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PGA TOUR MEDIA CONFERENCE
April 12, 2018
PATRICK FITZGERALD: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome. My name is Patrick Fitzgerald. I'm very proud to be here today representing FedEx and as a member of the board of YPI in support of the FedEx St. Jude Classic. This is a very exciting day for FedEx and a very exciting day for Memphis. We have several really special guests here today to make a very important announcement for us, but before that, I'd like to welcome just a few people who are here with us. We have many local leaders and dignitaries. We have some very historic golfers on the PGA TOUR with a local connection here in Loren Roberts and Shaun Micheel, and thank you for joining us today.
We have several of our tournament volunteers here today. We have some volunteers for the FedEx St. Jude Classic that have been volunteering for the tournament for more than 50 years, and I just want to kind of stop and think about that for a minute because there's not very many professional sports events anywhere in the world that have the heritage and the history and the connection to the community that the FedEx St. Jude Classic has, and a lot of that is based on the passion of these volunteers. So I'm not going to call out individual volunteers, but just thank you for all you do, and I'm very glad you're here with us today.
We have several of our members of FedEx leadership here. I'm just going to recognize two. Don Colleran, who's a member of our executive leadership team. He's our executive vice president, chief sales officer, and he's also on the YPI board and has been a real champion for this event and the FedExCup for many years. And then Dan Mullally, who is senior vice president of sales, and it's important to recognize Dan because with Dan and his wife Shirley, their passion for this tournament, this event, and what they've done in particular for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is truly amazing. So glad Dan is here with us today.
So now on to our special guests that are going to be making this announcement. I'll just recognize each of them briefly and turn it over to Dave. Dave Bronczek is president, chief operating officer of FedEx Corporation; Jay Monahan, the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR; Rick Shadyac, president and chief executive officer of ALSAC; and Jack Sammons, general chairman of the St. Jude Classic and one of the most recognized leaders of the business community. We're also going to be joined momentarily by Justin Thomas. He will be here shortly.
We are very proud at FedEx to have been involved with the FedEx St. Jude Classic for more than 30 years and particularly proud of the more than $38 million that's been raised for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and as proud as we are of this tournament and everything that's gone on, this is a very exciting new chapter that we are announcing today, so with that, I'm going to turn it over to Dave Bronczek, who's going to make the announcement.
DAVE BRONCZEK: Well, good afternoon. It's probably the least best-kept secret. I was telling Jay, I said, I don't know, what are you doing here. This is a really historic day, and we're very proud to be the new title sponsor. I'll get to that in a minute here. But I've got to tell you a quick story, first of all, if Justin Thomas would have used FedEx he would have been here already. I'm just saying. That's for all my FedEx fans out there.
And the second thing I have to say is in my new role I was invited to come to Atlanta with Jay Monahan. We became fast friends, really good friends, and we were giving out the FedExCup in Atlanta, and it was 196 degrees that day, it was so hot. He said, oh, yeah, we've got to wear a suit and tie, shirt and tie. I said, wow. At the end of the whole thing, he said, I just wanted to see if you could make it through the heat. I said, no, that's what Memphis is, it's about the heat. So we're good with that.
But anyway, we are very pleased, of course, about this exciting news in our city. This is a great city. I think it's going to be great for our city. It's going to be great for the PGA. We get the turnout here, it's going to be great for the PGA TOUR. It's going to be great for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, and Richard is one of my heroes down here, and of course Jack, too, is one of my heroes. But it's also great for -- this is a great day here. It is going to be the official announcement of this event. It'll be next year the 2018-2019 PGA TOUR season, FedEx will become the title sponsor of the newly named World Golf Championship-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. How great is that? It's pretty great. Thank you all.
Of course it's going to be played at our great course here at Southwind. It's going to be an amazing event. FedEx has been associated, as Patrick said, of course we all have known it, all of us who have been here for decades and decades at FedEx, like most of us, for more than 30 years, and almost close to $40 million, and we were talking before, again, when you end up with the top 50 golfers in the world that come in from all around the world, they come, some who have never been here before, and they've never seen our great city, they've never seen the hospitality, they've never seen our people, and they've never seen that great hospital, and I think it's going to be a onetime -- I know, Shaun, you and I talked about when we played, it's an amazing experience for the pro golfers.
