When you look at the $18M FedEx Cup winner’s check this way, the payday is even more jaw
Crunching the Numbers
Viktor Hovland at the BMW Championship.
Let’s take Jon Rahm at his word. The Masters champion spoke out Friday at the Tour Championship, arguing essentially that too much attention is paid to how much money is on the line at East Lake Golf Club this week—and by extension in pro golf overall.
“It's one of the things that frustrates me about watching this broadcast,” Rahm said after shooting a second-round 65 that left him tied for fifth place at East Lake, four shots back of the leaders heading into the weekend. “We're not thinking if we miss a putt how much it's going to cost us money-wise. No chance. None whatsoever. From first to second, you're making a ton of money. You're trying to finish as high as possible. You're trying to win a tournament. It's one of my pet peeves when they make this tournament all about money because I think it takes away from it.”
And yet, there’s no denying that there is A LOT of money at stake. The winner on Sunday will claim $18 million for capturing the FedEx Cup from a bonus fund of $75 million. Second place earns you $6.5 million. Finish last, and you still claim $500,000. Maybe players in the moment aren’t consciously thinking about how much any individual stroke might be worth, but at some point, the realization of just how much they made this week will hit them if only when they look at their bank account soon after.
Arguably, the best way to contextualize the money up for grabs in Atlanta—and how jaw-dropping/eye-popping/body-part moving the payout will be for whoever wins it on Sunday—is to compare the $18 million to how much any of the 30 players in the field have earned to this point in their PGA Tour careers (Hat tip to CBS Sports’ Patrick McDonald, who touched on the idea as he was previewing the tournament). Mind you, technically speaking, the money doled out at East Lake isn’t considered official earnings, but it spends the same way and it goes to show just how large it really is from the perspective of what these guys having been earning year-in and year-out playing on the tour.
So take Scottie Scheffler, who came into the week leading the FedEx Cup standings and thus was given a two-shot lead before the tournament started, giving him a leg up on all others for the $18 million. Scheffler has been playing on the PGA Tour for only four full seasons, but in that time has earned $42.5 million, including a record $21 million this season.
So now compare the $18 million on the line this week to that career $40 million, and it amounts to Scheffler potentially earning the equivalent of 42.3 percent of his career earnings with a win at East Lake.
Kind of crazy, isn’t it?
It’s even crazier when you look at some of the other young players in the field who are just really starting their tour careers. Take Tom Kim. The 21-year-old from South Korea has had an incredible start as a PGA Tour member, winning twice. And to date he’s earned $9 million in prize money. Not bad for a 21-year-old. So … if he wins this week at Atlanta, well, the $18 million amounts to him DOUBLING his career earnings.
OK, so that is a little jaw-dropping, right?
Given Rahm's comments, it's interesting to see that if he were the winner, the earnings would be only 34.9 percent of his career money ($51.5 million). Only Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day have smaller percentages.
McDonald broke it down for all 30 players and we’ll do the same here too. If you see any of these names on the leaderboard this weekend, this chart might be the best way to truly put in perspective what they may or may not be thinking about at East Lake.
Rory McIlroy: $80,095,557 / 22.5%
Jordan Spieth: $60,009,379 / 30.0%
Jason Day: $57,013,845 / 31.6%
Jon Rahm: $51,546,651 / 34.9%
Rickie Fowler: $48,911,847 / 36.8%
Scottie Scheffler: $42,565,229 / 42.3%
Patrick Cantlay: $42,023,361 / 42.8%
Keegan Bradley: $40,429,538 / 44.5%
Xander Schauffele: $38,874,112 / 46.3%
Tony Finau: $37,379,004 / 48.2%
Lucas Glover: $34,367,031 / 52.4%
Brian Harman: $32,873,672 / 54.8%
Russell Henley: $26,761,721 / 67.3%
Viktor Hovland: $26,689,778 / 67.4%
Collin Morikawa: $24,946,135 / 72.2%
Sungjae Im: $23,434,803 / 76.8%
Max Homa: $23,355,720 / 77.1%
Matt Fitzpatrick: $22,259,995 / 80.9%
Si Woo Kim: $22,169,854 / 81.2%
Sam Burns: $21,743,793 / 82.8%
Tyrrell Hatton: $21,490,243 / 83.8%
Tommy Fleetwood: $20,325,273 / 88.6%
Emiliano Grillo: $19,865,434 / 90.6%
Corey Conners: $18,562,777 / 97.0%
Wyndham Clark: $15,679,535 / 114.8%
Nick Taylor: $14,354,618 / 125.4%
Sepp Straka: $13,221,958 / 136.1%
Adam Schenk: $9,714,545 / 185.3%
Tom Kim: $9,185,756 / 196.0%
Taylor Moore: $6,764,699 / 266.1%