Golf: American Ryder Cup players receive $200,000 pay-out

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The Independent Online
ON THE day Tiger Woods signed another multi-million dollar deal - for between $20m to $25m (pounds 12.5-pounds 15.5m) over five years with the car giant Buick - details emerged of the US Ryder Cup players' charitable donations that have resulted from the summer's pay-for-play controversy, writes Andy Farrell.

Woods and his 11 team-mates who triumphed at Brookline in September will each receive $200,000 from the PGA of America's profits from the event, which amounted to almost $20m. Half of each player's share-out will go to a charity of their own choice, while the other $100,000 will be used for golf development programmes in the player's community. "As for standing up for what's right, using my name to such a good end has made it all worth it," read a statement from Phil Mickelson.

Mickelson, Woods, Mark O'Meara and David Duval were accused of greed when the discussion on payment for playing in the Ryder Cup descended into a slanging match at the USPGA Championship. "It burns the hell out of me to hear some of their viewpoints," said a furious Ben Crenshaw, the United States captain.

After a team meeting at Medinah that week, Jim Awtrey, the chief executive officer of the PGA of America, announced that a policy of charitable donations for the players would be worked out by the end of the year. Awtrey said his organisation ploughed back most of the profits from the Ryder Cup into development programmes, although, of course, the event did not start making a profit in the States until 1991.

Although the US players have won their right to influence the distribution of the profits from the event, it is revisionist history to suggest that is all they were ever after. The first rumblings on the subject, from O'Meara before the 1997 match, and then from Woods suggested direct payment was the issue. There has never been such a problem with the European players, although there might be in future years. Profits from European-based matches are lower and are split between the European tour and the PGA at The Belfry. However, the accounts from the 1997 match have been questioned, particularly in regard to the PGA's development schemes.

Sam Torrance, the European captain for the 2001 match, does not want to see the current situation changed. "If they want to pay pounds 100,000 to charity, that's fine," Torrance said. "But we have never been paid to play in the Ryder Cup. That's the tradition and there is no need."

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