The R&A has today (Monday) moved to address the disparity in prize money for The Open and its women’s counterpart by announcing that the 2019 Women’s British Open will see its prize purse increase by almost 40 per cent.
Taking place on the Marquess’ Course at Woburn from August 1-4, the Women’s British Open now offers the second highest prize fund of the five major championships in women’s golf at $4.5m (€4m). The increase comes in the first year of US insurance group AIG’s partnership as title sponsor and will see the winner take home a first prize of $675,000.
AIG in November agreed a five-year deal to become title sponsor of the Women’s British Open. AIG succeeds Japanese electronics company Ricoh in the role, with a contract running from 2019 to 2023. It is AIG’s first title sponsorship in professional golf.
By comparison, the 2019 Women’s British Open still falls significantly short of the men’s event, which will offer up a prize purse of around $10.5m this year. The US Women’s Open provides the biggest prize purse in the women’s majors of around $5.5m.
Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said: “We recognised that more needed to be done to elevate the prize fund for this great championship and are pleased that we have been able to make a significant increase this year as part of The R&A’s commitment to women’s golf.
“This is an important first step and we know it will take time to move closer to achieving parity with the men’s game. We will continue to work toward the long-term goal of a sustainable business model but we can’t do it alone and the support of fans, sponsors and media are all key to achieving that success.”
The Women’s British Open was founded by the Ladies’ Golf Union in 1976 and has been staged in conjunction with the IMG agency since 1984. The event has been co-sanctioned by the Ladies Professional Golf Association and Ladies European Tour since 1994 and gained major status in 2001. The championship is now owned by The R&A.