Aon Risk Reward Challenge will tempt players on two Tours this season
December 19, 2018
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
- At select tournaments, holes that highlight a player’s strategic thinking will be designated as Aon Risk Reward Challenge holes. (David Cannon/Getty Images)
Golfers on both the PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour will have extra incentive to attack some of the most exciting holes during their respective seasons thanks to a stirring first-of-its-kind competition – the Aon Risk Reward Challenge.
An age-old question in golf – does taking calculated risk provide a greater chance at reward over time? – will be put under the microscope, and ultimately a player from each tour will triumph.
At select tournaments, holes that highlight a player’s strategic thinking will be designated as Aon Risk Reward Challenge holes. Throughout the year, a player’s best two scores on each hole will be tracked. On the PGA TOUR, 36 tournaments during the 2018-19 season will be included in the Aon Risk Reward Challenge, with one hole at each identified tournament included in the competition.
The player from each Tour on top of the Aon leaderboard at the end of the regular season will each receive $1 million in prize money.
So which holes are part of the Aon Risk Reward Challenge? Think the iconic short par-4 10th at Riviera Country Club or the sensational par-5 18th at Pebble Beach.
Go for it despite lurking hazards and maybe get yourself an eagle putt or even a rare albatross? Lay up to your number and back your wedge game to ensure birdie? Time to find out what works best.
In order to be eligible, a player must be a member of their respective Tour and play a minimum of 40 rounds throughout the season at selected tournaments.
The scoring system throughout the season will be a player’s average score to par calculated to three decimal places. (Reminder: Only the player’s two best scores on that hole in a given tournament are used for his average).
The PGA TOUR fall series provided eight events for players to get their scoring underway but as yet of course no one has reached the 40-round minimum.
Of those players with more than one tournament start in the fall, the top scorers are PGA TOUR Player of the Year Brooks Koepka and Kevin Chappell. Both have set themselves up to make a nice run once the season resumes.
Koepka eagled the par-5 18th hole during THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES twice and birdied the par-4 16th twice at the World Golf Championships – HSBC Champions in his two fall starts. That cumulative 6-under average in four rounds played calculates to a -1.5 average.
Chappell might be even more excited given he eagled the par-5 13th at the Mayakoba Golf Classic twice, had an eagle and a birdie at THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES and two birdies at the CIMB Classic’s par-4 16th. That’s a cumulative 9 under through six rounds for his -1.5 average.
In 2019 the focus will first fall on the 305-yard par-4 14th at the Plantation Course in Kapalua during the Sentry Tournament of Champions – a short and drivable hole but one that plays uphill and is littered with bunkers and even a local house and garden down the right side.
Last season it played to a 3.684 stroke average as players cranked up and went for it. Will the winds allow a similar strategy this season or will it be smarter to put a simple mid-iron in play and then go flag-hunting with a wedge?
The 10th at Riviera always gives the players fits despite being just 315 yards. Last season there was one eagle, 87 birdies, 249 pars, 86 bogeys, 12 double bogeys and one other during the Genesis Open.
Of the 436 times players teed it up over four rounds there were 317 attempts at going for the green. Will this continue in 2019 or will the fact it played to an over-par average (4.055) have players second-guessing their strategy?
“I have done both, I've gone for it and laid up and I've been very unsuccessful both ways,” Tiger Woods famously said last season. “It's a tossup, it really is.”
And what of the picturesque finish to Pebble Beach?
You’d assume most par 5s on TOUR get eaten up, but the 18th played to a stroke average of 5.017 last season – one of just seven par 5s on TOUR that played above par last season (out of a total of 163 par 5s).
Do you dare take driver off the tee and risk hooking it into the ocean? Same could be said when thinking 3-wood as an approach option.
At tournaments where more than one course is played, like at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the best one score from the specified course’s ARRC hole will count. That’s why Jason Gore is the current leader. His eagle at the par-5 15th during The RSM Classic gives him an average of -2.0 in his lone start in the fall.
If a player withdraws from an event, their scores on the ARRC hole for that tournament will not be included in the year-to-date calculation --- however players that MDF (made cut, didn’t finish) and play just three rounds for an event will still be included in the calculations.
If there is a tie, then holes that have been played by both players will be compared based on their average score under par -- and if there is still a tie, scores will be compared for the relevant holes in chronological order starting from the most recent.
The winner for the PGA TOUR will be determined at the conclusion of the Wyndham Championship and the Aon Trophy will be presented during THE NORTHERN TRUST.
The winner for the LPGA will be determined at the conclusion of the Blue Bay LPGA and the Aon Trophy will be presented during the CME Group Tour Championship.