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Despite winning a record 18 major championships and 73 PGA Tour titles, Jack Nicklaus made only $5,734,031 in total on-course earnings during his career.

So, you could forgive him for being a little jealous at the thought of Rory McIlroy pocketing $15m for winning one event at the weekend.

Except he’s not.

Instead, the ‘Golden Bear’ is loving the fact that $45m was divided between 30 different tour pros on Sunday, saying that he takes great pride in having helped pave the way for the riches available in the modern game.

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“Fifty years ago, you played pro golf to earn a living off the course,” the 79-year-old wrote on social media. “Today, you can become a millionaire in a week – or a day. And I love it!

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“The greats like [Sam] Snead, [Ben] Hogan and Byron Nelson among many laid the foundation. Hopefully, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and I, along with others, helped with the building blocks.

“I am very proud of the PGA Tour that I played and the one played today.”

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Nicklaus added that a friend recently sent him the program from the 1950 US Championship which was played at his home club, Scioto. In it, he noted that Jimmy Demaret had earned $2,400 for winning the Masters that year, whilst Sam Snead was the leading money through the Masters, with $13,928.

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“When you realise what’s at stake in the Tour Championship, it’s great to see how far the PGA Tour has come,” he added. “When I was 22, and started my pro career in 1962, you might win $2,800 for a regular tour event. I made $15,000 at the US Open Championship, although I did get a couple thousand for Sunday’s gate.

“The winner at East Lake earns the richest prize in golf history, and last place [30th] gets $395k – almost $100k more than I ever made in a season!”


author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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