What PGA Event Has the Biggest Purse?

By M.L. Rose
K.J. Choi displays his trophy after winning The Players Championship in 2011.
K.J. Choi displays his trophy after winning The Players Championship in 2011.

PGA events are held throughout the year, from January through December. For 2012, for example, the PGA began on Jan. 6 with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and was scheduled to conclude with the Franklin Templeton Shootout on Dec. 7, 8 and 9. Each event sets its own purse, which is divided among the golfers according to their performances. In 2012, the highest listed purse was that of The Players Championship.


In 2012, The Players Championship had a purse of $9.5 million, according to the PGA Tour website. The winner's cut was the standard 18 percent of the purse, or $1.71 million. The second prize of $1.02 million was larger than the winner’s check for many PGA tournaments. No other PGA event had a purse of more than $8.5 million in 2012.


The Tournament Players Championship, as The Players Championship was originally known, began in 1974. It was the first event owned and operated by the PGA Tour. Golf’s traditional four major tournaments -- the Masters, the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship and the British Open -- are owned by other entities. Many golf observers refer to The Players as the “fifth major.” The invitation-only event was played in March for its first 33 years before moving to May in 2007.

TPC Sawgrass

The tournament was played at several locations in its early years before settling in at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The initial tournament was played in Georgia and the second in Texas. The tournament shifted to Florida in 1976 and was played at Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach for the next five years. During that time, PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman spearheaded an effort to build a course, owned by the tour, to be the event’s permanent site. The Players Championship has been held at TPC Sawgrass since 1982. The par-72 course is 7,220 yards long.

Tournament Highlights

Jack Nicklaus won the initial Tournament Players Championship in 1974, then added victories in 1976 and 1978. Other memorable victories include Raymond Floyd’s rally from six shots down to win in 1981. Steve Elkington sank a birdie putt on the final hole to win in 1991. In 1994 Greg Norman opened with a 63 and followed with three rounds of 67 to win with a 24-under-par 264.

The 2011 tournament featured an exciting, back-and-forth finish. David Toms held a one-stroke lead over K.J. Choi with three holes remaining, but Toms put his second shot on the par-5 16th hole into the water. His resulting bogey left him and Choi tied for the lead. Choi then birdied the 17th, but Toms answered by sinking a 17-foot birdie putt on the 18th green to force a sudden death playoff. Choi made par on the initial playoff hole to earn the victory, while Toms three-putted for a bogey.

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