I think it's going to open up doors into the future that are going to be unbelievable in terms of financial help and just PR help and everything you can imagine. We're excited about that.
So of course, when you think about our TOUR and you think about all the things that happen in this city, I don't think there's an event that will happen that will be more widely broadcast, right, all around the world -- I was talking to Jay earlier before we got up here, and you probably have felt this. I know I did, and you probably noticed this. Their promotional sponsorships and their ratings are through the roof. They're through the roof. Why? Because they have a great leader. Jay Monahan is creative, he's innovative. The players love playing with Jay and the courses they go around the world and play in, and of course they have all these young guns like Justin who's going to be joining us and Jordan Spieth and Patrick that just won, and you can go on and on, and then they have Tiger Woods, and then they have Phil Mickelson, and then they have -- it's going to be unbelievable.
So we have gone back and looked at the lists of golfers that have come to Memphis that were rated in the top 10 or 20 or 50, and we don't get that many, sometimes not any, sometimes some. This will change the way the world looks at our city. It'll change the way the golfers look at our city. It'll change the way the players look at St. Jude, and hopefully this is a long-term relationship that's going to be second to none.
I know I've been with Fred, and we just had lunch with Fred and Jay, and we were talking about it, it is a deep, heartfelt commitment that FedEx has to this community. I hope you know that. I really -- and I know he wouldn't want me to say it, but I'm going to say it anyway. Fred Smith loves this city, and he loves this community. So we're excited. You're going to hear from Jay. Maybe he'll give you the statistic that he gave me. Maybe not. But it is off the charts in terms of viewership and so forth, so for us to join in on this, we're just extremely excited and pleased.
We're going to show a very brief video, and then I'm going to turn it over to my very good friend and the commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Jay Monahan.
PATRICK FITZGERALD: Thank you, Dave, for your comments, and I think that was a very powerful video, so thank you. We're now going to do a little just Q & A with the panelists here, and when we're done, we will open up to the media and others for questions, as well. I'll just start with Jay, and just really in general, what are your thoughts about this transition and what the WGC means coming to Memphis and how you feel about it?
JAY MONAHAN: Well, let me just say that this is an awesome day, and it's not how I feel about it, it's how everybody that's associated with the PGA TOUR feels about it, and I think the energy that we've seen over the last couple of days as this story has been made known, both locally and with our players, there's been nothing but excitement.
And I'm going to get into some of that as I go forward, but I just want to start off by kind of stepping back and saying, first and foremost, thank you to FedEx, to Dave Bronczek, president and chief operating officer, to Don, to the entire team here. They're part of our family, and I'd like to think that we're part of yours. This has been a long time coming.
You mentioned 1958, but over the last couple years, we could see that this was a progression, and we talk about St. Jude's being part of the fabric of the PGA TOUR, and I think this is -- you can look at this as a culmination of almost 60 years of partnership with this city.
I don't need to tell anybody in this room -- first of all, regardless of what I say, the number of people that are here and the enthusiastic look on faces tells it all. But thank you to all of you for the support you've given to the FedEx St. Jude through the years, and that you're going to continue to give as we go forward. This means an awful lot to the PGA TOUR.
You've all experienced in event in the past, and when you experience a World Golf Championship, this is a different event, and I'm here representing the PGA TOUR. I'm also here on behalf of the International Federation of PGA Tours, and we spent a lot of time together last week up in Augusta, Georgia, and there's a lot of excitement within the other tours, and those tours are the European Tour, the Japan Golf Tour, the Sunshine Tour, basically our partners in South Africa, the Australasian Tour, and so everybody, all these tours have come together in the World Golf Championships, and you ask yourself, what does this mean.
Well, this event last year had 49 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking playing, and usually if a player misses, it's because someone -- either their wife is pregnant, they have an injury. Those are really the two primary reasons. These are events that everybody wants to be at. Those are numbers that you see at a PLAYERS Championship or a major championship, and this quality of international field we're going to see here in Memphis, and as Dave was saying, you're talking about one of the great global brands in the world, and our partner in St. Jude, you're talking about another one of the great global brands in the world.
This is a perfect fit at the perfect time. We have such a rich history that precedes it, and I want to also echo your thoughts on Loren and Shaun. Not only are they great players on the PGA TOUR, but I don't think you'll ever find two greater advocates for their city and their area than the two of them, so congratulations to you.
When you think about the history here, the first 59 shot in the history of the PGA TOUR by Al Geiberger here in Memphis; Justin, who will join us, was the seventh. There are now eight. But that was a monumental moment in the history of our organization. You talk about winners in Memphis, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, to Greg Norman, Nick Price, Tom Kite, all Hall-of-Famers, and now you've got Daniel Berger who's won the last two years. I think it's a perfect representation of the greats that have won here, and now we have this new and exciting age of young players coming forward.
I think this is a great opportunity to take advantage of having this stage to build the profile of St. Jude, build the profile of the PGA TOUR, build the profile of FedEx and build the profile of the city I know you all are so proud of, and that's what gives us great energy about being here today.
PATRICK FITZGERALD: Rick, I know you know this. We're one of the world's largest sports marketers, but our first sports sponsorship ever was the FedEx St. Jude Classic back in 1985, and the reason we did it was 100 percent about St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, so when we went into the discussions for this exciting announcement, the first ground rule that we at FedEx said was it has to benefit St. Jude. From your perspective what does this tournament mean, and how do you feel about the announcement today?
RICK SHADYAC: You know, first of all, I just want to say thank you to Jay and to Dave and everybody at FedEx and maybe even a little bit to Jack, too. You know what, I think right now I'm reflecting upon what Danny Thomas would be thinking about right now because he used this platform to talk about St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in a national way because we weren't doing advertising back in those days, and it was the PGA TOUR that let the world and the United States know that there was this resource known as St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital if, God forbid, any child around the country was diagnosed with a cancer.
So I think about what he would be feeling right now, and now to know that we're going to have a global platform. And Patrick, the other thing that I would just say is that FedEx Cares. You know, we hear those words, FedEx Cares. But I want us to all reflect upon how much FedEx Cares. FedEx Cares for the city. FedEx Cares for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. FedEx Cares for many, many worthy causes across the United States. FedEx was there when we needed to get medical supplies to Puerto Rico. FedEx was there to take care of those things when I reached out to Don Colleran and to Dave to try to make that happen. That's what this is all about.
And Jay, I think about the same thing with the PGA TOUR and the amount that you all give back to communities.
You know, Patrick, the other thing I would just say is I reflect upon the event, the commemoration of the passing of Dr. King in this city, and you know, Dr. King always said a wonderful saying. He said, "Life's most compelling and urgent question is what are you doing for others?" What are you doing for others? And I look here at FedEx and I look at the PGA TOUR, and wow, what a resounding answer to that question, and then I look out here, and I see our great community, the city of Memphis, and I know how much this community gives back because this is one of the most giving communities.
And you know, I just want to say one other thing, too, because I was sharing this with Jay. Y'all don't realize that the awareness that's created, we so appreciate the amount of money that y'all have donated, but the fact that people know that St. Jude exists -- Camilo Villegas knows about St. Jude and referred a family from Colombia to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital after that child was given a death sentence, and that child is now thriving, thriving, and there are stories like that all around the globe.
So that's what this is also all about, and now the world is going to know about that resource that is St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, that resource that allows families to come here and nobody will ever receive a bill from St. Jude, not for the cost of treatment, travel, housing or food, because all we want our parents to worry about is helping their child survive cancer.
So Jay, Dave, thank you all very, very much.
PATRICK FITZGERALD: Jack, there is maybe no one in the room with deeper connections to this tournament and to this city than yourself, and I know you well enough to know not to even ask you a question. I'm just going to turn it over to you and let you talk.
JACK SAMMONS: Thank you, Patrick. You know, I've got to tell you, I feel like Rodney Dangerfield down here on the end. I'll be glad when my buddy gets here because apparently it's pick on the guy on the end.
About three people came up to me prior to sitting up here and said, I know the secret; the secret is not a secret anymore; I came here to hear you tell a story. I said, when I first invitation it said from 2:00 to 4:00. I said, that's enough time. I can probably cover it then.
Then I get an email from the talking heads in FedEx Corporate and PGA media wanting me to write out what I'm going to say. You talk about anxiety attack. I've never written down anything I was going to say in my life. So I said that Dave Bronczek was a very handsome man, that Patrick was the most eloquent communications guy, and the commissioner was the most talented commissioner in all of sports, and Rick, next to me, is the best salesman, and Kevin Kane, the best salesman in the room because he's always going to make a plug, as he should.
So I had no idea what I was going to say, but this morning I'm Dave's landlord out at the airport. I'm on the airport authority. So on the way to the airport, I see this giant billboard, and it inspired me. It said, "FedEx Delivers." And Commissioner, I've got to tell you that they deliver in this town, not only packages, but they deliver every day.
You look out and you see this beautiful lake and this magnificent structure we're standing in. If FedEx had decided to stay in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1973, there would be a prison and some soybeans growing out there. It would be a much different place, okay. It would be a much different place.
We appreciate -- but I want to tell you, we have 1,850 volunteers. Unbelievable group of people that are passionate about it, and as Patrick mentioned, we've had some serve over half a century. A guy named Charlie Speed has been with this tournament for 56 years. That's older than Rick and I are, you know.
I can tell you, though, those 1,850 are absolutely, positively ready to deliver for FedEx and this community and this great army of salespeople that are going to go out today and tell the story about how FedEx has again delivered and brought this unbelievable amenity. What a gift that FedEx and Fred and Dave and the leadership team there has done for this community, and they do it time and time again.
All of us on the YPI board and all the volunteers at this great tournament, the FedEx St. Jude Classic, that will soon evolve into the FedEx St. Jude Invitational are excited, we're fired up, we're ready. We're going to make it better than ever, and I've never been prouder to be a Memphian and be with you guys today. Thank you.
PATRICK FITZGERALD: I'll now introduce Chris Reimer from the PGA TOUR. He's going to lead Q & A with the audience, as well.
CHRIS REIMER: Thank you, Patrick, and as Patrick said, I'm Chris Reimer, senior director of communications for the PGA TOUR. I've been with the TOUR for 17 years now, and I've worked a majority of that time on the World Golf Championships events, and so I take great pride in how good the brand of the World Golf Championships is, and I'm really excited to bring that to Memphis. I worked the FedEx St. Jude Classic I think in '09, and Brian Gay won that year, and I came away just so impressed with the community, obviously with the St. Jude Hospital, but also just how the tournament had kind of Memphis through its veins and through its heartbeat, and I think that's something that we're going to need to make even bigger and welcome the world to Memphis, and that's through the broadcast, that's through the players, that's through the 400 or 500 media that are going to be attending this event. Really excited to make that connection.
So again, thanks to Mr. Bronczek, Mr. Shadyac, Mr. Sammons, Mr. Fitzgerald and Commissioner Monahan for making this day happen.
I think what we'll start to do as we continue to try to stretch this thing out while Justin is on his way here --
JAY MONAHAN: Can I tell a little story?
CHRIS REIMER: I would love for you to tell a story. That would be fantastic.
JAY MONAHAN: Just hearing everyone, hearing the conversation about FedEx Delivers and FedEx Cares and how much their hometown means to FedEx, I go back to -- I go back to it was two or two and a half years ago we came up here as a team to talk to the leadership team at FedEx about where we were going with the FedExCup, and the FedExCup, you all know it, it's our season long competition, it's the hardest championship to win in golf, and it is now, if not the No. 1 goal, it's certainly a top goal for every single player at the start of every season. We've got a great list of champions, and like everything else in life, you always want to get better. We thought we had a pretty good plan to take the FedExCup to the next level, and over the course of 90 minutes we laid out our thinking, and before we got into any feedback, the conversation went from the FedExCup to the FedEx St. Jude Classic and to Memphis, and the question was, we understand where you're going, we love where we are with the FedEx, we're a global business, we're leveraging it, it's helping our business and markets throughout the world, but what can we do to continue to improve the FedEx St. Jude Classic, what can we do to get more players here, what can we do to showcase this city and this area.
And in our business -- we've been fully sponsored. We've very fortunate. We have been for a long period of time. And at that point in time, there was nothing to do other than to recognize that this has been a conversation we've had through the years, and we've got to make certain that we continue to be aware of it and really think through how we can get there, and when this opportunity presented itself, this really was the perfect fit.
But the real point of my story is that I think when you look at the game of golf, you think about the FedExCup, and that is the ultimate in competition. Then you think about the FedEx St. Jude -- World Golf Championship-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, and you go back to the origin. This is where our charitable model started. We've raised $2.7 billion for charity since we started in 1968. Danny Thomas -- but if the relationship -- if the Memphis St. Jude-FedEx relationship didn't exist at the origin, we wouldn't be where we are as an organization.
But I think that's very telling about the heart and spirit and commitment of FedEx, and we're very proud to be associated with that, so thank you.
CHRIS REIMER: Thank you, Jay.
DAVE BRONCZEK: I want to make one comment. When you think about the great golfers that are out there the in world, and we have two of them here, when we looked at the event that took place this weekend, which was awesome, the Masters, you see like the Memphis Grizzlies, there's players that come from around the world, and so whether it's Pau Gasol or Marc Gasol or players that come in from around the world that are playing on the PGA TOUR, this is actually something that's great for us. It's actually great for us.
I was in Singapore a couple years ago, and I was representing IATA, the airline association, and the Prime Minister had called for me to meet with him, and I thought it was about the IATA. So I go to his place, and when you go to his place, there's an 18-hole golf course in front of the palace, the Prime Minister's palace.
So I got there, and I swear to God, on TV is the golf tournament is playing, the FedEx St. Jude golf tournament, and he wanted to know how was it, how did we get involved, and this is the Prime Minister of Singapore. And then we ended up talking a little bit about FedEx. We didn't ever talk about IATA. So on my way out, he wanted more planes to come through Singapore, and I probably committed to more planes, and we probably did do it, but actually on my way out, he said, do you play golf. I said, well, you know, there it is on TV, of course, it's Memphis, I play golf. He goes, oh, good, I'll have to have you back and we'll play a round of golf. What's your handicap. I said, I don't know, 16, 17. He said, mine is 19. So I was leaving and his chief of staff said, "His is 2." I'm just saying. That's a true story.
CHRIS REIMER: At this point I'd like to invite the media and thank you for your attendance and attention to this event to ask questions of our panelists, and then we'll get Justin Thomas here shortly.
Q. Commissioner, all the golfers and non-golfers want to know, does this mean Tiger Woods is coming to Memphis in 2019? If you would explain that process to golfers and non-golfers.
JAY MONAHAN: Qualification for the 2018-2019 World Golf Championship-St. Jude Invitational is the top 50 players in the world and representatives of the prior Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams, plus select winners from our partners at the international tours, some of their biggest events. So as of right now, Tiger Woods would not qualify. He's 88th in the world, and I think next time you see him, you should ask him that question.
Q. Is there a way -- this would be for Jack or for you, Commissioner, or really anyone on the panel. Is there a way to quantify or qualify the possible economic impact that this tournament would have not just on Memphis but on the region, hotel stays, visitors from all over the world, along those lines?
JACK SAMMONS: As Kevin Kane would say, it's big. It's real big.
JAY MONAHAN: I was just going to actually suggest, because Chris, we were talking before just in terms of the media presence, it's just a -- you might be able to give a better explanation of the difference between just a regular Tour event and a WGC in terms of how the world interacts.
CHRIS REIMER: Yeah, and we've touched on it a little. It's the top 50 players in the world. Golf is a global sport, as global as any sport that there is. The first event that Rory McIlroy played in the United States on the PGA TOUR was the Accenture, now the Dell Technologies Match Play. We get the look at all the different players from the Asian Tour, the European Tour, they're all going to be here, and the media will follow them.
You know, the eyes -- we all them golf's global summit. The eyes of the world are going to be on Memphis.
As far as a direct answer to the economic impact, we have done a number of studies in different markets, but it's anywhere from $40 to $60 million is what the estimated impact of a WGC is.
JAY MONAHAN: The other thing I'll note is that by virtue of being the title sponsor of this event, you're also sponsor of the series of four events. There are two other domestic events and an event in China, and so the branding around St. Jude and FedEx in Memphis is going to be occurring over the season and over the series of those four events.
So not only is it much larger by virtue of the fact that you've got more of the top players in the world, more of a global representation, and as a result more global media following it, you're also -- you've got far more reach and frequency just by virtue of being a part of the overall series. It is significant. I mean, week in and week out, we are broadcast to over a billion households in 225 countries and territories in 23 different languages, and this is at the highest level of the game, and this is where fans throughout the world are going to come to watch the best players in the world.
Q. Commissioner, have you guys determined when on the calendar this event will fall, what sort of -- what's the process there?
JAY MONAHAN: We have, but we have not announced our 2018-19 schedule yet because some of the other events around it are -- there's some events over the course of our season that we're still finalizing, but we have its place, and it'll be basically in and around the same position that the WGC, the fourth WGC, Bridgestone Invitational, has been in.
Q. Mr. Commissioner or Dave, you came up here to enhance the FedExCup, and you end up with a WGC event here. Can you go through the process, the evolution of how that all came about?
JAY MONAHAN: Well, we announced a long-term commitment to the FedExCup at THE PLAYERS Championship last May, and as I said, it was about a year -- I should have the exact date, but it was about a year, year and a half prior to that we started the conversations. So we were entirely focused on the FedExCup and getting that extension in place because that would enable us to make some of the changes that we will be announcing in our 18 and 19 schedule that we think improve our schedule, improve our product in the eyes of the fans.
But at the same time, we left that meeting knowing that we have a relationship and a partnership commitment to try and find opportunities to continue to take the FedEx St. Jude Classic to another level, and obviously we were not able to extend the relationship we had with Bridgestone in Akron, and they have been a great partner to the PGA TOUR as has Firestone Country Club, but when it was apparent that we were not going to be able to go in that direction, we had one conversation, and it was with FedEx. We came together as partners, and here we are today.
DAVE BRONCZEK: Let me just add because he's great, as you can tell, and the PGA TOUR has been great, also, and our sponsorship has been great. But there was a time, I know you all wrote about it or you were talking about it, that the city was concerned that we might actually lose our place and our status and our position in the PGA for the FedEx St. Jude. There was a time. So we were very concerned about it because we thought it would be devastating for the city.
And so we reached out and we joined a thought process, how do we make this better, and then we got on to how do we make it bigger, and then how do we make it great is how it actually evolved. But it started with a worrisome thought, at least for us.
CHRIS REIMER: I believe our guest of honor has arrived. Ladies and gentlemen, 2017 FedExCup champion Justin Thomas, come on in. Thanks again for joining us on this exciting day. I'm just going to ask a few questions and we'll open it up, but first, how great is it to know that we'll have a WGC event here in Memphis and at TPC Southwind, and how excited are you about this announcement coming from 2019?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I'm extremely excited. When I first heard the rumblings of it and the talks of it, being on the PAC, I've really enjoyed it and I've really had a lot of fun kind of being a part of the discussions, so I was definitely in favor of it. It was obviously in a great place before, but now I'm excited to come play this golf course. I personally always take the weeks off before the majors regardless of the tournament or where it is, so because of that I was never able to come here. All everybody does is rave about the course and the tournament, and I'm extremely excited to spend some more time here and be able to go look at the St. Jude hospital and spend some time there. It's going to be a lot of fun.
CHRIS REIMER: Fan of the barbecue?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yes, I am a fan of the barbecue. I went to Alabama. I feel like I have to be.
CHRIS REIMER: We've talked a little bit about the prestige and the strength of the field and why you as players maybe gear up a little more for the World Golf Championships and to face against the competition that's in those fields.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Well, as an athlete, as a competitor you want to play against the best. Same as a businessperson, you want to compete against the best. It's just more satisfying -- it's always satisfying and fun to win, regardless of who you're playing against, but there's something about like at the PGA last year, like beating one of the best fields in golf, knowing that you're playing against the top players in the world and you're able to beat them is really cool, and play against them. I was close in Mexico this year and got edged out by old man Phil, but you know, again, Phil is a person that raves about this place. So hopefully I'll get him, get my revenge back at him next year.
CHRIS REIMER: You mentioned St. Jude. What's the reputation that the hospital has out on TOUR?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It's unbelievable. Every person that's been there says it's so moving. It's extremely powerful. Like I said, I'm excited to get to go do that. The PGA TOUR is so unbelievable with giving back, and I think that's something that a lot of outsiders or people that aren't as involved or stay up to date with the TOUR know how much we do give back. So to have the opportunity to be in the city, same city, and close to St. Jude Hospital, it's definitely something that I'll mark down and kind of have a part of my schedule in terms of that week.
CHRIS REIMER: I'd be remiss not to ask, you're the reigning FedExCup champ, nobody has ever repeated as FedExCup champ. You're No. 1 in the standings. Talk about that goal as a part of your season.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's a big goal, but there's a lot of other tournaments and a lot of things that are in the way until that, so I need to -- I mean, the big kind of important thing the entire year is obviously you want to play well in all the regular season events, but you really want to kind of build up your stamina and kind of like try to peak for the majors, you really want to peak for the Playoffs because those are obviously the most important. You can have a great year and win a lot of tournaments, but if you don't play well in the Playoffs, it doesn't do you a whole lot of good. So that's the goal is just to try to keep trending in the right direction and see if we can have a chance come Sunday again.
Q. Justin, talk about the reputation of this golf course in and of itself on the PGA TOUR. We typically lead the TOUR in water balls around here. It's not the easiest track.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's -- I mean, I don't obviously know the course that well in terms of specifics from not playing, but it does seem challenging. It doesn't seem overly long, but it's kind of -- from watching it on TV, it kind of reminds me of like a Colonial or a Sony to where the conditions are very dependent on how difficult it plays, whereas if the conditions are difficult, then it's a tough course because you have to hit the fairways. You get in the Bermuda rough in the summer, it gets long, it gets healthy, and especially with all of the humidity and just everything, it's growing pretty quickly. It's definitely a course that does have a great rep, and I've had fun watching it over the past couple years and watching my buddy Berger get it done the last few years. I know he likes the course, that's for sure.
But yeah, there's a reason why a lot of great players come back and play all the time.
CHRIS REIMER: This is one I know you get a lot, but I think it's good to share with the group here. There's such an amazing core group of young stars both from the U.S. and internationally on the PGA TOUR right now. How exciting is it week in and week out not only to challenge those guys on the course but to hang with them and get to know them off the course, as well?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's really well. For a while there we had a pretty good run where we were winning a lot of tournaments. The past -- I guess until last week, the past couple tournaments there were some -- not older, but older in their 30s or 40s were winning tournaments, so maybe they were getting sick and tired of seeing us do well.
But it is fun, and golf, I think, is an unbelievable place right now. We're very, very close knit group of guys. We all for the most part get along. We enjoy each other's company. I think you never used to see people hanging around the greens after the tournament to congratulate people. Probably didn't see a whole lot of that, Phil waiting on an 18th green for Tiger to get done and giving him a hug.
CHRIS REIMER: They played a practice round together.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, so -- but I don't know. I don't know what it is, but I mean, I have a lot of guys out there that are some of my best friends in the world, so there's no reason -- yeah, I want to beat them every week. I hope they never beat me. But still, at the end of the day, you're not going to win every golf tournament, so if one of your buddies can get it done, then that's good for them.
CHRIS REIMER: You're a guy who's won in Malaysia, you've won in Korea, just the international scope of the game and the reach of the game, we all hear about it, but is there a moment when you're walking the streets of Kuala Lumpur and you're hoisting a trophy at the CJ Cup where you kind of realize how global the game is?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's crazy. I went over and played in the Dunlop Phoenix event in Japan, as well, and just how many people in Japan and in Malaysia and Korea, how many golf fans there were. I mean, I played the first two rounds with Sang-Moon Bae and it was his first tournament back after serving, what, two years in the military, and it was like -- and the amount of people, they definitely weren't out there watching Pat Perez and myself, that's for sure. They were all out there watching one person. It's just cool the amount of -- like I said earlier, about how the game is in a good place. You know, I just hope and try to continue to be the best ambassador that I can for the game. I mean, there's been plenty of things that I've done in my short career thus far that maybe I'm not proud of or happy of, but I continued -- like everybody, you continue to learn from things you do wrong in golf and life and everything like that, and because of that, you know, we're -- us young guys, older guys, whatever the age may be, we're able to hopefully make watching golf fun and have a lot of people interested in it.
RICK BRONCZEK: I'm going to go ahead and say something. He probably doesn't remember, but we were in Atlanta together, and I gave him the trophy, the FedExCup Trophy there on the green, and everybody came up and talked to him, all the other golfers, all the young golfers. I'll tell you, I think golf is in a great spot. Tiger and Phil, of course, but these young guns, they're all polite, they're all friendly, they all give back to their communities. You can see them -- Jay and I were talking about it, as well, and Justin is absolutely one of them. The reason that the ratings are so high for golf is because of people like Justin.
Can you all give him a big round of applause?
Q. Obviously this press conference doesn't have the global media, this is a Memphis press conference and we've talked about some Memphis institutions like FedEx and St. Jude. What else do you think about when you think about Memphis? Is this your first trip to Memphis? What have you heard about our city, and what do you think of when you think of Memphis?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I definitely think of barbecue. I'm actually pretty jealous, Rickie and Alison and Tommy, who I came here with, are currently getting barbecue for lunch now, so I made sure that they are going to get some food for me. So, you know, I haven't spent much time here. I've been in other areas of Tennessee, but going to school at Alabama and Tuscaloosa, it's not very far away. I'm not sure of the exact distance, but we're in the same area, definitely the South, and nice people, which is always fun and enjoyable to be around. You know, it's part of the country and a climate that I'm comfortable with. You know, I'm excited to start to spend some more time here, that's for sure.
CHRIS REIMER: We'll conclude our Q & A. I want to thank all of the panelists for being here. I also want to acknowledge Darrell Smith and the work that he's done. Thank you. The foundation of this event, Darrell, is in an amazing place, and I think it's only going to prove to make this tournament extremely strong, so thank you for all you've done.
Just a few items here, there is a media kit available online. It's WGCFedExmediakit.com, tournament history, quotes, all the information that you guys will need, and we'll send that out as well as the press release and information.
At the end of the press conference here, we do have some appetizers and cocktails in the back. We'd like everybody to stick around and enjoy the celebration of today's announcement, and our panelists will be available for interviews here in front of the stage, so maybe if you have a few more questions that you were too shy to ask, we'll make everybody available, as well.
Jack, would you please come up and give us a toast?
JAY MONAHAN: Before Jack goes, just my last comment is as we approach the '18 event and still thinking forward to 2019, you heard Rick, you heard Jack, you heard Dave, you heard Patrick, you heard all of us talk, and Justin, about the importance of the charitable model and supporting charity, and in this case supporting St. Jude, and the way that happens is by community involvement, community engagement, corporate support. So when the world is watching, as they will be watching the world's best players play the World Golf Championships St. Jude Invitational, we want to make sure Memphis is represented in its entirety. So please support all the efforts, get behind this event, and let's show the world what a great city this is through the World Golf Championships lens. So thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports