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May 26, 2017

Jay Monahan

BRIAN DECKER: Good morning, everyone. Brian Decker from the Mackenzie Tour PGA TOUR Canada here. Thank you for taking the time to join us this morning to speak with PGA TOUR commissioner Jay Monahan. It's an exciting time with the start of the Mackenzie Tour season just around the corner and golf season here in the full swing and the commissioner wanted to take some time to make himself available and talk to you about the PGA TOUR and everything that's happening with it north of the border. So, without further adieu I would like to turn it over at this time to the commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Jay Monahan.
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Good morning, everyone. Thank you for your time today and looking back thank you for your great support of the PGA TOUR, all of our efforts in Canada and in particular with the Mackenzie Tour PGA TOUR Canada.
We're very thankful for the partnership we share with all of you and let me just spend a couple of minutes with some opening comments and then I'm really anxious to hear some of your questions and have a discussion with you.
I'll just start by saying it's such an exciting time for the PGA TOUR and for golf in general in Canada as another summer approaches here in 2017. As you know, we have already seen two Canadians MacKenzie Hughes and Adam Hadwin become PGA TOUR winners for the first time this season and along with Graeme DeLaet, David Hearn and Nick Taylor there seems to be a Maple Leaf near the top of the leaderboard every week and there's a good chance we'll see a number of them competing for spots for the Presidents Cup team this fall as the Presidents Cup comes to Liberty National in New Jersey.
The RBC Canadian Open continues to be an exciting staple of the summer calendar and with the announcement last year of RBC's six‑year extension of commitment to Canada's National Open, the tournament's in tremendous shape. Going forward we're eagerly working forward to working with golf Canada's new CEO, Laurence Applebaum, on the future of the event.
PGA TOUR Champions two events, the Shaw Charity Classic and the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship have both made significant and positive impacts in their communities including an incredible 5.2 million dollars donation by the Shaw charity Classic to youth‑based charities in Calgary last year.
As always with this time of year we're thrilled to be kicking off another season on the Mackenzie Tour, PGA TOUR Canada which enters its fifth season in 2017 and the third in partnership with the TOUR's umbrella sponsor Mackenzie Investments, who helped the TOUR's organizations donate more than one million dollars to charity last year.
This year the Mackenzie Tour will once again play 12 tournaments from coast to coast and will launch its first event in Quebec with the Mackenzie Investments Open.
Mackenzie Tour alumni continue to succeed at the next level impressively, with 10 alumni competing on the PGA TOUR this season, including each of the TOUR's three Order of Merit winners from 2013 to 2015 and an additional 66 players on the web.com TOUR. And just last week at the Byron Nelson Joel Dahmen had his first PGA TOUR top‑10 and we expect great things from him as well as we go forward.
The season gets underway next week at the Freedom 55 Financial Open in Vancouver, where you get to see what another season brings in 2017. So I think when you really step back and you add it all up, looking back to particularly the last several years and we couldn't be more pleased with where we are across the board and the more bullish we are about our path as we go forward. So again thanks for your time and I'm excited to hear your questions.

Q. How do you see the relationship with the PGA TOUR brand has with the Canadian market right now and has that relationship changed, if it has, since the TOUR invested in Mackenzie Tour PGA TOUR Canada?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: It's a great question. I would say that we have a great commitment to Canada and it goes back for decades with the RBC Canadian Open and if you look at the trajectory from the addition of PGA TOUR Champions events to the establishment of the Mackenzie Tour PGA TOUR Canada, you look at, we're playing golf ‑‑ and also you see it in the Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal ‑‑ we play golf at its highest level, we have brought the game's great champions, and we're developing future stars. So when you look at our business, honestly I don't think there's anything more that we can do with our business to demonstrate our commitment to the marketplace. We love Canada. When we're up there at all of our tournaments, seeing the passionate fan base, you look at the numbers I think on a per capita basis the number of people that are playing the game is highest in the world. That means a lot to us. That's why we have invested and will continue to invest in making certain that we're putting our best foot forward, not only with our tournaments across our tours, but with how we present our brand of tournaments to that important audience.

Q. Follow‑up, how pleased are you then at this point with the Mackenzie Tour PGA TOUR Canada, specifically to the role it plays for the PGA TOUR?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: I would give Mackenzie Tour PGA TOUR Canada a solid A. And I look to the fact, as I mentioned earlier, we have 10 alums that have matriculated to the PGA TOUR. Three prior, the three prior, and 66 players that are now playing on the web.com TOUR. And you look at the fact that those three players of the year coming off of the Mackenzie Tour PGA TOUR Canada, all have their cards, I think the proof is in performance and the performance has certainly met and exceeded the expectation that we had when we first started the TOUR. And on top of that, you just have to look at impact. The fact that we're one million dollars to charity last year, 2.2 million since inception, those numbers may seem small on a relative basis when we're generating 165 million over the course of a season, but to us that's an awesome sign as we look to the future and we look to the impact of our tournaments in the markets where we're playing.

