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The U.S. Women’s Open Has a Record Purse: It Won’t Be the Last

  • Golfers are competing for $12 million in prize money this week.
  • That’s up $1 million from last year and $2 million from 2022.
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. Women’s Open teed off Thursday at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania with a record purse on the line for the third straight year. The $12 million up for grabs this week is up $1 million from last year, when American Allisen Corpuz took home $2 million for her first major victory.

It remains the largest and most lucrative event in women’s golf.

Follow the Money

Prize money for the women’s golf championship has skyrocketed in recent years, thanks to the USGA’s decision to bring on a presenting sponsor for the event. In 2022, ProMedia became the first such partner, helping the U.S. Women’s Open purse nearly double from $5.5 million the year before to $10 million. However, the organization ended the deal a year later. Still, the USGA increased the purse without replacing its primary backer in ’23. 

Before that, the U.S. Women’s Open purse had relatively slow growth, increasing by only $1.5 million from 2014 to ’21. From ’08 to ’13, prize money was stuck at $3.25 million each year.

Now, Ally has taken over as the main financial supporter and expects to help the purse continue to grow each year, the bank’s head of sports and entertainment marketing, Stephanie Marciano, tells Front Office Sports. “It allowed us to enter golf at a national level with both men’s and women’s golf,” she says. “But lean in to women’s golf even more and have a direct impact on the purse.”

On Equal Footing?

The $12 million up for grabs this week lags behind the $20 million offered at the ’23 men’s U.S. Open. For comparison, the men’s championship had a $12 million purse in ’18. So, as momentum continues to build around women’s sports, could golf’s U.S. Opens offer equal prize money sometime this decade?

“That’s tough,” Marciano says, noting investment in women’s sports across the industry is still catching up to men’s sports. “I think to expect that type of growth in the next five years is—it’s not impossible—but I think that’s maybe setting our expectations a little too high.”

Rough Start

The increased investment in women’s prize money comes as the USGA prepares to start negotiations for its next media-rights deal, as its current 12-year, $1.1 billion contract—which NBC took over from Fox in 2019—ends in ’26. The U.S. Women’s Open is set to play a pivotal role in adding value to that next deal, and could potentially get an offer for a women’s-only TV package.

Nelly Korda, who has already won six tournaments this year and is the top-ranked women’s golfer in the world, may figure to be the sport’s biggest star for years to come. But she likely won’t be driving a big viewership this weekend—the 25-year-old American carded a 10 on the par-3 12th hole en route to shooting an 80 (+10) in the first round. She’ll need an especially strong second round to make the cut. Other U.S. golfers who could draw a big audience include second-year pro Rose Zhang (ranked No. 6), who won her most recent tournament, and Lexi Thompson, who announced this week she would retire at the end of the LPGA Tour season.

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