Money makes the world of professional golf go around
WITH the Race to Dubai now run for 2017 and the PGA Tour already well into the 2017-18 season, we thought it might be instructional to crunch some numbers on what has been an astonishing year.
Four players on the PGA Tour won 15 tournaments between them - Justin Thomas (5), Jordan Spieth (3), Dustin Johnson (4) and Hideki Matsuyama (3), while Marc Leishman and Xander Shauffele both won twice. Thomas finished on top of the money list, earning a staggering $9,921,560, with Spieth also winning more than $9m, and Johnson and Matsuyama both topping $8m. On top of that, Thomas collected a cool $10m bonus for winning the FedEx Cup.
It is not bad work, if you can get it. And the truth is that the money on offer on the PGA Tour these days is mind-boggling. How many players do you think earned in excess of $1m in prize money alone last season? 30? Nowhere close. 40? Keep going. It can't be more than 50, can it? Try again. 80? Nope. 90? No way.
Incredibly, 102 golfers topped the million-dollar mark, with Steve Stricker finishing 102nd on the money list with $1,002,036 to his name. That is a pretty impressive return for a part-time player. Stricker only played in 13 events. What it all means is that the day is not too far away when winning $1m over a season will not be good enough for a professional tournament golfer to retain his playing privileges. Just think about that for a minute.
These are scarcely believable numbers. In his entire playing career, Jack Nicklaus earned $5,734,031 - Spieth has already amassed more than $35m in career earnings, with Tiger Woods leading the way on, wait for it, $110,061,012.
Mind you, it is not like that for everybody. Spare a thought for former tournament winner Steven Bowditch. The Australian played in 27 tournaments and collected a paltry $24,650. He made only two cuts, with a best finish of 58th at the Career Builder Challenge. He broke 70 just five times.
Justin Rose, who came within a whisker of landing the Race to Dubai, has earned $42,657,882 on the PGA Tour and is 12th in the career earnings list. Sergio Garcia, with $47,208,180, is seventh on that list.
Unsurprisingly, the numbers on the European Tour don't come close, but there is still a very comfortable living to be earned by the best players.
Prize money is now paid in euros, and Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood finished the season having added €5,420,530 to his bank balance. Fleetwood won twice, as did Tyrrell Hatton, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose. Sergio Garcia was the only three-time winner - the Dubai Desert Classic, The Masters and the Andalucia Masters.
Encouragingly for the European Tour and their efforts to keep the continent's best players on their home circuit, the top 40 players all earned more than €1m. The top 60 players in the Race to Dubai all made it through to the lucrative, season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, with Paul Waring the man in 60th place with €727,000.
In Europe, the top 100 players in the Race to Dubai keep their playing privileges. The man in final place on this list was Marcel Siem, with €388,345 from 28 starts. In 280th place was Nathan Holman. He started 21 tournaments. His prize money? €9.450. Holman won the Australian PGA Championship in 2016. In 2017, he made just two cuts.
Fleetwood, aged just 26, is already in 43rd place in the European Tour's career money list with €10,347,620 to his name. Leading the way is Lee Westwood with €34,331,853, followed by Rory McIlroy with €33,015,999 (the Northern irishman has also earned more than $35m on the PGA Tour). In third place is Ernie Els with €28,577,177, followed by Garcia on €27,496,684.
Rose is in eighth place with €24,293,151, just behind eight-time order of merit winner Colin Montgomerie.
So the message is clear - if your son shows any promise as a golfer, it might well be worth encouraging him.
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