It would take some significant work -- and a bit of luck -- but the opportunity is there for Scheffler.
Scottie Scheffler has already shattered the PGA Tour's single-season money record, and now he has a chance to become the first $50 million man in the history of the sport. In just 20 starts this year, Scheffler has already pocketed $19.1 million, breaking his own record for money earned in a season, which he set last year at just over $14 million. (FedEx Cup money claimed at the Tour Championship does not count toward official earning totals for a season).
Scheffler is not the only one having a monster season at a fortuitous time as the PGA Tour increased its purses over $100 million from just a season ago. Two other golfers have moved into the all-time top 10 list in terms of money earned in a single season based on the way they have played during the 2022-23 PGA Tour campaign.
Currently, Scheffler is earning $227,837 per round of golf played this year across 76 stroke play rounds (he made the cut at all 19 of the stroke play tournament he entered) plus an additional seven rounds at the WGC-Dell Match Play back in March.
With the FedEx Cup Playoffs on deck, he has an opportunity to more than double his current earnings over the next few months. Let's do the math.
Scheffler is currently at $19.1 million for the season, but he already finished second behind Rahm in the Comcast Business Top 10, earning him another $3 million. So, he currently stands at $22.1 million on the season.
Let's say he finishes among the top five in each of the first two playoff events (not a stretch considering he's finished in the top five in seven of his last eight tournaments). That would earn him another $1.5 million to $2 million. Let's call it close to $2 million to get him to an even $24 million on the year.
Then comes the Tour Championship, where Scheffler narrowly missed out on first prize of $18 million a year ago, losing a five-shot lead to Rory McIlroy on the final day at East Lake. This is the big one (obviously), but if Scheffler is able to do what he could not a year ago, then that would put him at $42 million.
The final touch could come from the Player Impact Program. Last year, Scheffler earned $5.5 million from the PIP by finishing sixth. If he can somehow get into third behind Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who will presumably be the top two once again, he could earn $9 million, which would put him over $50 million for the year.
A top-three finish in the PIP is probably the biggest stretch of all of these occurrences. It seems unlikely that Scheffler, during a year in which he did not win a major, would move ahead of the Jordan Spieths and Jon Rahms of the world on the PIP list. Who knows, though? Perhaps Woods and McIlroy will fall a bit and Scheffler will find himself in that top three.
Last year, McIlroy netted just over $40 million when you account for all the revenue streams mentioned above. Only $8.7 million of that was from on-course, non-FedEx Cup earnings, though -- an amount that Scheffler has already more than doubled.
Scheffler has said (and will continue to say) that none of this is about money. It's somewhat easier to believe when he says it compared to others. How much would he give up to turn one of those three top 10s at a majors into a victory? Probably an amount that would stagger most people.
But still, who wouldn't want to potentially earn $50 million in a single year for playing golf (not including endorsements)? When you consider all the change at hand for the PGA Tour over the next few years, it's not infeasible that players will earn $50 million more regularly. But it's never happened before, which makes Scheffler's opportunity over the next month unique and interesting.
It is also a reflection of how well he's playing golf. The top-five finishes are pretty well documented (24 of them in his last 45 events!), and they do not happen by accident. They happen because he's the preeminent tee-to-green player in the world.
Whether Scheffler goes on to win the FedEx Cup he narrowly lost last year and approach the $50 million mark for the year remains to be seen, but the fact that it's even in play for the first time ever is fairly astounding.