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BMW CHAMPIONSHIP MEDIA CONFERENCE
July 22, 2014
GEORGE SOLICH:¬† Good morning.¬† I'm George Solich, General Chairman of the 2014 BMW Championship.¬† Welcome to Cherry Hills and in 42 days the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club.¬† We're excited to have you all here today to witness the star‑studded match‑up.¬† As you'll see today, the club is ready for the national spotlight, and we couldn't be more proud of the way things have come together.¬† There is a lot of work and preparation that goes into hosting a FedExCup playoff event, but it's been a rewarding journey so far, and working with so many great people.¬† In fact, many of those people are here today.
But before we get underway, I'd like to recognize some of the people that helped make today's event and the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills possible.¬† Western Golf Association President and CEO, John Kaczkowski, Vince Pellegrino, Senior Vice President of Tournaments for the Western Golf Association, Tim Rittenhouse, Sports Marketing Manager from BMW North America, many members of our 15‑person Executive Committee, Club President Tim Schmidt, General Manager, Kevin Hood, Head Golf Professional, John Ogden.¬† I would also like to welcome our Evans Scholars caddies helping here today.¬† Caddying for Zach Johnson will be Mark Abtahi.
How did I do, Mark?¬† Sorry, if I butchered that.¬† Mark is the recipient of the BMW Hole in One Scholarship.¬† Mark is a sophomore at the University of Illinois.¬† Caddying for John Elway is Cherry Hills' own Grant Cassel.¬† Grant is a caddie here at Cherry Hills, as I said, and a junior attending the University of Colorado.¬† Caddying for Charlie Rymer will be Haelena Schwemmer.¬† Haelena is a senior at the University of Missouri, and caddying for John Lynch is Melyzjah Smith, the most recent recipient of the BMW Hole in One Scholarship.¬† Melyzjah is a sophomore at the University of Colorado.¬† And last but not least, we have Joe Putnik will be the standard bearer for today's match.¬† Joe recently graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in finance, welcome.
Our team at Cherry Hills has been collaborating with the WGA, PGA TOUR and BMW for over three years in preparation to host this great event, and we couldn't be more excited to have the top players in the world coming to this time‑tested, historic golf course.¬† We also have Golf Channel here today.¬† As you know, Golf Channel in partnership with NBC Sports will bring the BMW Championship to the golf fans around the world in September.
In between their busy schedule on the PGA TOUR, they stopped here in Denver to join in our event to raise money for the Evan Scholars Foundation, and kick off our March to the 2014 BMW Championship in September.¬† If the man you see over there to my left, Matt Ginella looks familiar, that's probably because you watched him on Morning Drive.¬† He joined the Golf Channel in 2013, and is their resident travel insider.¬† Prior to joining the Golf Channel, he wrote for Golf Digest and Golf World, covering courses and resorts around the country.¬† He's covered more than 30 major championships, including every Ryder Cup since 1997 and Valderrama.¬† We are honored to have him and moderating this press conference.¬† Please help me give a warm welcome to Golf Channel's Matt Ginella.
MATT GINELLA:¬† I should start by saying that it's really an honor to be here, not only at Cherry Hills, my background being in photography starting as a photo editor at "Sports Illustrated" and a director of photography at Golf Digest before I started writing, told many people here to be at Cherry Hills and to be immersed in all that took place here, including that iconic image of Arnold Palmer throwing his hat up into the air after that 65 on Sunday.¬† I've always considered that being one of the top 10 most iconic images in all of golf, being representative of all that Arnold Palmer was and was going to become in being transcendent to the game of golf.
This is special, and I'm really looking forward to getting out there on the golf course and walking amongst the history that unfolded here.¬† And we've got a beautiful day for it.
I would also just say thanks to George, to BMW and the Western Golf Association.¬† I get paid to travel the world and to report back on people and things and organizations that have an impact on the game, a positive impact on the game.¬† In the Western Golf Association, over 10,600 scholarships, over $300 million in tuitions, including George Solich being an alumna and all that he has done now at Common Ground with the Solich Caddie & Leadership Academy.¬† It's a real honor to be here, and I think they deserve a round of applause.
Going to start by introducing, and I feel like none of these guys really need much introduction, but I'll start with Zach Johnson, the winner of the 2007 Masters, 11 PGA TOUR victories, the defending champion of the 2013 BMW Championship fresh off of the Open Championship by way of Atlanta, it's good to have you here.
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† Good to be here.
MATT GINELLA:¬† Next, one of my childhood heros, although I was‑‑ no?¬† Definitely no, can't say it enough, no.¬† You know, two‑time Super Bowl Champion, Hall of Fame football quarterback, obviously very influential here at Cherry Hills and with the current Denver Broncos, John Elway.
Another one of my childhood heros was Tony Gwynn.¬† I read yesterday you were actually drafted six spots ahead of Tony Gwynn and the New York Yankees.
JOHN ELWAY:¬† A mistake.
MATT GINELLA:¬† Next, I'll introduce, we like to say on Golf Channel's Morning Drive that we are a family.¬† We get up at 3:30 in the morning, and we spend some intimate time together at the Golf Channel studios, and we get to know each other pretty well.¬† Whether we like it or not, we are a family, and in that sense I consider Charlie Rymer a brother, and we fight like brothers.¬† But Charlie has been very influential for me and been a mentor.¬† No one, I don't think, knows the game more than he does.¬† Winner of the U.S. Junior Championship, he's got quite a decorated career as a professional golfer, Charlie Rymer.
Last but not least, he played 15 seasons in the NFL, nine‑time Pro Bowler, also played baseball at Stanford and was drafted by the Marlins.¬† Threw the first pitch for the organization, and his baseball uniform is in the baseball Hall of Fame.¬† Threw a 95 mile‑an‑hour fastball, threw the first pitch for the Florida Marlins.¬† One of the most feared players in the history of the NFL, John Lynch.
With that, we'll get into some questions.¬† I will start with you, Zach, and probably as defending champion, people say, oh, it's hard to defend as a champion on the PGA TOUR.¬† But is it especially hard to defend as a champion on a venue that's changing?
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† Well, yeah.¬† I have great fond memories of Conway Farms in Chicago.¬† Fortunately, we're going back there, I guess, in '15.¬† But it's one of those things where this organization, certainly the BMW Championship, they like to move around with it and that's great.¬† I'm not speaking on behalf of my peers, but I know a lot of them don't mind that as well.¬† Why not, especially when you can do from a town like Chicago to Denver.
Colorado is my happy place.¬† So it's not hard to leave and/or come here.¬† If it means defending a championship at another venue, so be it.¬† Bottom line, defending a championship doesn't give me more shots on the first tee on Thursday.¬† So I realize I won it last year, but truth be told, that was last year.
MATT GINELLA:¬† 2007 Masters has to be one of your most memorable victories of your 11 TOUR victories.¬† But to win a BMW Championship with the Western Golf Association affiliation with all that it does for kids, do you feel a greater sense of pride in that victory over most?
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† Yeah, I really take a lot of pride in it.¬† It is probably one of the most special victories without question.¬† I mean, the next one is always the best, but this one is one that just tasted ultrasweet.¬† One, I've been kind of an ambassador for BMW for five or six years.¬† We do some things on and off the golf course.¬† Great people, great organization here, specifically in the North American area.¬† So love being part of that little family.¬† And then too, obviously, the WGA, what they're doing, how they're going about affecting lives, changing lives, changing families with Mr.Evans and his foundation, it's tremendous.¬† Being an associate of that to some degree makes it special.
I've got my own foundation that has a scholarship program.¬† So, you know, all those little things just kind of meshes, and it kind of parallels and it couples.¬† Last year, being the champion of this championship, the BMW Championship was very, very sweet.
MATT GINELLA:¬† John, you were very influential in bringing this championship to Cherry Hills.¬† Now we're 40 days out, do you feel a greater sense of pride and a little anxiety over all that Cherry Hills will be presenting to the world of golf again?
JOHN ELWAY:¬† You know, I was thrilled to be a part of the board that helped bring it here.¬† With the history and the heritage we have here at Cherry Hills, there couldn't have been a better tournament for us to bring here at this point in time.¬† So George Solich has done a tremendous job with his run at the WGA and the people that we have here, so I think everybody's really excited about it.
As the membership and part of the membership here, to be able to show off our golf course and know that the history of what we have here and the championships that we've had here, I was thrilled to be a part of being able to get it to come here.
Q.¬† Charlie, talk a little about the evolution and maturation of the FedExCup playoffs and how the BMW Championship fits into all of that and sort of the growing meaning of what each one of those tournaments represents?
