Golf: Richer prizes on US Tour

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The Independent Online
THE US TOUR, which was due to begin yesterday before heavy rain washed out play in the Tournament of Champions at La Costa Country Club in Carlsbad, California, is having few problems weathering the recession, judging by the rise in prize-money for the 1993 season.

Players this year will compete for a record dollars 52m ( pounds 33.5m) in 43 official events, up from just under dollars 50m last year, the Tour commissioner, Deane Beman, announced before the season-opening event. A large part of the increased money will go towards two tournaments - the Players' Championship and the Tour Championship.

The Players' Championship in March will offer dollars 2.5m, a dollars 700,000 increase from last year. It will not, however, be the richest event this year. The end-of-season Tour Championship's purse has risen 33 per cent to dollars 3m, making it the most lucrative in the world with a first prize of dollars 540,000.

The increased prize-money reflected the Tour's better than expected profit from last year. 'We've been able to maintain nearly all of our sponsors. We've lost some but we've been able to replace them,' Beman said.

There is a problem for the Tour, however: the impending court case with Karsten Manufacturing, the maker of Ping golf clubs, over the question of whether the Tour can ban square-grooved clubs.

Raymond Floyd, a Tour veteran at 50, will also play the senior tour this season, as he did last year.

John Daly, who is being treated for a drinking problem, misses this week's tournament and has not set a date for his return to the Tour.