The pro game may be in upheaval, but there has actually never been a better time to be a PGA Tour player than right now. This seems to get lost, maybe rightly so, in the attention paid to LIV’s measurable incursion—from rumors to actual player movements to the dollar amounts—into the game this summer.
On the PGA Tour, Scottie Scheffler had a chance to exceed $50 million in on-course earnings this year. The purses are going up across the board and a new elevated series will bring $20 million purses to the elite guys making cash everywhere else (off-course endorsements, majors, playoff bonuses, PIP, and so on) the rest of the season.
And the competition for all that cash just got thinner, with the likes of a Players and Open champion, a Riviera winner, and top-10 bandit Cameron Tringale taking a hike for LIV. If you’re still on the PGA Tour, you have a whole lot more money and a 12-pack or so fewer elite stars to compete against for it. There’s also less risk of losing sponsors, majors starts, and OWGR points.
A Golf Digest report indicated that an internal PGA Tour study started modeling out the career-earnings numbers for players had they started their careers this year, and the numbers were absurd. Again, this is a PGA Tour study, so it’s favorable to the source. Still, it’s useful to know that Jim Furyk’s $71.5 million career would exceed $620 million if started today, and that Rory’s $65.7 million would be at $373 million. These numbers are staggering on their own, setting aside the gaudy LIV figures, which have hastened some of the Tour’s increases. Young stars who stay right now and go to work are going to become rich beyond belief. Careers can be longer in golf, but these are on-course earnings that match or exceed other major sports’ career totals. You can understand the decision of someone like Cam Young or Sam Burns to stay put for now over the upfront money of LIV.
I promise the PGA Tour did not pay me to write this or threaten to throw me in the moat if I did not. It just feels like we get so caught up in eye-popping numbers and the impact LIV has made—which are worthy of our attention—that sometimes the prospect of what remains is overshadowed. The headline is that Cam Smith and top-20 stud Joaquín Niemann just joined LIV. But that also means that two real competitors for hundreds of millions of PGA Tour prize and bonus money have vacated their spots. And if or when you do bag a major or stack cash on this Tour, all that does is increase your price for those other guys trying to snatch you away. LIV’s success notwithstanding, the ability to pile cash for a PGA Tour player is as good as it has ever been.
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg Newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.