Open winner's purse to outstrip Wimbledon

Click to follow
The Independent Online

For the first time in two decades, the winner of The Open golf championship will receive more than the men's champion at the equivalent in tennis, the All England Championships at Wimbledon.

For the first time in two decades, the winner of The Open golf championship will receive more than the men's champion at the equivalent in tennis, the All England Championships at Wimbledon.

The champion golfer of the year 2000, as the winner of the 129th Open will be proclaimed at St Andrews in July, will receive not just the ancient silver claret jug but the thoroughly modern prize of a cheque for £500,000. The sum represents a huge increase of £150,000 on Paul Lawrie's winning cheque at Carnoustie last year and is part of a record prize fund of £2.75m announced by the Royal and Ancient yesterday.

Prize money for Wimbledon, which runs this year from 26 June to 9 July, will total a record £8,056,480, an increase of 6.1 per cent, with £477,500 for the winner of the men's singles title and £430,000 going to the women's singles champion.

The differential will not satisfy the WTA Tour, which campaigns annually for equal pay (granted by the United States Open alone among the four Grand Slam championships), although the All England Club has increased the women's share of the pot by 7.9 per cent, compared with 4.8 per cent for the men.

A decade ago, the 1990 Wimbledon champion Stefan Edberg received £230,000 while Nick Faldo won £85,000 at St Andrews. But the Open prize money has increased significantly over the past few years, with this year's first prize four times the amount John Daly received when The Open was last played over the Old Course five years ago.

This year even the sixth-placed finisher will earn £100,000, the same as Greg Norman won in 1993. The overall increase is 37 per cent, with all those making the 36-hole cut receiving at least £7,000.

"This large increase is more to do with marking the 2000 Open as a special occasion than anything else," Peter Dawson, secretary of the Royal and Ancient, said. "But clearly we have to remain competitive with other major championships and other prominent events."

Having lagged behind the other majors in recent years, The Open champion will now have parity with the US Open winner, while Vijay Singh earned slightly more (£520,000) for winning the US Masters earlier this month. The recent hike in prize funds has been fuelled by the US Tour's television deal negotiated on the back of Tiger Woods' 1997 Masters win.

While the huge sums on offer in golf reinforce the appeal of the game's grandest championships, Dawson is aware of the need not to fall too far behind. "We feel we could keep the prize money down and people would still come and play," he said, "but the effect long term might not be good for the stature of the championship."

Tim Phillips, the Wimbledon chairman, asked about the comparison with The Open, said: "We've done ours, they've done theirs. I don't think particularly we are having a competition with The Open."

Comments