Q. Commissioner, how are you?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: It's been two weeks since we talked. I'm great.

Q. I know. I'm going through withdrawals.

Q. Two questions: One, do you see any need for Mackenzie Tour PGA TOUR Canada to look at increasing the purses? They have gone up a little bit, I know, but I know that there's some talk amongst the players that it's financially it's obviously very difficult to cross Canada and try and make a living even though I know it is a developmental TOUR. The second question would be, do you foresee a Presidents Cup coming back to Canada any time soon?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: I'm sorry, second one?

Q. Do you foresee a Presidents Cup coming back to Canada any time soon?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Well, on the first one, I think that you're always looking to ‑‑ our job is to maximize playing and financial opportunities for our members across all of our tours. So what we present is the maximization of what we're able to yield in the market. And we spend a lot of time thinking about ways for us to increase our purse and increase impact for our players. We have a great leader in Jeff Monday, who is leading this tour and represents that thinking inside of our walls very aggressively, day‑in and day‑out.
So that's something we're looking at and we're hopeful to make some progress on, but I think if you look at where we were 2013 to where we are now we're pleased with the progress that I'm hopeful that you'll see some growth there as we go forward.
Then, as it relates to the Presidents Cup, as I mentioned earlier, the experience we had in 2007 at Royal Montreal was fantastic. I think we would certainly be open to coming back to Canada with the Presidents Cup in the future. Right now the first available opportunity is 2023. We're looking at a number of markets. It's very early on in the process. What I say, it could be as early as 2023, it's difficult to answer this at this point in time, but I would tell you whether it's 2023, 2027, 2031, Canada will always get due consideration in any given year.

Q. RBC, the renewal and some of the speculation that's in the market about movement of events via the PGA Championship and THE PLAYERS. Where does the RBC Canadian Open fit into this overall strategy as you look at the schedule in a broader sense? They have been behind the British Open for awhile and that's gone, I would argue, pretty well for them, all things considered, but clearly there's lots of people in Canada who would like to see a different date for that, unencumbered by Major, as well as you're probably going to have some tough decisions if you change the schedule. Where does the Canadian Open fit in that thinking?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Well, the Canadian Open is a very important event for the PGA TOUR. It has been, it always will be. We take our commitment to Golf Canada and to the marketplace very seriously and we're very proud of what has been accomplished, particularly since RBC came in as title sponsor, because they are fully engaged, obviously very proud of their home country, very proud of this National Open, and want to see it continue to grow and have invested in making that happen.
So I think that we're, to your point, I think we're quite pleased with how it's performing and as it relates to the future, like any organization, we will see change. At this point we're not committed to any specific change, the schedule we have is the schedule that ‑‑ and it's a schedule we're quite proud of‑‑ it's a schedule we're going to continue forward.
If we were to make any changes, I would just tell you that the Canadian Open would, will always be given serious consideration and we're going to try and keep it and put it in as strong a position as possible.

Q. A follow‑up then on a slightly unrelated note, obviously the Mackenzie Tour has done quite well, it's been successful. You talked about the players that have moved forward. One of the challenges of that TOUR and I think the expansion in Latin America and in China is getting the players who are successful on the TOUR to actually have opportunities within the next step. So if they, the so‑called five on the Mackenzie Tour, reasonably have struggled often outside the first one or two guys to get starts on web.com. And I know this is a difficult thing because the guys on the web.com have moved up in the lower states this year had trouble getting starts on the PGA TOUR. I mean, is there a point where you look at the success of the Mackenzie Tour, of the players that have come out of it, Adam Hadwin, Mackenzie Hughes, Joel Dahmen, J.J. Spaun, all the guys that of come out and played well on the PGA TOUR and say, okay, this tour is doing what we wanted it to, it's time to allocate more resources to a different, to a more singular market where that TOUR is producing the players we hoped it would?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Well I think that's a very fair question and I would tell you that a couple things:
You mentioned the web.com TOUR and access to the PGA TOUR. Our team, Dan Glod, runs the web.com TOUR, Andy Pazder, Tyler Denis, members of our team run the PGA TOUR, and there is a lot of discussion about what we do to maximize access for web.com TOUR graduates on the PGA TOUR, particularly those players in position let's say 30 to 50 or 35 to 50 who struggle most. And right now our teams, Jeff Monday, Dan Glod and Jack Warfield, Jack runs PGA TOUR Latinoamerica, are having similar discussions about access for our players and in particular access for our players that are matriculating from the Mackenzie Tour PGA TOUR Canada to the web.com TOUR.
So we're not ‑‑ we recognize the challenge that you raise, we're not satisfied, and we want to improve that. But we don't have the answer right now, but stay tuned. I think that we'll come to make some progress there.

