Golf is a game that may be more known for its male superstars – think Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, etc. – but its female stars are making big bucks nowadays, and it’s increasingly apparent as they get older and more experienced on the LPGA Tour and off it.
Although earnings for individual golf tournaments usually clock up to about six figures each, combined earnings over the years have added up nicely for these 10 women: the lowest entry on this list comes up to $7.9 million in total – a total garnered by the current number one-ranked female golfer in the world, 25-year-old Inbee Park. This list peaks at $18.5 million by a golfer who turned pro 20 years ago, which goes to show that golfers as young as Park can still challenge for that top spot some time in the future.
Following the retirement of Annika Sorenstam in 2008, there isn’t really a slam-dunk choice for the number one female golfer in the world, therefore a true definitive list of the best female golfers currently playing can be up for debate. However, this top 10 list will be focusing on whose championship victories have given them paydays that have combined nicely enough with each other to give them career winnings well into the millions.
Some golfers on this list are still in their mid-20s, while others are into their 40s and still playing competitively and holding their own despite having families at home. Clearly, golf is far from being a gender-specific sport, and these 10 women have proven that time and time again with one championship victory after another. Let’s take a look at the top 10 female golfers with the highest career winnings over the course of each golfer’s professional career.
10 Inbee Park - Career Winnings: $7.9 million
At a relatively young age of 25, South Korean golfer Inbee Park is truly starting to come into her own. Since last April, she has been number one on the Women’s World Golf Rankings, and she also has the bragging rights of being the youngest player to triumph at the U.S. Women’s Open, after having won it at just 19 years of age in 2008. After turning pro in 2006, Park has made about $7.9 million in career earnings, with nine career wins on the LPGA tour to show for it. Expect that number to get bigger and bigger in the coming years.
9 Angela Stanford - Career Winnings: $8.2 million
Although she doesn’t boast quite as many LPGA wins – only five to her name at the age of 36 – as Park, Angela Stanford still has more career earnings at about $8.2 million. Since she turned pro in 2000 at age 23, Stanford has been enjoying increased success in women’s golf with a ranking of ninth in both 2008 and 2009 on the Women’s World Golf Rankings. The Fort Worth, Texas native’s highest-earning wins have both come up to $210,000, from victories at the 2008 Bell Micro LPGA Classic and the 2012 HSBC Women’s Champions. Stanford also beat out women’s golf great Annika Sorenstam at the 2008 Lorena Ochoa Invitational.
8 Catriona Matthew - Career Winnings: $8.4 million
Having been a pro for almost 20 years now, Scottish golfer Catriona Matthew has racked up 11 professional wins – four on the LGPA tour and six on the Ladies’ European Tour – and total career earnings of $8.4 million thus far. She may be 44 years of age now, but Matthew has got plenty to say she’s accomplished in her golf career, her biggest victory arguably coming through the 2009 Ricoh Women’s British Open, beating Karrie Webb by a three-stroke margin and earning $335,000 in that victory – the most money she’s ever won for an LPGA Tour tournament.
7 Na Yeon Choi - Career Winnings: $8.7 million
One of many South Korean female players among the cream of the crop of women’s golf, Na Yeon Choi already has a U.S. Women’s Open victory under her belt (won in 2012), and has racked up 12 professional wins since she turned pro in 2004. Seven of those twelve wins have come on the LPGA Tour circuit, with her U.S. Women’s Open victory having been won over compatriot Amy Yang, and by a four-stroke margin. Choi is currently boasting a career winnings total of about $8.7 million, and also finished tied for second in the Women’s British Open last year, behind Stacy Lewis.
6 Yani Tseng - Career Winnings: $9.4 million
Having just barely turned 25, Taiwanese golfer Yani Tseng has already racked up winnings to the tune of $9.4 million. It’s a total that hasn’t gone undeserved for her: she’s the youngest golfer in history to win five major championships, winning the LPGA Championship and the Women’s British Open twice each, as well as the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2010. On top of that, Tseng also got to be on Time’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012, and was the number one-ranked female golfer for 109 weeks straight between 2011 and 2013.
5 Paula Creamer - Career Winnings: $10.8 million
She enjoyed a successful career initially as an amateur, but Paula Creamer has taken her accomplishments to the next level as a pro. The golfer nicknamed “The Pink Panther” has won 12 professional Championships – 10 of which came on the LPGA Tour – and has been the second-youngest event winner in LPGA history. With career winnings of about $10.8 million, Creamer’s biggest payday came through winning the U.S. Women’s Open by four strokes ahead of Na Yeon Choi and Suzann Pettersen, with a winner’s share of $585,000. She most recently won the HSBC Women’s Champions earlier this month in Singapore.
4 Suzann Pettersen - Career Winnings: $11.8 million
Now in her early 30s after turning pro in 2000, Norwegian golfer Suzann Pettersen has been consistently among the top ranked female golfers in the world. She’s won a whopping 21 professional championships, including the McDonald’s LPGA Championship and the Evian Championship in France, the latter of which she won last September. With her success over the years, Pettersen has made $11.8 million in career winnings – her biggest single winner’s share coming at the Evian Championship, winning $487,500 after finishing ahead of Kiwi golfer Lydia Ko by two strokes at 10 under par. Her most recent victory came at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship this past October.
3 Se Ri Pak - Career Winnings: $12.3 million
A pioneer for female South Korean golfers, Se Ri Pak started out in 1998 as the only representative of her country on the LPGA Tour. At age 36, Pak is now one of several South Koreans gracing this Top 10 list, and one of many from her country competing on the tour. Pak has thus far earned $12.3 million in career winnings, but with all of her accomplishments over the years at age 36, it’s hard to understand why that total isn’t higher: among her wins include three McDonald’s LPGA Championships, one U.S. Women’s Open, and one Weetabix Women’s British Open, which she won against her compatriot Mi Hyun Kim.
2 Cristie Kerr - Career Winnings: $15.1 million
The highest-ranked American on this list, Miami native Cristie Kerr has racked up 23 professional wins since she turned pro all the way back in 1996. 16 of her wins came on the LPGA tour, and her two major championship wins came in the U.S. Women’s Open in 2007 and the LPGA Championship in 2010 – the former of which gave her a payday of $560,000. Altogether, Kerr’s winnings have come up to about $15.1 million throughout her career, and was previously ranked number one on the Women’s World Golf Rankings for a time in 2010. Her most recent victory came in the Kingsmill Championship in May of 2013.
1 Karrie Webb - Career Winnings: $18.5 million
Although many of the golfers on this list have professional win counts in the double digits, Karrie Webb’s accomplishments over the course of her 20-year career have simply been staggering. The Aussie golfer has won 56 professional championships, 40 of them coming on the LPGA tour. Among her seven major championship wins are two U.S. Women’s Open Victories, as well as a more recent victory at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2006. Webb has also racked up $18.5 million in career winnings, having most recently triumphed at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in February, beating Chella Choi by one stroke at 12 under par.