|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
March 22, 2019
Aon Risk Reward Challenge Announcement
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: Ladies and gentlemen, thanks very much indeed for joining us here this afternoon. We have a great panel up on stage. Gives me great pleasure, and I'll be moving from my immediate left and moving down the line Sinead McEvoy, the Director of Corporate partnerships for Aon; Stacey Collins, who is the LPGA's Senior Vice President of Tour Operations; LPGA Tour player and Aon ambassador, Georgia Hall, as well as Georgia's boyfriend and caddie, Harry Tyrrell.
Thanks to you all for being here.
Sinead, if I can start with you. We have the Aon Risk Reward Challenge trophy over there on the left. Fine trophy it is. July last year, the Aon Risk Reward Challenge was announced for the first time. It's a first of its kind partnership which pays $one million on both the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour, which is an amazing gesture.
That competition is now well underway on both tours. Could you tell us why this challenge was first created and why Aon decided to bring it to both the men's and women's tour?
SINEAD McEVOY: Great question, and thank you all for being here with us today. Aon is a professional services firm. We are focused on delivering solutions for our clients across risk retirement health. What we really wanted to do was create a program that was going to enable us to engage with ou target audience who we knew were passionate about golf, and really engage with them on their terms.
So we wanted to build a program that was authentic to not only the story that we wanted to tell and the value that we bring to the clients, but also authentic to the sport, to our colleagues, to our clients, and also the partners that we work with.
So the Aon Risk Reward Challenge is about identifying holes throughout the season across The Tour and the LPGA, and we have one this week at the tournament, and really bringing to life a storytelling platform for ourselves; really being able to demonstrate the value that we bring to our clients across the world through data delivering insights to our clients across risk retirement health.
So it was the right thing for us to do when we thought about the LPGA and the PGA Tour in creating something that was authentic that really connected that audience and enabled us to do it through their terms.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: Both the LPGA and Aon are global organizations with a focus on diversity and inclusion. How important was that alignment in your decision to pair up with the LPGA?
SINEAD McEVOY: So it was really obvious for us as an organization when we looked at golf and saw the opportunity to partner with The Tour and the LPGA. I think for us, we were incredibly proud to be able to bring a program that was consistent across both. I think that was something that was really important to our organization and something that we feel incredibly proud of.
So we believe that in order to serve our clients we need to bring the best talent to them every day across the world. We see the opportunity to do that through really diverse and inclusive talent.
When we think about the 30 something nationalities represented on the LPGA, it's a huge opportunity for us to able really drive that connectivity. When we think about our ambassador program, we've identified seven athletes. We have Georgia Hall with us today, Elizabeth Szokol, Lizette Salas, and we also have Yu Liu from China from an LPGA perspective.
From the Tour we have Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, and Francesco Molinari. Seven talented athletes and players who are able to really bring our diversity and inclusivity to life and really demonstrate to our clients and colleagues or commitment to bringing the best of Aon to our clients.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: Stacey, when we look at the Aon Risk Reward Challenge it's a season long competition. Each week on tour there is one designated risk reward challenge hole.
What are the factors that go into choosing that hole, who collectively makes the decision, and is there an attempt to get a balance between par 3s, par 4s, and par 5s?
STACEY COLLINS: Wow, loaded question. And I represent diversity for this interview because I'm the only one that does not have a British accent.
Anyway, talking about the holes, it was definitely a decision by committee. There were so many people involved. Our rules team, for those that don't know, we have an advance official at each of our LPGA events, so they are the ones that know the golf course the best.
We first went to our rules team and asked what they thought would be the rest risk/reward holes, which got pared down when we got talking to TV partners and tournament directors. We also have a lot of other things that go into making this exciting. We wanted something on the back nine so we would get a lot of media coverage and it would be exciting for the finish.
We also have relationships with our tournaments that there is certain signage. When we start looking at risk/reward holes, if we're going to take a par 5 and making it reachable and we're move teeing grounds, then we need to be able to move the signs forward and backward a couple times during the week, too. So there is a lot the logistics that go into figuring all od this out. We worked with Aon as well.
So, that's how we started the process of narrowing down what holes we wanted to use this year on the LPGA Tour. The other thing that happens with our tour is we have a lot of the new events, especially this year. We had to take a hard look at those new golf courses, because we've never played them before. This will be a risk/reward for all of us at all those new sites.
Then what was the second part of your question?
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: A fair balance between par 3s, 4s, and 5s.
STACEY COLLINS: Yeah, so that's interesting, because on the PGA Tour they're not using any par 3s. We are, because there are several par 3s throughout our season that are particularly risk/reward holes. I think the Women's Open in Charleston No. 11 is a prime example of that. You can make it in two, you can make seven pretty easy.
So that will definitely be a risk/reward. A lot of the membership play that hole that they just layup and then hope to get up and down or chip it in or hole a putt from the fringe of the green. It's a very difficult hole.
We did try and have a balance, but more importantly we looked at how holes set up. If we want to make a par 4 potentially a reachable par 4, we had to make sure that that green was receptive for that shot.
There were many, many factors. I'm sure all the course architects will be rolling their eyes, but it's going to be fun and really exciting.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: As we've said, it's a season long competition. The scoring system is devised for it. Could you explain to us a little bit about the extensive collaboration that went on between its LPGA and Aon to come up with that scoring system?
STACEY COLLINS: That was extensive. We had lots of phone calls, lots of emails, lots of back and forth. And not only with Aon, but also with the PGA Tour. Do we want to make it one score of the four, two out of four, three out of four?
We wanted all of our players to have a chance at that $1 million, whether they made the cut or not. There are a lot of factors that go into making a decision on whether you're going to go for it and take a little more risk. Imagine it's Friday afternoon and you're on the bubble. You don't know if you're going to make the cut. Most likely you're going to take the risk and hope that it pays off and that you are playing on the weekend.
Maybe it's Sunday afternoon and you've got a 4 shot lead and you're going into 17 or 18, which is the risk/reward hole, and you're going to play it safe because you have the tournament on the line.
So there were several factors. When we looked at the scoring, we decided that the best of two out of four for both tours. That way players who make the cut or don't make the cut still have the option of having two scores for that week. So keeps everybody in the game.
And we did speak with Aon a lot about it. And because they're in the risk/reward business, you have to be able to spread those risks to get the rewards. That's why we decided on two out of four.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: Georgia, as you know, the LPGA announced its new branding position yesterday, a very powerful, emotional DriveOn campaign. This question is probably very timely. How significant is it to you that there is equal prize money for the Aon Risk Reward Challenge on both the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour?
GEORGIA HALL: Yeah, I think it's incredible really. I spoke to other players and girls, and they think it's amazing that we get to play for the same amount as the men do on the PGA.
Even when we get to the hole, whatever one that may be, we do speak about it in our (indiscernible) and even today. You are aware of what hole you're playing. I think I definitely think about it differently the way I think about the hole and whether I'm going to be more aggressive.
But, yeah, I think it's a great example as well to have. And there is a lot more to play for. I think you're playing a competition inside a tournament you're playing every week, and it's a lot of fun, especially for me.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: Now, this week the Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole is the par 5, 15th, potentially reachable in two. Depends on the tee; 525 yards today. You and Harry chatting as you came into this week, what was your strategy for that hole? I know you par'd the hole today. How did that strategy work out today?
GEORGIA HALL: Yeah, I played practice round yesterday on it and it's quite a long par 5. It's quite tough as well on the tee shot, on the approach, especially. It narrows towards the approach into the green. Bunkers all around it.
The pin position was quite tough today so it was quite hard to get to. I hit driver off the tee down the middle and then I hit driver off the deck, so I was definitely aggressive in my play.
Yeah, unfortunately I did get a par, but there is always tomorrow.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: Harry was telling me something similar happened yesterday, driver off the tee, driver off the deck for the second.
GEORGIA HALL: Yeah, driver of the deck was better yesterday. The pin was around 20 yards on today, so plays quite long. Hopefully the wind's bit further down behind us tomorrow and I'll be able to get on there in two.
I think that will be good.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: Harry, we're told for Saturday a forward tee is going to be used. Stacey can probably confirm that; 485 yards. Can you tell us how much back and forth goes between and you Georgia? Is there always agreement, or do you occasionally disagree?
HARRY TYRRELL: Well, I have to agree all the time.
GEORGIA HALL: Off the golf course as well.
HARRY TYRRELL: Off the golf course as well.
No, Georgia is a pretty easy to caddie for. We're generally on the same page. Obviously the practice round is very important to sort of get a feel, an idea of the hole. Obviously the tee moves forward, so that changes the hole slightly.
Georgia is I would say a very smart golfer. She knows when to be aggressive and when to sort of play back. Obviously today we saw an opportunity and we understood the risk with the shot. Obviously the tee is going to be moved up on Saturday. I can probably tell you right now Georgia is probably going to go for it in two.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: What second shot do you think you'll be facing given a good drive from Georgia?
HARRY TYRRELL: Today we had about 234 yards to the front. I would probably say we might have between, you know, 190 to 200 to the front. So I think that's a rescue and a 4 iron.
GEORGIA HALL: If it's a successful pin.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: We'll now open it up to questions. If you have a question, raise your hand.
Q. Sinead, so the LPGA just announced this really awesome new campaign, DriveOn. How exciting was that to see from Aon's perspective, and how much does that align with what you're trying to do as a company?
SINEAD MCEVOY: First all, I think they have done a wonderful job. Not only are we as a firm incredibly proud to be associated with the LPGA, but the team who pulled that together an all the players who are part of the LPGA and all of the broader network is incredible for us.
We as an organization are incredibly committed to diversity and inclusion, and that means a lot of things to different people. For us to be able to hear the stories of the individual players and really connect on this human level just only goes further towards really solidifying why we've partnered with the LPGA and the huge opportunity that we have to really drive an engagement and a natural storytelling, not only through what they do and powerful performance they all individually have on the course, but also off the course as well as they tell us their stories and how they've come to be such elite athletes performing on this world global stage.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: The season is still very young, Georgia, which would you say has been the most challenging risk/reward hole so far?
GEORGIA HALL: Very good question.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: Or your most successful challenge hole played.
GEORGIA HALL: I would say most successful and challenging would both be Diamond Resorts I think, the reachable par 4. Is that 15?
STACEY COLLINS: Hold on. Let me get my LPGA Fan App out and I'll tell you.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: Good plug.
STACEY COLLINS: 16 at Diamond Resorts.
GEORGIA HALL: So that was a great hole. Back nine, last few holes to play, and, yeah, I think they moved the tee up a couple days as well. I got on the green once I think, 2 putted for birdie, and I think I got up and down as well for birdie.
So that was a good tournament for me, good hole for me. It's quite tricky. Slight dogleg left to right, but I think it's a good hole.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: Stacey, you mentioned there are a number of new courses and events this year. Could you foresee a situation where we might have a different risk/reward challenge hole at certain events next season based on the experience this year?
STACEY COLLINS: Absolutely. This is a learning year for all of us as we go forward. You know, golf courses don't always stay the same from year to year. A lot of times we'll ask golf courses to make changes that will set up better for our events.
So I fully anticipate that we're going to tweak the system a bit and have a few new holes in 2020.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: Question front left.
Q. Georgia, to go off this earlier question, when you saw the list of holes, were there any in the future you're excited for, like after this week?
