US PGA Championship 2015: Caddies for Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth could earn up to $180,000 in prize money

 
Joe Hall
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Teamwork: McIlroy and caddie J.P. Fitzgerald fist bump (Source: Getty)

Over $1.8m (£1.2m) is on offer to the winner of the US PGA Championship this weekend, yet there will be at least one man present on the greens of Whistling Straits who could earn a six figure sum without having to tee off once.

Read more: What prize money is on offer at the PGA Championship?

Greasing the cogs in the background of Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth's tussle for the final Major of the season could earn J.P. Fitzgerald and Michael Greller -caddies for the world's No1 and No2 ranked golfers respectively - up to $180,000 for their weekend's work.

Carrying equipment and supplies, as well as offering trusted counsel, can be a lucrative business if your boss is as dominant as McIlroy or Spieth on a golf course.

Caddies are typically awarded between five to 10 per cent of their player's prize money from a tournament - usually towards the top or bottom end of that cut depending on how well their boss performs.

Traditionally caddies receive five per cent if their player makes the cut, seven per cent for a top 10 finish and 10 per cent for a win.


Jordan Spieth consults caddie Michael Greller (Source: Getty)

Spieth, who could take McIlroy's No1 ranking and win his third Major of the year if he enjoys a favourable weekend, will be supported by caddie Greller who was employed as a maths teacher as recently as three years ago.

After starting by caddying for amateurs in his summer breaks, Greller is now reaping the rewards from working with the PGA Tour's highest earner in 2015.

Having finished in the top 10 at 13 of his 20 events this year, 22-year-old Jordan Spieth has earned $9.3m in prize money. Even at a conservative cut of eight per cent, that would put Greller's salary at around $470,000 for the year although it could conceivably be as high as $900,000.

Using a similar estimate, McIlroy's aide of six years J.P. Fitzgerald will have earned over $200,000 so far this season.

On top of winnings, caddies have often taken advantage of the exposure afforded their employers by commanding sponsorship deals of their own.

Yet their lives are not all luscious fairways and big paycheuques. Caddies for struggling players outside the top 100 are unlikely to command more than $50,000 in a year, while meeting hefty travel and accommodation costs can take its toll.

Read more: Caddies launch £33m lawsuit in PGA bib row

Take Joe LeCava, who will have made between $16,000 - $31,000 from caddying for world lowly No 278 Tiger Woods this year.

On the PGA Tour caddies are even barred from the clubhouse and left with sub-par conditions. Over 100 professional caddies banded together to form the Association of Professional Tour Caddies two years ago, and the trade association has since filed a $50m lawsuit against the PGA Tour for demanding they wear bibs featuring sponsorships from which they do not receive a sum.

According to Forbes' figures, Billy Horschel caddie Micah Fugitt was the highest earning on last year's PGA Tour with $1.6m.

2014's highest earning caddies*:

CaddieGolferEarnings
Micah FugittBilly Horschel$1.57m
J.P. FitzgeraldRory McIlroy$1.48m
Ted ScottBubba Watson$900,000
Gareth LordHenrik Stenson$725,000
Mark FulcherJustin Rose$720,000

*According to Forbes estimates

2015's highest PGA Tour earners so far:

GolferEventsEarnings
Jordan Spieth21$9.3m
Bubba Watson15$5.7m
Dustin Johnson16$4.4m
Jimmy Walker20$4.3m
Jason Day16$4.3m

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