major championships in golf

Could elevated purse events pose a threat to major championships in golf?

There are a number of PGA Tour events that dish out more prize money than the four major championships in golf, so could this cause players to skip the sport's biggest events in the future?
 

Rory McIlroy was asked to ponder the sustainability of increasing prize money in professional golf at the Memorial Tournament.

And a quite concerning concept came from the Northern Irishman’s media session that perhaps few people have contemplated before.

This week’s event at Muirfield Village has a $20 million purse after being awarded elevated status within this revamped 2023 schedule.

It is one of 11 events that carry a prize fund of at least $20 million – with the Players Championship dishing out $25 million in financial rewards at TPC Sawgrass in March.

Both the Masters at Augusta National golf club and the PGA Championship had inferior prize payouts compared with this week.

This led one reporter to ask McIlroy to ponder the sustainability and obsession with increasing prize money and whether this compromises the attractiveness of golf majors.

“It wouldn’t stop me from playing a major,” McIlroy said, “but at the same time the major championships basically rent the talent for a week from the PGA Tour and you could argue from LIV, and the DP World Tour and wherever else.

“The major championships aren’t going to be the product that they are without the top players in the world. So would that mean that I would or anyone would go to the lengths of not playing a major championship to make a point?

major championships in golf

“No. But that’s just having a reasonable conversation with the governing bodies and the people that run those tournaments and trying to come up with a solution.

“I don’t know who to place the blame on here, but you have a new entity coming into the game offering $25 million prize funds and other entities feel the pressure to keep up.

“You think about the four most important tournaments in our game, the prize funds aren’t in the top 20 of prize funds. That doesn’t quite add up. So whether there needs to be some sort of correction – I don’t know.

“As a player these big prize funds are great. But it’s a good question whether that’s sustainable in the long term. Golf has never been healthier. The industry’s doing really well. There’s more money coming into the game than ever before.

“More people want to put money into the game. For the short and medium term, I don’t think it’s a problem. But long term, I don’t really have a good answer for you.”

The PGA Tour announced its cash-injected schedule for this season at the 2022 Tour Championship, as well as doubling the Player Impact Programme pool to $100 million.

This was seen as a strategy to nail down its best players and prevent any more big names from moving to the LIV Golf League.

$25 million prize purses will be given out at each of LIV’s 14 events in 2023, as well as the season-ending team championship which awarded $50 million in total back in October.

The greatest example of LIV’s riches arguably lies with Dustin Johnson. The two-time major champion made $74,982,819 in 309 PGA Tour events.

In 14 individual LIV Golf tournaments in total, he has already passed the $40 million mark.

Money certainly talks in the professional sphere, but how long can prize pots continue to rise and can golf’s four major championships keep up?

Do you think major golf championships are under threat? Tweet us!

NOW READ: Has Jon Rahm solved the PGA Tour’s slow play problem?

major championships in golf

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spoken to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, to name just a few.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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