Reports from across the pond indicate that The Open (formerly known as The British Open) is considering paying prize money in U.S. dollars for the first time because of the weakening of the pound in the wake of last year’s Brexit vote to leave the European Union.
Martin Slumbers, the chief executive of the R&A, told reporters this week that the exchange rate has put The Open at a disadvantage compared to the other three majors.
“It’s something that hasn’t escaped my attention,” Slumbers said when talking to reporters following the announcement that Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England, had been awarded the 2020 Open. “It’s a significant issue as we’ve gone from (an exchange rate of) $1.50 to $1.25.
“I’m very conscious that The Open is the only one of the four majors outside of the United States and what I’m trying to make sure is that The Open is viewed as one of the world’s great sporting events. Prize money is one of the factors in that. For these guys, this is their living. We’re very aware of where all the prize money is for the majors and for the other events.”
At Wednesday’s exchange rate, the purse for last year’s Open at Royal Troon of £6.5 million was worth just over $8 million. The Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship all had purses of $10 million, and the U.S. Open has announced it will be $12 million this year. The Open will be played at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England, in July.
“We’ve always announced our prize money in pounds, which makes the issue a little bit more complex,” Slumbers said. “But it’s something that we will address and deal with before June, when we announce what the 2017 prize money will be. An option clearly is to move to U.S. dollars.”