Open Championship: No tennis-style leap in prize-money

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PRIZE-MONEY for Muirfield’s 16th staging of the Open Championship will not see the same increase as the 40 per cent hike announced for Wimbledon’s tennis stars.

While the prize pot in East Lothian will not be announced until just before the event, to be held from 18-21 July, it is likely to be around £5 million with £900,000 going to the winner. That is the same as it has been for the last two years on both counts. Each of the four majors last year, with the exchange rate factored in, offered $8 million and Peter Dawson, the R&A’s chief executive, acknowledges it is important for the Open Championship to “remain competitive”.

In tennis, the All-England Club has certainly kept its major competitive, recently announcing that prize-money for this year’s Wimbledon will total £22.6m, up £6.5m on 2012. The winners of the men’s and women’s singles will each receive £1.6m.

Dawson said: “Wimbledon’s increase was large but my understanding in tennis is that there’s a feeling among players lower down the rankings that the rewards for them are not as great as they are for golfers lower down the rankings.”

Starting in 2015, Wimbledon is being moved back a week, taking it closer to the Open Championship. This year, it clashes with the second Test in the Ashes at Lord’s, a far from perfect scenario but one that Dawson believes is part of a changing landscape in terms of major sporting events.

“This sort of thing is becoming a bit of a habit,” he conceded. “The sporting calendar is becoming crowded and, whereas these events were all shown once by the BBC, some of them are now on different TV stations.”

Corporate hospitality sales for Muirfield are 11 per cent up at the moment while early indications point to the 160,000 total attendance there in 2002 being matched.