|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP BY COCA-COLA MEDIA DAY
August 13, 2014
CHRIS REIMER:Â I want to welcome everyone to our media day here at the TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola.Â I'm Chris Reimer, director of communications for the PGA TOUR.Â We'll get to our esteemed list of dignitaries here in a moment, but I know he is under a bit of a time crunch getting ready for the pro‑am at the Wyndham Championship, so we'll go quickly to our first guest of honor, our 2011 TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola winner.Â We have Bill Haas joining us here from the Wyndham Championship.Â He is also, of course, the 2011 FedEx champion.
Thanks for joining us.Â We've got a good group here at East Lake Golf Club for our media day here.Â We appreciate you taking the time to join us.
Bill, I'll start with the first question.Â You've certainly run the gamut of different FedExCup experiences.Â You've won, you've entered the points race high in the standings, you've entered the points race somewhat lower in the standings.Â You've actually missed the TOUR Championship at 31st in the standings one year, and this year you enter at 35th.Â Just talk a little bit about your strategy this time of year and your outlook heading into this important stretch of golf.
BILL HAAS:Â Yeah, you know, like you said, I've had a bunch of different emotions coming into and then definitely leaving the FedExCup Playoffs.Â The hardest year obviously when you said I finished 31st was easily the toughest just because you know what making it to East Lake means just for the next year.Â It sets up your schedule and you're in all the four majors guaranteed, and it's hard not to think about that stuff even though you know if you play well starting next year or even early in 2015 you can easily play your way into all those events.
I just think it's important to stay patient.Â It's four tournaments, I mean, hopefully 16 rounds of golf that you can move up the board, and right now I'm on the outside looking in, but I'm definitely in position to do some good if I have a couple good weeks.
Q.Â There's certainly a lot of golf to play.Â I'm just curious how you stay fresh at this time of the season.
BILL HAAS:Â You know, I think that's a tough thing, but nobody is going to be fresh‑fresh.Â Maybe Steve Stricker will be the only one that has only played a handful of events and will be ready to go fresh‑wise, but with that said, you've just got to tell yourself that you're playing a lot of golf for a reason, and if anything else, I feel good competitively.Â I've got a lot of rounds under my belt.Â This week is a week I'm comfortable just being close to home and close to where I went to school and felt like I couldn't leave it off my schedule and use that as a positive, and honestly if you're playing well, you don't even realize you're playing a lot of golf.Â I think when you're struggling you start realizing you're tired and you'd like a break.
I think you've just got to hang in there and play good golf and then all of a sudden the FedExCup will be here.Â Hopefully we'll be in Atlanta.
Q.Â How often are you asked about your shot at the 17th, or is that shot mentioned to you?
BILL HAAS:Â You know, pretty often.Â It's something that I'm very proud to be asked about.Â I know it's not a 4‑iron over water to a foot to win by one, it's a little bit of a different kind of shot to be known for, but with that said, it did a lot for my career.Â I'm happy to be remembered that way, I guess.
But it was a very cool shot, very lucky in a sense, but also I take pride in the fact that I did it.Â I was under the gun and under the pressure and pulled it off somehow.
Q.Â Speaking of that shot, I was wondering if you've ever hit a shot like that since or if that is the shot of your career.
BILL HAAS:Â Yeah, I would say it's easily the shot of my career just for what it did for me.Â You know, I wish‑‑ my goal is to obviously be under the gun, maybe be down by one on the last hole at any event and hit it close, hit it to a foot to tap in for birdie and win that way, just because I think that is the same kind of feeling of pulling off a shot under the gun when your nerves are at a peak.Â It's something that drives me a little bit.
You know, it's something that nobody can take away from me, and I certainly think about it a lot and draw back on that experience that even at a high point of adversity, you never know what'll happen, you've just got to do your best.
Q.Â Bill, the major season has gone by the wayside and obviously a lot of new winners, not necessarily this year but a lot of guys are winning majors.Â What do you have to do to break through?
BILL HAAS:Â Yeah, I think my example would be Rickie Fowler this year.Â I feel like he's doing what he needs to do to break through, even though he hasn't yet.Â I don't think enough can be said for‑‑ he's got to be the highest average finisher even with Rory maybe winning twice.Â He's probably even higher than Rory, I'm not sure.Â Both him and Rickie have probably played the best, and that's not something I've really done yet, to even have a top 10 in a major, and I know that.Â I'm reminded of it.Â When I was leading the Masters on Thursday I was reminded of that by all you guys that this is a rare place for me, and that's true.Â I just think on Sunday I haven't put myself in a position to get comfortable.
