Saturday, December 4, 2021

Column: Golf stars should be paid more if they earn it

Tiger Woods holds several PGA Tour records that are unlikely to be broken, from 142 consecutive cuts to shooting 53 consecutive rounds at equal or better all four Majors at the same time.

Another benchmark that looks garish is her $120,851,706 in career earnings.

He probably won’t, even if he’s not in immediate danger. Dustin Johnson is a little over $48 million away and Rory McIlroy isn’t half there.

Some of it is inflation, sure. A big part, however, is the PGA Tour that is finally placing more emphasis on compensating its top players.

As long as they still have to earn it, it’s a smart move.

Paying for golfers like athletes in other sports has been around since Woods’ arrival, sparked interest and increased television contracts. The theme is now stronger than ever with the real threat of rival leagues promising instant money.

Golf has a long history of rewarding its stars more for what they do. Then again, the PGA Tour never had to contend with Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich sovereign wealth fund.

The PGA Tour took its first step with the secret “Player Impact Program,” which this year offered 10 major players $40 million who are believed to have moved the needle, a list the Tour said it would not make public. This figure is expected to increase, either in money or in the number of players who are in cash, perhaps both.

But the notion of guaranteed money – the potential appeal to Greg Norman and his Saudi-backed LIV Golf investment – takes a dangerous path.

Golf doesn’t pay players like team sports because it isn’t one.

The Tour’s policy board met in Houston on Monday to approve prize money and other forms of compensation for the season. A verdict is expected later this week, though the official prize money could be even higher than the $35 million boost commissioner Jay Monahan offered at the Tour Championship.

He has also stated that “extensive earnings” were expected to exceed $630 million.

The question is whether that is enough.

At least two players have coined a similar phrase of “magically appearing” $50 million to pay for the Player Impact program and another program called “Play 15” which gives $50,000 to anyone who plays 15 tournaments .

This tour would suggest nothing magical about it. In a presentation to the Player Advisory Council, it showed players competing for 55% of consolidated revenue from about $1.5 billion, courtesy of a nine-year media rights deal about $7 billion. It also includes $32 million from reserve funds to help pay for earnings growth.

For now, the Tour is proceeding by creating bigger wallets for the biggest events, because that’s where the best players are.

Even before the board meeting, prize money for the elite fields at Memorial, the Genesis Invitational in the Riviera and the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Bay Hill went up to $10.3 million. The only world golf championship on the schedule – China canceled this season due to the pandemic – and FedEx Cup playoff events stand at $11.5 million. The Players Championship was worth at least $20 million. The FedEx Cup champion receives $18 million.

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for now.

Justin Thomas was asked last week if golf’s best players were not being properly compensated.

“Maybe in the past,” he said. “But I think stuff like the Player Impact program and wallets and everything is growing, I think that’s how it’s happening.”

What took so long?

The short answer is the threat of a new product, which has been around for seven years and now has a face (Norman) and money (Saudi Arabia) to make it real.

“I think all this has happened outside the PGA Tour, it has created a lot of questions from players about where the Tour has done a great job of answering that, but it has also answered that maybe we have a better product to do with it. There is an opportunity to improve,” Thomas said.

To see ahead, you need to look back. It was late in 2000, right after Manny Ramirez stunned the baseball world by signing an eight-year, $160 million deal with the Boston Red Sox, with then-commissioner Tim Finchem, PGA Tour player earnings falling in line with other sports. was asked about.

The total purse that year was $163.5 million, more than double what it was four years earlier during Woods’ first full season.

“We still have a long way to go,” Finchem said that day.

But he mentioned retirement planning, a lucrative system based on deductions, earnings from three segments of the season and total earnings for the year, which should not be dismissed. FinChem also mentioned the ability of top players to sign their corporate deals (“We don’t have official uniforms,” ​​he said).

Trade site Sportico recently listed the 10 richest athletes, adjusted for inflation. Michael Jordan led. He was followed by Woods, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Not surprisingly, six of the top 10 came from individual sports.

Inside the ropes, golf should never miss a performance.

With more prize money and bonus pools, the Tour is contemplating a decline in the “Global Series” with bigger purses, no deductions and appearance money for top finishers in the FedEx Cup. Another idea is to make the purse heavy at elite events that attract the best players.

The idea is to replenish the stars, and still earn them.

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For more NWN Golf coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/golf And https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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