PGA Champions, Top Earners at the PGA

Following Woods is perhaps his greatest rival, Phil Mickelson.

by Andrea Gussoni
PGA Champions, Top Earners at the PGA
© Patrick Smith/Getty Images Sport

In the current landscape of professional golf, where the spirit of the game seems to have taken a backseat to the focus on prize money, player salaries, and PGA Tour member participation, discussing a money list feels pertinent.

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In this case, we're talking about a self-referential ranking: the earnings of PGA Champions throughout their participation in the US PGA Championships. In addition to the Wanamaker Trophy and exemptions granted in the Majors, winners pocket a check that, since 2003, has amounted to seven figures.

Let's dive into the rankings. Leading the pack due to his victory last year is Brooks Koepka, who has amassed a total of $9,338,764 in eleven tournament appearances. Koepka's comfort in this tournament is evident from the fact that he has always made the cut in those eleven appearances.

In second place is Tiger Woods, who has collected $7,350,862 in 22 appearances, a sum that alone would secure him a place among the top 300 in the career money list. Following Woods is perhaps his greatest rival, Phil Mickelson.

Lefty, teeing off 30 times, has earned a total of $6,500,866, with $2,160,000 of that coming from his 2021 victory at Kiawah Island, making him the oldest Major winner in history. In fourth place is the first non-American player.

Rory McIlroy, a two-time tournament winner in 2012 and 2014, has collected $5,940,095 over 15 editions of the PGA Championship. Today, the Northern Irishman is one of the favorites, but to see if and how this ranking will change, we'll have to wait until Sunday evening.

The PGA Championship has undergone several changes in its format and scheduling throughout its history. Originally, it was a match play event held in the early fall, but its timing varied from May to December. Following World War II, the championship typically took place in late May or late June, then shifted to early July in 1953 and a few weeks later in 1954, with the finals played on a Tuesday.

As a match play event, finalists often played over 200 holes in seven days during the stroke play qualifier. However, the 1957 event resulted in financial losses, prompting the PGA to make a significant change. At the PGA meetings in November, it was decided to transition the championship to stroke play, beginning in 1958, using the standard 72-hole format of 18 holes per day for four days, from Thursday to Sunday.

This change was influenced by network television broadcasters, who preferred a format that featured a large group of well-known contenders on the final day. During the 1960s, the PGA Championship was scheduled the week after The Open Championship on five occasions, making it challenging for players to compete in both majors.

In 1965, the PGA was held in August for the first time, and this scheduling continued in 1969, except for a one-year move to late February in 1971, played in Florida. In 2016, the championship was moved to late July, two weeks after The Open Championship, to accommodate the 2016 Summer Olympics in August.

Before the 2017 edition, it was announced that the PGA Championship would be moved to May, taking place on the weekend before Memorial Day, starting in 2019. Concurrently, the PGA Tour announced that its Players Championship would move back to March in the same year, after being moved from March to May in 2007.

The PGA of America cited reasons such as the addition of golf to the Summer Olympics and cooler weather, which would enable a wider array of options for host courses. It was also speculated that the PGA Tour aimed to realign its season so that the FedEx Cup Playoffs would not coincide with the start of the football season in late August.

Pga Phil Mickelson