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THE BARCLAYS MEDIA DAY
July 29, 2014
PETER MELE: I'm Peter Mele. I'm Executive Director here at The Barclays and I want to welcome you to our Media Day. Thank you for coming. Couldn't ask for a better day for this, pretty perfect. If we can bottle this up and get this in three weeks, we'll be all set.
Ridgewood is pretty special because it really began our rotation when we began moving this tournament around the metropolitan area back in 2008, and it's had two great events and we expect this year to be even better.
You know, it's all about partnerships. Events like this just don't happen without partnership between the community, the club, title sponsor obviously and first, Barclays, in my opinion, is the best sponsor on the PGA TOUR.
And I say that because Barclays not only concerns themselves and cares about the aspects of the events that affect them and their clients, but they really worry about everything else with the tournament, whether it be the fan experience, the media's experience, the other sponsors' experience, the community's experience, the whole venue's experience, and I think that differentiates them from other sponsors on TOUR.
Also, the club itself, it's like a team. If you can keep your coaching staff together, I think you'll find those are your most successful teams in any professional sports. And we've had the pleasure of working with the same team here in the two prior plays, club profession of David Reasoner; Todd Raisch, the club superintendent; and Eban Ross, the club manager. I think that's a quality team that I always remind the club board how lucky they are to have a team like that.
You experienced the golf course today, and Mr.Raisch has done an outstanding job holding it together this summer. I think he probably had a little mixed reviews on the rough today, from what I understand. The gallows are being built; the members are building gallows out there by his maintenance facility.
But it's a great golf course, favorite golf course on TOUR. Players loved this golf course from the day they set foot here back in 2008. I remember Vijay saying, "There's this place been all my life." They raved about this golf course and they love picking up the Playoffs here at Ridgewood.
Also, Paramus, the community of Paramus has been so welcoming over the years. And Mayor LaBarbiera is here with us today. He'll be around to talk to anybody afterwards.
But we could not have survived here or any community, really, without the support of the town and the police and the safety people because we are in position‑‑ we come into town and we are in position and without their cooperation we could never pull off an event of this size.
At this time, I would like to introduce Mr.Joe Gold, he's the CEO of Americas for Barclays, to say a few words.
JOE GOLD: Good afternoon. I realize I'm the warm‑up guy for Commissioner Finchem, so I'm going to do my best to give a quick few comments.
On behalf of Barclays, its 140,000 employees globally and 10,000 employees in the tri‑state area, I would like to welcome you to Ridgewood Country Club.
We really enjoy holding the event in this location. It provides a great venue for us to spend time with our clients and for us to hope and participate in presenting a fantastic event.
And after such a great morning, I think you will agree that this is going to be a fantastic place to play. The roughs are in very good condition; I can attest to that. In fact, I made an attempt to experience the course as best I could the first time I played it. I managed to find almost every rough, almost every bunker and even managed to spend enough time on the greens that I can see most putts.
So on Sunday, if there's somebody in trouble, I told my son, I said, you know, I will have been there and I will have been able to tell the TV at that point in time because we'll be out of town, what to do. So I hope that you all enjoyed yourselves, as well. I hope you had maybe a little bit less experience than I did.
At Barclays, we really look forward to this tournament. It's a great experience for us. We look forward to it every year. In addition to being able to partner with the PGA TOUR as a title sponsor and kickoff the FedExCup, we look at this event as an opportunity for us to interact with the community.
We see it as a way for us to see our clients, yes, and to participate in a great event, but ultimately, it's a way of raising funds for local charitable activities, and to actually move the tournament around the tri‑state area, and in doing that, be able to spread the wealth in that way.
Last year this tournament raised $1.3 million for local charities, bringing the total for its lifetime up to $43 million. I think that's a fantastic accomplishment and something we should all keep in mind as we participate in a few weeks.
The tournament also provides us an opportunity to honor people that we at Barclays think are very important to us. The Barclays tournament provides us with an opportunity to honor members in the military, their family, members in the reserve. For the entire week, all active‑duty active, retired and reserved members of the military and their families are invited free of charge. We also provide a special hospitality tent. We think this provides a venue for us to express our sincere gratitude.
We are also very fortunate in Barclays to be working with Phil Mickelson, who also endorses our same values and many of the same causes. We'll be spending the week with him and being involved with many of our clients.
And finally, when it comes to charity, we are in the middle of preparing a very innovative charity event where we believe will raise more money for the local community. We plan to roll it out beginning of the week of the tournament. We're hoping that it will build a buzz and be followed across the PGA TOUR and enable more philanthropy.
With that, that's as much as I want to say today. I appreciate your participating today. I think you'll hear more from us just short of the tournament. Please enjoy the day and thank you for coming.
PETER MELE: Thank you, Joe. I've had the privilege and pleasure to work for the PGA TOUR for almost 16 years now, and under Commissioner Finchem's leadership and David Pillsbury's leadership within Championship Management, the TOUR has had a great run, it's had a tremendous run. What's so great about this tour is they are always challenging you to do better and make the events better.
With that said, we are doing many fan enhancements this year amongst our events and amongst the other events. So here we are going to be trying to make everyone's experience a little bit nicer and a little bit more enjoyable, a little bit different. So we have two concerts that we are going to have on Friday and Saturday evenings after play, Southside Johnny and the Irish Rovers will play on those two nights.
We have food trucks that are going to be here to enhance the food experience for the patrons, and we are also giving them nicer restrooms, air‑conditioned bathrooms and trailers to make their experience nicer with that. And also, enhancements to the seating, the public seating, to have chair back seats versus just the bleacher seats and benches.
I think we are going to hear more about that afterwards, and around the room you can see a lot of the displays. But those are things that I think are going to take us to another level and keep us moving forward.
Tim doesn't do many press conferences and media days. He does a lot of press conferences but not a lot of media days. I've worked with him for 16 years and today is the first time. We are thrilled to have him with us and I would like to at this time introduce Commissioner Tim Finchem.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you, Peter, and Joe; that was not a warm‑up, you covered everything I needed to say, so I can sit down over here I think.
First of all, let me just say that we're delighted to come back to Ridgewood. It's unusual to come to such a great experience the first time when we came here the first time, and this is our third play. I just want to thank the club for reaching out to us and wanting to have us back. It is a privilege to come to a club of this stature.
Over the years‑‑ I've been doing this more years than I want to actually get into‑‑ but it's unusual for us to take the best players in the world to a new golf course, a golf course they haven't played in competition, and not have some of the players concerned about this, that or the other.
In this case, when we came to Ridgewood, 100 percent of the players loved everything about it: Great test, a fun golf course to play, a real challenge, you had to make shots, kind of old school. And it played out the last time and again will in a few weeks in terms of their enthusiasm.
So when you start with that, it just makes everything easier. But beyond that, the membership here has really turned out every time to make this work. The fans that you have in this area, they come from all around the region, are great galleries and are knowledgeable galleries that pay attention to the competition. And the volunteer base that's been assembled here from the surrounding area, just first rate.
So we are delighted to be back. And to be back with a sponsor like Barclays‑‑ Peter touched on this, but let me just give some texture to what he was referring to.
A tournament is a partnership between local charities wherever we are playing, hopefully great title sponsor and the players. And to have a company like Barclays that really has emphasized taking advantage of all the aspects of what the PGA TOUR platform has to offer; and what I mean by that is, all of our sponsors take advantage of television, advertising and building their brand.
But Barclays has taken it to another level with respect to the business to business aspect. Thousands of their customers come, and it's just a terrific thing for us to be able to talk about, Joe, when we go around and talk to companies about what you can do with this product, and you've really blown it out.
And then to focus on the charity side and help people and what's been done for The First Tee in this region, which is the future of the game in our view, is very much appreciated as well.
Barclays, as Peter mentioned, has integrated themselves to our thinking and planning and execution, and it shows, because they are good at what they do and they know how they want this to proceed. They have been a great partner and we look forward to being back here with them again in a few weeks.
The rotation here has worked well. We want to continue that, and it really showcases we think the entire area for the rest of the country in a very positive way.
A couple of things about this year. We are having really across the TOUR, another record year. As of ten days ago, I think 125 million Americans have come into our tournaments on television multiple times. Our charity dollars are going to set a new record again this year at over I think $134 million in local charities. So these partnerships are really, really working.
But what's transformed the TOUR in the last several years is the FedExCup and what it means increasingly to fans and how enthusiastic and intensive the fans have gotten about the Cup itself and certainly the Playoffs. When we get to the Playoffs, to have the quality of tournament that the fans are going to see here, and the quality of sponsorship means a lot.
But it's at the end of a buildup that goes on all year long, and the fans increasingly have gravitated to that and they pay attention to it. And with the change of season that we did last year where we end the season and start right away, we have for the first time a definitive end to the season and people can really look back and say, okay, this really‑‑ the FedExCup determines who the best player is and who the best players have been for this particular year. And we want to continue to build on that.
We have no reason to think that it's not moving in the right direction. Every year our numbers have gone up in terms of fan interest, fans paying attention to the Cup and the Playoffs, and we just want to keep it moving.
So we are delighted with the progress that we have had. And of course the fans play off what the media says about what the players are saying, and the players are totally involved now in the FedExCup and what it means, and we appreciate all of you that are here in the media today for carrying that story in terms of why it's so interesting to follow and how it's added another dimension to the PGA TOUR.
To those of you who have been with us the last couple times, thanks for your help and assistance. I want to thank Peter and his team for a great job of managing this effort up here. And all of you in one way or the other either follow the tournament, are involved in the tournament; and one of the things we like to think is every tournament on the PGA TOUR gets better every year. So if you see things in a couple weeks that you think we should be doing better, let us know and we'll try to address it.
Lastly, let me just talk about the story lines. I think when you look at the way players have played this year, it's kind of an interesting mix of stories. Fifty percent of the winners this year have been 30 or younger; 16 out of 32 tournaments on the PGA TOUR. This youth movement continues, and all of our data tells us that's what the fans want to see. They want to follow the young players.
Our players today are coming up much more at ease, much more confident, much more intelligent about what the great players have done over the last 15 years. They are ready to play and they are ready to win and they are ready to work with sponsors. They are ready to talk to the media at a level they never have been, and it gets better every year, and you'll see that in a couple weeks.
Well, we have got some great individual stories: Jimmy Walker, who as a hobby takes pictures of the stars, and when he's here you ought to ask him about that, it's an interesting story, has won three times. Patrick Reed, Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson have all won twice. Rory really won with an exclamation mark a couple weeks ago. And so we have got a lot of good stories coming in.
We have got some veterans who haven't played well, whether it's Tiger because of coming off an injury; Phil who has been playing well in spurts but hasn't been able to put it together yet; and a number of other veterans in that position, and you're always watching the young guys to break through.
We have a lot of stories and we think it's going to shape up as a great week here and we just want to thank everybody for being part of it and making it happen. Thank you.
PETER MELE: Thank you, Commissioner. We're going to have a little bit of Q&A, and just to kick things off, Tim, why don't you talk more about the Playoffs since they started in 2007, how they have evolved, and this being the kickoff event, I know how you've seen the growth the Playoffs have experienced over those seven years.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: That wasn't the question we agreed on, Peter (laughter).
Well, just quickly, I just mentioned a little bit of that, but you know, when we started off, we measured ourselves in the first year, and one of the sports we picked was NASCAR, the way they finished their season. We were delighted that 65 percent of our fans the first year had really gotten into it, understood the process.
May not have agreed with some of the things in the points system because a number of the things were controversial, but we took that as a positive, because controversy means people are paying attention. It's like BCS in college football; everybody talks about it, everybody hates it.
So we got off to a good start and luckily it's built every single year. I think it was when the players started talking about how they felt about it in year three, four, that it really took off, because they really started to recognize that as not just the key competition for the year, but one that they found was very unique to them as players to follow in the Playoffs, being involved in the competition, but also having their eye on how that was impacting their overall position for the Cup.
That combination has paid real dividends in terms of fan interest.
PETER MELE: Do you think the FedExCup is where you thought it would be seven years later, and I guess what's most surprised you about it?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, it's headed where we thought it would be. Things take a long time in golf (chuckles). THE PLAYERS Championship started in 1974 and is still growing in stature, and stature in golf means history.
I remember when we started The Presidents Cup in '94, we had a fog delay on the first day of competition and we never thought we could get any history going, and we finally had some balls in the air.
But stature is based on history; history is based on accumulated results, great stories, great finishes, great shot‑making, and so it's been a long process. For the Cup and the Playoff events in particular to get to where they are in just eight years is pretty spectacular. At this rate, we have no concerns about where we think it may go.
PETER MELE: What's it done for this event over seven years is amazing through bad economic times, and the growth we have experienced has been tremendous.
Q. When you first brought the event to Ridgewood, do you envision it having this type of success and long‑standing relationship with the club?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, we were encouraged at the outset by the enthusiasm of the club, their leadership and their membership. That was quite evident. It's a powerful membership. So that was a very positive sign.
You never know what the players are going to react to a golf course. I mean, you never know, even though a number of may have come to play, you never know until you put the competition on the golf course, so that certainly was a question mark. You just don't know.
And then in terms of the presentation, it takes a couple years, a couple of plays to really get to where you want to get in terms of reaching out to the community, and now with the charity involvement and everything, it's doing great.
I think David is here today. David runs this area for the TOUR, and it will be kind of twice as big a tournament this year as we were last time, pretty amazing. It got off to a great start and it's really going to other levels now, great to see.
Q. Not sure if this is your domain but a lot of readers in the AARP love seeing the Champions Tour, they used to come to Eisenhower Park and we don't get to see them anymore. How is the health of the Champions Tour at this point?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It's very solid. If you watch the telecast you'll see that week‑in and week‑out, the fields are pretty consistent. All the guys play virtually all the tournaments, which makes it a great‑‑ it's always been popular because of the two‑day Pro‑Am with sponsors.
I played in the Legends a couple years ago and was paired with Tom Watson and it was like a four‑and‑a‑half‑hour walking lesson. I came back and asked our folks what we were charging for this experience, because it's pretty special. But it's quite healthy, and right now, it's kind of interesting that at the top you have got international players on that tour, and that's kind of a first.
We are starting to move some of the tournaments around a little bit. The Senior Players, which has been in Pittsburgh, is going up to Boston. The Senior PGA Championship is moving around. There's been some talk of a senior Ryder Cup. So those events will find their way into New York because everybody wants to play in New York. It's great to be here.
The New York area has a great lineup, if you look at the next 15 years with the USGA and the PGA, it's pretty exciting what fans here will have the next 15 years.
Q. I know after the first couple of years, there was experimentation with formatting for the FedExCup. Are you satisfied now with the formula and the way you're operating the Playoffs, or is it under constant review?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I think the last set of changes, we got to the point where the top five getting into the final event in Atlanta can win with a win; everybody else has to have help. Seems to have really resonated with people the last few years and have really liked that format.
I think we are, and the answer to your question, the short answer is yes. I think the one thing we continue to look at is there's still a lot of volatility this first week where a player can come in at 125 and he can fly up; have a good week and fly up to the Top‑20, Top‑25 pretty easily. Well, you've got to play real well, too. Whether there's a little too much volatility, we've had some discussion about that.
We don't feel that strongly about it. We've watched it the last few years. It's kind of a small thing really. But other than that, we are very comfortable with where we are in the rest of the system.
Q. I know you said that you're happy with the rotation here. Basically going forward, do you foresee these same four courses that have fallen into the rotation continuing or are you open to others?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I can say they are continuing but things change. We always look at other options. You know, we have a great partnership with Barclays and they will certainly have discussion with us about how it works different places and are we in the right spot. It's something that we keep our eye on.
But right now, I would say yes, we are comfortable. Is there a better way to do it? You're always looking for better ways to do it. But we certainly don't have a weakness in this rotation at this point.
Q. Again on the rotation, you don't do much of that on the TOUR with most events. What are some of the challenges and benefits to this system?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, the reason we don't do it too much is it is difficult logistically. You get into a pattern with the volunteer base, everybody knows where they are going and what they are doing. You start going to new spots and it is a challenge. There needs to be a real reason to do it.
We are playing the BMW, the third Playoff event this year, out in Colorado in Denver. We have not had an event in Denver in a number of years, but it will be a big deal and then we will go back to Chicago. So we like to do some of that.
But here, you know, here is different, because there's so many people in this metropolitan area that in order to effectively expose the game and get the message of what the PGA TOUR is all about out, it's just helpful to be able to move it around. That's not always the case with other tournaments. That's certainly a factor. But it's something we continue to look at.
Q. In terms of course rotation, what's the situation with the new Donald Trump/Jack Nicklaus course at Ferry Point, in terms of The Barclays in particular at Ferry Point, or some other PGA TOUR event?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, we are interested in Ferry Point generally for the reasons you suggest. There's a lot of activity here in New York the next 15 years. We have had an excellent working relationship with Donald Trump with our event in Miami, the World Golf Championships in March at Doral. He's done some really good things with other properties. We've already looked at Ferry Point. We think it's a nice job done there.
Given the calendar and where the golf course is, it's getting finished up, it's a little premature to speculate what might be played there, but I don't think there's any question that it will be hosting events going forward in some fashion. I don't want to get into trying to guess at this point what they would be.
Q. I'm aware that you don't like to putt all your eggs in one basket, but you are facing a scenario where the game's most marketable star might not even be eligible for the Playoffs. Do you envision a scenario where there might be some sort of exemption, not this year, but down the road where a player might be granted an exemption into the Playoffs based on a medical issue or something else?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Ah, no. (Laughter).
And the reason I say that is the competition is set up, it's not just a Playoff event. It's a yearlong competition. If I'm playing‑‑ then you would say, I would have to start fiddling with field sizes. So it kind of muddies up the comparative nature of the competition.
To be serious for a minute, I would say probably not. I always hesitate to say never to anything because you never know. I'm looking forward to that player that you're referring to, and he's got a couple tournaments coming up where he's won on both golf courses and one on which he's won a lot of times.
So I'm not one of those who are pessimistic about his immediate or long term future in the sport.
PETER MELE: Thanks very much for your time today. I know you and Mr.Gold are very busy and you have a very busy week going to Akron for the Bridgestone Invitational. Thank you very much for coming, and it was an honor for us to have you today and Mr.Gold, the same thing. We look forward to seeing you in a couple weeks. Thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports