More than US$100-million will be awarded to LPGA players for the first time in 2023, an increase of about 18 per cent over what was planned for this season and more than doubling what was paid out on the tour just a decade ago.
And in the eyes of LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan, that’s a good start.
The LPGA’s 33 official events next year will have a combined US$101.4-million in purses, the tour announced Friday while unveiling the schedule. But reaching nine digits in total purse for the first time hardly means that the tour has reached its target, Marcoux Samaan said.
“I think we’re trying to just grow as much as we can possibly grow,” Marcoux Samaan said. “I think it is a milestone, not a target. I think it just symbolizes the next level of evolution for the tour. But I don’t think we feel like we’re done. We feel like there’s much more investment to be had in the women’s game and we’re passionate about getting that.”
World No. 1 Nelly Korda called the US$100-million milestone “amazing.”
“Women’s golf is really trending in a great direction,” Korda said. “I think every year we see a lot of positives come from it. I would say when we’re given the stage we prove that we’re exciting and we’re fun to watch. … Sponsors can see it and they’re really backing us and we’re really grateful.”
The schedule has events in 11 states and 12 countries. It has two tournaments – if they happen – in China. The LPGA has not played there since October, 2019, canceling each of its last five planned events in China after the coronavirus pandemic.
The five women’s golf majors account for US$37.9-million of the planned purses, led by US$10-million set to be paid out at the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach next July.
That’s US$19-million to be paid out in a span of just two events, something that was unfathomable in women’s golf just a few years ago.
The last four of the five majors occur in an eight-week, seven-tournament span.
Official purses for this season wound up reaching about US$93.5-million, mainly through increases to what was offered at the majors. The plan entering 2022 was for purses to be US$85.7-million.
For now, Saudi-funded LIV Golf – which will offer US$405-million in 14 men’s events in 2023 – has not revealed any formal plans about trying to entice women’s players, though CEO Greg Norman has mentioned the possibility. The LPGA hasn’t had to worry about LIV, yet.
Every tournament on the LPGA’s 2023 slate carries a purse of at least US$1.5-million, and there are only four with purses that small. There are 16 tournaments, excluding the majors, with purses of at least US$2-million, including seven of the final eight on the schedule.
After the Solheim Cup in Spain in late September, the LPGA will play eight consecutive weeks to finish its season in a bit of a frenzy. The first two stops are in Arkansas and Texas, then a four-tournament Asian swing through China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan, followed by the last two weeks in Florida – and capped again by the US$7-million CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., with US$2-million going to the winner.
The US$2-million first-place prize matches what will be awarded to the winner this weekend in Naples, and is the biggest single cheque in women’s golf.