PGA vs LIV: Which Masters Golfers Earn The Most Per Stroke?

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PGA vs LIV: Which Masters Golfers Earn The Most Per Stroke?
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Eighteen players from the newly-formed LIV Golf circuit will compete at the 2023 US Masters this week, and to say it has stoked controversy would be an understatement. 

Over the past year, multiple major winners have been tempted away from the traditional PGA Tour in favour of the Saudi Arabian-funded league, with astronomical amounts of money being earned.

LIV Golf offers pros a guaranteed prize money pool in a 54-hole format, which is essentially less work for more money, but it has divided the sport like nothing before in its illustrious history.

Saudi Arabia’s very questionable human rights record is at the forefront of the conversation, courting more and more attention as the Gulf State continue to plough money into mainstream sport – their so-called ‘sports-washing’ campaign.

There is also the matter of breaking with golfing tradition, something the gate-keepers at Augusta National hold in high regard. 

Those who have deserted the PGA Tour on which the sport has been built are no longer eligible to take part in their tournaments, yet LIV players who meet certain criteria are still being invited to partake in the four majors.


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The Masters is arguably the most prestigious golf major on the calendar and LIV Golf will have six former winners at Augusta, all of whom have been invited back to compete this year as is customary. 

Golf has long been a lucrative sport, but LIV has taken things to an entirely new level by poaching some of the game’s most notable players via staggering pay increases. 

When broken down into percentage increases, the lowest pay rise per stroke is reigning Open Championship winner Cameron Smith with a not-too-shabby 54.63%. 

However, Smith was in the form of his life when he left the PGA and it shows in his relatively low increase compared to his peers. Every other LIV player at this year's Masters has increased their dollars-per-stroke pay by at least 100%. 

The opposite end of the scale is off the charts, with Dustin Johnson standing head and shoulders above his colleagues.

Masters Biggest Earners

Johnson is arguably the biggest recruit LIV have pulled off, and it shows in the income statistics. 

The American has increased his pay from $961.09 per stroke in his final six months with the PGA, to a barely-believable $17,792.65 per stroke in his short time with LIV. 

That’s an increase of 1751.30%, comfortably the highest rise of all LIV players invited to this year’s Masters. 

As you can see, second in the table of highest earners of the LIV representatives at the Masters is Patrick Reed, winner of a Green Jacket in 2018. 

Reed has a good track record at Augusta and casual TV viewers will be hoping for a showdown with his PGA rival Rory McIlroy come Sunday.

The pair have become embroiled in a feud ever since McIlroy had court papers served by Reed on Christmas Eve, with the latter’s lawyer alleging that McIlroy is complicit in a PGA Tour scheme to defame the LIV movement. 

McIlroy has been an unofficial poster boy for the PGA’s values, but LIV would no doubt love to have him on their side. That said, our calculations suggest he’s still able to compete, financially, with LIV’s top earners. 

PGA Biggest Earners

With almost $46million pocketed in earnings since the start of last year – including official payouts, unofficial payouts and bonuses, according to spotrac.com – McIlroy is the second-highest earner at the Masters on current form. 

DJ is in a class of his own, thanks to his golden handshake with LIV, but McIlroy could be forgiven for feeling smug if our calculations are to be believed – because he’s still earning more dollars-per-stroke than third-placed Reed.

Collecting $8,931.11 per stroke since the start of 2022, our figures indicate that McIlroy is still earning $1,194.2 more per stroke than Reed despite remaining loyal to the PGA Tour. 

Top Masters Earners Per Stroke

For McIlroy, the incentives for winning the Masters are not financial. This year will be his 15th attempt at landing the only Major to elude him since turning pro in 2007. 

The Northern Irishman is still bidding to become just the sixth man to win the full set of majors, but the 33-year-old hasn’t tasted success in one since 2014 when he won the US PGA Championship.

The latest Masters odds pit McIlroy and PGA colleague Scottie Scheffler as the joint-favourites (15/2) in the outright betting for the 87th edition of this prestigious event.

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Indeed, Scheffler is the only other PGA golfer who makes our list of top 10 earners per stroke at this year's Masters.

Much of that is to do with his formidable form and as the reigning champion he looks nicely teed up to defend the title. 

Mind you, only three players have ever managed such a feat – the legendary trio of Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods. 

Is Scheffler good enough to be mentioned in the same breath as those Augusta icons? Come Sunday, there could be no debate. 

Methodology

All figures were calculated using data curated by prominent sports finance website Spotrac.com. All figures related to PGA Tour income was calculated from January 2022 to April 2023. All figures related to LIV Golf players were calculated from the date of their first involvement in a LIV tournament right up until Brooks Koepka’s victory in Orlando on April 2, 2023. 

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