Gulf between US Open prize funds for women and men remains a chasm

Womens US Open gets under way at the Country club of Charleston on Thursday but the $5.5 m prize money is dwarfed by the mens of $12.5 m

The USGA ordinarily has to wait until June before the annual necessity to hunker down as criticism flies from all directions. The men’s US Open, as beset by objections relating to course setup or regulations matters, has become the most controversial tournament in golf. At Pebble Beach next month, another fevered chapter will surely play out.

This week’s US Women’s Open, which takes place in Charleston, also under the guidance of the USGA, has been afforded a noisy backdrop of its own. An anonymous survey be put into practice by Golf Digest- interviewing players, caddies, coach-and-fours and the like from golf’s top level- created all manner of stinging rebukes towards the USGA. Whether or not the cloak of anonymity enhances or embellishes standpoints is up for debate but the overriding message was clear; golf’s ruling body in the US has few prominent advocates. The analysis was scathing.

Within this survey came the revelation that resulting male players were seriously unhappy at what they perceive as a disproportionately low increase in the US Open prize purse after a 2015 Tv bargain delivered roughly $100 m per year to the USGA. Last year’s US Open at Shinnecock Hills had a purse of $12 m, with Brooks Koepka walking off with $2.16 m. The television deal in question coverings the male and female competitions.

Unwittingly, this raises questions directly relating to this week at the Country Club of Charleston. The US Women’s Open, a USGA operation, carried a award money of$ 5m until a $500,000 increase for this year was announced on Tuesday. The win will collect$ 1m. So as golf seeks to enhance diversity and portray itself as a forward-thinking sport, a fiscal gulf exists between what are equivalent male and female tournaments.

The US Open does carry the largest prize in women’s golf but this is an unsatisfactory scenario. The issue seemed even more stark as the USGA followed up the announcement with similar in relation to Pebble Beach. The humen will now play for $ 12.5 m. Even if equal pay remains a leap of faith, the gulf between golf’s US Opens- operated by the same organiser- is huge.

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” We looked at it from the overall championship experience and merely felt that those were the amounts that would be meaningful and would be impactful ,” said the USGA’s John Bodenhamer.” We just thought about it as enhancing the championship experience overall for everybody .”

The public reaction from players has at least been positive, even if the USGA has passed up an opportunity to deliver a major statement.” I think it’s amazing news ,” said Lexi Thompson, the world No 8.” It strikes us as the women’s game is growing so much. I think it is very well-deserved, but I think overall golf is just growing as a sport. With it being in the Olympics and for us getting more sponsors, getting more tournaments each and every year, it’s great to see .”

Inbee Park, the world No 7, is seeking a third US Open win and first major success since 2015. Park has been among those to point to searing temperatures in South Carolina as significant for the make-up of this event.

” The US Open gives me special memories in my career and especially the last one I won in 2013. I still remember like yesterday ,” Park said.” It was my third major in a row for that year, and becoming two-time champion of the US Women’s Open is just something that’s unforgettable in my golfing career. If I can write my name one more time on the trophy, that will be just something unreal.

” We’re going to have to really fight the heat this week. The climate is really, very hot. I truly struggled to play 10 pits on Monday in the heat. I’m just trying to get my body prepared for the tournament starting Thursday and I think it’s just going to be a really, really hot week .”

British hopes have been boosted by Bronte Law of Lancashire, who won for the first time on the LPGA Tour last weekend.

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