Money Matters

U.S. Open 2024: The USGA is bumping up the prize money payout to another major-championship record. But the reason why is different than you'd think

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Mike Ehrmann

PINEHURST, N.C. — USGA CEO Mike Whan, speaking in front of the media on Wednesday at Pinehurst No. 2, took a moment to reminisce about how the first edition of the U.S. Open, held in 1895, was four nine-hole rounds played in one day between 11 competitors with the winner earning $150.

Not long after, in the midst of revealing that the 2024 U.S. Open would be the richest men’s major championship in golf history, Whan noted that the 156 golfers in this year’s field “won't be playing for $150 like 130 years ago.”

Indeed, the winner on Sunday of the 2024 will collect a record $4.3 million from a purse of $21.5 million, the largest offered in a men’s major and second only to the $25 million given at the Players Championship.

The new U.S. Open prize money payout is a healthy $1.5 million bump from what was handed out in 2023 at Los Angeles Country Club. More notably, it’s $9 million more than was given out just three years ago at Torrey Pines. It’s a function of the times, the LIV Golf League offering $20 million purses that have been matched by the PGA Tour’s signature events, with the majors also following suit.

That said, Whan’s explanation for the increase was notable for what it means in the context of what the USGA is trying to do overall in elevating its biggest championship.

“We want to make sure that our purse matches how we feel about the rest of our championship, which is a life-changing difference in the game,” Whan said. “And I think we’re there and we’ll continue to kind of monitor that.”

Here’s how the U.S. Open prize money payout compares to the other men’s majors:

Masters: $20 million
PGA Championship: $18.5 million
Open Championship: $16.5 million (2023)

Suffice it to say, the exponential growth in the U.S. Open prize money payout is best understood when looking at it in context to years past. Here’s how the winner’s payday has grown since World War II:

1950: Ben Hogan at Merion, $4,000
1960: Arnold Palmer at Cherry Hills, $14,400
1973: Johnny Miller at Oakmont, $35,000
1980: Jack Nicklaus at Baltusrol, $55,000
1982: Tom Watson at Pebble Beach, $60,000
1992: Tom Kite at Pebble Beach, $275,000
2000: Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach, $800,000
2008: Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines, $1.35 million
2011: Rory McIlroy at Congressional, $1.44 million
2015: Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay, $1.8 million
2017: Brooks Koepka at Erin Hills, $2.16 million
2021: Jon Rahm at Torrey Pines, $2.25 million
2022: Matt Fitzpatrick at The Country Club, $3.15 million
2023: Wyndham Clark at LACC, $3.6 million

“We’re proud of our purse,” Whan said. “I’m proud of the fact that we as an organization consistently ask ourselves whether or not we think we’ve got out purse right, our TV right. All of those things have changed quite a bit in the last few years, and change is uncomfortable, but I think we're not only keeping up with the times, but hopefully at least in the landscape of majors, in a lot of these cases we're leading. You guys can decide if you think that's right or wrong, but that's how we think about it.”

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