March 1, 2020 / 10:27 PM / in a month

U.S. Open prize money unlikely to soar says USGA CEO Davis

PINEHURST, N.C. (Reuters) - This year’s U.S. Open purse is unlikely to jump dramatically from last year’s figure of $12.5 million, U.S. Golf Association (USGA) CEO Mike Davis has said.

FILE PHOTO: Jun 16, 2019; Pebble Beach, CA, USA; Gary Woodland hoists the trophy after the final round of the 2019 U.S. Open golf tournament at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

The association estimates that the U.S. Open costs about $80 million to stage and generates revenue of some $165 million, about 75% of the body’s annual revenue.

Davis said 100% of the non-profit USGA’s revenue is invested back into the game and the Open’s profitability allows it to provide funds for a myriad of programs that benefit the game.

“Virtually everything we do loses money,” Davis said after Saturday’s USGA annual meeting, where the body unveiled its new brand slogan: ‘From Many, One’.

The slogan refers to the thousands of players who enter U.S. Open qualifying each year before the number is eventually whittled down to the champion.

The four men’s majors — Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open and British Open – generally raise their purses incrementally to keep pace with the PGA Tour’s flagship event, the Players Championship, which next week will offer a record purse of $15 million.

Davis would not say whether the purse for this year’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot in June would be at least $15 million, stating that the figure would be decided closer to the event.

But he said it was fair to be asked why the USGA did not differentiate itself by raising its purse to $20 or $30 million.

“For every million dollars, that’s a million dollars we can’t put into funding for (other areas),” he said, citing junior programs, research grants and a new championship for disabled golfers, among other things.

“We realize we have to be in the market where we’re competitive with purses, so it’s a balance and I’m not sure there’s ever a right or wrong.

“We only have so much money. If we went to $30 million, we’re going to have to stop doing (other things). Is that the best thing for the game of golf?”

Reporting by Andrew Both; editing by Ken Ferris

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