USGA raises stakes for upcoming US Open

The USGA announced Tuesday that it has raised the total prize money for this year’s U.S. Open to $12.5 million.

The increase will result in a check of $2.25 million going to this year’s winner, making the tournament this year’s most lucrative major championship.

The move may, in part, be a reaction to a closed-door meeting held last year involving the “concerns” of many tour pros who questioned where the recent, significant increases in broadcasting rights money was going (the USGA’s contract with Fox Television currently pays them $93 million per year, through 2025).

Many touring pros expressed their opinions that, as a vital component of the competition, they were duly entitled to a proportional increase in total prize money. The players made their case respectfully, and it’s a reasonable position that I happen to agree with.

With all that said, the $2.25 million that will go to this year’s winner is a far, far cry from the $150 first-prize money that went to winner Horace Rawlins following the inaugural U.S. Open in 1895 — even after taking inflation into consideration.

Sibling rivalry

Iron Masters’ Gwen Paden and Garth Honsaker are likely the most-accomplished brother-sister duo in central Pennsylvania golfing history.

After learning the game as youngsters during the 1960s, each has carved out their own, successful amateur careers, laying claim to a number of local championships over the years.

While they typically don’t compete against each other in area tournaments, the two do have a friendly “badge of honor” that has been passed back and forth over the years — their lifetime total of holes-in-one.

Over the past few decades, when one would score an ace, the other seemed to quickly follow. The competition has always been close, and for the past few years, both were stuck on 10 aces each.

That tie was broken last Tuesday when Paden scored an ace on Iron Masters’ third hole, using her 5-hybrid club.

For those who are counting, it’s now big sister Gwen 11 and little brother Garth 10.

Missing the Cut

Last week’s Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York was a particularly bad week for Champions Tour golfer Tom Gillis.

After rounds of 74 and 75 left him well off the pace, Gillis packed up and flew home to Detroit. Early indications were that he would miss the cut by several shots, but amazingly when Friday’s play finished, Gillis learned that his 9-over par total actually squeaked in and made the cut.

After much consideration, Gillis eventually decided against a hectic return trip to Rochester. Not playing the final two rounds resulted in an official WD, but his blunder was somewhat soothed by the fact that he was still guaranteed a last-place winner’s check of $5,000.

Central Counties

The best amateur golfers in central Pennsylvania will be competing this weekend at the Philipsburg Elks Country Club for the Central Counties individual and team championships.

There has not been a repeat individual winner at this event since Artie Fink Jr.’s string of consecutive victories that ran through 2011. Recent winners of the individual title include Sean Foor (2012), Tracey Smith (2013), Fink (2014), Garrett Bastardi (2015), Matt Baer (2016), Steve DeStefano (2017) and Wes Elder (2018).

Ken Love covers local golf for the Mirror. He can be reached at gltr777@atlanticbb.net.