Angel Yin currently leads the Aon Risk Reward Challenge, and if she holds on, will earn a $1 million bonus on top of $1,617,216 she’s made on tour this season. That’s without any money made at the no-cut, season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, which boasts a $7 million purse and $2 million winner’s check.
It’s quite the turnaround for a player who, earlier this season, considered writing tournaments on the tour’s spring Asian swing to ask for a sponsor exemption to get an infusion of cash.
Yin ultimately decided against it, thinking it might be good to play a lighter schedule to be more refreshed for CME, but the money situation is striking for a Solheim Cup player who hasn’t had a personal sponsor in four years.
“It’s tough when you have a bad stretch of a few years,” said Yin. “Your bank gets pretty dry.”
Yin, 25, isn’t bitter about the lack of sponsors, however, saying that she’s had a change of heart about the situation in recent months.
“I don’t think I’m as desperate as I used to be,” said Yin. “I used to be really desperate. Now I’m not as desperate. I think throughout this journey of not being sponsored, I think it really helped me learn my own value as a person in life.”
The sponsor situation doesn’t surprise LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, who Yin said became like a second mom to her after she played on Inkster’s 2017 Solheim Cup team. While sponsor money might be increasing for those at the top of the game, Inkster still doesn’t see it filtering down ranks.
“I think a lot of these companies don’t value women’s golf to sell product,” said Inkster, “and I think they’re missing the boat.”
Angel Yin takes a selfie of herself with The United States team with their captain Stacy Lewis and her husband and daughter behind during the official photo call prior to The Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin Golf Club on September 19, 2023, in Casares, Spain. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Even Yin’s signature headwear, the G/Fore hat with HACI stretched out like a giant billboard on top of her head, came from the pro shop at her home course, Hacienda Golf Club. Yin said G4 started sending her hats because the club’s pro shop couldn’t carry enough. Members like it, she said, because they can easily spot her.
“Exactly, see, it’s in your face,” she said. “You can spot it a mile away. Cameras are not always that close to you, and when you have a small logo, the imperial ones, can’t really see.”
Yin, however, isn’t paid to wear the hats.
Last month in China, Yin’s hat couldn’t be missed as the power player with soft hands won the 2023 Buick LPGA Shanghai for her first LPGA victory in her 159th career start. Yin beat former World No. 1 Lilia Vu in a playoff. The pair squared off against each other earlier this year at the Chevron.
Unfortunately, Yin couldn’t keep the momentum going as she pulled out of Malaysia last week with back pain. She has decided to take off next week’s event, the Annika driven by Gainbridge at Pelican, as well. The Aon winner will be decided after Pelican.
“The truth is everybody is doing math,” said Yin, who had her caddie help her understand how the system worked.
“But the last two months, everybody is just talking to me about Aon. Anyone and their moms are texting me about Aon. It’s hard not to know about and do the math on it because you would be kind of stupid not to. It’s $1 million. Doesn’t matter how much inflation is going on in this world, it’s a lot of money.”
Yin is 28 under par on the 30 holes played over the course of the season. Attahaya Thitikul ranks second to Yin and needs at least two eagles to pass her.
Inkster picked Yin for that 2017 Solheim Cup team and saw a player with a ton of potential who needed maturing in her course management.
“She’s super stubborn,” said Inkster. “It has taken me a while to kind of get to her.”
Angel Yin and Juli Inkster of the United States play with the crowd on the first tee before her match against Karine Icher of Team Europe during the final day singles matches of the Solheim Cup at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club on August 20, 2017, in West Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Inkster, who plays quite a bit of golf with Yin in Palm Springs, also encouraged the outgoing Yin to show more of that personality on the golf course, where she’s often stoic. Yin made a point to do that in Shanghai.
“I think you can show your emotions and also be super successful,” said Inkster. “You could tell if I was shooting 78 or 68.”
While Yin stands to win a boatload of cash this season, she said the most impactful piece of advice Inkster has given her over the years is “Don’t do it for the money.”
“It’s our job; we do it for the money,” Yin said with a laugh. “I mean, everyone is here doing it for the money.
“She always tells me to not look at it like that. If you look at it like that, you don’t really see more than that. Do it for the love of the golf, why I play, why you win, something beyond the money.
“I really take that to heart.”