CHARLIE RYMER:¬† I think the FedExCup when it first started, and, Zach, you might agree with this, everyone sort of didn't know‑‑ what is this?¬† You know, if you go out and play good and there is a great opportunity, but now I think it's grown on the players.¬† It's certainly grown on the fans.¬† It's an amazing stretch of golf.¬† Basically what it did is replace a stretch of golf.
You guys remember the time before the FedExCup, it was sort of the summer doldrums.¬† What are we doing?¬† We're wrapping up the season, and I think it's created something that's very, very interesting.¬† Something that's produced some great golf over the past several seasons in its existence and folks really look forward to it.¬† I know players now it's something that when you sit down in the beginning of the year and think what are my goals for the year you won be very smart if you weren't looking at the playoffs, right?
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† It is something since its inception in '07 there have been minor tweaks along the way, but really you're talking about an opportunity financially to help your fans.¬† It's just great what the PGA TOUR and FedEx and company has done and taking on all of our sponsors from the tournaments, the Barclays, Deutsche Bank, and BMW and Coke.¬† It's just tremendous.¬† This tournament in itself is massive because it's the third leg of the FedExCup, but it's also about position.¬† So a good week here puts you in a position in Atlanta where once again, great opportunity.
I think as it continues to mature and time goes on and history presents itself, it's going to get bigger and better, because it's great.¬† Selfishly, the only negative is it interferes with my football watching.¬† But that's kind of the point of it too.¬† We're in time where we can sit back in October and November and really watch my priority.
MATT GINELLA:¬† You could have it end on Saturday, 36 end Saturday.
CHARLIE RYMER:¬† But if you look at this market, this is a phenomenal golf market.¬† My favorite event was the old International.¬† I love coming to Denver.¬† I loved the International.¬† I loved the way the fans embraced the PGA TOUR when we came to this market.¬† And, in fact, you talked about Denver being your wife's happy place, it's my happy place too.¬† Because my second child was conceived here too during the International.¬† Huh‑uh, that cold air, whew!
MATT GINELLA:¬† I was really hoping we weren't going to go there on that one.¬† John, I'm sorry you had to hear that.¬† But what does Cherry Hills mean to you?¬† You play a lot of golf here and how excited are you to see the elite come here and take on this golf course?
JOHN LYNCH:¬† I think I speak for all of our members, we couldn't be more excited.¬† Not only are we getting a TOUR event, but we're getting 70 of the best players in the world.¬† And it goes to a cause like the Evans Scholarship.¬† So every aspect of it is incredible.¬† It's going to be incredible for Colorado to come out and see these people, and incredible for Cherry Hills.¬† I can't wait.
Like Zach, it's the opening weekend of football, so I'll be gone on the weekend, but I'll certainly be paying close attention.
MATT GINELLA:¬† Charlie, we heard Captain Watson talk about I'd like to see Tiger make the FedExCup playoffs.¬† That already tells you where it stands in the world of golf and why it's gaining importance.¬† You're Captain Watson right now, do you put him on the team?
CHARLIE RYMER:¬† Yes, with these two caveats, is he healthy and does he want to play?¬† He's Tiger Woods.¬† He's won 14 major championships.¬† He won five times last year.¬† He's dealt with injury this year, with surgery, recovery.¬† If he wants to play and he's healthy and he lets me know that, I have to put him on the team.
MATT GINELLA:¬† John, what would you tell Zach coming into this championship even going out there today about Cherry Hills that might give him a little bit of a competitive edge, like right now?
JOHN ELWAY:¬† Yeah, hit it straight.¬† Let's put it that way¬† (laughing).¬† This is a golf course that is something that we love to play every single day, but it has its intricacies about it.¬† I know it's much easier if you play from the fairway than it is in that rough, and there are different shots and you have to keep it in the fairway.¬† But I think the golf course is really all about the greens, the subtleties of the greens that really are what make this place special.
MATT GINELLA:¬† Zach, we talked a little about it earlier.¬† Going into sort of this second half of the season, really.¬† Three majors are down, you're in a spot to obviously have some‑‑ make a significant run here.¬† Are you healthy?¬† Good state of mind?¬† Have high expectations or is the Ryder Cup something that's weighing on your shoulders?
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† Yeah, well, I am healthy, at least I think I am.¬† Physically I'm healthy, I don't know about mentally.¬† I feel good.¬† I feel good about what's in place.¬† I feel good about the work I've put in up to this point.
I had a great fall last year, I guess you could say late summer fall last year, and it kind of led into the early part of this year, and it was kind of a wall.¬† But I still haven't figured out why because I still feel like at that point I was just kind of waiting for it to surface, and now I'm starting to see that work surface.
That being said, a lot on the table, four golf championships, another major, FedEx, and obviously the Ryder Cup, which is a massive priority.¬† All that being said, I've got to take care of business each week, great opportunities each week, great venues, great fields.¬† I mean, we talked about it.¬† Bottom line I'm playing a World Golf Championship with 80 of the best players in the world, many of them a majors, great field, and obviously the top 25 will play the first leg of the FedEx and we'll dwindle it down.¬† So great field, great players, guys playing their best at that point in the world, so it's going to be hard.
I look forward to it.¬† As much as a physical test as it is, it's probably more so a mental test, just remaining patient and waiting for it to come.¬† But that's the beauty of this game.¬† We've just got a great end of the summer and early fall.
MATT GINELLA:¬† Given your resume, 11 wins, major championship, three Presidents Cup, three Ryder Cups, you're almost certainly going to be a Ryder Cup captain one day.¬† I'm saying it now.
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† Wow.
MATT GINELLA:¬† If you're Captain Watson, do you put Tiger on the team?
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† You know what?¬† I don't know.¬† As a competitor, I want him on the team.¬† He's the best player I've ever played with.¬† Unfortunately, we're the same age so I've had to play with him a lot, but he is the best player that I've witnessed on the golf course.¬† There are some guys that, ooh and ah me, but he's the one that does it the most.¬† I want Tiger healthy.¬† Bottom line, I want the man healthy.¬† He's great for the game when he's healthy when he's playing.¬† Hopefully that's now.
It wouldn't shock me if he made it.¬† I know we've got two weeks before I think it's the top nine that are selected.¬† But that guy never ceases to amaze me.¬† He's just a rare, rare, I don't know what you call them, once every couple generation kind of athlete.¬† I guess we're athletes.
I'm really dodging your question here, Matt, but I don't envy Tom Watson's position.¬† I respect it.¬† Love the man.¬† Tom, love you.¬† But I don't envy the position he's in.¬† All that being said, he knows what he's doing.¬† He's been captain before.¬† He's been on plenty of teams.¬† He obviously knows Scottish golf, British golf for that matter, so whatever he does, I know he's going to have the team's best interest, the United States' best interest, and that team will be ready I'm just hoping I'm a part of it.
Q.¬† On the subject of competition, John, what are your expectations out there today in this highly touted match‑up, and talk about being able to spend time with some Evans Scholars, BMW Hole in One Scholars and fans, and the kids and what they'll get exposed to today?
JOHN LYNCH:¬† But I've got a great partner in Zach.¬† I've been watching Zach for a long time like a lot of us.¬† But my parents both went to (Indiscernible), and way back then my dad said you have to check out this kid Zach.¬† So I've been following Zach for a long time and admiring what he does on the course.¬† So I'm just looking forward to it.¬† Hoping I put him in a good spot and looking forward to competing.
As for the Evans Scholars, I'm very familiar with the Evans Scholarship because my uncle was an Evans Scholar.¬† He's a decorated amateur golfer.¬† He's won Senior Am both in the U.S. and the British Senior Am, and I just asked my parents often why didn't I get that golf gene?
I think it's tremendous these kids' stories and I'm looking forward to hearing more about their stories as we play and it will be a fun day.
MATT GINELLA:¬† John, you were a two‑sport athlete, and at a time when maybe golf wasn't necessarily cool, when maybe golfers weren't considered "athletes."¬† And now you're playing the game a lot.¬† It's obviously very close to who you are now as a competitor.¬† What have you seen from the game as it's evolved in its current state?
JOHN ELWAY: ¬†One thing for sure, you can't beat it.¬† You'll never overcome it.¬† For me, as soon as I start thinking I'm pretty good it starts going sideways.¬† So tried to prevent thinking I'm pretty good.¬† But I think Zach said in this game it's so much different than football because golf is a game that you have to sit back, hit each shot the best you can hit it and be patient.¬† The thing is, in football you can have a bad half, a bad three quarters and you can have a great fourth quarter and still win.¬† Whereas, in golf, if you have a bad first or second quarter, it's really difficult for you to get it turned around.
So for me, it's been a big learning process of really trying to‑‑ in football you're aggressive, you can spit, you can claw, you can do all that different stuff.¬† Where in golf you've got to‑‑ (laughing).¬† So, yeah, to me the big learning experience is the mental side of this game, as Zach said, the patience.¬† Even though it is a physical, demanding sport, especially when you talk about the amount of time they spend on their feet, walking and chasing the golf ball, it's physically demanding.¬† But if not more so I'm sure than probably the mental grind that they have to go through to be good week‑in and week‑out.
We played once a week.¬† They go four times a week and have three days off and going back‑to‑back tournaments.¬† So that's what I find to be the most difficult thing about golf is that mental side and being able to stay positive with everything.
CHARLIE RYMER:¬† But to be clear, have you ever had a 325-pounder trying to kill you?¬† I'm just hoping my partner down there doesn't get too upset and tackle anybody.
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† I'm just hoping you tackle Charlie at some point and really hit him hard, hit him hard.
MATT GINELLA:¬† I was recently at Sea Island and got to spend time with Adam Wainwright who grew up caddying at Sea Island to become one of the best pitchers in baseball right now.¬† I said what do you learn from seeing all these players here at Sea Island and their work ethic and how they prepare for their rounds or their tournaments?¬† He pointed out that he one day sort of was on the range and he watched you hit a 100‑yard shot for an hour and a half.¬† He said you hit shot after, didn't stop.¬† Then you kind of moved back five yards and started another hour and a half.
This is a guy marvelling at your precision and work ethic, and he's painting the black strip on the plate to try to get guys out.¬† I just wondered, A, do you take a lot of confidence from that kind of work ethic, that kind of regime so when you go into those situations and make it on target from 100 yards that it's more accepted?
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† First and foremost, Wain‑O's a good buddy of mine.
MATT GINELLA:¬† I was very impressed.
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† My bread and butter has to be the wedges, honestly.¬† I'm not going to sit there and wow you with 315‑yard carries.¬† Well, maybe here.¬† But they're going 390, got to be downhill, downwind.¬† But point is I have to have that precision.¬† I have to have that precision around the greens, 100 yards in and obviously putting.¬† Everybody has to putt well.¬† But my wedges are kind of my go to.¬† It's one of those aspects of the game that I practice the most.¬† I'll set my driver outside my driver on the fairway, my putter and my wedges.¬† That's where my time is spent.
I have three kids so when I go practice, it's very focused, it's very regimented.¬† It's an hour of wedges, a little putting, driver, and back to wedges and that kind of thing.¬† It's not a perfect formula, but it's one where I know if I want to continue to improve and kind of climb up the ranks, if you will, that's where I've still got to perform.¬† It's just fact.¬† I've studied the facts.¬† Fortunately, driving distance is not that important, on another course that may not be.
But the best players week‑in and week‑out are hitting their wedges, chipping and putting really well.¬†
Q.¬† Can you tell me any specific challenges Cherry Hills presents that a lot of players haven't seen and then they're going to have a couple days of practice?
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† Yeah, I think you said it.¬† I mean, the challenge that Cherry Hills is going to present is, one, we've never been here as a TOUR, so all that being said, we're all in the same boat except for maybe a couple guys.¬† Depending on who they are, they might have played the Amateur here or what have you.
I think the huge challenge is going to be the elevation.¬† I mean, we play in Arizona at 1500 feet, upwards of 2500 feet, but we're at 5200 feet I want to say.¬† So you're talking easily 10% if there's heat.¬† That is a challenge there that you have to get used to, and it's a short week.¬† I don't want to get into that, I'm not exactly excited about that, but we're all in the same boat.
We're all going to get here Monday night, maybe Tuesday morning, depending on when we leave Boston.¬† And as John said, my feet have not been on the golf course yet, so I know fairways are going to be a premium.¬† I know the rough is kind of substantial.
When you talk about Cherry Hills, you talk about the greens.¬† I was talking to a lot of individuals here.¬† Outside of one or two greens, we're talking about the original greens.¬† You might slide over that, but that's a pretty big deal nowadays.
Where we go, we might recontour them, our TOUR, or it's a newer golf course.¬† So when you have a golf course that's got this much heritage, this much tradition and hasn't done a whole lot, that speaks volumes to what's already here.
CHARLIE RYMER:¬† Typically what you'll see I think tournament week, a guy with Zach's profile, he's going to love it because you're not going to get the benefit of the 10% that Dustin Johnson gets.¬† The bombers, the guys that put it in the air forever, they'll sort of look at that and be in awe.¬† But now they've got to hit a wedge and they have no idea how far it's going.¬† Well, think about it.¬† If you're at 7 or 8%, Dustin's getting 12%.¬† Dustin's got to do the math on that, that's a whole other issue right there (laughing).
But the guys that are really good that put the ball in play, and the bread and butters with the wedge game, I think they're really going to love this week.¬† I think you look at a golf course sometimes and you're playing the same golf course as Bubba Watson is playing and you have to scratch your head a little bit.¬† I think this one you have to be licking your chops a little.
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† I am.¬† And talking to David Duval who is passionate about this place, I'm stoked.¬† I'm champing at the bit just to get to a facility like this because the old clich√©, they don't make them like they used to.
Q.¬† Can you describe the adjustment that you make when you play at altitude?¬† Is it club selection, tempos?
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† I think it's two‑fold.¬† I've played in probably(Indiscernible) was a great event.¬† So it's nice being back, because it was one of the highlights of the schedule.¬† From what I remember the harder you hit it, the further.¬† So the high ball strikers have a little more to deal with.¬† From a trajectory standpoint, the lower you hit it, the more you control it.
The bottom line, the ball doesn't spin much.¬† So if I want to get up there and hit a ten‑yard draw or 15‑yard draw, I might have to overcook it because it just doesn't turn as much left to right or right to left either.¬† So, it's really going to come down to Tuesday and Wednesday with my caddie, charting some things down, understanding certain wind, understanding certain placements of pin positions and where we want to be in the fairway.¬† I mean, there is a whole lot of strategy involved there.
We have a yardage book that we'll take advantage of, but it's twofold.¬† It's trajectory control and spin control and they kind of go hand in hand.¬† It's not easy.¬† You've just got to get used to it.
The way I've equated it is this:¬† We're going to be in Boston for the week before.¬† And we're on Bentgrass greens, two weeks before that we're on Bermuda greens.¬† We see different surfaces, different venues, different factors and elements every week.¬† It's just another one thrown in the mix?
Q.¬† Do the caddies make a difference everywhere you go?
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† Yes, very much so.¬† Specifically, today.¬† Yeah, my caddie is as integral a part of my team as my coaches or as anybody.¬† He's one of the guys that I rely on and trust.¬† I assume he trusts me.¬† Fortunately, I've got a guy that plays professionally.¬† He just played The Senior Open in Oklahoma this year, made the cut but didn't play very well.¬† He tried to Monday qualify for The Senior British yesterday, but missed it.
Q.¬† Have you ever caddied for him?
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† No, but he's a good caddie.¬† I've not caddied for him, no.¬† So, yeah, when it comes to a new venue, different elements, different factors, elevation, what have you, he's a huge part of what I'm trying to do.¬† I mean, with the exception of my wife, I probably spend the most time with him‑‑ ‑ and my kids, obviously.¬† But I spend the most time with him.¬† It's like a professional marriage.
MATT GINELLA:¬† He loves you because he doesn't have to help look for your golf ball.
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† His eyes are bad.¬† He's 53, so I guess that's a good thing too.
Q.¬† I was hoping to ask you how intricately you were involved in the bringing of this tournament to Denver?¬† And what did you think the tipping point was of it finally coming here and Denver getting another championship PGA tournament again?
JOHN ELWAY:¬† Well, I was the President when it came before the board and taking a vote of whether they were going to have the tournament here or not.¬† Bottom line, we had the support of the board, and it was a matter of getting the support of the membership too.
So we set out on a mission to be able to educate the membership of exactly what this tournament, number one, would do for this club because of the tradition.¬† It had been a long time since we had a PGA TOUR event here.¬† We had just the majors up to that point in time.¬† So this was the first time we had the opportunity, especially when you look at the third round of the FedExCup, and you get the top 70 players in the world.¬† It was a tremendous opportunity for the membership and for this club.¬† So it was actually very much a pretty easy sell, especially when we look at Colorado.¬† You look at the fan base that we have here not only really in any sports.¬† And then since Internationals have left, we haven't had this type of tournament here.
It's such a tremendous state as far as fans, so to be able to play in this type of tournament here was a perfect mix.¬† Not only for what it does reputationally for the club and also monetarily, but also for the fan base here in Colorado to be able to bring this type of event here.¬† So that's why it was a pretty easy sell when it came down to talking about what the benefits of having the BMW here.
MATT GINELLA:¬† I'd just follow up, and given the history, three U.S. Opens, two PGAs, U.S. Senior, U.S. Women's, Birdie Kim's chip‑in on 18, multiple U.S. Amateurs as recently as 2013, right?¬† 2012, and now the BMW Championship, it seems like is the Open another U.S. Open kind of in the conversation?
JOHN ELWAY:¬† I think that's kind of on our chart in the fact that we're looking to bring tremendous tournaments here.¬† We'd love to get in the rotation.¬† Also out here we'd love to get in the rotation for the BMW at some point in time if that would work.¬† But I think that's part of the heritage and tradition of this club is to be able to bring topnotch whether it be majors or the BMW, FedExCup type tournaments to this club and continue that tradition.
Q.¬† John and John, I know these are different tee boxes, but Arnie drove that first green.¬† Do you guys try, will you, have you ever done it?¬† Can you get to the screen from the tee box?¬† Back tees, front tees?
JOHN ELWAY:¬† Fortunately we're playing ten, but we usually step up and we've always got an extra one in our pockets, so we're always trying.¬† In the early days‑‑ I think Johnny might be able to do it now, in the early days we used to get there.¬† But age is starting to catch up a little bit, so haven't done it for a while.
Q.¬† What are your handicaps by the way?
JOHN ELWAY: ¬†I'm a 1.
JOHN LYNCH:¬† I'm a 7.
Q.¬† Charlie, you play?
CHARLIE RYMER:¬† I have not played here.
Q.¬† You had the US AM here a couple years ago.¬† How is the course going to set up differently for the PGA TOUR as opposed to the USGA?¬† Because I know each one sort of does it differently.¬† I don't know if any one of you guys can answer that question, but I'm just kind of curious about that.
MATT GINELLA:¬† We'll pull up the man and have him answer that for you.
GEORGE SOLICH:¬† The USGA and PGA TOUR are very different in how they set up golf courses.¬† I think as you saw the course on TV for the amateur looked pretty dry, and it was very firm and fast.¬† The PGA TOUR sets it up just differently, but it's not going to be a cake walk.¬† We'll have the TOUR out here next week, it will be the 8th visit with the TOUR, and I think they have the course set up just perfectly.
It's going to play par 70.¬† So No. 5 will be a par‑4, and No. 18 will be a par‑4.¬† The rough will be mean.¬† I think the fairways will be firm and fast, not hard and fast.¬† And I think as John said it before really, Cherry Hills is all about the greens.¬† So if we're fortunate to have great weather, I think you'll see the greens rolling firm and fast, and it will make for a great event.
There has never been a championship match at Cherry Hills with double digit under par, which we think this is a contested great venue, and it won't be set up‑‑ you'll see some great scores here.¬† These guys are great players and wherever they play, they seem to score very well.¬† So it wouldn't surprise us at all, and I think it would be very fun to watch really great scorers here at Cherry Hills.
So the PGA TOUR has done a fantastic job helping us collaborate with setting up the tournament.
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† Would you say the PGA TOUR has done a better job than the USGA?
MATT GINELLA:¬† You know, Zach, it's just different.¬† The USGA sets it up as hard as you can set it up.
I was telling Zach earlier the stroke average for the first two days in the amateur was 76.2.¬† And granted that's amateur, but those are great players, so it was set up very, very difficult.¬† It was a dry‑weather week at the end and the sun beat it down pretty hard.¬† So I think you'll see a very, very good golf course, a very hard golf course.¬† The TOUR is not setting up to make it a cake walk, but it is different how they set up.
MATT GINELLA:¬† Time to get to the competition which will be the format holes 10 through 18.¬† I've read it to be a Pinehurst alternate shot.¬† I know it's called various things, but both players on each team will be hitting tee shots and they'll alternate shots through the rest of the hole and then both re‑tee on each tee.¬† Let's get to it.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports