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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Golf is dipped in gold: from Tiger Woods to the Saudi league

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Golf counts dollar for dollar. The mountain of gold that the Saudi league has laid on the table has shaken the sport to its core. The discussion has moved from whether the game has become a batting competition, Scottie Scheffler’s breakout as world number one, or Jon Rahm’s short game to how much golfers make and how much more they will make. On Wednesday evening, the American circuit PGA Tour responded to the Saudi offer of $255 million in prize money for eight tournaments between June and October with the only possible counter-offer: breeding the checkbook. To avoid another star flight to the competition (Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Sergio García, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed have already switched sides), PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan fattened the sack, which will see eight tournaments spread out in 2023 The Arnold Palmer, for example, will go from 12 to 20 million; the players, from 20 to 25. In addition, the calendar will be reformulated to reward the best with juicier endings, and three new dates will be born for the elite to grow richer.

The shockwave of Saudi league LIV Golf will result in golf becoming a much more lucrative sport than it already is. It’s the market law. And players have used the appearance of a giant promising to line their pockets even more to demand a pay raise under threat of a sit-in. The move will be profitable for some athletes, who have enjoyed a very well-paying discipline since the advent of Tiger Woods 25 years ago. Data abounds in this direction. American Scheffler has already made $12.8 million this season, before the end of June, in prize money alone and excluding advertising revenue, salary for four wins (including the Masters of Augusta) and a handful of honorary positions. That number exceeds what a golfer has taken in a whole season in all of history. Jordan Spieth entered 12 million in the 2015 academic year, the second step in a list that has Tiger in four of the top seven positions. “I never dreamed of playing golf for so much money. I don’t know how much I’ve won this year, but it’s definitely too much for a small white ball,” admits the 26-year-old world number one.

Another surprising fact: Will Zlatoris, a 25-year-old American, has become the golfer who makes the most money in a season (and still in June on the calendar) without having a single win: $6.4 million for three-second positions, two-fifths, two-sixths… Comparing it to tennis, a sport with a similar structure and organization, gives this perception that golf is dipped in gold. Compared to those 6.4 million Zatoris who didn’t bit a trophy, Rafa Nadal, the most successful tennis player of the course, has included 5.7 million prizes (without fixed amounts) in this campaign for four wins with two big ones. Some differences are also beginning to emerge in the Grand Slam. The Balearic staked $2.8 million for his triumph in Australia and $2.3 for his reconquest at Roland Garros. England’s Matt Fitzpatrick accepted a check for 3.15 million from Sheffield for his success at the US Open, the biggest Fat in the history of majors of golf

The Saudi publicity has left American circles and the bigwigs scratching their pockets. The US Open added to that 3.15 million a checkbook signed by winner Jon Rahm the previous year with 2.2 (and that was already double what Rory McIlroy received in 2011). The PGA has also searched the piggy bank to avoid the temptation of their big credentials. Personalities such as Rahm, McIlroy and Justin Thomas have sworn their undying love to her trip Americans, although it is obvious that this loyalty to the motherhouse does not come free. Commissioner Monahan has used the austerity and pressure on sponsors to keep his finger on the pulse, although he knows he has the losing side in what now appears to be Golf auction against a rival with unlimited spending and investment in not has eligible funds. “If this is a war and the only weapon is dollars, the PGA Tour, an American institution, cannot compete with a monarchy that is spending billions to buy golf,” he said Wednesday when announcing the move candy to keep the troops happy.

Jon Rahm and Tiger Woods, past champions.Gregory Shamus (AFP)

Monahan currently retains the top ten the world rankings. But the Saudi league is getting closer to those positions. Increased prize money and new tournaments give the PGA pause, bolstered by speeches like Rahm’s at the US Open. “I could retire now with what I’ve earned and have a very happy life and never play golf again, but I’m playing for legacy and history, not money,” said the Basque, who turned pro in six years is $34 million. McIlroy added: “I don’t understand the decision of players my similar age [33 años], because I believe my best days are yet to come, and I believe others feel the same way. It gives me the feeling that they are making it easy for themselves. ”The Northern Irishman, winner of four majors, has 64 million in the current account. Among the Rebels, Phil Mickelson won 95; Dustin Johnson, 74; Sergio Garcia, 54.

The origin of boom dates back to 1997. Tiger Woods revolutionized golf at that Masters in Augusta in such a way that he not only changed the game and the preparation of the athletes, but also took it to a dimension that went far beyond its financial dimension: the audience grew as did the value of the Television rights, the sponsors spiraled into who paid more to portray the Tiger’s image, and the tournaments multiplied their endowment. In 1991, before the Woods era, the average earnings on the American circuit was $146,000 per seat per player, counting from position 1 to 250; In 2021 the average was 1.48 million. She had increased tenfold. “Tiger is the reason why my children and grandchildren solve their lives financially,” suspects Rahm. Today, with Woods’ prime already in the newspaper library, the new revolution has arrived from Arabia.

Also hit with the ladies

Dollars aren’t just growing on America’s men’s circuits. The PGA championship on the American women’s course LPGA started this Thursday and the prize pool has doubled to nine million dollars. The winner will enter 1.35 million on Sunday, double what Nelly Korda received when she won the tournament in 2021.

The increase is even with the big ones. In January, the USGA announced that the US Women’s Open had gone from 5.5 million to 10. The Chevron Championship, the first Main of the year also increased its prize pool from 3 to 5 million and the Evian Championship, held in July, from 4.5 to 6.5. Overall, LPGA golfers are playing for $97.1 million this year, an all-time record. The best-placed Spaniard in the world rankings is Carlota Ciganda in 51st place.

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Source elpais.com

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