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What defines a great year at work? How about one that includes a $1 million performance bonus! For Hannah Green, the fourth-year LPGA Tour professional, that’s exactly how the 2021 season turned out.
Since 2019, Aon, a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, has sponsored the Aon Risk Reward Challenge, a season-long competition that rewards the best decision-makers on both the LPGA Tour and PGA TOUR. At each tournament, the golfer’s two best scores on the pre-determined Challenge hole will count (minimum 40 rounds). The player on each Tour with the lowest average score to par pockets the $1 million prize.
Green, 24, has two LPGA Tour victories in 78 career starts and $2.2 million in lifetime earnings. Which makes the $1 million payout life-altering. “I want to buy a house during the off-season, so this gives me an opportunity to play [each season] comfortably,” said Green. “I could almost pay off my house and not have a mortgage, so it’s setting me up for after I finish playing golf.”
Consider this: Thirteen players on the LPGA Tour earned at least $1 million in prize money in 2021. (Green finished 35th on the money list with $531,507.) By comparison, 124 PGA TOUR pros surpassed the $1 million mark. That list included Matthew Wolff, the PGA Tour’s winner of the Aon Risk Reward Challenge, who pocketed more than $2.5 million in prize money (47th on the list). So, yes, the equal-to-the-men, $1 million award is a huge deal for Green and all of women’s golf. “Congratulations to Hannah on her performance throughout the season to win the Aon Risk Reward Challenge,” said Jennifer Bell, Chief Executive Officer, North America at Aon. “At Aon, we’re committed to creating a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture where everyone can thrive, ensuring we deliver more innovative solutions for clients and help them make better decisions. When we created the Aon Risk Reward Challenge, our goal was to create a platform where achievements could be equally celebrated across the men’s and women’s game. We’re so proud of this program and the level of skill and quality of decision making we continue to see week in and week out throughout the challenge on both Tours.”
Green, a native of Perth, Australia, showed the heart of a champion in capturing the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and Cambia Portland Classic in 2019. This year, on the designated Aon Risk Reward Challenge holes, she was a shrewd decision maker and clutch shotmaker, particularly in the latter stages of the competition. Following a break for the 2020 Summer Olympics (where she finished T5), Green competed in six of the tournaments that counted toward the contest. She carded 12-under par (eight birdies, two eagles, two pars) on the 12 Challenge holes. For the season, she made birdie or eagle on 80-percent of them.
With four events remaining in the year-long competition, the Aussie took over the top spot at the ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer in early October. She never relinquished the lead. The Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole, No. 18 at Seaview Golf Club (Bay), is a reachable par-5. In Round 1, Green made eagle on the 507-yard hole. She proceeded to back it up with birdie in Round 3. Both days, she drove it in the fairway and made the decision to go for the green on the second shot. The approach in Round 1 finished pin-high and she rolled in the long eagle putt from across the green. At tournament’s end, the closest pursuers were Charley Hull, Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko in second, third and fourth place, respectively. Previous leader, Hyo Joo Kim, fell to 5th after recording par-bogey and withdrawing prior to Round 3 due to a reported muscle cramp.
The next week, at the Cognizant Founders Cup in northern New Jersey, the top five spots remained unchanged. In the penultimate Challenge event, the BMW Ladies Championship in late October, Green and Hull both posted a pair of birdies on the 505-yard par-5 11th hole at LPGA International Busan, to remain in 1st and 2nd position, respectively. Green’s tee shot found the fairway in all four rounds and then she hit the green in two each time. She was able to execute her game plan and the calculated approach paid off. “I knew straightaway what I needed to do,” she said. “My caddie, Nate, and I ran all the scenarios. I had to make two birdies to improve my overall score. I was able to do it so quite a big moment for us.” Kim moved into 3rd by virtue of an eagle and birdie. Thompson held down 4th while Ko dropped to 5th.
Since Hannah Green had built a sizable lead and met the requirement for rounds played, she opted not to participate in the final Aon Risk Reward Challenge tournament, the Pelican Women’s Championship, in Belleair, Florida. It was another shrewd decision that paid off. When those trailing Green didn’t go low enough to catch up, the $1 million prize was hers.
Hannah Green showed plenty of moxie and made better decisions throughout the season. And, when it mattered most, she outdistanced the field with near-flawless execution.