Whoever thought only the world of cricket commanded big sponsors, mega bucks and formidable deals. The season 2021-22 has been has been nothing short of a money spinning wheel for Anirban Lahiri. The Indian golfer made over $3million on the PGA Tour, with a major chunk of that sum coming from finishing second at the Player's Championship in Florida, USA.
He embellished that performance with two Top-10 finishes at the Well Fargo Championship and Wyndham Championship. All three of the PGA events took place in 2022.
Despite doing well, by the year end, Lahiri opted to play the LIV Golf Tour instead of the PGA Tour. It turned out to be a money minting and wise decision since he hit the jackpot on the very first outing in the circuit. The Indian professional golfer debuted with a bang at LIV Golf Tour by finishing second after a three-way play-off in the Boston Invitational. The second position brought him a pay check of $1.5 million.
Some great shots, a tad bit of unlucky ones, but on the whole it was a winning performance for Lahiri. The wining sum still wasn't his careers biggest though, which would be $2.18million he walked away with for finishing second at the Players Championship.
Honestly, money does matter
Ever since signing with the league, Lahiri has so far played 2 LIV Golf events. His collective prize money at Boston Invitational being $1,182,400 and an additional $375,000. At Chicago, his total earnings were $170,000. Those are figures more than his PGA Tour career earnings in 7 out of 8 seasons. As per the data by PGA, Lahiri's best season on the PGA tour earned him $3,084,598 in 2021-22.
At the two events in Boston and Chicago, Lahiri collectively made $2,357,500. Starting from 2014-15 when his PGA tour began, Lahiri made $490,003. In 2015-16 this sum rose to $835,171. In 2016-17 he made $1,944,289. In 2017-18, his prize money totalled $1,441, 205. In 2018-19, Lahiri made $419,620. Comparatively, in 2019-20 he made his career's lowest figure on the PGA tour $58, 388. While in 2020-21, his prize money totalled $952,131.
More about the LIV Golf Tour
Though the league has the kind of press and cash raking in, LIV Golf Tour events have not yet been accorded any points by the Official World Golf Rankings. Backed by Saudi money, LIV Golf Invitational Series has been controversial to say the least from the word go. With the big names came the bitter acrimony with PGA tour. Liv Golf is fronted by former World No 1 Greg Norman, and has names like Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau.
The LIV Golf League (as it will become in 2023) has shaken and stirred the golf community and ideologies. The series has roughly 14 events scheduled for next year.
While the Masters Champions to former Open Champions have all hopped on, in August, Open Champion Cameron Smith announced that he would be joining LIV Golf too. A clear blow to the PGA Tour with some reports pegging Smith's switch at more than $100 million. In an interview to Golf Digest, he said, "Money was definitely a factor in making that decision, I won't ignore that or say that wasn't a reason. It was obviously a business decision for one and an offer I couldn't ignore."
Around the same time that Smith made the switch, many others golfers made the shift too. Anirban Lahiri being one of them, who even came on board to say that LIV Golf was one of the best things to happen to him, with financial aspect being a factor that could not be ignored. "You get richly rewarded for playing your best golf," he said in an interview to TOI.
Meanwhile, some heavyweights Rory Mcllroy, Tiger Woods, John Rahm have vowed their commitment to DP World and PGA Tours. There's no denying the challenges that professional golfers face, the pressures of performing on a new turf every month, living out of a suitcase and a sport that requires mental strength more than physical one. Even for the most decorated golfers, sometimes making the cut becomes a Herculean task. Then there's the prestige and the prize money. The money plays a big part in it all. And the players are not ignoring it.