LPGA Gets Big Boost With Aon's $1M Season-Long Player Challenge
Risk consulting firm Aon is "adding to the momentum LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan is starting to build in his quest to narrow the gender pay gap" with the announcement of its new "season-long risk-reward competition" that will award the winner $1M, according to Randall Mell of GOLFCHANNEL.com. Aon, which is sponsoring a similar challenge on the PGA Tour, "stepped up" and "offered the exact same deal for LPGA pros." Aon’s Risk Reward Challenge "comes on the heels of CME Group’s announcement" in November that it will offer a $1.5M first-place check to the winner of its LPGA event next year, a "payout greater than the winner’s check in 33 of the PGA Tour’s 47 events." Whan said, “We have work to do at the LPGA, to make sure we are delivering equal viewership and equal benefits and everything else. I’m the first guy to admit we aren’t there, but when companies step up and make this kind of statement, it’s not only good for the game and my athletes, it’s good for the future of girls who are watching us and dreaming about this.” Mell noted LPGA and PGA Tour pros "will compete to see who can best play the most strategically challenging holes across their schedules." The player on each tour who "navigates the designated risk-reward holes with the best cumulative score" will take home $1M at season’s end. LPGA pros are playing for a record $70M in official prize money this season, but the PGA Tour is "playing for more" than $340M (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 1/9).
BIG DAY FOR EQUALITY: Golfer Lizette Salas said the Aon deal is "definitely huge, not only for women's golf but women in general." Salas: "I feel like equality is important" (ESPN.com, 1/9). Whan said, "To say it was pretty easy to get the players' attention with a million-dollar win would be an understatement. It's an exciting event." He added, "We're really proud of the fact that they're also doing the same with the PGA Tour at the exact same time in the exact same way with the exact same payout so this is a great statement about not only the current situation with the game, but how men and women are being treated the same way in this opportunity" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 1/9).