Some people are able to do that earlier than others, and I think it's something I'm still‑‑ it's a stepping‑stone for me.Â I've made all the cuts in the majors this year but just didn't have the weekends I need to improve in that situation.
CHRIS REIMER:Â Bill has not missed a single cut this year, but it's just been kind of an up‑and‑down year for you, Bill, I guess.Â A lot of really strong tournaments but maybe not the finishes you've wanted or the starts you've wanted.Â Just talk about the season as a whole.
BILL HAAS:Â Yeah, 100 percent.Â I'm proud to say I've played a lot of four‑round events, but certainly my weekends have not been what I'd like.Â I haven't shot any crazy bad numbers, but I haven't shot any crazy good ones.Â In order to win you've got to shoot 60s on the weekend, and I haven't really done that.
I fractured my wrist at Hilton Head and took a couple weeks off from that, and it's something that I'm playing through and still feel it, but it's not‑‑ it doesn't make me‑‑ I don't think it hinders my play, it's just something that I feel.Â I wouldn't play if I thought it was getting worse.Â But that's been somewhat of a setback, but other than that, I feel pretty good, excited to have a run here at the end of the year.
CHRIS REIMER:Â Give us your thoughts on East Lake Golf Club, what makes it a special place and why does it work well as kind of the finale to the PGA TOUR season?
BILL HAAS:Â I just think the course has some history to it.Â I think they're very proud of what they've done there in Atlanta.Â All the pros know all about how much they've improved that area, and the golf course itself is just old style, one of our best courses we play.Â It's all right there in front of you.Â There's not any gimmicky holes really.Â The fairways are all straight and narrow and it's somewhat long of a golf course.Â You've just got to go get it.Â It doesn't look like there's that much trouble, and when you play a practice round you're like, I think I can get this course, and you never see too many low four‑round scores there, which I think is a testament to the golf course.
Q.Â Certainly a lot of big golf to be played this year, but with your dad sitting as Presidents Cup captain next year, I'm curious how big a goal that'll be for you, and how much have the two of you discussed the possibility of you playing for him?
BILL HAAS:Â Yeah, I mean, certainly the goal of every year I think is to make the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, and I think the easiest thing to tell yourself is if you play well, it takes care of all those things.Â Just by wanting to make the team doesn't mean I'm going to get on the team.Â You've got to go earn it, and that is one thing I think I know about next year is I've got to earn my way on the team.Â I don't think I'm going to be a pick.
Just looking forward to that opportunity.Â Certainly need to get it going, but to be at a place for my dad I think will be just another wonderful thing for the Haas family to be able to do, and I know he's fired up to be the captain, and I will be equally as pumped to be on that team.
CHRIS REIMER:Â Also, I believe, a winner of the Payne Stewart Award that's given here each year, a wonderful award each year by Southern Company.Â Last question, what means more to the winner, the $10 million or the Coke machine they get to have after they win this event?
BILL HAAS:Â Well, I very proudly display my Coke machine in my man cave.Â I wouldn't say it means as much as the $10 million, but it's a very cool gift, and I love having it in the house.
I think hopefully that's something they continue to do because I think that's a pretty neat thing to get.
CHRIS REIMER:Â Thanks for joining us, and good luck on your run through the Playoffs.Â We certainly hope to see you back here at East Lake Golf Club at the TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola.
Now we can move into the rest of our run of show here.Â I'd like to start by introducing some of our dignitaries and guests that we have with us.Â We have Tom Clark, our executive director of the TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola, who many of you recognize as a familiar face here and the face of the tournament; Ty Votaw, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for the PGA TOUR; Daniel Shoy, Jr., the president of East Lake Foundation, will speak about the great programs and wonderful impact that the foundation has had on our community; Rob Johnston, our TOUR Championship general chairman; Chris Womack, executive vice president from the Southern Company; Sharon Byers, senior vice president of sports and entertainment marketing partnerships at the Coca‑Cola Company.
I also just want to acknowledge our host today and thank them for their hospitality.Â The course is in incredible shape, so we have Rick Burton, chairman of East Lake Golf Club, and Chad Parker, general manager of East Lake Golf Club.
Today's media day is a little different than what we've done.Â We're real excited to have this press conference portion which you guys are familiar with and find out some of the great messages and themes for this year's event.Â After we finish and wrap up in here, we'd love to invite everybody down to the driving range where we've got a number of exhibits set up, whether it's the food that you'll enjoy at this year's event from Fox Bros. Barbecue and Universal Joint, we have the Share a Coke program which I think we're all really excited about from Coca‑Cola.Â Ted Ryan, who's the historian with Coca‑Cola, brought some really cool old artifacts out of the Coca‑Cola archives we'll get to interact with.Â Southern Company, they'll have the Payne Stewart Award on display.
