BOB WEST ON GOLF — FedEx playoffs underscore PGA Tour money machine

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, August 18, 2021

How dramatically the money to be won has escalated on the PGA Tour, thanks in large part to Tiger Woods’ impact on the game, is always a fascinating topic. Consequently, on the eve of the tour’s season-ending cash cow – the FedEx Cup playoffs – this is an ideal time to dive inside the riches again.

For a baseline, let’s throw out some numbers on Jack Nicklaus, who is either No. 1 or No. 1A when it’s comes to being golf’s greatest. Nicklaus’ career earnings were $5.7 million. In his biggest season of 1972, he won seven times and pocketed a “whopping” $317,000.

The Golden Bear is the all-time leader in winning majors – Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA – with 18. His victories in golf’s biggest and most high-profile events earned $784,500.

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Those numbers, of course, are pretty much the proverbial chicken feed compared to what is at stake in the FedEx playoffs over the next three weeks. The winner, for instance, gets $15 million deposited in his bank account. Challengers also rake in a king’s ransom.

The money is so ridiculous the guy who finishing 125th, or dead last in this week’s playoff opener, adds $101,000 to his tax bill for 2021.

For those who don’t recall, the FedEx Cup playoffs were launched in 2007 for several reasons, not the least of which was a way for the PGA Tour to send a strong signal to anybody with an idea of starting a world tour to siphon players off. Tour members saw the $$$ signs and started pinching themselves.

So how lucrative have the FedEx Cup playoff been. Keeping in mind Nicklaus’ career earnings of $5.7 million, numerous players have topped that just in the playoffs. Rory McIlroy is the leading playoff money winner with a staggering $41.7 million. That’s nearly eight times Nicklaus’ career bottom line.

Dustin Johnson is not far behind McIlory at $40.4 million. Then, comes Tiger at $39 million. From there it drops off to Justin Thomas at $25.6 million and Justin Rose at $25.4 million. Eleven players are above $18 million. It’s like throwing monopoly money around only it’s real.

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While on the subject of money winnings, let’s take a quick look at who walked off with the most cash this season. Colin Morikawa, the brightest of the young stars, was No. 1 with $7,039,768. Jon Rahm was close behind at $6.8 million. Jordan Spieth at $6.4, Bryson DeChambeau at $6.3 and Louis Oosthuizen at $6.2 rounded out the top 5.

Overall, 20 players collected over 4 million, 34 went over $3 million, 61 topped $2 million and an amazing 124 bested $1 million. Just a reminder: For winning 18 majors, Nicklaus wealth grew by a mere $784,500.

CHIP SHOTS: Andrew Landry finished the 2020-21 PGA Tour season on a positive note and was at times spectacular. Landry opened and closed the Wyndham Classic with rounds of five-under-par 65, making 15 birdies in the process.

Unfortunately, the Port Neches-Groves ex could do no better than 72 in the middle two rounds and had to settled for a tie for 51st. That was worth $15,564 and boosted his season official winnings to $594,200. Landry finished No. 155 in both money and FedEx points.

Seven was the lucky number for Joe Gongora of Port Arthur on Friday the 13th. Gongora recorded his 7th hole in one by sinking a pitching wedge on the 115-yard, 7th hole at Babe Zaharias.

The shot was witnessed by Rufus Reyes, Larry Johnson and Aubrey Ward and helped that team tie the front at 3 under in the Friday 2 ball. Also posting 3 under on the front was the foursome of Ron LaSalle, Bill Hanley, Larry Reece and George Adams.

Winning the back at minus 1 was the team of Bob West, Bob Luttrull, Don MacNeil and James Johnson. Closest to the pin winners were Dwayne Morvant (No. 2), Gongora (No. 7), Dan Flood (No. 12), and Morvant (No. 15).

In the Monday Senior Plus 3 ball at Zaharias, former minor league baseball player Rusty Hicks posted his best-ever round of 70 to help his team score a sweep with minus 1 on each side. Rounding out the team were West, Ward and Richard Malone.

In the Super Saturday Senior 2 ball at Zaharias, the team of Rick Pritchett, LaSalle, Brian Mirabella and Lonnie Mosley took the front with minus 2. On the back, the foursome of Ed Holley, Cap Hollier, John Jessen and Charles Perez prevailed with minus 3.

The Wednesday DogFight at Babe Zaharias was played in an all-points count format. Placing first with 30 points was the team of Hollier, Larry Johnson, Flood and Jake Selensky. A point behind in second place was the foursome of Earl Richard, Charles Leard, Brad Royer and Jimmy Schexnayder.

Closest to the pin winners were Vercher (No. 2, No. 7), Larry Stansbury (No. 12) and Adam Noel (No. 15).

In the Tuesday, Aug. 10 Zaharias 2 ball, the team of Ted Freeman, Hollier, Art Turner and Glen Knight won the front with minus 5. Minus 2 took the back for the foursome of Vercher, Calvin Landry, Larry Johnson and Paul Duplantis.

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