PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

March 25, 2014

West golf notepad: Golf's all-time money list rapidly changing

Bob West
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR —  



    It’s always fascinating to see how the money factor has changed in sports over time, and the increased income may have been more dramatic in golf than any other sport.

    Take the dollar difference between Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, for instance. While their overall numbers are similar — 18 majors for Nicklaus to 14 for Woods, 73 PGA Tour wins for Jack to 79 for Tiger — the bottom-line difference is staggering.

    Nicklaus, in the PGA Tour portion of his career than began in late 1961 and lasted until the late 1980s, collected $5,736,553. Woods, meanwhile, has made more than Nicklaus’ 5.73 million in 11 of his 18 years on the tour. His total is at $109,591,058 and counting. That’s as in $109.5 million.

    Tiger, of course, is primarily responsible for purses that have been soaring almost from the day he won the Masters by 12 shots in 1997. While first Arnold Palmer, then Nicklaus gave golf a higher profile, it was the fist-pumping Woods and his amazing feats that enabled the PGA Tour to ratchet up TV contracts and tournament payoffs to mind boggling levels.

    As a guy like Bruce Lietzke will tell you, it wasn’t all that long ago that a $100,000 first-place check was considered a big deal. Nowadays, it’s a rarity when the victor in a PGA Tour event isn’t hosting a check with seven numbers on it.

    Perhaps a better example than Tiger of how the money has changed in relation to Nicklaus’ era is Sunday’s champion of Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Invitational. First-time winner Matt Every collected $1,116,000. It won’t be anywhere near the year’s biggest check, but it was enough to move the 30-year-old Every past the Golden Bear on the all-time PGA Tour money list.

    Matter of fact, there are 222 others who have won more money on the PGA Tour than Nicklaus. Our own Chris Stroud, who is still stalking his first win, stands No. 187 on the list at $7,508,160. Also ahead of Nicklaus is Lietzke, the most successful player to come out of Southeast Texas in terms of winning.

    Bruce, though he rarely played as many as 20 tournaments in a season, won 13 events between 1977 and 1991. Overall, he pocked $6,474,794 and stands No. 204 on the all-time list. The most significant number on Lietzke, though, comes via a recent Golf Digest listing of the top 100 players of the modern era. He was ranked a lofty No. 29. The only Texan above him was Tom Kite at No. 12.

    Kite, however, is just No. 129 on the all-time money list at $11,015,790.

    So what Texan has won the most money on the PGA Tour? That distinction goes to Justin Leonard, who stands No. 11 overall  at $33,185,351. Next is No. 37 Bob Estes at $21,536,179. Jeff Maggert, who just won on the Champions Tour, is No. 46 at $19,097,581. Fast rising Jimmy Walker is the No. 4 Texan and No 128 overall at $11,160,109.  Kite rounds out the top 5.

    The Lone Star State player to watch, however, is Jordan Spieth. The 20-year-old Spieth, who didn’t gain full status on the PGA Tour until last July, has already made $5,541,643 and is soaring up the all-time money list at a breakneck pace. He’s currently No. 233 and may pass Nicklaus this week in San Antonio.

    Meanwhile, for those of you who are wondering, Arnold Palmer is No. 373 at $1,861,857. Of course, Arnie, like Jack, has more than made up for it with endorsements.

    CHIP SHOTS: The team of Adam Noel, Butch Landry, Rodney Christman and Alan Suire won the Babe Zaharias DogFight with 19 points. Tied for second at 18 points was the team of Gerald Huebel, Ron Theriot, Robert Stansbury, Harold Wilkinson and Jobie Irvine and the foursome of Bryan Grant, Gene Rountree, Richard Sibley and Malcolm Tiller. Closet to the pin winners were Cody Metts (No. 2), Mark Petry (No. 7), Sibley (No. 12) and Roger Koch (No. 15) . . . The Senior 50 Plus Game at The Babe was played in a two-ball format, with the team of Cole Lee, Cap Hollier, Larry Johnson and Billy Thillet winning the front in minus 5 and tying the back at minus 1. Also minus 1 on the back was the foursome of Raymond Darbonne, Rick Pritchett, Dillard Darbonne and Pete Reobroi . . . The Super Saturday Game at The Babe was played in a two-ball format. On the front, there was a tie at minus 6 between the team of Cody Almond, Cole Lee, Larry Johnson and Robert Lynch and the team of Craig Fontenot, Ed Holley, Charlie Leard and Robert Lynch. The Almand team won the back at minus 7, while the Fontenot team tied for second with the foursome of Rick Brunner, Troy Touchet, Mark Petry and Ron Scriallia . . . The Senior Game at The Babe was played in a 4-person scramble format. Tied for first at 13 under was the team of Harry Green, Raymond Darbonne, Ron Theriot and Harold Wilkinson and the foursome of Dennis Wright, Gary Wagner, Bob Frazier and Jobie Irvine. Closest to the pin winners were L.J. Hardy (No. 2), Green (No. 7), Dillard Darbonne (No. 12) and  Larry Thompson (No. 15) . . . Ralph Childress won the Friday Belle Oaks Seniors at plus 9. Norm Shannon was second at plus 7. Bill Taylor and Barry Jackson tied for third at plus 5. Tyman Ash won closest to the pin on No. 15 . . . Reid Whaley’s 88 paced Nederland to first place in the Nederland Spring Invitational at Belle Oaks with a 374 team total. Silsbee’s Allison Davis took medalist honors with an 80. Other Nederland scores were a 93 by Brittany Leatherwood, a 95 by Tori Hebert and a 98 by Reagan Bodin. West Brook finished second in team play with 430 . . . The Nederland Heritage Festival Two-Man Scramble is set for Saturday at Babe Zaharais. Teams will be flighted by handicap. Entry fee is $50 per player and includes carts. Cal 722-8286 to sign up . . . Chris Stroud, after finishing T36 and winning $37,588 in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, is skipping the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio. Stroud will return to action next week in the Shell Houston Open . . .  The First Tee of the Golden Triangle plans to host 5 separate junior clinics in April and May at Babe Zaharias. Clinics for boys and girls ages 5-6 and 7 through 9 will be on Mondays from April 7 through May 19, clinics for boys and girls ages 10 through 12 and ages 13 through 15 run on Tuesdays from April 8-May 20 and sessions for girls only ages 13 through 18 are set for Thursdays from April 10 through May 22. For information on clinic hours and charges, go to www.thefirstteegt.org or contact Jerry Honza at 543-6364. Honza can also be e-mailed at jhonz@pga.com.

    Golf news should be mailed to rdwest@usa.net or faxed to 724-6854.