The PGA Champions Tour, a tour formerly known as the Senior PGA Tour, is a tour that is held for golfers who are 50 years of age or older. Many golfers who have aged their way out of competition in the regular PGA have been able to achieve considerable success in the Champions Tour. These include such stars as Lee Trevino, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Kenny Perry, Hale Irwin, Arnold Palmer and Miller Barber.
Of course, one question that many people have to ask involves how increasing age effects pay. It’s clear that younger golfers in the regular PGA circuit are going to potentially make more money for their efforts than those who are in the Champions Tour. Whereas fifteen golfers in the Champions Tour ended up earning $1 million or more in the 2013 season, 82 golfers in the regular PGA made at least that much money. In fact, 33 of those golfers made at least $2 million whereas only two Campions Tour golfers – Bernhard Langer and Kenny Perry – got at least $2 million during the circuit.
Naturally, there are more events in the regular PGA circuit and therefore more chances for players to earn larger amounts of prize money. Still, older golfers can do pretty well for themselves.
There is one question worth asking – does a golfer’s skills really go downhill as he ages? That is, do older golfers make less money because their skills weaken with age? After all, the best players in the game walk away with the most cash.
This listing of PGA Champions Tour players earnings is intended to take a look at this issue. These ten golfers from the 2013 season are listed based on the average amount of money they earned, divided by their age. For instance, 64-year-old Tom Kite, who earned $394,663 in 2013, made $6,166 per year of his age.
10. Russ Cochran – 55 – $25,219 per year in 2013
Russ Cochran is not as successful as some Champions Tour golfers who are a little younger than he is. Could this be a sign that golfers’ skills deteriorate with age as they do in so many other sports? Either way, Cochran is still relatively successful as he’s won two events in the 2013 season with a $315,000 payout for winning the SAS Championship. Like with many other golfers, Cochran is still eligible to compete in PGA Tour events even though the odds are clearly not in his favor. He finished in 41st in the Sony Open but still had a -7 for the entire four-round tournament and managed to get $19,068 for his efforts playing in the circuit that he originally competed in. Cochran made almost $1.39 million in the Champions Tour in 2013.
9. Rocco Mediate – 51 – $26,296 per year in 2013
Many golfers who were very successful in the PGA Tour have managed to transfer that success to the Champions Tour. Take Rocco Mediate, a golfer who earned $16.8 million in his career in the PGA. His entry into the Champions Tour has been particularly fruitful as he earned around $1.34 million in 2013 and won two events. The move into the senior circuit is often a challenge for golfers as the environment can really change and some feel the stigma of being labelled a has-been. Still, that does not mean that golfers cannot still take home large amounts of money. Mediate made $300,000 for winning the Shaw Charity Classic, the highest total that he made for a single event in 2013.
8. Duffy Waldorf – 51 – $26,547 per year in 2013
Some of the youngest golfers in the Champions Tour tend to compete in more PGA Tour events than others. Duffy Waldorf, who is only 51 years of age and just barely meets the minimum to compete in the tour, played in three PGA Tour events and earned close to $30,000 in those three events. Of course, this could be seen as a wake-up call for a player like him to stick with the Champions Tour. Fortunately for him, he has earned over $1.35 million in 2013 and made it into the six-figure range for earnings in four separate events during the season. This has proven that while he will never lead the pack in the PGA, he can still have a successful career in the Champions Tour.
7. Michael Allen – 54 – $26,691 per year in 2013
Michael Allen has earned close to $6 million since entering the Champions Tour. He won $240,000 in both the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic and the Greater Hickory Kia Classic at Rock Barn. Interestingly enough, Allen is one of those golfers who has had more success with age as he’s got five wins in the Champions Tour versus one win in the European Tour and another in the Web.com Tour. He even won the 2009 Senior PGA Championship. While this was big, it also goes to show that some golfers truly enter the prime of their careers at a later age. Allen won a total of $1,353,947 in 2013.
6. Tom Pernice, Jr. – 54 – $26,750 per year in 2013
Tom Pernice, Jr. only has five tournament wins in his lifetime as a professional golfer. His last was a 2013 win at the 3M Championship. Despite the low number of wins, he’s still made close to $15 million in his career as a golfer. In fact, Pernice has finished in the top three six times in the past Champions Tour season, bringing home $1,444,527. One point that is for certain is that even the players who finish outside the leader’s circle in these events can still get large pay checks. For instance, Pernice finished 32nd in the Toshiba Classic but he still got $11,050 for performing in that event. This puts into perspective that even the bottom tier of professional golfers are rewarded for their efforts.
5. Kirk Triplett – 51 – $27,256 per year in 2013
Kirk Triplett is another example of a competitor that could potentially end up having as much success as a senior player as he did in his younger years. In spite of competing in just twenty-one events during the 2013 season, a number that’s three or four times less than most other golfers in the tour, he still earned $1.39 million this past year in the Champions Tour. This includes five events where his winnings landed in the six-digit range. This is a respectable total that shows just how sharp his golfing skills still are, even as he moves into the twilight of his golfing career.
4. David Frost – 54 – $30,189 per year in 2013
David Frost only has thirty wins in his professional golf career. That averages to less than one per year, considering that he’s been competing on a professional level since 1981. He still had the best putting average in the Champions Tour in 2013 and finished in the top three in six events during the previous year. Frost won $330,000 at the Regions Tradition tournament, but amazingly, his -21 at the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf tournament wasn’t enough for the win as he finished in fourth. He still got $57,125 for that tournament, though, and his $1,630,234 earnings on the year are more than enough for him to continue running his wine business.
3. Fred Couples – 54 – $31,607 per year in 2013
Fred Couples won the 1992 Masters and has more than fifty career wins to his name since becoming a professional golfer in 1980. While he has now turned to the golf course design business alongside business partner Gene D. Bates, Couples has stuck it out in the Champions Tour. A relative newcomer to the tour, he won $440,000 at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, a total good for close to a quarter of his earnings on the year. His 2013 Champions Tour earnings of $1,706,812 does not include the $145,600 that he made for competing in the Masters and finishing in 13th place.
2. Kenny Perry – 53 – $40,654 per year in 2013
Kenny Perry was one of two golfers to reach the $2 million plateau in the Champions Tour in 2013 with total winnings valued at $2,315,428. Perry played in three PGA Tour events that year and won $52,616 in one of them despite missing the cut. He won three events in the Champions Tour in 2013 including the U.S. Senior Open Championship, earning $500,000. He also won the Constellation Senior Players Championship and walked away with $405,000 for that event. His seven top-three finishes in the tour helped him to reach this spot in the tour listings and proves that he still has a good amount of talent left in the tank at 53 years old.
1. Bernhard Langer – 56 – $41,346 per year in 2013
Bernhard Langer was the top-ranked golfer in 1986 and has 42 European Tour wins to his name and two Masters tournament wins. He has been the Champions Tour top-earner for five of the past six years, earning at least $2 million in each of those seasons. He’s also been in a tie for the most wins in a season in four of those years. Because he’s a former Masters winner, he is eligible to return to the Masters each year. In 2013, Langer won $56,040 after being tied for 25th in the event. This is the only PGA Tour event that he participated in during the season as he focuses on Champions Tour events today.
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