After we get done here we're going to move everyone down to the driving range and we can interact for a little while before we get out and play golf.
With that I'd like to introduce Tom Clark, our executive director of the TOUR Championship.
TOM CLARK:Â Thanks, Chris.Â Well, there's a couple things that are happening this year.Â We've got some new and exciting opportunities for our spectators and our fans.Â Each year we try to come up with a few new initiatives, for instance, Executive Women's Day, things like that, that have been very, very successful.
This year, Chris mentioned, out at the revised short range, it's now called the SoCool Zone thanks to Southern Company, we'll have Fox Bros. and Universal Joint, two restaurants providing specialty tastes for our spectators, and we're also going to try something a little bit different.Â Ty, you can let me know if this has ever happened before on the PGA TOUR, but we're going to have a concert, and it's going to be a little bit different.Â It's going to be Saturday, and it's going to be Saturday morning.Â It's going to be rise‑and‑shine Saturday morning with Yacht Rock Review, a very popular band here in Atlanta.Â We're able to do that because of our limited field of 30 players.Â It's an opportunity to have a concert from 9:00 to about 10:15, and the players will start to show up about 10:00, so we'll be quiet by the time they get down to the range, so that's going to be new, and we're pretty excited.Â The feedback that I've received from the folks here in Atlanta, talking about Yacht Rock, has been nothing but positive.
I think we can sit a couple thousand people in the short range, so you need to get here early.Â 9:00 is the starting time.
One of the other items we're going to do this year is we're going to have fan perks is what it's called.Â There's a local company here in Atlanta, Experiences, we've partnered with them, and this year you're going to be able to walk the golf course and be able to bid on certain items, whether it's autographed pin flags, upgrades in seating.Â There's a variety of opportunities that will all start about a week before the event.Â People can start to go to the PGA TOUR app and apply and start to bid on a variety of very unique gifts.
The fans here in Atlanta, this is my third tournament, and it has been spectacular.Â To come out and watch the top 30 players, it has been from‑‑ we just heard Bill Haas talk about his win, but even to Henrik Stenson last year, he played phenomenal golf on a great golf course, and we're looking forward to having another super event with these players.
I think you start to hear more and more about it; every week there's a player talking about how do I get to Atlanta, and I think it's more than the $10 million, I really do.Â It's, as Bill said, first of all, you get the Coca‑Cola machine, which is great, but there's such competition between the players to first of all make it to the top 30 and then have the opportunity to win here at East Lake.
With all that said, there's some other items regarding the FedExCup Playoffs, and I'd like to introduce Ty Votaw, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the PGA TOUR, to come up and say a few words.
TY VOTAW:Â Good morning, everyone.Â Thank you for being here.Â On behalf of the PGA TOUR, we thank you for your coverage of the TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola every year, and we're looking forward to a great finale to our season coming up in about a month's time.
With the support from Coca‑Cola and Southern Company, the TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola has quickly become the destination for our players when they start their year.Â They know that when they get to Atlanta they've had a successful year, and it's a goal, as you heard Bill say, for every player in the field.Â And that wouldn't be possible without the support of Southern Company and Coca‑Cola.Â With respect to Southern Company, I was mentioning to Lee Birdsong earlier, it's hard to believe that this is the 15th anniversary of the Payne Stewart Award this year, and we're looking forward to another great ceremony the week of the tournament, and we thank Southern Company for helping to carry on Payne Stewart's legacy every year with the recognition of that award.
Coca‑Cola, just like its wonderful Share a Coke program, Coca‑Cola's support of this tournament enables us to share the wonderful story of East Lake and the East Lake Foundation with a worldwide audience and bring that worldwide audience to its hometown of Atlanta to make sure that the world sees not only some great golf but also a great story that takes place every year here at East Lake.Â So we thank Coca‑Cola for its support, as well.
In a relatively short period of time, the FedExCup Playoffs have brought additional excitement, drama and an exciting conclusion to the end of our golf season.Â It's the only time in our season that you bring together for four consecutive weeks of competition this quality of field, and that anticipation is something that everyone looks forward to over the course of a year, and we've now seen an entire generation of players come to the PGA TOUR knowing only the FedExCup as a competitive landscape.Â In fact, if you look at the current top 30 in the current standings of the FedExCup, two thirds of them have only known the FedExCup in their careers, so what that means is they absolutely know what is at stake; they know what they have to do to get here; and they know in their communications with the media how important it is to them to compete well in the FedExCup.Â That only helps build the excitement for the event on a going‑forward basis, and we've seen that excitement through great crowds every year that it's held here at East Lake.
This venue carries us boldly into a part of the year where traditionally interest in our sport has somewhat fallen off after the PGA Championship, and now that has not been the case over the past several years.
We're looking forward to the 2014 FedExCup Playoffs that culminate here at East Lake.Â Last year you remember Henrik Stenson was probably the hottest player coming into the Playoffs.Â Even though he hadn't won, he had some significant finishes in the major championships and World Golf Championships, and he performed very well in the course of the Playoffs and won in exciting fashion here at East Lake.
Similarly this year, although it's a different story because Rory McIlroy is by far the hottest player coming into these Playoffs with three straight victories, and even though he has accomplished a lot, in his post‑round interviews, he expressed how much he's looking forward to the Playoffs to continue this hot streak, which provides another story line for us going into the next several weeks.
Obviously the performances of Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia over the course of the summer has also built an enormous amount of excitement, and if you look at the season‑long performance of players like Jimmy Walker, who led the FedExCup Playoffs standings for 30 straight weeks before being overtaken by Rory; Bubba Watson, Masters champion, these are all great story lines coming in, but perhaps one of the most interesting story lines is the fact that we've had some great performances this year from local players.Â If you look at our standings, four out of the top 10 and seven out of the top 21 in our standings are players that have backgrounds and connections to either Georgia or Georgia Tech, including Atlanta's own Chris Kirk.
With that story, I don't know if we've ever had that amount of local achievement coming into the Playoffs, and it'll be interesting as we walk through four weeks of the Playoffs watching those local players advance to see if they're going to get here to Atlanta, and when they do, we expect no small amount of support from Georgia and Georgia Tech when they get here.
The TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola has a prestigious list of recent champions, and as I mentioned earlier, the fact that we have now had a generation of players who have known nothing but the FedExCup, a sense that history has been created with examples like Bill Haas and the memorable shot on 17 that he made in the playoff; Jim Furyk's one‑stroke victory with his hat turned back in the rain with his famous fist pump; Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods standing side by side when each won the TOUR Championship and then the FedExCup Playoffs separately.
We love it here at East Lake.Â The course has had a tremendous history through its connection with Bobby Jones and the events that have been held here throughout the years, and I think everyone would agree that everything about this club and this facility represents everything that is right in the sport of golf.
We embrace the story of East Lake and the East Lake Foundation, everything Tom Cousins has accomplished in this community.Â The story of revitalization is inspiring.Â It aligns perfectly with the PGA TOUR's mission of giving back to the communities in which we play, and we're so thrilled that the cycle of education will now be complete with the building of the Drew Charter Senior Academy that you all passed when you came in here.Â I couldn't think of a better place to host our finale for the FedExCup Playoffs.
Again, thanks to all of you for your coverage.Â Thanks to Coca‑Cola and Southern Company for its support, and thank all of Atlanta for the excitement that it brings to this event every year.Â We're looking forward to a great event, and we're looking forward to seeing you all out here in a few weeks.Â Thank you very much.
TOM CLARK:Â Talk about a word that describes golf is impact.Â There's an economic impact, and there's an impact on the community, and the impact that Ty just mentioned on the community is phenomenal for East Lake and for Atlanta.Â You can't run a golf tournament and create that impact without volunteers.Â We are fortunate; we have 1,350 volunteers.Â About 1,000 of them have been here every year, which is really phenomenal, and so when you have that, you need someone that's going to lead the charge.Â I've been doing this for a long, long time and I've never worked with someone quite like our general chairman.Â His enthusiasm, his energy, his direction is second to none.Â I'd like to introduce Rob Johnston, our general chairman.
ROB JOHNSTON:Â Well, good morning.Â I hope everybody is well.Â Since this is media day and the legacy of Bob Jones is so critical to this club, I thought I'd just for a few seconds repeat a great story, my favorite quote, about Bob Jones.Â Are any of the Atlanta Journal Constitution here?Â I'm so sorry you're not here because this is about you.
You know, Bob Jones at the age of 11 broke 80 here at East Lake, and 100 years ago this summer, there was a tournament here.Â Sid Matthew writes about it in his book.Â In participating in that tournament was a member, a beat writer from the Atlanta Journal Constitution by the name of Milt Saul, and he was telling his editor at the time of the AJC, Major John Cohen, that he was playing a tournament in East Lake later that day, but they had him matched up against a 12 year old, and his quote to the editor was‑‑ you know, they really ought not allow children to play in adult tournaments.
Sometime a couple days later, the editor ran into Mr.Saul and said, how did you do against that young squirt that you were complaining about, and he said, well, he beat me 6 & 5, but I still think I'm right, they ought not to let children play with adults in tournaments.Â So he's had quite a legacy, Bob Jones, going back to really about 1909 and 1910 when he started playing golf.
You hear so much talk about majors.Â 18 majors, 14 majors.Â This young Rory has got four now.Â I'll just float this out, and I'm sure you know these numbers, but it just bears repeating because I don't hear it very often on television.Â Between 1923 and 1930, Bob Jones played in 21 majors.Â Not 32, 21.Â He couldn't afford to go to England on numerous occasions to play in the Open and the Amateur there.Â So out of 21 majors, he won 13 and had four seconds.Â So that is an amazing standard that may never, ever be broken.
His picture is all over out at the U.S.Amateur out at East Lake, and I know he would be very proud looking down upon us today on what East Lake has become in terms of professional golf with the TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola.
Just for a few minutes I wanted to tell you why our 1,350 volunteers are so dedicated to this tournament.Â Back when Drew Charter opened, I believe it was 1995, this was absolutely the worst Zip Code in America, when you looked at the crime and the drugs.Â This was a desperate, desperate place.Â It was just shameful that it could be in any major city in the United States.Â It was third world at best.
But those young children who started first grade at Drew Charter are now juniors in college.Â This cycle has slowly, is ever so slowly being broken.Â When we look at what we have here, we're so fortunate to have this TOUR Championship here by Coca‑Cola.Â We feature the East Lake Golf Club, which is not only a treasure for Atlanta but literally a treasure nationally and in golf courses.
We have 30 players.Â It's a no‑cut, small, elite field.Â We have limited attendance, down to 25,000, that people can watch golf up close and personal.Â We have such great support from the Coca‑Cola Company and the Southern Company and the most iconic brand in the world as our partner in this.Â So we're also very fortunate about the golf portion of the legacy of East Lake and what happens in this great city.
But it's the East Lake Foundation that's really the glue that holds all of us together and the support we enjoy in Atlanta.Â All of our volunteers are very, very aware of it.Â We know how important this tournament is to the East Lake Foundation.Â Almost $2? million goes to charity each year, something like $23 million to date.Â So this will be our 14th tournament, and our goal is to host the best tournament entirely on the PGA TOUR that gives the most money to charity.Â I think our volunteers are dedicated to this proposition.Â Our leadership committee is dedicated, as is the Coca‑Cola Company and the Southern Company.
I thank you for your coverage.Â I hope you will be with us beginning September 10th.Â We're going to have an extraordinary field, and Ty, I looked at the top 60 this morning, and 10 play college golf in Georgia.Â We have one Augusta State, Patrick Reed, lots of Georgia, a couple Bulldogs, but we've got some unique stories to communicate and market this year that we've never had before.Â So perhaps we're in a change of the guard, so to speak, in the era of golf because the quality of play this year is extraordinary as we saw last Sunday.
Thank you all for being here.Â I look forward to seeing y'all at the TOUR Championship beginning September 11th, and to talk further about the East Lake Foundation is a guy that's got more passion, and he's so articulate, the president, Danny Shoy.Â Danny?
DAN SHOY, JR.:Â Good morning.Â You've all heard the East Lake story.Â It's hard to believe that some 19 years ago in 1995 that Tom Cousins founded the East Lake Foundation to turn one of the nation's most violent public housing developments, most violent public housing developments into a gem for the community that we're now standing in.Â I'm really proud of that, and not only have we made this impact and difference in Atlanta, but we've developed a blueprint or a model for community redevelopment all across the country in places like Charlotte, North Carolina, in places like Indianapolis, in places like Omaha, Nebraska, in places like New Orleans, in places like Houston, and that list goes on.
Tom Cousins was able to do this because he had vision, and often times Tom gets a lot of credit, but I know that if he was sitting here with us this morning that he would say that he wasn't the only person that did it.Â It took leaders like Eva Davis.Â It took partners like the Coca‑Cola Company and Southern Company and the PGA TOUR and the TOUR Championship, all of whom we are so incredibly grateful for because we could not do this work.
We have watched the statistics rise, Rob mentioned, and I won't go through them because I know you've heard them all before, but watched statistics rise around employment.Â We've seen crime go down.Â We've seen educational attainment in this community go up.Â We've seen possibility happen at its best, and now because of the support of all the partners that I've mentioned, we now have this wonderful educational gem of an institution right at the top of the hill, the Charles R. Drew Charter School, Junior and Senior Academy at the Charlie Yates Campus, and because we have that place, we are creating brighter possibilities and futures for young people.
So I could wax poetic, but I'm not going to do that this morning.Â I'm going to challenge all of you if you have not been to the new Junior and Senior Academy at the Yates Campus to actually come by and visit, but instead what I'd like to do is to introduce a young man who himself can tell you how this Charles R. Drew Charter School has changed his life because he's been there and how it's continuing to change his life, so I'd like to invite Alvin Winston, who is in 10th grade in the Charles R. Drew Charter School Senior Academy at the Yates Campus to join me on the stage and to take the mic.Â Let's welcome Alvin.
Alvin is not only a 10th grader who's been with us since the fifth grade, but he's also the student government association president.Â Alvin, that deserves a round of applause.
Just a few questions for you.Â I know when you arrived at Drew Charter School five years ago you arrived as a fifth grader, correct?
ALVIN WINSTON:Â Yes.
DAN SHOY, JR.:Â Talk a little bit about the difference of your experience at Drew from the elementary school where you came from.
ALVIN WINSTON:Â At the elementary school that I came from, it was on grade level but I wasn't quite as challenging as it is as Drew.Â I got to Drew in fifth grade.Â I was kind of shocked at the‑‑ so this is what fifth grade is like and this is what it should be like.
One thing that I really did enjoy in fifth grade is I felt like I was really prepared for middle school, and I felt like I was kind of advanced in fifth grade because of Drew's fifth grade teachers.Â So I was really shocked to see how the learning environment was different from most other schools that I had been at.
DAN SHOY, JR.:Â Talk a little bit about what you enjoy the most about the Senior Academy.
ALVIN WINSTON:Â What I enjoy most is the learning commons.Â So we have areas in the Senior Academy where you are able to work collaboratively with your peers on class projects so you're not limited to the classroom.Â So if we're having a reading assignment in literature, the teacher would give us permission to go out into the learning commons and read there rather than just sitting in the classroom having to read.
DAN SHOY, JR.:Â So I have no doubt that we're looking as an SGA president now and maybe a future President of the United States, but that is a little ways off, so talk to us about what your plans are after you graduate high school.
ALVIN WINSTON:Â Once I graduate, I plan on attending more than likely Emory University.Â I want to be a political science major with a minor in journalism.Â Then I want to get my J.D. and MBA and then work at a practice more than likely.
DAN SHOY, JR.:Â So Alvin has a plan, and I promise I didn't bias him with my alma mater, Emory University.Â That was an answer on his own.
Alvin, one final question:Â Talk a little bit about your experience, your direct experience last year with the TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola.
ALVIN WINSTON:Â Last year I was able with the First Tee to participate in a program called A Day in the Life, and I was able to follow two pro golfers as they were playing in the championship.
This year I'll be a standard bearer for the TOUR, so the kids holding the sign saying the score, I'll be one of those people.
DAN SHOY, JR.:Â One of the golfers that Alvin followed was Henrik Stenson.Â I have no doubt that Alvin was maybe his lucky charm last year.Â Let's thank Alvin.
So we know conclusively more so than any other factor that higher education is the tool to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty, and with young people like Alvin we are well on our way to sending so many more young people from this community and really from the city into college.
I want to thank you for everything that you do.Â I would be remiss, and I will do this very quickly because I know you've been hearing a lot about partners, but we would be remiss, and I know again if Mr.Cousins was here he would say himself that it takes more than just ordinary people, it takes extraordinary people, so when I think about Sharon Byers and Mike Greto, who I think are both here from the Coca‑Cola Company, who do more than just support the TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola but also directly support the Senior Academy through some generous grants, when I think of the Southern Company and Chris Womack, who is a board member of the East Lake Foundation, and Lee Birdsong, both of who volunteer year‑round and have also supported not just the Payne Stewart Award but also some direct programs that the East Lake Foundation offers, we are grateful.Â When I think of the TOUR Championship and Tom Clark, who calls me at least once a month with some new idea of how we're going to make the TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola bigger each year, I know that that's a big deal, and Chris Reimer and the PGA TOUR, and last but certainly not least, Rob Johnston, who also serves on our board and is the general manager because of the volunteers, and Rob's passion that he's had over the long haul.Â You've been with us from the beginning and we certainly appreciate your support, and last but not least the East Lake Golf Club.Â I would be remiss in not acknowledging Rick Burton and his leadership.
The motto here is "Golf With a Purpose," and that purpose is East Lake Foundation, so thank you all so much.
TOM CLARK:Â Thanks, Danny.Â Alvin, great job.Â Coca‑Cola and Southern Company, very, very vital to lifting this tournament year after year.Â The commitment has made a significant impact in the community, to the PGA TOUR, and to the TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola.
Right now I would like to introduce Chris Womack, Southern Company executive vice president and president of external affairs.Â Chris?
CHRIS WOMACK:Â Good morning.Â I'm going to go off script just for a minute, because like Rob Johnston, I think the story around here is incredible.Â I was watching Golf Channel last night and watching this piece that Jimmy Roberts was doing with Mike Schmidt, Johnny Bench and Tom Glavine, and I love golf but I love baseball even more so.Â These guys are in the Hall of Fame; they were going through a lot of stories about how they love to play golf and how they fit golf into their schedule when they were playing baseball.
And one of the conversations that came up was why is it as you were trying to swing at a pitch and there's noise everywhere and how you could do that but when you've got a little while ball on a tee, you want everything so quiet.Â Okay, and they went through the different analogies, but I used it as an analogy to say, I think we've got to be a little more noisy about the story at East Lake, and I challenge you guys to tell that story, because as you drive through here every day, you see a house being revitalized, you see a school being built, and you're seeing lives being saved.
The crime rate here at East Lake was 18 percent higher than the national average.Â 18 percent higher than the national average.Â Today it's less than 50 percent of the average crime rate in the city of Atlanta, below the average crime rate in the city of Atlanta.
There's no greater story, I don't think anywhere, when you hear the story about golf and how golf gives back to the community and the difference it makes.Â There is no greater story about what golf does and what golf can do than the story here at East Lake.
When you've got the Super Bowl of golf, when you've got the World Cup of golf ending here in the city of Atlanta at this wonderful, great place, there is no greater story.
I think we have got to be louder in terms of telling that story.Â Let's do great big concerts, but guys, let's tell the story about what's happening here.Â It is phenomenal.Â It is incredible.Â Lives are being saved.Â We are making a difference.
So let me go corporate speak for a minute.Â I mean, what Coca‑Cola does and the partnership we have with them and what we do with them is phenomenal.Â The TOUR Championship sponsored by Coca‑Cola is phenomenal and is so great and so beneficial to so many people here in the city.Â Yes, Southern Company, we've been involved with the TOUR now for probably around 20 years and we sponsored the Payne Stewart Award for the 15th year.Â This has been a wonderful year because this is the 15th anniversary of the Payne Stewart Award, and using Pinehurst and his story there at the U.S. Open has been a great platform to kind of reinforce the whole story about what Payne was all about and his legacy and his story and his views and his values about sportsmanship, integrity and his love for golf, and that aligns with our company and it aligns with golf and how important that is to make sure we continue that story.
So there's a lot of great things that makes this a great valiant investment for us as a company.Â But as you guys leave here today, walk out of here and go play this course, as you walk around the course and you say, yeah, all the guys, Rory will be here, Rickie will be here, Henrik will be here, Mickelson will be here, Bill Haas, I mean, the best of the best will be here in just a few weeks, I mean, to vie for the trophy.Â What a great sports story that is.
But as you tour this place, as you walk around, look outside the ropes, look outside the fence and see what's happening.Â There's a marvelous story; not just a vision, it's a reality that's taking place here.
Let's be louder about that story.Â I challenge you to do that.Â With that, thank you very much, and I look forward to taking to you later today.Â Thank you very much.
TOM CLARK:Â Thank you, Chris.Â The TOUR has a proud history of improving the communities in which our tournaments are played, and we can't do that without sponsors, and Coca‑Cola Company provides us with a phenomenal support in a variety of ways.Â Working with Mike Greto and his team, this is, again, my third year.Â Mike, are you here?Â Thank you so much for all that you do for us, for our team.Â It's a pleasure working with you.
What I'd like to do now is introduce Sharon Byers.Â Sharon is senior vice president, sports and entertainment partnerships for Coca‑Cola North America, and thank you for all your help and support in my short time here and for our team.Â Come on up.
SHARON BYERS:Â I had the joy of dropping my daughter off this morning for middle school, the very first day of middle school.Â Alvin, you were very inspiring.Â And when I had to drop her off a little bit early to get her here, and of course she's nervous, it's the first day of middle school, and she said, why are you dropping me off so early.Â I said, well, I'm going to go to East Lake, and her words to me just kind of sums up this place.Â She goes, oh, I love that place.Â I mean, this is from a child's eyes.
