It's winner take all (well, most) at ADT

The fact that several players in the field are uncomfortable with the new format at this week's ADT Championship probably suggests it will be fun to watch.

The reason? Players actually are going to have to sweat in order to win a good chunk of money at the season-ending event on the LPGA Tour.

At professional golf tournaments across the land, the pain of losing is often offset by a very nice consolation prize, a sum of money that would make most people blush.

Not at the ADT. This week, $1 million goes to the winner, the biggest first-prize in women's golf.

The big difference, however, is what goes to second: a relatively paltry $100,000. And it gets worse (or better, depending on your perspective). Third place receives just $20,500.

The intriguing aspect to the tournament is that all eight players who make it to Sunday's final round will have a shot at winning the $1 million. The last-place finisher out of the eight will get just $16,250.

"The winner takes it all," said defending champion Annika Sorenstam, who received $215,000 for winning the tournament at Trump International in West Palm Beach, Fla., last year. "You will be out there for four days … you play as many holes. So it's a big difference."

Sorenstam has been among those who delicately have questioned that idea behind the new format, which brings 32 players to the tournament through various qualification criteria.

What has Sorenstam wondering is the huge disparity $1 million can mean to the season-ending money list.

"Especially when you play between 20 and 30 tournaments a year and other ones are worth between $150,000 and $500,000," she said. "It makes for a big change. Anything can really happen. … It is obviously going to be very exciting for everyone."

Sorenstam, ironically, can benefit from the change. She can catch Lorena Ochoa on the money list if she were to win the tournament, despite trailing by more than $500,000. Karrie Webb could also finish No. 1 with a victory. Cristie Kerr is the only other player who has a chance to catch Ochoa, who could finish no better than third if Kerr wins the money title.

"I suggested that maybe half of it should count, and then you get the rest as a bonus," Sorenstam said. "So the winner still gets $1 million. Anybody who knows the game knows that anything can happen in 18 holes. It puts a little less value on the money list."

Another controversial aspect is the format. After the first two days, the field is cut to just 16 players. Those eight who go home will leave with $8,000. Then, after the third round, the field is cut to eight players. The eight who go home after Saturday receive just $14,000. What if a player is in 16th place going into Saturday and feels she has no chance to make the top eight? There's not exactly a lot of incentive, as she will get paid the same regardless.

And then there is the big one: starting Sunday, everyone starts over, with the lowest score winning the $1 million. So a player could have built a 10-shot lead through 54 holes and it won't matter.

Good or bad?

What will be very good if the tournament can come down to the final hole with that big prize at stake.

That will be something to get excited about.

Bob Harig covers golf for the St. Petersburg Times and is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at harig@sptimes.com.