GEORGIA HALL: Yeah, I haven't seen
GEORGIA HALL: I have to remember the holes as well. I think at Evian, the one that stands out right now is the par 3. That's probably one the hardest holes on the golf course, 14. I think it's a rescue for me, and I say I hit it fairly far. So, I mean, even to get a par on that hole I would will take four pars right now. It's pretty hard.
I think that would be a good hole. It's good for spectators as well. Kind of goes right down and we're up above from the tee. Should be a good one.
MARL LAMPORT STOKES: Harry, same question for you. Any particular hole you're looking forward to the challenge that you and Georgia will take on?
HARRY TYRRELL: Need to have a look.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: Go for it.
STACEY COLLINS: So you all can download the LPGA Fan App and find all the Aon holes on there as well.
HARRY TYRRELL: I would probably say Thornberry, 15th, par 5. There are a lot of good par 5s at Thornberry. It's quite a long hitters course. Like Georgia said, she is fairly long off the tee. I think that would be a pretty good hole for that week.
GEORGIA HALL: Par 5s are always nice to get an eagle. (Laughter.)
Q. What were and are some of the things that you were looking for in your ambassadors? And Georgia, what drew you to Aon or made it an easy decision?
SINEAD MCEVOY: We have 50,000 colleagues across 120 markets, not all of whom are golf fans. We really wanted to connect with our colleagues off the course as well as on the course.
As Stacey mentioned, we have a very talented data sciences team who really took the holes apart, really looked at the scoring, really engaged in that way. We have a huge number of colleges who are engaged in that way.
Same with clients. But we also have those who really wanted to be able to connect through the human element. So when we thought about all the talent we wanted and the possible universe of LPGA and PGA Tour players, we really started to build out a criteria. So really thinking through the backgrounds stories, the countries they come from, the way they play the game, to make sure they're not the same, but they also have that real authentic alignment to the risk/reward challenge and really how they approach it through taking calculated risks, pattern recognition, the team that they have and their trusted advisors.
I think they have an incredibly unique relationship, but Georgia also has a team behind her as well as her caddie, so I think it's really kind of going through all of those criteria and really thinking down to who the right mix are.
We are incredibly excited by the seven that we have. We feel that they're the more we spend time with them, get to know them, shoot content with them, and really engage with them through our colleagues as well, something that we've done an incredible job of being able to find such talent and feel very privileged that they all agreed to work with us.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: Georgia, have you ever introduced Harry as a trusted adviser, or is he always your boyfriend?
HARRY TYRRELL: Definitely not.
GEORGIA HALL: Harry is one of my trusted advisors, yeah. I have a small team with me, including my coach, my dad, my manager, and Harry. He's a couple of them.
Yeah, they have really advised me on the golf course, but I think most importantly off it as well. That really makes me feel more confident as a player. And feeling comfortable on the golf course and knowing that I have a team around me that believe in me and that are always there for me, I think that's the main thing.
Q. For fans, I know someone mentioned this is a game within a game. Also it's designed to teach them more about decision making. What do you think is the biggest benefit for fans who are learning about this to get excited about?
SINEAD McEVOY: For us, I think it's just authenticity of the way that we've selected holes, the consistency across The Tour and the LPGA, and how we are really able to engage and look at the holes slightly differently and really break them down through strategic insight.
That's something we feel is very authentic to us and the value we bring to our clients. Also it's done in a way you that you can consume it a across multiple channels: broadcast, digital, social, through the players and how they're approaching it, there is some really compelling content.
As Stacey said, we're learning a huge amount in our first year. As we think about year two, year three, and beyond, I think it's only going to get richer in data, and the ability for us to engage and be able to story tell around it.
STACEY COLLINS: I'm just going to add to that. The person who wins the CME who is at the top of all our Rolex Rankings may not be the person that wins the Aon Risk Reward Challenge. If you have that favorite player that you watch, you can follow them on this challenge as well as the LPGA Tour.
MARK LAMPORT STOKES: Any other questions? Thank you everyone for coming to the presentation today. Much appreciated.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports