Minjee Lee and Atthaya Thitikul have much to play for as the LPGA season winds down, including a couple of seven-figure checks. In addition to the CME Group Tour Championship’s record-setting $2 million winner’s check, they currently top the standings in the Aon Risk Reward Challenge.
Both players are in the field at this week’s Toto Japan Classic, where the challenge hole is the par-5 13th at Seta Golf Course, set at 476 yards. The Aon insight says that from the fairway, 27 percent of the field is expected to successfully reach the green.
The winner of the season-long race earns $1 million. When Lee won the U.S. Women’s Open in June, she earned a first-place check of $1,800,000. So far this season, 22 players have crossed the $1 million mark in earnings.
Players take their best two scores from each Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole, with the winners having the best average score to par at the end of the regular season. Only two events remain before a winner will be decided. Neither Lee nor Thitikul will be competing in Pelican LPGA Championship, Nov. 10-13, which means this is their final event to make a move.
Lee currently holds the lead with a season-long average score to par of -0.912. Thitikul, who just moved to No. 1 in the world, is at -0.891.
If Lee records two birdies this week, her season-long average would move to -0.917, requiring Thitikul to record an eagle and a birdie to tie her score.
If Lee makes a par and a birdie on the hole, her score will move down to -0.899.
Should Lee make a birdie and an eagle, she’d all but lock up the competition.
Thitikul could move into first place with a pair of eagles. A birdie and an eagle would move her to -0.917, which would tie Lee, should she record two birdies.
China’s Xiyu Lin is not in the field in Japan. She’ll need at least one eagle, possibly two, at the Pelican next week to have a chance.
Thitikul and Lee are tied for 12th on the LPGA in par-5 scoring at 4.62. Lin is second at 4.56 behind Jennifer Kupcho (4.54).
Previous winners of the Aon include Carlota Ciganda and Hannah Green. Scottie Scheffler won the Aon Risk Reward Challenge on the PGA Tour and the $1 million prize a year ago.