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U.S. Open raises prize money to $20M with $3.6M to winner

U.S. Open U.S. Open - Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The U.S Open has raised its prize money to $20 million, now tops among the major championships and on the same level as the PGA Tour's elevated events.

Prize money has become a focal point in recent years, even before Saudi-funded LIV Golf arrived with its $25 million purses ($20 million for the 54-hole individual competitions). The PGA Tour responded with $20 million purses at 10 tournaments, with $25 million for The Players Championship.

The Masters increased its purse to $18 million this year, while the PGA Championship bumped its prize money to $17.5 million.

The British Open has yet to announced its prize money. It was $14 million last year.

“In general for us, we want this to be big,” said Mike Whan, the CEO of the USGA. “We have to find the right balance of bigness in terms of where we play it, how we televise it, how many people we let on this golf course. I think purse is part of that.”

Whan said the USGA decided in November that $20 million was going to be the right number.

He also acknowledged the USGA has other projects, including its other 14 championships (U.S. Women's Open, U.S. Amateur) and sustainability studies.

He also said the USGA wasn't going to get into a money race with the PGA Tour, which operates a full schedule throughout the year with local organizations in charge of various tournaments and different sponsors for each.

“We understand that purses can be relative, and in order to be big we have to understand what else is going on in the world, and we do,” he said. “We’re not in a chase to be the biggest check, but we want to make sure that the money and the opportunity here, whether they’re a tour player, college player, amateur, how they got here, that’s still part of the bigness, and we believe it is.”


Collin Morikawa didn't avoid all conversation about the PGA Tour's business arrangement with Saudi Arabia's national wealth fund. But he had a clever way to change the conversation when the subject first came up.

Morikawa had tweeted that he “loves finding out morning news on Twitter” when the deal was announced. He was asked about sharing is thoughts after having a few days to process it.

“Yeah, I don't know anything. So I’ll talk about my FORE Youth Project that we’re doing,” he said. “It’s this Maggie Hathaway project. It’s amazing. It’s in a community that is for underprivileged kids, kids that don’t have an opportunity to play. There’s many great organizations coming on board with this, and it’s something that means a lot to me.”

The project is a campaign to raise money for the Maggie Hathaway Golf Course, built in the 1960s. The plan is to donate $15 million to give the public course a major makeover. Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner, who led the restoration at LACC, have offered their design services for free.

“I think LA has a big divide. We get to play Riviera every year, we play LACC this year. There’s a huge divide between private golf and public golf out here in Los Angeles,” Morikawa said. “It’s not the case for everyone, but there really is. And most people are playing public, municipal golf courses, and the change of this golf course is going to be great.”

Good answer.


This is the seventh time dating to 2008 at Torrey Pines the U.S. Open is on the West Coast, giving television a chance to present the championship in prime time on the East Coast.

The hours have been slightly expanded for this U.S. Open — Saturday's telecast runs until 11 p.m. EDT on NBC, while coverage of the final round ends at 10 p.m. EDT.

But it's more than expanded hours.

The usual complaints of too many commercials struck a chord with Mike Whan last year, and the CEO of the USGA responded.

Whan said the broadcast would break away for commercial 30% less than a year ago.

“We got together with NBC on Saturday morning and we actually cut our commercial interruptions on Sunday of last year, and really just followed that logic through,” Whan said. “I'm proud of NBC. They’ve really cut back on some of their in-broadcast programming. So have we at a similar level. They’ve got bills to pay and so do we, so I get that.

“There will still be millions of people that don’t like the commercial interruptions because no matter how low you get it, you’ll get that feedback,” he said. "We wanted to make sure the experience is different whether you’re here or not here, whether you’re watching it on your computer, your phone or you’re watching it on TV.”


Los Angeles Country Club features a drivable par 4, followed by a 284-yard par 3, and then a reachable par 5. The 11th hole is 290 yards for a par 3.

That adds to what players expect to be long rounds and plenty of waiting.

The USGA is aware. John Bodenhamer, the chief championships officer, mentioned “pinch points” around the sixth and seventh holes and at No. 11. But he said he wasn't about to alter the characteristics of the course because of it.

“We’ll manage it appropriately,” he said. “It’s like being out on the 405. With 156 players, you can only get so many folks on the highway, and when something happens there’s nowhere for them to go, but we’ll manage it. We’re on top of it.”


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