CME Group Tour Championship

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Naples, Florida, USA

Tiburon Golf Club

Minjee Lee

Jennifer Bell

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Welcome inside the media center here at the CME Group Tour Championship. We are thrilled to have Minjee Lee, the winner of the 2022 Aon Risk Reward Challenge and the $1 million prize join us, and join Scottie Scheffler as this year's champion as well.

The Aon Risk Reward Challenge is a season-long competition across both the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour that highlights golf's best decision makers.

I would also like to introduce Jennifer Bell, Aon CEO of North America. Thank you for joining us for such a special moment on a really special day.

JENNIFER BELL: Thank you so much. First of all, Minjee, congratulations. Aon Risk Reward Challenge is about making better decisions, and you did it. Not only did you make better decisions, you did it with clarity and confidence.

And so we are so proud, especially all of our colleagues from all over the world, not only that you won, but you're also an Aon ambassador, and that's the first time for Aon. So thank you so much and congratulations. Great job.

MINJEE LEE: Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: Minjee, that will open it up. What does it feel like to be this year's champion? You've had an amazing season. Obviously two wins at the Cognizant Founders Cup and the U.S. Women's Open presented by ProMedica. What does it mean to you to be able to win this award and that $1 million prize?

MINJEE LEE: Yeah, it's fantastic. Even better that I am an Aon Ambassador.

Over the course of the year there are Aon holes on every single event that we play. So I think to be able to play aggressively on those holes and to play with confidence and obviously be making the right decision on those holes, I think it really helped me to obviously win at Founders and also the U.S. Open this year. I think, yeah, it's really fantastic.

THE MODERATOR: Tell us a little bit about your on course decision-making. You were leading the challenge for quite a few weeks at the points that we were entering BMW and the TOTO Japan Classic. As the race tightened up, we got to near the end of the year, what changed in your decision-making?

MINJEE LEE: Yeah, actually I wasn't really as aware until Korea. My caddie didn't really bring it up too many times until then and said it was quite a tight race between Atthaya and probably Xiu Lin. Yeah, he was, like, We better play those holes well.

Regardless of which hole is Aon, I try to put in my 100% effort and always do my best. Yeah, I'm glad I am the winner this year.

THE MODERATOR: You're arguably one of our best ball strikers out here. You were averaging 18 feet closer on the par-5s or the Aon Risk Reward challenge on your approach shots, which is a lot. Quite a stellar performance. What about your approach shots and your preparation allowed you to take advantage of those holes specifically? What were you looking at when you approached the Aon Risk Reward Challenge holes?

MINJEE LEE: I think most of the holes are either reachable par-5s or drivable par-4s. I think with a little bit more length in my driver I think it's really helped me a lot on those drivable par-4s.

Obviously my ball-striking has been really good this season, so my woods, long iron shots have been really on the ball, I guess.

Yeah, it's really been helpful that I can hit it so close with my longer irons and my woods and either have a putt or a short chip for eagle or birdie.

THE MODERATOR: And Jennifer, this challenge, obviously, Ann announced it in 2019. It's grown a lot. It's grown really quickly.

I know on the LPGA side we've had three great champions thus far. Can you kind of tell a little bit more about the importance of the Aon Risk Reward Challenge to Aon as a company?

JENNIFER BELL: Sure. It's really about helping others understand what we do as a business, so there are parallels. If you think about the volatile world we live in and how we use data and analytics from a company standpoint, how we use strategy and look at how we're going to approach certain risks for clients as a professional services firm, we see the parallel with, for example, Minjee, you talking about your caddie looking at longer drivers, how do you use that data and analytics as you approach shots in order to mitigate the risk and help our clients through this volatile world.

We see it from a business standpoint, but it also underpins the commitment that we have around DE and I. If you look at gender equity, the million dollars to the PGA TOUR, Scottie Scheffler, million dollars to Minjee, and that's what we're all about.

So it's really important for us as a firm to get that word out, and hopefully we're influencing other firms to continue to support the LPGA Tour and to get that gender equity as we move forward.

THE MODERATOR: Speaking of equity, obviously this challenge is both on the LPGA and the PGA with that equal prize money. Very unique.

Minjee, I know you have a brother that plays on the other side on the PGA TOUR. What does it mean to you, that commitment to gender equity from Aon, having a brother that plays on the men's side of things in golf?

MINJEE LEE: I think it's really kind of cool. Min Woo, he hops back and forth from PGA and Europe. But just to be able to be put on the same platform, there's not many opportunities we get to play for the same type of money. Especially with this challenge.

I think it really closes the gap between the LPGA and PGA TOUR. It's quite life-changing money that Aon puts up, and it's really great for the women's tour and the LPGA. It's a great opportunity for us on both tours just to be put on kind of the same plane.

THE MODERATOR: The PGA TOUR Aon Risk Reward Challenge finished up at the St. Jude invitational this year. Scottie Scheffler was the champion on that side. I know you got to see a special message from Scottie before we began the press conference.

Both Dallas residents. Have a little bit of a connection there. To be able to see that from him and, again, just another testament to that equity, what does it mean to you to have somebody like that kind of reach out and congratulate you?

MINJEE LEE: I think we are actually the same age, but it kind of doesn't feel like it (laughing). No, it's really cool. His message was really nice and very, very supportive. I've actually -- I actually saw him one time at Maridoe, but I didn't say hello because I didn't know him very well.

It was really nice just to be able to hear him say those nice things and just to say well done for the year. Well done to him too.

THE MODERATOR: Before we open it up, Jennifer, just one more from me. Looking at this challenge, it's obviously evolved and grown a lot in the last three years. Where do you see the Aon Risk Reward Challenge in the next couple of years?

JENNIFER BELL: We see it continuing. We're excited about it. We see how all the fans and the players are continuing with the LPGA growing the way it is.

Like I said, it aligns with our business and also our IND, so we're thrilled to continue to support the LPGA Tour, and we're really thrilled to have Minjee and to be able to add this to the many accolades that you have had throughout this year. You had an amazing year tournament.

THE MODERATOR: We really appreciate the partnership and definitely celebrate Aon on a day like today. We will open it up to questions.

Q. Minjee, you already won the biggest check in women's golf earlier this year, so that's two seven-figure paychecks in the year. Have you splurged on things? Do you have any future fun plans?

MINJEE LEE: Actually, I haven't really splurged. I haven't really had the time to go shopping yet. Maybe this week. I have a couple of days in Dallas, and then I go to Australia for the Austrian Open.

Q. There's a third win on the line this week.

MINJEE LEE: Isn't this the biggest one?

Q. You won the biggest one to date.

MINJEE LEE: Yes, to date.

Q. There's another one on the line this week. How would you describe the state of your game heading into the CME?

MINJEE LEE: Probably the last few weeks I haven't really been quite on top of my game. I was striking it so well come, what, like eight, nine months throughout the year. Probably didn't hit it as well or putted it as well the last couple of weeks, but this is the last event of the season, of the LPGA season. I really want to do well.

Yeah, no, I'm just going to try my very best and hopefully it's a good week (laughing).

Q. Minjee, since really April or May we've been talking about your ball striking, and particularly your proximity to the hole. Having that data, has that allowed you to gain confidence and improve throughout the year and change your strategies throughout the year?

MINJEE LEE: I think in the beginning it was just kind of like a little more automatic. Like I didn't really think about it too much. I just made my decisions and then just executed. I think the last couple of weeks probably didn't hit it as well, so probably put in a little bit more thought here and there, but I think that happens with golf when you're not -- when you know you can do it, but your body or your mind doesn't quite follow.

So I obviously put a little bit more pressure on myself to perform, but I think it's within me. It's there. It's just how I guess how I play and how I execute.

Q. Not only did you hit it closer than anybody out here, you hit it closer than anybody else in the world, man or woman, throughout the course of the year.


Q. When you get that kind of validation, how does that make you feel?

MINJEE LEE: Pretty amazing. I mean, nobody has really said it to me, but you just said it to me, so it does feel pretty darn amazing. Better than anyone in the world, so hopefully I can keep it going.

Q. There's, of course, the $2 million on the line are but you're also in the hunt for player of the year. What's your biggest goal that you hope to come away with this week?

MINJEE LEE: Yeah, I really want to win that, but I know there's four people who potentially could win it and are really close.

I know I'm one point behind Lyds. I'm just going to have to take it day by day. Obviously it depends on where she finishes and where I finish as well. I'm not really sure about what the outcomes are, but I think you'll have a win, right? I'm just going to do my best and see where it is at the end of the week.

Q. You've shown you play well in pressure situations. Like Beth mentioned, you won previously the biggest purse in the women's game. What do you feel like you learned about yourself seeing yourself play so well in that situation that can maybe help you here achieve that goal this week?

MINJEE LEE: Yeah, the biggest thing I learned is that I perform my best under pressure. Yeah, I put most of the pressure on myself, so hopefully I can get out of my own way and just play.

Q. When you've had such an intense and successful start to the year, winning a major, two top fives, is it difficult eventually? Is there almost an inevitable -- like we've got to come down from this, this is too much? To keep that intensity, is that a challenge?

MINJEE LEE: I think mentally, yes. My body can do it, but I think mentally at some point you kind of need a break and have a break and reflect and kind of refresh. That's been a little difficult for me.

I think I've refreshed, but sometimes you just kind of get back. I think it's difficult for most people, not just for me. I'm always working on that, and because I've not really been in that type of position, I sort of didn't really know how to kind of refresh.

So, you know, I'm learning as I'm going. I'm doing my best the best way that I know how to.

Q. And then a quick second one. I think I'm doing my math correctly that if you win, you would beat Lorena Ochoa's record for most earnings in a season. Is that something that's meaningful to you? I know we've said a lot of things here. You could do this. You have done this. Is that something you think about or that would be kind of an honor?

MINJEE LEE: Definitely it would be such a great honor. Lorena is one of my favorite players. So, yeah, I haven't actually really thought about it. I know that I've had a really great year. Just coming into this week, I just kind of lowered a little bit of my expectation.

As I said before, I'm just going to try to get out of my own way and just play the way I know how to play. Yeah, that's sort of my number one goal at this point.

Q. This one is going to be for Jennifer. Jennifer, we've heard a lot of questions about the accolades of Minjee over the past couple of minutes. She has held the lead in the standings since after her performance in the LOTTE Championship. What's it been like for you, your team, and Aon in general to be able to follow her progress and enjoy her highlights as she does as well?

JENNIFER BELL: It's really exciting. We were talking earlier, she's the second Aussie that has won this award, and so all our colleagues are excited for her.

And we watch each and every week during the tournaments, and watching her play and applauding you when you birdie and when you win.

So it's been very exciting to just see her and just women in general just really lifting golf up to where it has been and it's been terrific. It's been really exciting.

THE MODERATOR: On that note, the last -- the three winners of this challenge are all international players. I know Aon is a very global company, has quite a heavy tie in Australia.

How cool is it, Jennifer, for you to see this challenge kind of take on a global -- on a global scale and represent equity globally, not just in North America?

JENNIFER BELL: I'm the co-lead for the global inclusive leadership council for Aon0 and we see globally the disparities, so to be able to award $1 million to the PGA tour player, an LPGA player, it just really feels good as a global firm.

We're watching every day, so it's exciting for us. We're excited about continuing on.

Q. Jennifer, you were mentioning earlier that you hope that other firms would kind of catch on to this. I was just curious anecdotally, when you are talking to other female leaders if the conversation comes up about what you do between the PGA TOUR and the LPGA in this example in this way?

JENNIFER BELL: So I would say I bring it up to all leaders, and we do it all the time. In fact, I'll say, well, this is -- in order to make sure that we're getting gender equity and making sure that we lift the LPGA Tour and the players up to get to the level of pay that they should, I always say, what is your firm doing?

It's interesting because it puts the pressure so it's more of an influence than anything. Hopefully it's making a difference.

THE MODERATOR: It's a big day. A lot of awards. We've talked about you're in the running for heading into this week now hopefully to date on Sunday the largest check in women's golf. How much confidence does winning a challenge like this give you and help you really kind of clearly see the rest of your goal for this week?

MINJEE LEE: Definitely, a lot of confidence. I've played a lot of the holes really, really well to be able to win this challenge, so I feel like I can do it here and I can do it any time.

So I'm just going to go out there, do my best, and be proud of my whole year by the end of it.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations Minjee, and Jennifer, thank you for joining us.

JENNIFER BELL: Thank you so much. Thank you, Minjee.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
127173-1-1041 2022-11-15 21:01:00 GMT

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