Golfers are some of the highest-paid athletes in the world. Names like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson pop up in mind as just a few men who have made an absolute fortune playing the game of kings. But what about the women? With all five major annual championships in the LPGA boasting a prize fund of over $2 million, it would seem that winning a major championship isn’t just great for the trophy showcase, but for the bank as well. In this article, we are going to look at the 10 female golfers gathering the highest career prize money form their LPGA Tour career.
The LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) is an American sport organization for female professional golfers from around the world. It is best known for running the LPGA Tour, a series of weekly golf tournaments for elite female golfers from February to December each year. The LPGA’s major annual championships and their prize funds are:
- Kraft Nabisco Championship – $2 million
- Wegmans LPGA Championship – $2.25 million
- U.S. Women’s Open – $3.25 million
- Ricoh Women’s British Open – $2.75 million
- The Evian Championship – $3.25 million
The elite female golfers from around the world are making multi-millions in career prize money from the LPGA events. Unfortunately, the World Number 1 in the Women’s World Golf Rankings (Rolex Rankings), Inbee Park who has accumulated career prize money of $7,729,749 couldn’t make it into our list. But, the rest of the pack includes both active and retired players whose career earnings give you a brief overview of just how good they were in the game. So, here are the LPGA’s 10 highest career prize money winners.
10. Meg Mallon – Career Winnings: $9,051,459
Meg Mallon is an American former professional golfer who turned pro in 1987. She has since won 18 LPGA Tour events, including four major championships. She is the first player in LPGA history to shoot a 60, one stroke off the LPGA Tour’s all-time record of 59 set by Annika Sörenstam in 2001. Mallon is tied for second in the LPGA’s all-time records for most career aces. She has gathered career prize money of $9,051,459 and announced her retirement from professional golf in July of 2010.
9. Yani Tseng – Career Winnings: $9,441,219
Yani Tseng has registered 15 LPGA Tour wins, since turning professional in 2007. She is the youngest player ever, male or female, to win five major championships. She was ranked number 1 in the Women’s World Golf Rankings for 109 successive weeks from 2011 to 2013. Before turning professional, as an amateur, Tseng was the the top-ranked player in Taiwan from 2004 to 2006. The 25-year-old was named on Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2012. She has gathered total career prize money of $9,441,219.
8. Paula Creamer – Career Winnings: $10,426,297
Paula Creamer has won 11 professional tournaments, including 9 Tour events in the LPGA. She was crowned the “U.S. Women’s Open Champion” in 2010, and her highest career ranking in the Women’s World Golf Rankings is number 2. She is currently 10th in the list (as of March, 2014). After turning professional in 2004, Creamer took part in the LPGA Tour in 2005. Her first victory that season came in the Sybase Classic in New York. That victory made Creamer the second-youngest event winner in LPGA history, at the age of 19. The 27-year-old American has since gathered career winnings of $10,426,297 in the LPGA events.
7. Suzann Pettersen – Career Winnings: $11,761,829
Suzann Pettersen is a Norwegian LPGA golfer, turned professional in 2000. She has 14 LPGA Tour wins and 7 Ladies European Tour wins under her belt. Her career-best ranking, according to the Women’s World Golf Rankings, is second to date, and she has secured that position on numerous occasions over the last 2 years. The 32-year-old is currently ranked second on the list. She has accumulated career prize money of $11,761,829, and her highest-earnings year as a pro was $2,296,106 in 2013.
6. Se-Ri Pak – Career Winnings: $12,255,689
Se-Ri Pak turned pro in 1996, and during her 16 years of professional golf in the LPGA, she registered 25 wins. She has amassed career earnings of $12,255,689. The 36-year-old is, “a pioneer…who changed the face of golf even more than Tiger Woods,” according to a column in Golf World, written by Eric Adelson in 2008. When she came to the LPGA in 1998, she was the only Korean player on the tour. Ten years later, she was one of the 45 Koreans on the tour, and the single largest source of revenue for the LPGA was the sale of TV rights in South Korea.
5. Juli Inkster – Career Winnings: $13,593,574
Juli Inkster is a 53-year-old American professional golfer, turned pro in 1983. She has 31 LPGA Tour wins under her belt, ranking her second in wins among all active players. She has 7 LPGA Major Championship victories, and has registered more wins in Solheim Cup matches than any other American. Inkster gathered a career prize money total of $13,593,574 during her 29 years of professional career spanning to date. She is a member of the “World Golf Hall of Fame.”
4. Lorena Ochoa – Career Winnings: $14,876,489
Lorena Ochoa is a Mexican golfer who turned professional in 2002. She played on the U.S.-based LPGA Tour from 2002 to 2010, and gathered a career prize money total of $14,876,489. She was the top ranked female golfer in the world for over three years, from April 2007 until her retirement in May of 2010. Ochoa is the first Mexican golfer to be ranked number one in the world and is considered the best Mexican golfer of all time (of either gender). The 32-year-old was inducted into the “World Golf Hall of Fame” in 2012.
3. Cristie Kerr – Career Winnings: $15,079,403
Cristie Kerr is an American professional golfer who is naturally left handed, but plays golf right handed. She turned professional in 1996, and has 16 LPGA Tour wins under her belt; those include two major championships, the U.S. Women’s Open in 2007 and the LPGA Championship in 2010. Kerr has gathered total career prize money of $15,079,403. She was the number one-ranked golfer in the Women’s World Golf Rankings for three time periods in 2010.
2. Karrie Webb – Career Winnings: $18,168,118
Karrie Webb is one of the greatest players in the history of women’s golf. She is Australia’s most successful female professional golfer, with 40 wins on the LPGA Tour, more than any other active player. Webb is currently ranked 11th on the list of players with the most career LPGA tournament wins. She was awarded the prestigious Cetenary Medal on January 1, 2001. She is also a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. The 39-year-old turned professional in 1996, and during her 18-year career she has collected prize money of $18,168,118. Webb is ranked 7th in the current Women’s World Golf Rankings (as of March, 2014).
1. Annika Sörenstam – Career Winnings: $22,620,511
Annika Sörenstam is widely regarded as one of the most successful and decorated female golfers in history. She turned professional in 1992, at the age of 22, and announced her retirement from the game in 2008. During that stint, she won 90 international tournaments that made her the female professional golfer with the most tournament wins in LPGA history. She is the winner of a record 8 Player of the Year Awards. Sörenstam’s 72 official LPGA tournament wins include 10 majors and 18 other international tournaments. She is the LPGA’s highest career prize money winner with career earnings of $22,620,511.