The biggest first-place payouts in professional golf have long come in major tournaments or events just shy of major status, and they typically came from events that also had the biggest purses and the largest payouts in the sport.
The biggest single first-place payout in a tournament is now $4.5 million, which goes to the winner of the PGA Tour's The Players Championship. The total tournament purse is $25 million.
Changes made to the DP World Tour schedule in 2019 gave them a temporary claim as the largest first-place prize money, with the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai giving the winner $3 million from an $8 million total purse, with the remaining 49 players competing for the $5 million remaining as though it were its own tournament. That is still true, with the remaining field competing for a $7 million purse.
The Players Championship has the biggest individual tournament purse in golf as of 2023, with the PGA Tour announcing an increase to $25 million. It has the biggest single first-place payout for a PGA Tour event, with the winner getting a record $4.5 million.
Each LIV Golf event features a $20 million individual purse for its 48-player field, offering $4 million to the winner.
All of the PGA Tour's designated events with a $20 million purse pay $3.6 million to the winner.
The Masters Tournament has the largest purse in major championship golf, increasing its purse in 2023 from $15 million to $18 million, with $3.24 million going to the green jacket winner.
The PGA Championship purse is now $15 million, as well as the other two majors, the US Open and the PGA Championship.
Of course, the biggest single payday in golf is now technically to the winner of the revised Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta in August. With the PGA Tour changing how the Tour Championship is decided -- and that the winner of the now-handicapped event wins the FedEx Cup outright -- the winner of the event will win $18 million with a single tournament victory.