It’s common knowledge how much purses have grown on the PGA Tour in the last 20 years. Even so, for a tour pro to pass $50 million in career earnings is no small accomplishment. Only eight golfers had done it previously, which is why the fact that two broke the milestone on Sunday feels pretty extraordinary.
With his victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions, Rory McIlroy earned $1.745 million to increase his career total to $51,030,260. McIlroy started the week in 11th place on the all-time earnings list, but jumped to eighth with his first-place loot, waving as he passed Ernie Els ($49,320,727), Matt Kuchar ($50,002,667) and Sergio Garcia.
Speaking of Garcia, a final-round 75 in China resulted in a T-53 finish. That’s not his best performance, but the accompanying check for $52,875 still allowed the 39-year-old Spaniard to accompany McIlroy into the $50M club. Garcia moved into ninth place all time in career earnings with $50,002,880, or $213 more than Kuchar. (Insert your own straight line here.)
Here is the top 10 list as currently stands, along with the next five:
Els is so close, but unless he gets lucky in one of his next PGA Tour starts, it’s unlikely the four-time major champ who just turned 50 will be the 11th player to join the club. Jason Day has to earn "only" $4 million more. He’s just 31, so it feels like a safe bet that he’ll earn enough to get to the big 5-0, although it will probably take a little time.
After that, it might be a long while until another player passes $50 million. Jordan Spieth is 18th on the all-time list at $40.4 million, but he’s going to need to find his old form if he wants to achieve the milestone soon. Charles Howell III seems like he’s running out of time at age 40; that he’s earned $39.4 million with just three PGA Tour career wins is already pretty impressive.
Our next-best guesses for players a little farther down the money list who might eventually get to $50 million: No. 21 Rickie Fowler ($37.9 million) and No. 28 Justin Thomas ($32.3 million).
Another interesting way to look at the $50 million club is how much money each player has earned per start. If you rearrange the numbers for that, here’s how the list turns out.
You’re never not going to have Tiger at No. 1, but Rory at No. 2 suggests that McIlroy might be on his way to the $60 million club, if not higher.