Q. Lastly, I appreciate the response, with those tours now having 13, 12, 13 events and potentially more on longer in the longer term, is it important do you think ‑‑ a lot of it still comes down to Q‑School and the success and those guys get access to Q‑School, they some of them make the move, some of them don't. But is it anymore important at this point to start looking at those as almost like AAA baseball is to Major league baseball, thinking over 12 or 13 tournaments you can sort of gather whether the guy is going to have success going forward or not, versus having a week of Q‑School. I mean, is there a point where it makes more sense to put emphasis on those feeders tours as opposed to the one week of hopefully some guy gets hot or one guy who was hot all year doesn't play well that week? Does that make sense?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Yeah, it does. And I think that's a fair debate to have. Candidly, it's part of the analysis that we're undertaking. So you want to make certain that you have the trend lines that we have established with this tour, which is for those players that are making the next step, they're competing and they're competing favorably and they're continuing to move forward in their careers. There's a healthy sample size of players, some of whom I've mentioned, that have demonstrated that. And we think that ‑‑ and part of the reason we made the investment to have a solid schedule for players to challenge themselves against other players with comparable aspirations and to put yourself in the position where you have got to be in a top‑5 to move forward, that's a great deal of pressure and that's comparable to the pressure that they're going to be faced with as they move forward. So it's ‑‑ I would just say it's a work in progress and it's part of what we continue to analyze.

Q. Is it PGA TOUR's goal to sort of have a clear and defined system of tours internationally? And I realize you basically have that already, but is that, that's the whole plan is to have a very clear path to get to the big show, if you will? And I'm referring to not just Mackenzie Tour but all around, Latin America, China.
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: I think our goal is to develop world class talent in markets around the world. That's why we made the investments that we have made in Mackenzie Tour PGA TOUR Canada, PGA TOUR Latinoamerica and PGA TOUR China. And for us looking at the success that graduates have had as they have moved forward is something we're proud of and it benefits the game at the highest level when you have got players from major markets around the world who are approaching stardom, it gives us an opportunity to raise a profile of our great game in their home countries.

Q. I don't mean to cut you off, but I guess a player from South Korea winning THE PLAYERS kind of speaks to that strategy, right?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: It absolutely does. It speaks to, we talked earlier about the Presidents Cup in Montreal in 2007, we were in South Korea with the Presidents Cup in 2015, had an incredible response, have a solid foundation of stars that have played on the PGA TOUR from Korea. To have a 21‑year‑old come and win our flagship event at TPC Sawgrass, I think that's an awesome follow‑up to what happened in 2015 and I think that when we're on this call next year, when you look at the market you'll see two or three more young players that are continuing to emerge. That's really what we want to see, because if you can ignite and excite a market like that, that's good for the game. Good for the PGA TOUR and certainly good for the game.

Q. This is Canada and you probably heard that hockey's a big deal here. You have a relationship with Bobby Orr, would you, is that true and am I, is that correct in reading that and if so can you explain that?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Yes, well my family, my mother and father were very friendly with Bobby and Peggy. I say were action, because my mom passed away 10 years ago and my brothers went to school with Brent and Darren, his kids, and my first job out of graduate school was working for a firm called Bob Wolf Associates and Bobby Orr and two of his partners acquired that company within the first year of my working there. So I got a chance to work directly for a company that Bobby owned and had a lot of interaction with him during that time. And I am, I played hockey from the age of five all the way through college, like anybody else. And I was born, I think, I was born three days after I was born I believe is the day that Bobby scored the goal in Game 4 against the St. Louis Blues in '70 win the Stanley Cup.
So like everybody in Boston, I have nothing but admiration for Bobby. He's just an incredible person, I've learned a lot from him, and I'm very thankful for the time I've spent with him. Now from a business standpoint, I've stayed in touch with him and I'm quite proud of the fact that he's involved in our Thunder Bay event.

Q. I'm asking this question from I'm actually at the Memorial Cup, so I thought it would be appropriate. I knew there was a connection so thanks.
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Thank you. Yeah, no. Thank you for asking and who is the No. 1 prospect that I can look forward in the next two or three years that I don't know about?

