The men’s US Open golf championship will offer a record overall purse of $15.5m for the first time, at a time when the winner’s prize is projected to fall to the lowest level since the event began offering payouts in 2004.
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The USGA released a competitive landscape report on Friday for the year’s first major, which will be played from 27-30 June at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. It included the projected payout levels for the two leading players and the final four golfers in the standings.
The payouts have decreased over the past eight US Opens, from a high of $17.5m in 2015 for Rory McIlroy to a low of $12.5m for Bubba Watson in 2016.
As far as total purse is concerned, the USGA allocated $8.5m for a US Open champions’ check (the smallest since the prize purse was increased to $12m in 2004), with $5.5m going to the winning team and the rest to the runner-up. The previous record purse of $8.75m went to Jason Day and the Day family in 2016.
The overall purse at last year’s event at Erin Hills fell 40% from the amount that was spent in 2015.
Golf World (@GolfWorld) ?? Welcome to Erin Hills – where the purse increase for this year’s US Open will reportedly be quite low
The site of this year’s event has also been the venue for a lower-than-expected purse in 2015 and 2016. In 2015, with the PGA Tour’s FedExCup not being played there, there was a $10m total purse. The purse for the year’s first major has increased from $10m in 2015 to $12m in 2016. But in both years, the United States Golf Association slashed the purse because of the PGA Tour’s cash shortage.
In 2016, the play-in and play-off for the playoff spots took place at Erin Hills, resulting in only 156-player field. This year, with an expanded field of 312, the play-in and play-off for the playoff spots were held this week, which will result in the 156 players to be trimmed to a final field of 156.
But in line with the USGA’s overall purse cuts, there will be cuts in many of the other pro-am and other celebrity events that will take place in July to help defray expenses, according to the USGA. Two years ago, the USGA reduced its net pro-am fee by 50% to $110,000 and this year the USGA is proposing a 50% cut again to $75,000.
The LPGA career earnings leader Brittany Lang will be hosting a celebrity golf event on Tuesday at Erin Hills and the winner will receive a $20,000 donation from her camp to her charity of choice, according to the USGA.
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This year’s US Open winner will receive $1.255m, while the runner-up will earn $960,000 and the four players in the final four spots will receive $750,000. The winner in 2015 was McIlroy, and the runner-up was Dustin Johnson.
Two additional US Open dollars will be awarded in 2019 and 2021, adding up to $2m.