LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Open has raised its prize money to $20 million, now tops among the major championships and on the same level as the PGA Tour’s elevated events.
That’s up by $2.5 million from a year ago, and double what it was in 2016 when Dustin Johnson won at Oakmont.
The winner at Los Angeles Country Club on Sunday will earn $3.6 million, up from the $3.15 million Matt Fitzpatrick received a year ago at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Prize money has become a focal point in recent years, even before Saudi-funded LIV Golf arrived with its $25 million purses ($20 million for the 54-hole individual competitions). The PGA Tour responded with $20 million purses at 10 tournaments, with $25 million for The Players Championship.
The Masters increased its purse to $18 million this year, while the PGA Championship bumped its prize money to $17.5 million.
The British Open has yet to announced its prize money. It was $14 million last year.
“In general for us, we want this to be big,” said Mike Whan, the CEO of the USGA. “We have to find the right balance of bigness in terms of where we play it, how we televise it, how many people we let on this golf course. I think purse is part of that.”
Whan said the USGA decided in November that $20 million was going to be the right number.
He also acknowledged the USGA has other projects, including its other 14 championships (U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Amateur) and sustainability studies.
He also said the USGA wasn’t going to get into a money race with the PGA Tour, which operates a full schedule throughout the year with local organizations in charge of various tournaments and different sponsors for each.
“We understand that purses can be relative, and in order to be big we have to understand what else is going on in the world, and we do,” he said. “We’re not in a chase to be the biggest check, but we want to make sure that the money and the opportunity here, whether they’re a tour player, college player, amateur, how they got here, that’s still part of the bigness, and we believe it is.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
U.S. Open raises prize money to $20 million, tops among majors