The Women's British Open set a new standard for prize money at the LPGA Tour majors by announcing Wednesday a record purse of US$5.8 million, with plans to boost it by an additional US$1 million for next year.
The winner this week will receive US$870,000 (NZ$1.26m), compared with the US$675,000 that Sophia Popov won last year at Royal Troon.
The Women's British Open starts Thursday at Carnoustie.
"We have set a new benchmark for prize money in women's major championship golf this week and, thanks to AIG, will build on it still further next year," said Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A. "We hope this will inspire other events to follow our lead and help us to take a collective leap forward for the women's game."
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The U.S. Women's Open still offers the biggest winner's check for the LPGA majors at US$1 million, though the total prize money was US$5.5 million.
Based on the traditional purse distribution on the LPGA Tour, next year's Women's British Open winner would receive US$1.02 million. Meanwhile, the USGA is closing in on a deal for a presenting sponsor that would raise prize money even more for the U.S. Women's Open.
Slumbers was bullish not only on the prize money — in 2022 at Muirfield, the purse will be more than double what it was in 2018 before AIG became involved — but he saw it as a chance for others to fall in line to boost equality in the women's game.
"With our partners at AIG, we are taking action to make change happen and sending out a strong signal that more needs to be done by everyone involved to grow women's golf," he said. "It needs greater investment and support from golf bodies, sponsors, the media and fans to help us grow the game's commercial success and generate the income and revenues necessary to make prize fund growth viable and sustainable."
The KPMG Women's PGA Championship and the Evian Championship both have a US$4.5 million purse, while the ANA Inspiration in the California desert offers US$3.1 million.
The CME Group Tour Championship in November has a US$5 million purse and is top-heavy to reward the season "Race to CME Globe" title. The winner last year, Jin Young Ko, earned US$1.1 million, while the two-way tie for second paid US$209,555 each.