The 2022 Players Championship created headlines before it had even begun thanks to its then-record $20 million purse, the largest in PGA Tour history.
Much has changed in the 12 months since the last TPC Sawgrass event, which was won by Cameron Smith, thanks to the emergence of the PGA Tour rival that the Australian now plays on, LIV Golf.
That heralded a new era of unprecedented purse sizes, with $25 million in each of the venture’s seven regular tournaments. As it threatened to cherry-pick even more of the top talent from the PGA Tour, the more established circuit responded with some eye-catching purses of its own.
The introduction of designated events for 2023 ensured that several tournaments, including last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, would have purses equal to last year’s Players Championship prize fund. With three purses reaching that level in 2023 so far, at Bay Hill and in the WM Phoenix Open and Genesis Invitational before it. However, this week’s event stands apart once again, with a LIV Golf-matching $25m on offer for the top-quality field.
That’s in keeping with an event that, to many, is a Major in all but name. After all, as well as the purse and incredible field, the tournament – like The Masters – has a regular home with iconic holes including the famous island green at the 17th.
Meanwhile, even though the Players Championship doesn’t offer the same number of Official World Golf Ranking points as the Majors (80 rather than 100), it does offer the winner a five-year exemption on Tour and a three-year exemption for all four Majors.
It’s the huge purse that is surely one of the biggest attractions of the tournament, though, and because of the distribution, the winner will claim even more than the $4m awarded to the victors in the individual LIV Golf events. A staggering $4.5m will come the way of the 2023 winner, $900,000 more than Smith earned for his win in 2022.
As for the runner-up, he will at least be able to draw comfort from missing out on the trophy with a bank balance swelled by a further $2.725m. That compares very favourably with the $2.18m earned by Anirban Lahiri for his second-place finish last year – a career-changing sum at the time – and works out at $25,000 more than Justin Thomas claimed for winning the event only two years ago.
The game has undergone some big changes in the 12 months since the last Players Championship. The extraordinary sum on offer in this week’s event arguably offers one of the…
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