- Publish Date
- Wednesday, 1 June 2022, 10:11AM
Kiwi golf great Lydia Ko doesn't have dollar signs in her eyes as she readies for the US Open this week which features the biggest prize pool in women's golf.
The prize money for the major at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club, North Carolina has almost doubled this year to US$10m ($NZ15.4m). The USGA has also committed to raising the purse to US$11m and then US$12m by 2026.
The winner will make US$1.8 million ($NZ2.77m) which is more money than the entire purse of 14 tournaments on the LPGA Tour schedule this year.
"I don't think anyone is going to have a putt on the 72nd hole to possibly win and go oh, my goodness, if I miss this putt it's like something, something thousand dollars. I think it's going to be like oh, my goodness, I have this putt to win the U.S. Women's Open or I have this putt to make the cut on Friday," Ko said today.
"I honestly think when there's just so much on the line, none of us - I can say none of us - are going to think about the money. You only know about it later, like oh, that cost them $40,000 because Golf Digest said that."
Ko took home US$300k for her win at the Gainbridge LPGA event in January, which she would top with a seventh-placed finish this week. She sits ninth on the LPGA's all-time career prize money list with $US12.9m and a win this week would lift her to seventh spot.
The biggest winner's cheque remains the CME Group Tour Championship at the end of the season (US$2m), which Ko won in 2014, however the prize pool is lower than the US Open at $US7m.
"We're here at one of the most prestigious events of the year at one of the biggest major championships, and I think that in itself is a win. Sometimes I think the purse can really get in the way of what the actual meaning of this event is. I think for all of us that are in the field, we're just excited to play the Women's Open, and obviously for us to play for that amount of money, it's an extra bonus," Ko added.
The 25-year-old has two majors to her name but her best finish at the US Open was a tie for third at the 2016 event, where she led going into the final round. It remains her only top 10 finish at the US Open.
She won't be the only New Zealander in the field this week with Wellingtonian Julianne Alvarez earning her spot through a qualifying tournament. The duo will play a practice round tomorrow.
Ko said she had a keen eye on Ryan Fox during his playoff defeat at the Dutch Open on Sunday, while Steven Alker's Senior PGA Championship win also saw the New Zealand flag flying.
"I know there aren't a lot of Kiwis out playing on the tours, but hopefully there's more and more, and I think as players that are playing, we're trying to be the inspiration and motivation for more Kiwi juniors to take up the game and dream of hopefully playing on the European Tour, PGA TOUR, LPGA Tour. It's exciting times for New Zealand," Ko said.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission