This year’s Masters will pay the winner a record $3.24 million from a highest-ever $18 million prize money purse, Augusta National announced on Saturday.
But if leader Brooks Koepka captures the green jacket on Sunday, he still won’t take home as much money as the $4 million he took by winning last week’s 54-hole LIV Golf League event in Orlando.
That’s the crazy state of the sport at the first Masters since Saudi-backed LIV Golf launched last June, luring away several big names from the PGA Tour with record $25 million purses from 54-hole events.
Augusta’s 2023 prize money payout — which offers $1.944 million for second place and $1.224 million for third — broke last year’s overall purse of $15 million, from which top-ranked Scottie Scheffler took a record $2.7 million winner’s prize.
Historic by Masters standards, the $18 million pales to the $25 million LIV purses, which include $20 for individual competition and $5 million for a team event.
Prize money amounts for this year’s other three majors aren’t out yet but last year the US Open paid $17.5 million, the PGA Championship paid $15 million and the British Open paid $14 million.
The $760,000 prize money difference from Orlando, should Koepka triumph at Augusta, might be more than made up for by the achievement of capturing a fifth career major title — which would leave him only a British Open Claret Jug from completing a career Grand Slam.
“The whole goal is to win the Grand Slam,” Koepka said Friday. “I feel like all the greats have won here and they have all won British Opens as well.
“I guess it’s one more box for me to tick to truly feel like I’ve done what I should have accomplished in this game.”
Then again, it can be just about showing the money. American Harold Varner made the profit motive clear this week when asked about the biggest benefit of his jump to LIV.
“It’s the amount of money,” Varner said. “It’s generational. The way I grew up, it’s important to me to take care of my family, and you can do it by just signing on the dotted line… I’d do it again.”
Against the LIV challenge, the PGA Tour has banned rebel players from its events and their legal battle is set to reach a courtroom early next year.
The PGA has also made changes to its schedule to create ‘enhanced events’ with larger purses and fewer players.
The majors have allowed LIV players to qualify, making them the showdown venues for the PGA-LIV rivalry.
From 18 LIV players who qualified for the Masters, 12 advanced to the last two rounds, two withdrew and four missed the cut, including major winners Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson and Bryson DeChambeau.
Behind Koepka, the next best LIV players were six-time major winner Phil Mickelson and Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, both at 4-under and nine off the pace when play was halted until Sunday.
Mickelson, a six-time major winner and three-time Masters champion, made a charge in his 30th Masters start.
The 52-year-old US left-hander could break his own record as the oldest man to win a major from his 2021 PGA Championship triumph at age 50.