Aon Risk Reward Challenge offers something rare in golf – equal pay

Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Aon Risk Reward Challenge offers something rare in golf – equal pay

Women's British Open

Aon Risk Reward Challenge offers something rare in golf – equal pay

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WOBURN, England – It’s not often in golf that men and women play for equal pay. The gap between the genders is so large that England’s Mel Reid came into the press room on Wednesday at the AIG Women’s British Open in a blank white cap and said the prize funds for the women’s game are “never going to be the same as the men.”

“We’re being realistic here,” Reid said.

But the fact that new sponsor AIG and the R&A increased the purse for this year’s event by 40% to $4.5 million shows respect, Reid said. It’s now the second largest purse of the women’s majors, behind the U.S. Women’s Open at $5.5 million.

“We need more companies like that that believe in women’s golf,” Reid added.

Enter Aon, a global professional services firm that provides a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, and its new Aon Risk Reward Challenge.

TEE TIMES, TV INFO: AIG Women’s British Open

It’s a season-long competition across both the PGA Tour and LPGA that offers a $1 million prize to both winners.

Players take their best two scores from each designated hole, with the winner having the best average score to par at the end of the regular season.

Lee-Anne Pace leads the race on the LPGA with Hyo Joo Kim and Ariya Jutanugarn on her heels. Only 14 players crossed the $1 million mark in season earnings last year. Pace has earned $43,433 so far this season.

By contrast, 114 men on the PGA Tour won more than $1 million in 2018. Brooks Koepka and Jason Day currently lead the men’s Aon Risk Reward race.

“For the winner, it could be the most they’ve ever won in their career,” Aon ambassador Georgia Hall said on the seventh tee on Woburn’s Marquess Course. “I think that says it all really, that it could be such a great opportunity for us.”

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The 538-yard par 5, which features a split fairway, is this week’s risk/reward challenge hole. While Hall could reach the green in two three years ago when it played only 507 yards, this time around she’ll have to lay up down the left side. (Editor’s note: Watch the video at the top of this page as Hall walks us through the hole.)

She’s still optimistic, however, about her birdie chances given how dialed in she feels with her wedges. The 2018 Women’s British Open winner said that she relied solely on feel with her scoring clubs when she first joined the LPGA.

“Now I’ve actually got a backswing meant for certain yardages,” she said, “so now I can really be more confident.”

Hall said some players might play the Aon Risk Reward hole differently each week if they’re in mix for the $1 million prize. It depends on where they stand overall on the leaderboard too. Hall, a naturally aggressive player, particularly enjoyed the drivable par-4 16th that was used in January at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions at Tranquilo Golf Club.

“It’s great fun to have a competition in a competition,” Hall said.

It’s even more fun when what’s at stake is potentially life-changing.

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