The $ 10 million US Open wallet gives hope for gender equality

South Pines, NC (AP) – Dottie Pepper recalls being paired with Meg Mellon in the last round of 1991 …

South Pines, NC (AP) – Dottie Pepper recalls her pair with Meg Mellan in the final round of the 1991 U.S. Open, with what she saw as an impressive first place prize of $ 110,000.

Everything has changed, but Lydia Co. says that’s not enough.

Mellon will win this tournament and receive a record salary.

“It was the first time the winning check was six-digit,” Pepper said. “It was a big deal.”

Pepper finds it hard to believe that in just over three decades the world’s best golfers will be battling for a record $ 10 million wallet, including a $ 1.8 million winner’s share in the U.S. Women’s Open, which begins Thursday at Pine Needles, after USGA secured serious sponsorship from ProMedica.

Co, who ranks 3rd in the world’s women’s golf rankings, said players should be grateful for the steps toward equal pay, but added that “there are still ways”.

This.

Even though the prize money has grown by $ 4.5 million than a year ago, women are still lagging behind men.

The men’s wallet of the US Open 2021 amounted to 12.5 million dollars, 2.25 million – the champion John Ram. The prize fund of this year’s tournament is expected to increase significantly when it is announced next month. The Masters wallet has increased from $ 11.5 million to $ 15 million this year, and the PGA Men’s Championship has increased from $ 12 million to $ 15 million.

It is a gender pay gap that reflects many professional sports.

In basketball, the average NBA player earned $ 5.3 million per season, according to the Basketball Reference, while WNBA stars Diana Tauras, Jewel Lloyd and Breana Stewart earned a maximum of $ 228,094 in the league. It’s a simple drop in the bucket for Stephen Curry of Golden State, whose annual salary is $ 45.7 million.

Women’s basketball players, including Britney Greener, who, according to the US government, is illegally detained in Russia, travel abroad in the off-season to replenish their income.

According to a study by the University of Adelphi, published in 2021, the salaries of professional athletes are lower in various sports:

– The average salary of a Premier League baseball player was $ 4 million compared to $ 6,000 for those involved in the professional women’s game Fastpitch.

– Premier League players earned an average of $ 410,730 compared to $ 35,000 for their counterparts in the National Women’s Football League.

– Last year, male tennis players earned an average of $ 335,946, and women – $ 283,635.

– Men in golf received an average of $ 1.25 million against $ 48,993 for women.

Of Forbes’ top 50 highest-paid athletes in 2022, tennis player Naomi Osaka was the only woman on the list with $ 59.2 million – the vast majority of which came from agreements.

But steps are being taken.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Football Federation reached an important agreement on equal pay for men’s and women’s teams, making the U.S. national governing body the first in sport to promise equal pay to both sexes. It happened after fans chanted “Equal pay!” after the women’s team won the 2019 World Cup, the team filed a lawsuit against discrimination.

In tennis at all four Grand Slam tournaments – Wimbledon, the French Open, the US Open and the Australian Open – men and women have received equal pay since 2007 as a result of the threat of a boycott of Billy Jean King back in 1973. men earn more than women in other, smaller tennis tournaments.

“I don’t think women are paid that much because male leaders, mostly white, have seen less value in women’s sports,” said Richard Lapczyk, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. “Sport is also a reflection of a society where women are underpaid compared to men.

“Now the attendance of women’s games and TV viewers is sharply increasing. This combined with a better climate for social justice in the last two years has finally intensified discussions on equal pay. I hope that on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, sport can help continue the path to equal pay for women around the world. ”

Women golfers are making every effort to close the pay gap.

Australian Minji Lee said gaining the trust and support of a major sponsor like ProMedica is a “big step in the right direction” for women’s golf. And professional athletes in general.

“I think it will only get better and better,” Lee added.

When Anika Sorenstom won this competition in 1996 at the Pine Needles, she took home $ 212,500 and became the first female golfer to surpass $ 1 million in her career.

On Sunday, the champion will get almost twice as much victory in one tournament.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Sarenstam said. “These are large-scale changes. This is a huge increase. It gives women more credibility and respect. … I hope that other tournaments will follow their example, and let’s continue to work in this direction for other women. “

With ProMedica support, the US Women’s Open wallet will increase to $ 12 million annually over the next five years.

“Seeing the sponsors we have on LPGA tours, seeing the wallet increase, TV coverage, that’s what we want,” said American Lexi Thompson, the world’s 6th golfer. “We want to develop the game and leave it in the best place.”

Karen Staples started playing the LPGA Tour at an era when women had a hard time making a living.

In 1999, her first salary in the tournament was $ 1,306 when she finished 58th at the Phillips Invitational.

“I just can’t imagine what a difference it can make for someone,” said Staples, now an NBC commentator covering the US Open this week. “I can’t even talk about it properly. I mean, my God, that’s a step. “

Gene Yong Co., the world’s number one player, said a lot of money is at stake and she plans to donate some of it back if she wins.

“I want to help kids who want to be LPGA players,” Co said. “I want to help them. If I win, I will do it. “

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AP Golf writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.

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