Q. Nolan Patrick.
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Nolan Patrick. All right. Thank you.

Q. The Canadian Open, getting back there, obviously golf Canada has a bit of a situation on its hands with the potential development of Glen Abbey and in recent years we have seen Glen Abbey almost become a sort of semi‑permanent home if not a permanent home as it was for so long. I'm curious how much you're communicating with Golf Canada about trying to find another home for the Canadian Open and also kind of two schools of thought here, whether the Canadian Open should stay in one market or it should move across the country and Golf Canada has kind tried both things of late. Where do you stand on that whether the tournament should be played at one course like a Glen Abbey or should it move around the country?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Well, I would say that we, No. 1, with Laurence Applebaum coming into his position, I think we need to give him some time to get his feet on the ground. I hear great things about him, and I'm certain that we will be taking the subject back up with him in short order. It's something that we, obviously, we're going to explore all of our options. And the basis for that exploration will always be what allows us to put the RBC Canadian Open in as good a position to make an impact on the game and markets throughout Canada. We certainly have some ideas on that front, we're interested to hear the new leader's perspective and we think that there's a great opportunity on that front to continue to come to great golf courses, because there certainly are a high number of the highest quality golf courses across Canada in some great markets.

Q. It's kind of unique open because it's the only open that's a PGA TOUR event, per se, so obviously the U.S. Open moves around and The Open Championship moves around, so in general is it your belief that it should visit, not only different golf courses, but also different cities and markets across the country?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: I think that that's a, it's a National Open. I think when you look at it over the course of a decade, 20 years, 30 years, you want to see it impact as many markets as possible. And there are certainly some commercial challenges and given the length of the season and for the game in Canada, you've got to have willing clubs and in those markets, but I think that is certainly a goal that is worth fighting for.

Q. Wondering if there has been any discussion about bringing the web.com TOUR back to Canada at all.
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Here's the challenge, and I think you're aware of this. When you look at our web.com TOUR schedule and again you look at seasonality, there really are not any available dates in the summertime schedule. We are spending a lot of time ‑‑ if you look at that very calendar, you see in the February, March time frame we have got a lot of openings and availability. We would like to see a day when the schedule is more evenly spread out and if that day were to occur, then that gives us potentially some openings in the summer and we would certainly be open to and be excited about the possibility of bringing a web.com event to Canada.

Q. Keith Pelley from the European Tour came out earlier this week and said that he expects a decision on THE PLAYERS Championship and the PGA Championship roughly around August. Would that be fair to say? Has there been a more firm deadline or time line established?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: As I said earlier, right now we're moving forward with the schedule that we have and to get into hypotheticals, get into what specific changes we might be considering and when they might happen, I just think it's, I think it's premature. We certainly haven't talked about a specific time frame to make any decisions at this point.

Q. Are any of the smaller events and people behind ‑‑ I hate a to use the word smaller‑‑ but people behind the PLAYERS championship and the PGA Championship, are they conveying any level of concern about the announcement on the FedExCup?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: All I've heard thus far is nothing but great things and I think for every tournament, if you look back to the origin of the FedExCup, the FedExCup has strengthened every single event on our season, across our season. So I'm not certain what you're referring to, but I could tell you that when I communicated out to the leaders of all of our sponsors that we were going to be making a 10 year commitment to the FedExCup, there was a, I know there was a great and positive response and I think it's a validation for obviously the PGA TOUR and a testament to our players.

Q. I don't think it's really against the FedExCup I think they're kind of if there is a concern maybe the tightening up of the schedule ahead of them and obviously with them moving forward to around the Labor Day, the schedule's going to tighten up. So that's what I meant.
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Yeah, I think we're, like I said, we're, the schedule that we have right now is the schedule that we're going to be operating under for the foreseeable future and we take all of our partnerships with our sponsors very seriously and if there are going to be changes we'll be talking to our partners directly about them. But again, that's not imminent.

Q. I believe that here in Victoria and Calgary are the only cities that have both PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR Champions. What does that mean to you and do you envision possibly more cities jumping on board?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Yeah, I think we love being able to have more than one event in a marketplace, because ‑‑ and we have done that in markets like Phoenix, Columbus, Atlanta, Jacksonville, and obviously Calgary. And so for us being able to present two different tours is something that we think ultimately show cases, gives us a broader platform in terms of a time frame and creates more interest and exposure for the game played at the highest level. We see that as very positive and we like to think that both benefits independently benefit from the fact that there are more than one, because it gives often times you'll have tournaments that are working with each other to maximize the commercial impact of the events, to maximize the promotional impact of the event, and in some cases it's led to third events in other markets. So we look at it as very positive and it's something that we're always open to.
BRIAN DECKER: Thanks for your time today and we certainly appreciate you coming on. Especially thank you to Commissioner Monahan for joining us today and we really appreciate everyone's time and we look forward to the start of the Mackenzie Tour season next week.
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Let me just say, the especially thank you's go to everybody who joined this call other than you and I because the partnership we have with you and the way you passionately represent this game and our tours is the reason that we're having the success and the interest that we have. So we appreciate that and that is not lost on us.
BRIAN DECKER: Well said and thanks very much for your time, Commissioner.

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