Who earned the most money in 2023: PGA Tour or LIV Golf players?

Whatever the future of LIV Golf, whether an agreement is reached to partner with the PGA Tour or the Saudi-backed league remains separate and continues to play nemesis and antagonist to the tour, the mark has been made.

The final numbers on the PGA Tour money list for 2023 are a direct result of LIV forcing the Tour to increase purses and find more avenues for its players to boost income. Those increases across the board have the tour’s top earners surpassing their LIV counterparts when it comes to prize money.

Of course, the biggest payday for most of those who defected from the PGA Tour to LIV was the initial contract, or signing bonus. This includes a handful of players such as Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Cam Smith whose contracts exceeded $100 million.

Meanwhile, the PGA Tour handed out more than $560 million in prize money in 2023, including $100 million for the Player Impact Program and $75 million for the Tour Championship. The PIP money goes to the top 20 players who boosted engagement and publicity for the tour.

LIV’s total purse increased to $405 million in Year 2 of its existence. LIV’s purse includes $115 million in team prize money and $30 million split between the top three in the seasonlong individual race.

The LIV schedule includes 14 events compared to 38 on the PGA Tour. Still, the top earners on Tour play around 20 events, some as few as 18, others 23. LIV golfers who qualify for the four majors play at least 18 events. And every golfer enters a handful of tournaments on other tours.

LIV certainly got the attention of the PGA Tour with its massive contracts and increased purses, forcing the tour to dramatically up its prize money game. The Tour’s total prize money has risen substantially since 2021 when it was just under $400 million.

While the threat of more players defecting to LIV certainly played a factor, that money had to come from somewhere. Besides leaning on sponsors to help with the eight signature events with $20 million purses, the Tour received an infusion of money with nine-year media deals with CBS, NBC and ESPN that started in 2022.

The 2023 money list was finalized after distributing the PIP money. The top 10 made about $220 million combined compared with LIV’s top 10, who earned approximately $147 million in prize money.

LIV’s totals include each individual’s slice from the season-ending $50 million team event at Doral, but not the $5 million awarded to the top three teams in each of the other 13 events. The captains of each team determine how much of that money goes to the four players and how much goes into the team pot for operating fees.

PGA Tour (led by Hovland) vs. LIV Golf (led by Gooch)

2023 Tour Championship
2023 Tour Championship

Viktor Hovland celebrates with the FedEx Cup after winning the 2023 Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. (Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Viktor Hovland topped the PGA Tour money list this year, bringing in $37.1 million, about $1 million more than LIV’s biggest earner, Talor Gooch.

Hovland’s breakdown was $14.1 from tournament winnings, $18 million for winning the FedEx Cup and $5 million for the PIP.

Gooch won $17.3 million over 14 events, plus $18 million for capturing the individual title and $800,000 for his share from the team competition at Doral. Gooch was a member of RangeGoats, which finished second.

Hovland was followed by Rory McIlroy, who earned $32.9 million, $15 million coming from winning the PIP’s top prize; Scottie Scheffler, who made a tour-record $21 million before bonuses brought his total to $29 million; Jon Rahm at $26.2 million, including $16.2 million on tour and $9 million from the PIP; and Xander Schauffele at $17.9 million.

The top five earners on LIV this year were Gooch, Smith ($23.2 million), Koepka ($17.7 million), DeChambeau ($14.7 million) and Harold Varner III ($9.9 million).

Smith pocketed $8 million as runner-up in the individual race behind Gooch. Koepka placed third, taking home the $4 million bonus.

Hovland, Scheffler and Schauffele each made 23 starts on the PGA Tour, Rahm played in 20 tour events and McIlroy 18.

Smith, Koepka and DeChambeau played 14 LIV events and four majors each. Gooch qualified for three majors and Varner was in two.

Koepka was LIV’s top earner among those who played in the majors, making $5.1 million, including $3.15 million for winning the PGA Championship.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek