Memorial Tournament announces sponsorship extension, higher purse through 2021

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Video (above): 97.1 The Fan’s Anthony Rothman talks to 18-time major winner, Jack Nicklaus, as the Memorial Tournament announced a higher purse and sponsorship extension through 2021 on Dec. 15.

Story by: Don Delco

In 1966 Jack Nicklaus first made it known he wanted to bring an event like The Masters back to central Ohio. Columbus was where he grew up, it was where he received the most support and and it was where its residents desired more big-time sports.

“Back then all they had were six Ohio State football home games a year,” Nicklaus said. “They were starved for something else to do and something they could sink their teeth into.”

Forty years later the Memorial Tournament plays an integral role on the Columbus sports scene, as well as the PGA TOUR. On Dec. 15, Nicklaus, the PGA TOUR and Nationwide Insurance announced a six-year relationship beginning with the 41st Memorial Tournament, May 30-June 5, 2016.

“We’ve enjoyed a mutual success in each staging of the Memorial,” said Jack Nicklaus II, the Memorial Tournament General Chairman. “Since 2011, the Memorial, Nationwide and The PGA TOUR are coming together to further elevate the already lofty status of the tournament, as well as enhance the impact within the professional golf and right here in central Ohio.”

For 2016 the purse will increase from $6.2 to $8.5 million, with the winner receiving $1,615,000 and a three-year exemption on the PGA TOUR. Also, Nationwide will be the presenting sponsor through 2021.

“For us it was a labor of love working on trying to go forward the next six years,” said Steve Rasmussen, Nationwide CEO. “There wasn’t a question in our minds to do this. This is one of the greatest golf venues in the country. For all of us in central Ohio, this is a pretty neat thing to have. We are blessed to have a great golf course, great facilities and a great team that gets things done here that makes it a truly enjoyable place to be.”

The purse will increase $200,000 each of the next six years keeping the Memorial Tournament among the highest regular season prize money events on the PGA TOUR. In 2015-16, only eight events – four of which are majors – have a higher purse than the Memorial Tournament.

Last year, David Lingmerth, a 27-year-old native of Sweden, shot a four-day total of 15-under-par 273 and defeated Justin Rose in the third playoff hole to win the 40th playing. Lingmerth was the 212th-ranked golfer in the world entering the week.

Since 1976, the Memorial has surpassed $26 million in donations to central Ohio charities, with more than $14 million going to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Last year the tournament set a record with $2 million donated to charitable organizations, $1,607,118 of which going to the Children’s Hospital.

“I’m extremely proud of this tournament’s first 40 years,” Nicklaus said. “The enhancements we’ve made with the Tour, I’m looking forward to the next 40, too. This is a legacy I’m very proud of what’s happened here and many other people should be proud, too.”

Highest purses on The PGA TOUR
2015-16 season

$10.5 million | The PLAYERS Championship | TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (May 12-15)

$10.5 | PGA Championship | Baltusrol GC, Springfield, N.J. (July 28-31)

$10 | The Masters | Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Ga. (April 7-10)

$10 | U.S. Open | Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pa. (June 16-19)

$9.5 | World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championships | Trump National Doral, Miami (March 3-6)

$9.5 | WGC-Dell Match Play | Austin Country Club, Austin, Texas (March 23-27)

$9.5 | WGC-Bridgestone Invitational | Firestone CC, Akron (June 30-July 3)

$9.3 | The Open Championship | Royal Troon, Ayrshire, Scotland (July 28-31)

$8.5 | The Memorial Tournament | Muirfield Village GC, Dublin (May 30-June 5)

$8.5 | WGC-HSBC Champions | Sheshan International GC, Shanghai, China (Nov. 5-8)

$8.5 |The Barclays | Bethpage State Park, Farmingdale, N.Y. (Aug. 25-28)

$8.5 | Deutsche Bank | TPC Boston, Boston, Mass. (Sept. 2-5)

$8.5 | BMW Championship | Crooked Stick GC, Carmel, Ind. (Sept. 8-11)

$8.5 | The TOUR Championship | East Lake GC, Atlanta, Ga. (Sept. 22-25)