PGA Tour Players Make Money in Offseason
In the six weeks since the PGA Tour season officially ended at the Tour Championship, there have been 11 tournaments around the world with prize money topping $22 million.
The total purse on the PGA Tour wasn't that high 20 years ago, when the Skins Game was created and paved the way for the silly season ' events that don't count toward the world ranking or history but offer money that still spends the same.
Instead of recharging their batteries, more players are reloading their bank accounts.
Colin Montgomerie was in South Africa for the Nedbank Challenge, competing against Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia. The next week he was in California for the Target World Challenge, playing against Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
``To be invited to these events is a thrill,'' Montgomerie said.
That wasn't the only lure. Simply showing up was worth $150,000 in Sun City and $130,000 at Sherwood Country Club.
``Yes, well, there is the thing about money,'' Monty said, breaking into a broad smile.
Fred Couples knows that all too well. He has been ridiculed as the ``King of the Silly Season,'' and Couples laughs all the way to the bank.
``I'm one to realize the importance of some of these events,'' Couples said. ``Obviously, winning it means you make some money.''
Couples played in only two PGA Tour events all summer. Then the silly season arrived, and he played three times in three weeks, pocketing $280,000.
The joke is on those watching from home.
``The people who make fun of it aren't playing it,'' Rich Beem said. ``I know, because I used to be the guy making fun of it.''
Beem's victory in the PGA Championship made him an overnight celebrity and earned him invitations to four silly-season events.
He won the Wendy's Three-Tour Challenge ($167,000) with Jim Furyk and John Daly, won the Hyundai Team Matches ($100,000) with Peter Lonard, then finished last in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf ($150,000) and last in the Target World Challenge ($130,000).
Do the math.
With no heavy lifting involved, Beem cashed in for $547,000. That's 18 percent of what he earned in 32 official tournaments worldwide this year.
And Beem didn't even finish in the top five on the silly-season money list.
First place went to Els, even though he played only once in the offseason. Els won the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City, which is no longer called the ``Million Dollar Challenge'' because the winner now gets $2 million.
Talk about the Big Easy.
His $2 million payoff was more than half of what Els won during the regular season.
No one took advantage of the silly season quite like Mark O'Meara, even though he has not won an official tournament since the 1998 British Open.
O'Meara got into the UBS Warburg Cup because of his age (45). He got into the Skins Game through a sponsorship deal (Toyota). He played in the Target World Challenge because his best buddy is the tournament host (Woods). He also played in the Shark Shootout.
His tally in four events: $775,000.
That's not a bad haul for a month of work, especially considering that O'Meara made only $730,132 in 24 events on the PGA Tour this year.
Another big winner was Padraig Harrington, who had his best year by earning $2.6 million, then made half that much in three unofficial events. He won the Target World Challenge, finished 11th in South Africa and tied for eighth with Paul McGinley in the World Cup.
Woods didn't exactly suffer.
He made $1,025,000 for seven rounds of golf: two at the PGA Grand Slam, one at the Skins Game, and a real marathon ' four rounds ' at his Target World Challenge.
That computes to $8,134.92 for every hole he played in the silly season, which is more than last-place money at most 72-hole events on the PGA Tour.
Even Phil Mickelson got in on the act. He won $695,000 in three events, despite hitting the ball all over the map in the first two tournaments.
The silly season isn't a complete joke.
The variety of formats ' stroke play, match play, team events, fathers and sons ' adds entertainment value. And some guys can build confidence going into the new season.
Just ask Harrington, who withstood a back-nine charge from Woods at Sherwood. There was nothing silly about that, even though it doesn't count as an official victory.
``I count it,'' the Irishman said. ``Against Tiger? Yes. Against a world-class field? Yes.''
Don't blame these guys for playing. Success in regular tournaments is what gets them into the silly season, a century-old practice. In the early 1900s, players wanted to win majors so they could play for big money in golf exhibitions.
Today's silly season stars have earned the right to take free money.
More power to them.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas
He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.
Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.
Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.
In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.
Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.
Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.
Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic
Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double
Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open
Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open
Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row
Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow
Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship
The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ
Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year
And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season
Photo Galleries: Best of ...
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com counted down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below. And click here for the full collection of articles.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.
Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.
Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.
It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.
The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.