Minjee Lee dominated statistically on way to $1 million first prize in Aon Risk Reward Challenge
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Written by Staff @PGATOUR
Minjee Lee was already in the running for LPGA Player of the Year, but her season just got even better.
Lee earned $1 million for winning the Aon Risk Reward Challenge on Tuesday, taking time out from her preparations for this week’s CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida, to receive the award.
“It’s fantastic,” said Lee, a two-time winner in 2022. “Even better than I am an Aon ambassador.”
In its fourth season, the Aon Risk Reward Challenge is a season-long competition across the PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour that highlights golf's best strategic decision-makers. Scottie Scheffler had already won $1 million for winning the men’s portion of the Challenge and relayed a congratulatory message to Lee.
Both players are 26 and live in Dallas but have seen each other only in passing.
Lee won the Cognizant Founders Cup in May and the U.S. Women’s Open in June.
“To be able to play aggressively on those (Aon) holes,” she said, “to play with confidence, and obviously making the right decision on those holes, it helped me to win at the Founders and win the U.S. Open.”
A player’s two best scores on each week’s Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole, over 38 regular season tournaments on the PGA TOUR and 30 on the LPGA Tour with CBS Sports and Golf Channel as official broadcast partners, are tabulated to make up the final standings. Players must compete in a minimum of 40 rounds to qualify.
Lee said she only became aware last month that she was in the running for the $1 million.
“I wasn’t really as aware until (the BMW Ladies Championship),” she said. “My caddie didn’t bring it up too many times until then. … He was like, ‘We better play those holes well.’”
She said distance gains with her driver allowed her to be aggressive on reachable par 5s and drivable par 4s, and the rest of her game flowed from there. An Australian whose brother, Min Woo, plays the DP World Tour, Lee dominated in several statistical categories, as per Justin Ray of the Twenty First Group.
Lee has risen to fifth on the LPGA in greens in regulation, hitting 76.6% coming into this week. From the fairway, her G.I.R. rate leaps to an astronomical rate of 83.2%, also fifth-best this season.
On Aon Risk Reward Challenge holes, Lee went for the green 58% of the time – more than any of her peers at the top of the standings, and way above the field average of 32%. Great tee shots on these holes put Lee in position to make better decisions and execute when she needed to as she averaged the most Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee of any player on the LPGA Tour this season on Aon Risk Reward holes.
Lee also limited her mistakes. In 2021, Lee ranked 36th on the LPGA Tour in bogey avoidance, carding 2.39 per round. She’s whittled that number down to 2.07 per round in 2022 (17th best on the LPGA Tour) – a difference that adds up to more than 1.25 fewer dropped shots per 72 holes.
Perhaps most impressively, Lee hit 97% of greens in regulation on Aon Risk Reward holes, with her average proximity to the hole, 33 feet, a whopping 15 feet closer than the field average on those same holes.
Learn more about the Aon Risk Reward Challenge here.