The PGA Tour has raised the stakes on its preeminent event, and now the Players Championship has by far the biggest purse in the world of any tournament outside the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The Players purse has gone from $15 million to $20 million, according to a memo obtained by Golf Channel, which is more than $7 million more than all four major purses.
The number is staggering, especially when you consider that the biggest major championship purse this last season was the U.S. Open, which paid out $12.5 million to everyone who made the cut at Torrey Pines in June. The PGA Championship purse was $12 million while the Masters and Open Championship purses are $11.5 million.
Of course, all of this pales in comparison to the Tour Championship payouts at the end of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The purse that week was $46 million with Patrick Cantlay, who went on to win and earned $15 million by himself. Still, the difference in events is stark. The Tour Championship is the end of a season-long race, while the Players is a stand-alone event. The Tour's most important stand-alone event but a stand-alone event nonetheless.
To put this in perspective, it is estimated that Arnold Palmer made a little over $3 million on the PGA Tour over the course of his career. Now the winner of the Players is probably set to make around that same amount when the tournament gets underway in March 2022.
The Tour has flexed its muscle a bit ever since reports began swirling about a potential global golf league that was supposedly attempting to lure some of the biggest players in the world with its deep reserves of cash. Since all of that was a conversation early in 2021, the Tour has unveiled a $40 million incentive program -- dubbed the Player Impact Program -- for golfers who rank highly in a variety of measurable categories both online and in real-life activities such as the FedEx Cup, and now it has bumped the purse for its spotlight event by $5 million.
It will be interesting to see what other changes come to an organization that clearly wants to separate itself from all competitors and would-be competitors in the future. The memo also noted that the Tournament of Champions will also be getting a purse bump and that golfers who play in at least 15 events in a year will receive $50,000. If money is indeed an alluring incentive for the best golfers in the world then the PGA Tour is doing a great job of snuffing out any reason these golfers would ever think about playing anywhere other than on this tour.