Players Championship purse bumped to $20 million, keeping Tour’s marquee event the richest in golf

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The Players Championship purse has now doubled in a mere six years.

The PGA Tour will raise The Players purse to $20 million beginning next year, with the winner earning $3.6 million. Golf Channel first reported the increase after obtaining an internal memo sent to players and a Tour official confirmed the contents of the memo to the Florida Times-Union late Monday.

The purse was $10 million as recently as 2015, was bumped to $10.5 million for 2016 and 2017, to $11 million in 2018 and to $12.5 million in 2019, to push back ahead of the U.S. Open as the richest purse in golf after the USGA, flush with cash from a TV deal with FOX, jumped ahead of the Players.

The Tour then raised it again to $15 million last year, with winner Justin Thomas earning $2.7 million.

The $3.6 million next year’s winner will get was more than the total purse in 1997.

“The Tour is certainly committed to maintaining its position as the premier global tour in men’s professional golf,” said Players executive director Jared Rice. “This increase further elevates the Players as the best championship in men’s professional golf and furthers our efforts to deliver the flagship event of the PGA Tour in Northeast Florida, with the strongest field, the purest test of golf and a record-setting purse.”

The memo also said the Tour is incentivizing international players to compete in at least 15 tournaments, required to retain membership and qualify as voting members. The Tour’s program, “Play 15 Bonus,” will offer $50,000 to players who compete in at least 15 Tour events.

The memo further said the program is still under review.

Starts on the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Champions and sanctioned exhibitions don’t count toward the 15 starts, but the Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup and Olympics will count.

The Tour also is bumping the purse for its Sentry Tournament of Champions, which kicks off the calendar year in Hawaii for players who won the previous season. That purse will be $8 million, with $1.44 million going to the winner.

Rice said the return to full capacity for the 2022 Players also will result in a return to its charitable impact, in which more than $100 million has gone to area charities since the event came to the Jacksonville, Florida, area in 1977.

“We’re preparing to operate without restrictions,” he said. “But we’ve learned to be very flexible with changes due to the pandemic. Having the event at full capacity and without restrictions will put us in a position to do more for the community.”

Players Championship Purse Evolution

First year, 1974: $250,000 purse, $50,000 to the winner.

First Players at TPC Sawgrass, 1982: $500,000 purse, $90,000 to the winner.

First million-dollar purse, 1987: $1 million purse, $180,000 to the winner.

Jumping past $2 million, 1993: $2.5 million purse, $450,000 to the winner.

Drive for five, 1999: $5 million purse, $900,000 to the winner.

First year in May, 2007: $9 million purse, $1.62 million to the winner.

Cracking eight figures, 2014: $10 million purse, $1.8 million to the winner.

Back to March, 2019: $12.5 million purse, $2.25 million to the winner.

The big 1-5, 2021: $15 million purse, $2.7 million to the winner.

20 in 2022: $20 million purse, $3.6 million to the winner.

Major championships (last year’s payouts)

Masters: $11.5 purse, $2,070,000 to the winner.

PGA Championship: $12 million purse, $2,16 million to the winner.

U.S. Open: $12.5 million purse, $2.25 million to the winner.

British Open: $11.5 purse, $2,070,000 to the winner.