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How Are PGA Purses Split?

Danny Willett earned plenty of green for winning the 2016 Masters. He received 18 percent of the event’s $10 million purse — $1.8 million.

PGA Tour events are run by individual tournament hosts. But the formula for dividing each tournament’s purse is set by the PGA Tour, with occasional exceptions made for special events. Under the PGA Tour formula, each golfer who makes the cut receives a specified percentage of the prize money, depending on where he finishes in the final standings.

Standard Formula
The PGA Tour designates a specific percentage of a tournament’s purse for each place in the standings, from 1st to 70th. A tournament’s champion receives 18 percent of the total purse while the 70th spot is worth 0.2 percent of the purse. If more than 70 professional golfers make a tournament cut, each position after 70th place is worth $100 less than the previous spot. In a tournament with a $5 million purse, for example, the winner receives $900,000. The 10th place finisher receives $135,000 (2.7 percent); 20th place is worth $65,000 (1.3 percent); 30th place pockets $34,000 (0.68 percent); 40th place receives $21,500 (0.43 percent); 50th place gets $12,600 (0.252 percent); 60th place is worth $11,000 (0.22 percent); and 70th place earns $10,000.

If two or more professional players finish with identical scores, the dollar values of the players’ positions are added, then divided by the number of tied players to determine each player’s share. For example, Jordan Spieth and Lee Westwood ended up tied for second at the 2016 Masters. The tournament had a $10 million purse, so second place was worth $1,080,000 under the standard formula (10.8 percent) and third place was worth $680,000 (6.8 percent). The two positions added up to $1.76 million, so each player received $880,000.

Amateurs occasionally play in PGA Tour events, but because they don’t accept prize money, they’re simply passed over when the purse is distributed. Using the 2016 Masters again as an example, 57 professional players made the cut. Thongchai Jaidee finished last among the professionals, in 57th place. But because two amateurs (Bryson DeChambeau and Romain Langasque) finished ahead of him, Jaidee earned 55th place money (0.23 percent), which was $23,000 of the $10 million purse.

The PGA Tour alters its standard format on occasion, typically for tournaments with smaller fields. The 2015 TOUR Championship, for example, featured a 30-player field. Winner Jordan Spieth still received the standard 18 percent of the $8.25 million purse, $1.485 million, but most other spots were worth more than the standard formula. Tenth-place finishers Matt Kuchar and Jason Day would’ve earned $214,500 under the standard formula, but instead received $228,525. This really becomes evident with the lower place finishers. Scott Piercy would have normally received $72,600 for 25th place, but he got to take home over double that amount, $141,900.

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