Huge prize is big boost for LPGA golfers

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan believes that the prize, for the best average score to par, will be extremely significant for the women's tour.
LPGA commissioner Mike Whan believes that the prize, for the best average score to par, will be extremely significant for the women's tour.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK • The PGA and LPGA Tours on Wednesday announced the introduction of a season-long competition which will reward a player on each tour with US$1 million (S$1.35 million) for the best performance on a designated hole at each tournament.

The best two scores from every participating event for golfers, who have played a minimum of 40 rounds, will be taken into consideration for the Aon Risk Reward Challenge.

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan believes that the prize, for the best average score to par, will be extremely significant for the women's tour.

While 114 players on the PGA Tour earned more than US$1 million in official prize money last year, only 14 LPGA players did likewise on the US-based women's circuit. The figure illustrates the financial disparity that exists between the tours.

"One million dollars is more than the winner received at the US Women's Open last year," Whan told Reuters on Wednesday.

"It's just a powerful message," he added in an interview on the Golf Channel. "We're starting to see a series of pillar moments, where we are starting to create the kind of equality you see happening every day within companies that are sponsors."

Twenty-nine LPGA events will be involved in the contest. The PGA Tour, whose chosen holes will be unveiled later this month, will have 36 events.

  • $1m

    The money - in US dollars - a player on the PGA and LPGA tours will earn for the best performance on a designated hole at each tournament.

The LPGA contest will start at next week's season-opening Tournament of Champions on the par-four 16th hole at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Florida.

"The line-up includes a wonderful mix of par-three, par-four and par-five holes, all with unique elements and challenges," said Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA's chief tour operations officer.

Players gave their thumbs up to the initiative.

"It is awesome to see that the LPGA and PGA tours are equally awarding each winner with the Aon Trophy and the same US$1 million prize," said Georgia Hall, who will play in the HSBC Women's World Championship in Singapore next month.

Lizette Salas added: "Now that the scoring system and holes have been revealed, I am looking forward to analysing them with my team to determine our optimal game plan."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2019, with the headline 'Huge prize is big boost for LPGA golfers'. Print Edition | Subscribe