How Are PGA Purses Split?
PGA Tour events are run by individual tournament hosts.
But the formula for dividing each tournament’s purse is set by the PGA Tour, with occasional exceptions made for special events. Under the PGA Tour formula, each golfer who makes the cut receives a specified percentage of the prize money, depending on where he finishes in the final standings.
The PGA Tour designates a specific percentage of a tournament’s purse for each place in the standings, from first to 70th.
A tournament’s champion receives 18 percent of the total purse while the 70th spot is worth 0.2 percent of the purse.
If more than 70 professional golfers make a tournament cut, each position after 70th place is worth $100 less than the previous spot. In a tournament with a $5 million purse, for example, the winner receives $900,000. The 10th place finisher receives $135,000 (2.7 percent); 20th place is worth $65,000 (1.3 percent); 30th place pockets $34,000 (0.68 percent); 40th place receives $21,500 (0.43 percent); 50th place gets $12,600 (0.252 percent); 60th place is worth $11,000 (0.22 percent); and 70th place earns $10,000.
If two or more professional players finish with identical scores, the dollar values of the players’ positions are added, then divided by the number of tied players to determine each player’s share. For example, Chris DiMarco and Justin Leonard tied for second at the 2004 PGA Championship. The tournament had a $6.25 million purse, so second place was worth $675,000 under the standard formula (10.8 percent) and third place was worth $425,000 (6.8 percent). The two positions added up to $1.1 million, so each player received $550,000.
Amateurs occasionally play in PGA Tour events, but because they don’t accept prize money they’re simply passed over when the purse is distributed. At the 2012 Masters, for example, 59 professional players made the cut. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano finished last among the professionals, in 61st place. But because two amateurs finished ahead of him, Fernandez-Castano earned 59th place money (0.222 percent), which was $17,760 of the $8 million purse.
The PGA Tour alters its standard format on occasion, typically for tournaments with smaller fields. The 2011 TOUR Championship, for example, featured a 30-player field. Winner Bill Haas still received the standard 18 percent of the $8 million purse, $1.44 million, but most other spots were worth more than the standard formula.
Tenth-place finisher Phil Mickelson would’ve earned $216,000 under the standard formula, but instead received $227,000 (2.84 percent). Webb Simpson would’ve normally received $89,600 (1.12 percent) for 22nd place, but instead was awarded $147,200 (1.84 percent). Jonathan Byrd took home $128,000 (1.6 percent) for 30th place, instead of the standard $54,400.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.