Driving for dough at the U.S. PGA

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Jason Day teeing off on his way to winning the WGC Matchplay in Dubai in March.

The last major golf tournament of the year, the US PGA championship, is being played out this weekend at the Valhalla Course in Louisville, Kentucky.

The other three majors are the US Masters, the U.S. Open and the Open Championship (often called the British Open).

Red hot favourite for this tournament is new world number one Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who finished the first round on Thursday a shot behind the leaders at five-under. Leading after day one was England’s Lee Westwood at six-under — a lead he shared with Americans Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer. The most famous player of all, American Tiger Woods, scratched his way around the Kentucky countryside to come home three over the card with 74.

Of the Australians, Matt Jones was best placed at three-under, while Geoff Ogilvy and Jason Day trailed Jones by a shot at two under the card. World number one until last week, Queenslander Adam Scott, is even with the card — a score he shared with Marc Leishman as the Thursday dusk fell upon Valhalla.

That was Thursday, however. When Friday came, Jason Day took the maxim: “Thank god it’s Friday” to heart and went out and blistered around the course with a 65, six-under for the day.

The 65 combined with his competent first round of 69, puts Day in second place, at eight-under, a position he shares with American Jim Furyk, who returned a Friday 68 (three-under) hard on the heels of his first round 66.

McIlroy however is showing why he is the man to beat, as he leads after two rounds at nine-under, following his two consistently brilliant rounds of 66 and 67.

Tiger Woods sadly didn’t make it.

The Waterboys famously sang, “I saw the whole of the moon” — well, in Tiger’s case, it could have been paraphrased:

“Woods saw the whole of the rough.”

He had another day in the wilderness, returning 74, which saw him finish at six over, and thus miss the cut. (The cut occurs after the first two rounds, or 36 holes, and is used to eliminate approximately half the golfers from the field.)

So Australia’s Jason Day is well into the mix, and has some claims, saying after the second round (via AAP):

I feel a lot more comfortable and confident than I felt going into last week, because I get a lot of my confidence from how I am hitting the ball and, given the last few days' work I have put in, I am feeling great.

If you aren't working hard, you cannot expect to go out and win every week and I have been unable to get enough work in this year.

Day has this year been having bouts of vertigo and related dizzy spells, as well as suffering from a recurring hand injury since March.

But now I am getting back towards the amount of work I need and so I feel like I have a good chance this week.

While the work I put in now is really for three weeks down the road, and I will probably be back to my peak during the playoffs, I am not writing myself off this week at all.

Stranger things have happened and I am going to prepare well and try to execute every shot as best I can.

So Day has claims to this tournament and can you blame him for wanting to do well? Whenever the topic of golf comes up, it is invariably followed by the topic of money.

So here is the financial folderol for those who are interested.

The winner of year’s US PGA tournament receives U.S $1.8 million  (AUD $1.94 million) second gains U.S. $1.094 million (AUD $1.18 million) while third nets a tidy $681,250 (AUD $735,700)

Prize money is handed out a long way down the card with even the player who finishes 20th getting $116,250 (AUD $125,300)

Nice work of you can get it.

And since where here in the realm of money and sport, here is the famous Forbes list of money earners in sport for 2013:

The income for all the sportsmen on this list derives from:

'... salaries, bonuses, prize money, appearance fees, licensing and endorsement income.'

As you can see golfer Tiger Woods is number one — and, I might add, was number one from 2002, through to 2013, with the exception of 2012, when boxer Floyd Mayweather pipped him for top spot.

So, clearly there’s a lot of money in golf — and, more broadly than that, in sport the world over.

And here's the rub — is there too much?

If you wish to leave a comment on the topic, we would value your input.

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