How an LPGA star withdrew — and made almost 4 times as much Nelly Korda

Hannah Green hits tee shot during LPGA tournament

Hannah Green hits a shot during the BMW Ladies Championship earlier this season.

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Nelly Korda, last week at the Pelican Women’s Championship, took 263 strokes and won $262,500 as the winner. Her opponents in a playoff — Lexi Thompson, Lydia Ko and Sei Young Kim — also hit 263 shots, and they brought home $123,183 each for tying for second.    

Hannah Green? She played zero rounds and took zero strokes. Nowhere was she on the leaderboard. And she cashed for a million bucks, or almost four times as much as Korda. 

The AON insurance company calls their contest the Risk Reward Challenge, and the name is more than an alliteration. Green, this year’s winner, was rewarded handsomely. In the end, it came with at least some risk, too. 

Stretched over the entire regular season, the competition is based on scores on what the LPGA defined as “some of the most strategically challenging holes on tour.” (At last week’s Pelican, for example, it was the 529-yard, par-5 14th.) Only the players’ best two scores at an event are kept, and the winner has the best average score in relation to par.

Green had moved to the top of the standings after the Evian Championship at the end of July, and she was No. 1 at the start of the Pelican, the last regular-season tournament. Here’s where the risk, albeit a small one, came into play: 

Green withdrew. 

“If she did play, she could run the risk of worsening her position,” announcer Grant Boone said on the Golf Channel broadcast

“It’s the kind of strategy that has a million dollars behind it,” analyst Judy Rankin said. 

After withdrawing, Green locked in her average of minus-0.938. The second and third players on the list, Charley Hull and Hyo Joo Kim, were also not in the field. That left only the fourth and fifth players, Thompson and Ko, respectively, with a chance to catch Green. 

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Thompson, according to the LPGA Tour, needed to eagle and double-eagle the hole. Ko, according to Golfweek, needed to go two-two on the par-5. Neither did — Thompson went four-five-five-five and Ko went five-four-five-four.   

And Green was $1 million richer — which is nearly double the amount she has won in 17 events this season ($531,507). The contest is also played on the PGA Tour, and Matthew Wolff was this year’s winner.  

“She measured the risk, and you know what, she’s got the reward,” Rankin said on the Golf Channel broadcast.

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor