Opportunity Knocks

Aon’s $1 Million Risk Reward Challenge spotlights the top tacticians on the PGA TOUR and LPGA

Opportunity Knocks

In golf, it’s one thing to stand on the tee and bomb it. However, a much different skill set is required when weighing potential risks and rewards—how much of a dogleg to cut off, when to go for the par-5 in two or take a more conservative approach, how and where to attack the flag, and so on. The game within the game makes golf great. Course strategy is an underappreciated talent that’s often the difference between winning and losing. On the pro Tours, how well (or poorly) players manage their game can mean thousands—even hundreds of thousands—of dollars in prize money. 

This year, the best strategic thinkers on Tour are being celebrated in a big way. The PGA TOUR and LPGA partnered with Aon, a global professional services firm that provides data-driven solutions for risk, retirement and health, to create the Aon Risk Reward Challenge. The season-long competition has a $1 million, winner-take-all payout for each Tour’s best. (Kudos to Aon for establishing the same payoff for men and women.) Brooks Koepka has already clinched on the PGA TOUR, but the LPGA’s inaugural competition is in its final stage, with three more regular-season events before the champ will be crowned. 

Prior to the LPGA season, Tour staff and rules officials collaborated on the best risk-reward holes based, in part, on statistics from previous years. Data was shared with Aon’s data scientist and actuary teams, who evaluated the numbers before the group selected one Challenge hole at each of 29 regular-season tournaments (three par-3s, 10 par-4s and 16 par-5s). A player’s two best scores on the designated hole at each event count toward the year-long total (minimum 40 rounds). The golfer with the best average score to par is the winner. “We are very excited to see which player on the LPGA will join Brooks as the inaugural Aon Risk Reward Champion, and look forward to rewarding her consistent and strategic play with an equal $1 million,” says Andy Weitz, Chief Marketing Officer, Aon. 

To enhance the program, detailed information regarding that week’s hole is posted in the players’ locker room. Caddies have access to the analytics, as well. (As an aside, fans of the Tour can check out stats, and player insights, through social media and TV coverage.) The scoring system pays off for smart, calculated aggressiveness. Parallels might be drawn with how companies can operate given Aon’s consulting advice. 

Six LPGA pros have a realistic shot at the grand prize headed into the final three events. The leading contenders are: Carlota Ciganda (-0.810), Ariya Jutanugarn (-0.783), Lee-Anne Pace (-0.731), In-Kyung Kim (-0.727), Hyo Joo Kim (-0.719) and Brooke Henderson (-0.717). Players will have to navigate two par-5s and one par-4 as the remaining Challenge holes. With opportunities for birdie (or eagle), some player-caddie decisions could make or break a golfer’s chance for glory. And, given the bunched leaderboard, the outcome will likely hang in the balance right up to the final day of the regular season, at the TOTO Japan Classic on November 10th. 

Are your palms sweaty yet?

Latest

More Golfweek
Home