I think what Chris had to say is so meaningful, and we appreciate all the media that's here today, and help Chris and I help you guys get your peers to come next year because the voice of East Lake comes through you, certainly with relationships, with sponsors, but we really do want you guys to get the word out.Â I mean, Chris said it so beautifully, and next year I think our aspiration would have this entire room completely filled with media.
This is my fourth or fifth year coming back here to East Lake, and I represent a ginormous Coca‑Cola system, and we're all so proud of this event and what everyone has been able to do here at East Lake.Â We're going on 12 years of our relationship with the TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola, and it's a special relationship.Â We don't think of it at all as a sponsorship.Â We think of it as a way to give back to the community.Â We think of it as a way to talk to fans about how to live a healthy, active lifestyle, and it's a wonderful way for us to bring a little bit of the Coca‑Cola magic that we all love in our company, so the tournament gets better and better and better.
As you guys know, the TOUR Championship broadcasts to over 235 countries.Â I mean, that's unbelievable when you think of the little sleepy town of Atlanta having such a large event going to 235 countries.
In addition, I know you guys have heard these numbers a lot but I'm going to say it again, it gives over $35 million to the greater Atlanta community, of which most of that does go to significant charities, specifically here at East Lake.
Again, that's a huge, huge number that we hope gets in print.
As we add relationships with the PGA, with East Lake, want to continue to evolve what we do here and maintain some of the cool activations that we've had throughout the years, we're going to bring back the My Health Wish Wall, which we do in conjunction with the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the reason we think that's so important is, yes, everyone is coming here to see the top 30 players come and fight for the $10 million and of course all the shout‑outs about the Coca‑Cola, love that.Â But we want to bring specialness, and having a wall we can actually go and write a health wish to a loved one or yourself is unique and special.
You know, there were a couple comments about our Share a Coke campaign.Â This campaign actually started in Australia a couple years ago, and it's a beautiful way for people to experience sharing, and we took our icon off of our can and put over 250 teens' and millenials' names on that can.Â We've got the kiosk here, so make one for your wife or your husband or your kids and have an opportunity to Share a Coke.Â Hopefully you'll have a lot of fun with that.
And I think you guys would probably be really mad at me if I didn't tell you that the Coca‑Cola freestyle machine was coming back during the tournament, so that will actually be in the media dining hall.Â I think that was one of the biggest hits last year obviously besides the champion.Â What we're also going to do is have the Coca‑Cola freestyle truck behind the 18th hole.Â That's a big hit.Â Think of magic, think of having these experiences for our fans coming to this beautiful place, East Lake, watching amazing golf, and being able to do different things as a family, very popular for children.
As Tom talked about, we're partnering with the PGA and bringing the Experience app, so when you're here at the tournament if you follow #fanperk, you'll see so many different surprises and delights for so many of our consumers, and we've done it through several of our events, and it's really, really special, so please go out there and follow that.
Ted Ryan is here somewhere.Â He's our head of Heritage Communications, and as we've talked about, Coca‑Cola is very committed to East Lake.Â We've been very committed historically to this wonderful sport of golf because it has so many different dynamics than just the athletic component.Â Ted has got a terrific archive that he pulled together at the very bottom of our building where it's our Coca‑Cola, the real Coca‑Cola museum, so please take some time and see the fabulous archives there.
Again, thank you so much.Â We're humbled to be part of this organization, and we hope you guys have a great day of golf.Â Wear sunscreen, and go Share a Coke.Â We'll see you in September.
CHRIS REIMER:Â I'm excited to get the Share a Coke.Â My kids are all over me all day.Â They found out this was going to be here, so they've been nonstop letting me know I need to get cans for all of them.Â We're excited to make that work.Â That concludes the press conference.Â As Tom mentioned, we realize as a sporting event that we have to earn the fans' entertainment dollar, and that while we believe that this is one of the premier if not the premier event on the PGA TOUR with the top 30 players, we need to do some additional items to bring fans out here, and that's why we're looking forward to having the Yacht Rock Review concert in the morning; that's why we're bringing in local restaurants Fox Bros. Barbecue and Universal Joint to give fans a little extra, the freestyle machine.Â We'll have the Grey Goose 19th hole lounge will be out here.
When we head down to the range, other than the Grey Goose, these items will be down there for you guys to sample.Â Make sure you get down there and enjoy the Share a Coke program.Â Talk to Alvin and the East Lake Foundation folks.Â Talk to the Southern Company folks about the Payne Stewart Award and everything that it helps.Â As I said, we'll all be down on the range with you guys, and of course have a great day of golf.Â It looks like the weather is going to be beautiful today.Â Thanks again for joining us, and hope you have a great day.Â Thanks.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports