One of the biggest storylines heading into the 77th U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles is the historic $10 million purse. The 2022 winner will receive $1.8 million. While a full purse breakdown isn’t yet available, it’s safe to say that this will be a game-changing week for many financially.
Benefits of a purse that size extend throughout the whole field, however, even to those who don’t play the weekend. This year, professionals who miss the cut will receive $8,000, double what was given last year at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. The men who missed the U.S. Open cut at Torrey Pines last year received $10,000.
There are 19 players on the Epson Tour who qualified for Pine Needles. The 50th-ranked player on that tour has earned less than $10,000 all season. To know going into the event that no matter what happens, money won’t be lost, is a big deal.
“If I have one outrageous, spectacular week,” said Epson Tour player Gabby Lemieux, “that could make or break my entire season. It could be something along the lines of me running out of money at the end of the season maybe. Just good week could mean all the stress is gone. I don’t have to worry about having to eat McDonald’s. I could go out and have a steak if I want.”
Epson Tour player Gabby Lemieux (courtesy Epson Tour)
Lemieux, 25, who will make her major debut at Pine Needles, said she spends roughly $1,200 per week on a hotel on the Epson Tour. She has her husband, Jared, on the bag but said caddie fees on tour range anywhere from $700 to $1,200.
All players at the U.S. Women’s Open will also receive a Lexus courtesy car. They also receive discount cards for local restaurants, though free hot food in player hospitality runs until 8 p.m. each night.
There are physical therapists on hand, massage therapists, chiropractic care as well as a hyperbaric trainer and Normatec compression recovery.
Every perk adds up to a special week and profitable week. Last year’s purse at The Olympic Club was $5.5 million. There are plans to increase the purse to $12 million over the next five years.
“I think ultimately it takes the pressure off to go out there and make money,” said Lemieux, who has made $5,075 so far this season.
“Obviously our first goal should be to go out there and win. But ultimately I feel like there’s this pressure behind the scenes that girls feel that not many get to see.”