Now, the smallest winners check is $378,000. Tom Kites on the Senior circuit; and Ty Tryon is golfs latest ' and youngest ' tour prodigy.
Tryon makes his card-carrying debut at this weeks Phoenix Open, where Calcavecchia will try and defend the title he won here a year ago in record fashion.
Tuesday, the two met for the first time in a pre-tournament shootout. And as Calcavecchia eyed a bright future, he could see clearly a black-and-white past.
Things are so much different, said the 41-year-old, in recalling a time two years ago when he and Phil Mickelson played with the University of Georgia golf team.
'The athletes are better. They are in better shape. They are way ahead of where we were mentally at that age.
I was impressed with how far they (the Bulldogs) hit it and how straight they drove it. They had a (Ping) TSI driver in their bag, all the latest technology, the 3-woods, the 7-woods, Scottie Cameron putters. When I was in college, almost none of us had a straight shaft in our bag, let alone a $600 driver.
Their locker room was the size of (the TPC at Scottsdale) clubhouse. I mean, each one of them had an oak wood locker, pool table, giant-screen TV, teaching facilities. When I was in college, we had a little tin locker ... where you could get a pair of shoes in it and a pair of sneakers.
Yes, things have changed dramatically since Calcavecchia left the University of Florida prior to his senior season.
Now, many an athlete in many a sport turn professional before their amateur status expires. Primary education is a secondary option.
But in Tryons case, its altogether moot. Hes a 17-year-old professional. And should he ever decide to attend a university, it wont be to play golf competitively.
In turning pro, Tryon has forfeited his collegiate eligibility. And by doing so, hes been a target of much criticism.
I expected some negative opinions, he said Wednesday. But this is what I want to do. I want to play golf for a living, and theres no better place to do it than here.
Now that I have this great place to play, its going to be easier to get better ' great courses, great facilities, great players to play against.
Tryon is a professional golfer. But hes also a 17-year-old high school junior. And many are encouraging him to keep that scale balanced.
Its not a big mistake, Calcavecchia said of Tryons turning pro. I think maybe he should have waited a year or two, maybe even gone to college for a year or two. But, you know, I am not the most patient guy in the world, either. Maybe he just felt he was ready. This is what he wanted to do. Maybe hes got the maturity of a 22-year-old, so why waste five years, because he thinks he is already there.
I am here to tell you, none of us are near as good as he is at 17.
Tryon will be put to the test immediately. Not just physically, but mentally. The Phoenix Open is one of the most popular tournaments on the schedule. The crowds are big, beautiful and boisterous. A party atmosphere resonates in the gallery. Focus is imperative.
Im a little blown away ... and the tournament hasn't even started yet, Tryon said. Im more in awe of the fans and the media (attention) than the players.
Added Calcavecchia, There is no other tournament on the tour like this.
And he would know. Calcavecchia is a three-time champion, winning last year with a 72-hole tour record 256 aggregate. On all three occasions, he reached the 20-under plateau - though, he doesnt see that level being achieved again ' ever.
I honestly dont think anybody will ever shoot 20 and under here again, he said. I will take 18-under and take my chances right now.
The only number Tryon is focused on right now is 10 ' as in the top-10, where he wants to finish this week in order to gain a spot in next weeks AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
I didnt come here to make the cut, he said.
That's the mentallity many of the game's newcomers share - a different take than that of 21 years ago.