Originally Posted by Spyder
I don't think many people realize just how often these guys need to finish in the top 20 and on a consistent basis to have a luxurious and care-free lifestyle. Keep in mind, this was a major as well with an obviously inflated purse. The professionals today need to win just as much as they did "back in the day" as it is their livelihood also. I have no idea how anyone could come to the conclusion that winning was more important and thus more competitive back then. Who the hell doesn't rely on their job for a paycheck?
I posted it about a week ago - but I don't think you realize how sparse money was back in the days before Tiger drove the purses up.
Using pgatour.com as a reference - here is the top money earner from 2013 and from 1980, and number 125 (picked because that is where you need to finish to keep your tour card in 2013, I really can't remember how that worked in 1980 or before)
Top earner and 125th on the money list
2013 - Tiger Woods - $8,553,439, 125 - Peter Hanson $610,178 (1st place up 16X, 125th up 30X)
1980 - Tom Watson - $530,808m 125 - T John Adams & Jaime Gonzalez - $19,895
44 players in 1980 made over $100,000, in 2013 82 players made over $1,000,000.
So yes, I do think there are many more players today that have earning way above the point of having to rely on a weekly paycheck. (and this is not even taking into account the sponsorship $$$'s that have grown as well).
The game is much more global, especially when looking at the European Tour (europeantour.com) -
2013 - Henrik Stenson 4,103,796, 100th - Mark Foster 275,872 (1st place up 39x, 100th up 131x)
1980 - Greg Norman 104,761, 100 - Gary Harvey 2,104
so not only is the winners stake up but the top 100 finishers are way up - IMO, meaning more players can spend full time playing the tour and not having to go to sponsored outings or play customer golf (or play money games)