The U.S. Golf Association announced Tuesday it was bumping up the total purses for the 2019 U.S. Men's and Women's Open championships by $500,000 each, and that the winner in Charleston this week will receive a record $1 million.
Defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn won $900,000 from a purse of $5 million in 2018 at Shoal Creek. The total purse for this year's Women's Open will be $5.5 million, while the men will be competing for $12.5 million next month at Pebble Beach.
The only LPGA tournament that pays more to its winner is the CME Group Tour Championship, a limited-field season-ending event in which the winner receives $1.5 million.
"I think it's amazing," said golfer Lexi Thompson. "It strikes us as the women's game is growing so much. I think it is very well-deserved, but I think overall golf is just growing as a sport.
"I can definitely say I think the players are very excited about the news, and hopefully we can just keep on improving."
"It's awesome," said Augusta National Women's Amateur winner Jennifer Kupcho, who is making her professional debut this week. "Obviously, I'm out here to make money. So I'm just going to go out there and play my game and see what happens."
Director of championships John Bodenhamer said the USGA felt the increased amounts would be meaningful and impactful and enhance the championship experience overall.
Craig Annis, director of marketing and communications for the USGA, said the governing body is continuing to review its maternity policy "to ensure that women who have children have a fair opportunity to compete in our championship."
Annis said later this summer, the USGA will begin internal work to shape what the policy will look like moving forward and that two professional players will be invited to help with formulating the new policy.
The USGA granted spots in the field this year to Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lincicome. Lewis gave birth last October but had slipped below the Women's Open qualifying criteria. Lincicome is pregnant and expecting Sept. 1.
Televised coverage of the U.S. Women's Open begins Wednesday with an hour-long presentation beginning at noon on FS1. Live coverage on Thursday and Friday will run from 2:30-7:30 p.m. on FS1, along with an hour-long feature (7:30-8:30 p.m.) on Michelle Wie's win in the 2014 Women's Open at Pinehurst. Coverage Saturday and Sunday will switch to FOX, running from 2-7 p.m.
Shane Bacon will host coverage on Thursday and Friday, while Joe Buck will head up the coverage Saturday and Sunday. Analysts include Juli Inkster and Paul Azinger (Saturday and Sunday), while on-course reporters will be Nicole Castrale (winner of the 2007 Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika played at RiverTowne), former Furman star Brad Faxon and former University of South Carolina star Brett Quigley. FOX Digital reporters also include Bacon, Castrale, Ned Michaels, Steve Scott and Ali Whitaker.
Former College of Charleston women's golf star Laura Fuenfstueck is participating in the Women's Open, not as a player but as a caddie for Hayley Davis. Fuenfstueck and Davis both play on the Ladies European Tour. Fuenfstueck, a native of Germany, was a three-time Colonial Athletic Association player of the year during her career at Charleston from 2013-2017. She is ranked ninth and has three top-10 finishes in 16 starts on the Ladies European Tour.