Lytham prize money to be frozen at £5m
HAVING increased the pot in the previous two years, the R&A has decided to maintain the prize money at £5 million for next week’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham.
The decision means the winner will earn a cheque for £900,000, the same as Darren Clarke earned when he claimed the Claret Jug at Royal St George’s last July.
The runner-up will earn £520,000 while the top ten will all enjoy six-figure pay-days. Even the player who finishes last among the top 70 and ties qualifying for the final two rounds will be guaranteed £9,000.
The latter is more than double the amount Tony Jacklin received as his prize for winning at the Lancashire venue in 1969 while Seve Ballesteros’ two victories there – in 1979 and 1988 – were worth £15,000 and £80,000 respectively to the swashbuckling Spaniard.
At the last Lytham Open – in 2001 – David Duval earned £600,000, with a £300,000 increase giving the world’s leading players little cause to grumble over the R&A’s decision to freeze the pot for the this year’s event.
The total prize money for the world’s oldest major was raised to £4.2 million in 2007 then held at that level at that for the next two years. For the 150th Anniversary Open at St Andrews in 2010, it went up to £4.8 million, with a further £200,000 being added last year.
“Each year the R&A strives to ensure that The Open provides the very best in all areas of the event,” said Peter Dawson, the R&A’s chief executive. “From spectator and media facilities, to player experience and performance reward, every aspect of The Open is under regular review to ensure it remains at the forefront of championship golf.”
On the PGA Tour website, the three others majors are all listed as carrying $8 million prize funds this year, which currently converts at just over £5.1 million.
Meanwhile, the final few spots in the Lytham line-up are starting to be filled, with this week’s Scottish Open and John Deere Classic the ‘last chance saloons’ for players not already exempt.
German Marcel Siem secured his place after winning the French Open on Sunday, when he was later joined by little-known American Troy Kelly.
Kelly lost out in a play-off to Ted Potter Jnr in the Greenbrier Classic but was delighted to learn he’d secured a place in the Open field as the runner-up. Ranked 464th in the world going into the tournament, the 34-year-old claimed his berth as the leading non-exempt player in the latest PGA Tour event.
Potter has also been added to the line-up, as has Marc Leishman, the Australian who won the Travelers Championship last month. As an amateur, incidentally, Leishman came to Scotland to cut his competitive teeth and won the Tennant Cup, the 72-hole SGU Order of Merit event staged at Glasgow Gailes and Killermont.
While the weekend results in the US brought joy for Kelly, Potter and Leishman, there was disappointment for Michael Thompson, the US Open runner-up, as he has now missed out on a chance of going one better in the next major on the calendar.
Webb Simpson, the US Open champion, is still officially in the Lytham line-up, even though he has said since his win at the Olympic Club in San Francisco last month that he does not intend playing due to the fact his wife is due to give birth just after the season’s third major.
While the field for The Open is normally 156-strong, that may be bigger this time around because of all the exempt players.
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