ATLANTA — There’s $18 million reasons why Rory McIlroy isn’t express mailing it in this week at the Tour Championship despite suffering muscle spasms in his lower back.
That’s the winner’s haul as the season-long FedEx Cup champion finds a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Last place in the 30-man field? $500,000. Nice work if you can get it. But everyone that made it to East Lake already has filled their coffers with a minimum of $5 million this season. No one’s going hungry.
And yet when McIlroy was asked whether he was frustrated that his back went out on him ahead of the playoff finale, he didn’t hesitate in his response.
“I would rather it pop up now than in three or four weeks’ time,” he said, a reference to the Ryder Cup, which is scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 1.
There’s no purse at the biennial match between the U.S. and Europe, just bragging rights that last a lifetime. There’s only three certainties in life: death, taxes and anytime someone says it’s not about the money, it’s always about the money.
So much of the talk in golf for the past few years has centered around the all mighty dollar and the obscene amount of guaranteed money being paid by the Saudi Arabian-backed LIV Golf to pro golfers who hit a little white ball into a hole. From skyrocketing purses to paying PIP money based on popularity, the PGA Tour has tried to buy the loyalty of its biggest names. But to hear Masters champion Jon Rahm tell it, he’s never focused on the money.
“It’s one of the things that frustrates me about watching this broadcast. Like, we’re not thinking if we miss a putt how much it’s going to cost us money-wise. No chance. Like, none whatsoever,” he said. “You’re trying to finish as high as possible. You’re trying to win a tournament. It’s one of my pet peeves when they make this tournament all about money because I think it takes away from it.
“When you win a Green Jacket, I can tell you right now that any major champion this year might not remember how much money they made. And that’s the beauty about this game and I think that’s kind of how it should be. Obviously I’m saying that being in an extremely privileged position financially. I mean, at that point, from first to second, you’re making a ton of money, so it’s more about winning than the prize itself.”
Shortly after Rahm made his comments, world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who earned more than $21 million in official money this season, a…