The IX: Golf Thursday with Carly Grenfell, October 10, 2019

Aon risk reward challenge — Interview with Cheyenne Knight — Must-click links in women's golf

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Aon Risk Reward Challenge

“The Aon Risk Reward Challenge is a season-long competition across the PGA TOUR and LPGA that highlights the game’s best players as they navigate some of the most strategically challenging holes on tour.

Players will take their best two scores from each Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole, with the winners having the best average score to par at the end of the regular season."

The winner from both the PGA TOUR and the LPGA will take home the first-ever Aon trophy and an equal $1 million prize.” — LPGA.com

This is one of the biggest prizes on the LPGA, and just last week, it was looking like Leann Pace was going to win it all. How big a turn is that?

This past June, Leann Pace’s future was the subject of speculation for pulling out of an event after carding a nine on one of the Aon Risk Reward Challenge holes, which meant that that score didn’t count for the challenge. Pace said she had been fighting a back injury and it didn’t have anything to do with the season-long competition.

I wanted to bring this up because there has been a dramatic shift of events with this challenge! And yes, I feel it’s a big deal, considering one million dollars is on the line. In one of the last events of the LPGA season, and on one of the last holes you have the chance to get points, Ariya Jutanugarn carded an eagle to put her in the lead (and now Leann has been bumped down to fourth).

Here’s a deeper look at the scoring:

“The scoring system, identical on both the LPGA and PGA TOUR, is intuitive and produces a compelling risk/reward narrative throughout the season. The Aon Risk Reward Challenge takes the best two scores from every participating event a player competes in, ensuring that all play is counted and providing a small advantage to those that make the cut with the winner having the best average score to par across the season. Players must play a minimum of 40 rounds throughout the season. At the LPGA Tour’s season-ending CME Group Championship, the winner will be awarded the prestigious Aon Trophy and a $1 million prize.” — LPGA.com

I will be curious to see if they add an additional clause or rule that says if you play the hole, regardless of whether you finish the event like in Pace’s scenario, the score counts. It makes sense why only official scores would be counted towards your total. But at the same time, there is sort of a way to take advantage of the system.

It was interesting to see that Pace was leading for so long, even when she wasn’t having a great season. Ultimately, it seems like this contest is set up to reward players who have played well all year-long, which makes sense why Jutanugarn hopped up the leaderboard! So maybe in the end, there are loopholes like the example above, but it is still going to end up in the player’s hands who has had a strong season from start to finish.

In other exciting news, last week at the Volunteers of America Classic, there was a lot on the line for players looking to lock in their cards for 2020. Head on down to the links collection, tweet of the week and interview section for all the excitement. It is an absolute grind on the LPGA, so avoiding Q-school for some of these women is a huge feat in itself.


This Week in Women’s Golf

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! carlygrenfell@gmail.com

My podcast is alive again! Check out the latest episode of Fairway Tales.

LPGA calls out slow play, but is it working?

Payne Stewart’s son to be tournament director of LPGA event.

Smiling Cinderella set for second LPGA start.

Crisis averted — pro-am fiasco nearly leads to lost LPGA Tour card.

This is awesome: Steph Meadows reaction to this birdie putt to keep her card.

Ko and Lee6 are battling for top season honors.

Players rally to help in #BahamasStrong Pro-Am.

Meadow and Maguire to feature on LPGA Tour in 2020.

Mariah Stackhouse’s new commercial focuses on self-belief, inclusion.

A look at the Rolex Rankings moves of the week.

Lee6 wins Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year.


Tweet of the Week


Five at The IX: Cheyenne Knight

What an awesome story that came out of last week’s Volunteers of America Classic in Dallas. On the verge of losing her card and having to go back through a rather grueling qualifying series, Cheyenne Knight essentially came out of nowhere to win her first LPGA event in her rookie year and lock in her status for 2020. She picked a good day to have a good day! Check out her interview with Golf Channel, where she talks about losing her brother and why this win was especially special for more reasons than one. Amazing story!


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