The U.S. Open begins Thursday as the best golfers in the world battle for the largest purse in the event’s history.
This year’s prize fund will total $20 million, up from $17.5 million last year. On Sunday, the winner will take home $3.6 million, nearly half a million more than the $3.15 million Matt Fitzpatrick earned last year.
“We want this to be big,” USGA CEO Mike Whan said during a press conference on Wednesday. That means giving fans and players a championship feel without sacrificing the tournament’s uniqueness.
“We could have sold 40,000 tickets a day but we sold 22,000 to make sure that the experience here is still a quality experience for those that get on the golf course,” he added. “And I think [the record] purse is part of that.”
Whan — like Los Angeles Country Club president Gene Sykes — said he is worried about PGA Tour-Saudi Arabia headlines stealing the U.S. Open’s spotlight, and is confident the golf will shine through the distractions.
But Whan was coy on Saudi Arabia’s investment in golf. “That doesn’t feel as new to me as it maybe does to some other fans,” he said, noting their presence in the game even when he was commissioner of the LPGA from 2009-22.
Whan said he didn’t know if the USGA had been approached by the PIF about any potential investment like the PGA Tour deal.
“If we were contacted, we’re pretty full up from a partnership perspective,” he added.