Pat Perez finally got down to the real reason he joined LIV Golf.
“I’ve doubled my earnings,” he said after his third LIV event that ended Sunday outside of Boston.
Perez was referring to his prize money this season from LIV and the PGA Tour. And, no, he has not doubled his earnings. He is close to tripling the total.
Notice Perez said nothing about his game … probably for the best.
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Perez has added about $2.8 million to his accounts in three LIV events compared to just more than $1.1 million in 19 starts this season on the PGA Tour.
Just 10 weeks ago, Perez insisted this move was about spending more quality time with his family. No one believed it then, and certainly not now.
With LIV’s inaugural season hitting the midway point – the series has four events remaining, including the season finale at Doral in October – Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which finances the league, has distributed $100 million in prize money, not to mention committing around $1 billion to sign bonuses.
Still out there this year is $125 million in prize money for the final four events.
Few LIV golfers have been candid about why they joined. It isn’t to play events with 54 holes or for the shotgun starts or team competition or champagne celebrations after every event. Sure, some of those aspects are attractive to many golfers, but the bottom line is, and always will be, about the money.
Which is OK, especially for a roster in which many of the golfers either have made the turn in their careers or are not good enough for big boy golf.
Harold Varner honest about making money with LIV
Here is what Harold Varner said last week when he announced on social media he was leaving the PGA Tour:
“The opportunity to join LIV Golf is simply too good of a financial breakthrough for me to pass by. I know what it means to grow up without much. This money is going to ensure that my kid and future Varners will have a solid base to start on – and a life I could have only dreamed about growing up.”
Varner, 32, made $10.4 million on the PGA Tour since turning pro 11 years ago, all without winning an event.
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The backlash Varner received was unfortunate: “It sucked,” he said. “Who likes to be hated? It’s terrible. I’d rather not even be known than be hated.”
His honesty was refreshing.
For LIV golfers, the most important green is not on the course.
Anirban Lahiri turned pro 15 years ago, never won in 165 Tour starts and, until this year, had not made $2 million in a season. Lahiri’s career highlight came in March when he was runner-up to Cam Smith at the Players Championship and won $2.18 million.
Lahiri, who was born in India and lives in Palm Beach Gardens, was among six golfers who defected from the PGA Tour last week to join LIV. Among them, world No. 2 Smith.
“You chase your dream … and my dream has always been to play the best golf I can play,” he said. “Play at the highest level I can play.
“You reach a point where you’re like, okay, I’ve done this for 15 years, I’ve chased this dream and everyone else on my team has had to follow and support and put up with everything that is centered around me . … I’m just moving my direction but it doesn’t affect my ambition and doesn’t affect my dedication and what I want to achieve. I still want to do that, but I can balance it much, much better right now.”
Big payday for Palm Beach Gardens’ Anirban Lahiri
In his LIV debut, Lahiri, 35, lost in the three-man playoff last weekend with Jupiter’s Dustin Johnson winning his first LIV event. Lahiri split second- and third-place prize money with North Palm Beach’s Joaquin Niemann and added another $375,000 for being part of the group that was second in the team event.
The total: $2,187,500 for three days work.
Perez has played in three LIV events and finished no higher than 15th in the 48-man fields. But he has pocketed an extra $2.25 million for being on the winning team three straight weeks with Johnson, Talor Gooch and Patrick Reed doing most of the heavy lifting.
For Johnson, cash checks are expected. The Jupiter resident is third on the PGA Tour all-time money list with about $75 million in prize money. With his win last weekend, he leads the LIV money list with $9,962,500. He has finished in the top 8 in all four of his LIV events.
Jupiter’s Branden Grace picked the best time to be playing the best golf of his career and that has earned the South African nearly $7.4 million in four LIV events, more than half of what he won (about $12.3 million) in 183 tour events since 2009.
Grace has earned that money winning the event with a first (Portland), second and third place finish.
Grace’s fellow countryman and Jupiter neighbor, Charl Schwartzel, also has cashed in with more than $5.6 million in four events. Schwartzel won the inaugural LIV event in London and made $4.75 million, which was more than he had pocketed in any one year in two decades on the tour, including 2011 when he won the Masters.
Gooch has finished in the top 10 of all four LIV events, making just less than $5 million. He earned just under $9.2 million in 120 tour starts.
Reed has played in three LIV events, making $4.65 million. The nine-time winner on the PGA Tour, including the 2018 Masters, has made more than $4.65 million in a season twice since turning pro in 2011.
Henrik Stenson won the lone LIV event he entered (Bedminster) and pocketed $4.375 million, more than he has in all but two of his 18 years on the PGA Tour.
Chase Koepka is the poster child for golfers not good enough for membership to the PGA Tour but who have hit the lottery with LIV. Koepka turned pro in 2016 and has $306,396 in PGA Tour career earnings.
He has made $701,000 in four LIV events without ever finishing higher than 17th and a ranking of 1,615th in the world.
Money talks. Not gimmicks.
Tom D’Angelo is a journalist at the Palm Beach Post. You can reach him at email@example.com.