THE PRESIDENTS CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 10, 2020
MICHEL LaCROIX: Good afternoon, my name is Michel LaCroix, it is my pleasure to serve as the emcee for today's special announcement.
Ladies and gentlemen it's my pleasure to introduce the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Mr. Jay Monahan.
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Thank you, Michel, and thank you to everyone for joining us for today's announcement.
The Presidents Cup was created in 1994 to promote international goodwill in the global nature of golf through spirited team matches, a combination of competition, charity and sportsmanship. Now in its fourth decade, the Presidents Cup has not only fulfilled a vision; it also has matured into one of the most highly anticipated global events on golf's calendar.
Today it is my great pleasure and honor to announce that the 15th playing of the Presidents Cup will return to the Royal Montreal Golf Club in 2024. Our thanks go out to the leadership and membership at Royal Montreal. It served as a memorable venue in 2007 for the Presidents Cup, and has been a fitting test for the PGA TOUR through the years.
The Canadian government and the fans in Canada, and specifically in Montréal, have long supported the PGA TOUR in our sport. Canadian fans have a reputation on our TOUR as some of the most passionate and knowledgeable in the game. Looking back at the support that both teams received in Montréal in 2007, and how the Presidents Cup has grown since, there is no doubt in my mind that the 2024 playing will add significantly to the event's growing legacy.
Three players from Canada have played in The Presidents Cup with Adam Hadwin representing Canada the last two playings; Graham DeLaet posting a winning record at the 2013 event; and of course, five-time Presidents Cup participant, Mike Weir, who defeated Tiger Woods in an unforgettable singles match at Royal Montreal in 2007.
As you know, we have been operating the Mackenzie Tour PGA TOUR Canada since 2013, and it has produced significant players, both from within and outside Canada. The Mackenzie Tour has been a tremendous proving ground for players as they use their time in Canada as a path to the Korn Ferry Tour, and eventually, the PGA TOUR.
In addition to our announcing of the Presidents Cup, while I have this audience, we additionally are proud to announce plans to offer First Tee Program across all of Canada where we can positively impact youth through programs that help empower kids through a lifetime of new challenges and personal growth.
Through the Presidents Cup, The First Tee has successfully launched programs in Australia in 2019, Korea 2015, and we're pleased that the announcement of the 2024 Presidents Cup in Canada gives us another opportunity to collaborate and continue the global expansion of The First Tee.
Thanks to the collaboration between Golf Canada, Golf Canada foundation, and first tee, its global expansion is a possibility. I would like to recognize my good friend, Laurence Applebaum, CEO of Golf Canada; Martin Barnard, CEO of Golf Canada Foundation; and Dan Matthews, who is a member of The First Tee Board of Governors and our International Trustee from Canada.
Without the work of these three gentlemen, this partnership wouldn't be possible. Together we will bring First Tee Programs throughout Canada, adding youth development emphasis of First Tee to Golf Canada's already impressive platform of junior golf programs.
The program will begin in 2021 and be offered in British Columbia and Ontario, with plans to expand throughout the country in the next several years.
Finally, I am pleased to introduce my colleague, Ryan Hart, as our Executive Director of the Presidents Cup 2024. Ryan has been a valuable member much the PGA TOUR team for many years, most recently serving as the tournament director of THE PLAYERS Championship.
Given his proven leadership with THE PLAYERS, and the fact that Ryan is a native of Canada, we feel strongly Ryan will make an excellent Executive Director of the Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal in 2024.
RYAN HART: I am humbled and honored to accept this role and help lead our flagship national event in our home country. Canada is passionate about golf. I have seen that firsthand and we look forward to channelling that passion from coast to coast in 2024.
As Commissioner Monahan said earlier, the Presidents Cup celebrates the values that are inherent in our sport. I take the responsibility of these values to heart, and look forward to showcasing them in Montréal.
I'd like to thank all levels of government and Tourism Montréal for coming together to bring this amazing global spectacle to our country.
I'd also like to thank the media who joined us today, and we truly look forward to spending some time together and working together in the coming years and sharing the stories from inside and outside the ropes.
And lastly, I'd like to thank the bid committee and the members of Royal Montreal. I know there are a number of you there today watching. We wish we could be there with you, but we look forward to getting together very soon and get to work. Thank you very much.
MICHAEL RICHARDS: Good afternoon, everyone. The Club de Golf Royal Montreal has hosted many tournaments, including ten Canadian Opens, but nothing can compare with the magic of the Presidents Cup, and we are thrilled that we will again be welcoming the world's best golfers to our club in 2024. For me, it is a dream come true.
The 2007 Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal was a spectacular event. Who can forget Aquaman Woody Austin trying to make a shot from the water on the 14th hole; or Mike Weir, going head-to-head with Tiger Woods and winning the final two holes to beat him on Sunday.
We had originally hoped that The Presidents Cup would coincide with the 15th anniversary of our club in 2023. While COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in our plans, we are still delighted to be bringing good news to the city, but one year later than planned.
At the outset, I would like to thank the PGA TOUR for the confidence they have placed in our club and our city. Trust me, we won't let you down. Our objective is to make the 2024 Presidents Cup the best one ever.
Our journey to host the event started in 2017 at the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey in Jersey City. When Brian Lemessurier, our then president and I, made our first pitch to the PGA TOUR, at that time, we were told that we were a little late in coming to the party, and that we were a real longshot, as other countries were well ahead of us.
Nevertheless, we persevered. Our bid committee, comprised of business, golf and community leaders, and particularly our honorary co-chairs, the right honorable Jean Chrétien, Jean Charest and Mike Weir. They played an important part in promoting our case, and we are grateful for the leadership roles they played.
Golf Canada, Golf Quebec and RBC have stepped up to the plate for us, and I would particularly like to thank Jack Nicklaus and his Canadian Children's Health Foundation for their support.
But the heavy lifting was really done by our Royal Montreal Golf Club leadership team. I've already mentioned Brian Lemessurier, our past president. The other members of our team are our current president, who is online with us today, Neil Macrae and Luc Betreaux, as well as our general manager, Scott Dickson. I would be remiss if I did not thank Jonathan Goldbloom, who has been our strategic advisor since day one.
Thank you, gentlemen, for your friendship and your support. But our work is just beginning. We have much to do, and on our promise to deliver the best Presidents Cup in the history of the tournament. Thank you all very much.
Q. I wonder how important is it that The Presidents Cup has become very competitive in its last two editions to growing the footprint of this competition?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Well, I think it's really important, and as important as the competitiveness has been, the incredible leadership that The Presidents Cup has received from the International side going back to Nick Price and most recently with Ernie Els and the vice captains he has and the complete commitment that the International side had over the two years that preceded the 2019 Presidents Cup.
I think there's tremendous momentum on the International side. There's tremendous belief just as there is on the U.S. side, and that feeling was palpable at -- in Australia, and I know it's going to be palpable at Quail Hollow and certainly at Royal Montreal in 2024.
But you just look at the leaderboard over the last nine weeks, this past weekend, and the quality of play that we're seeing from players that played on the International Team in 2019 and players that could be playing in 2022 is exceptional and getting stronger and stronger by every single metric.
So I think for Captain Immelman, as he looks to 2021 and as we look to 2024, I expect two great competitions and I expect this to be a hotly contested Presidents Cup for a long time to come.
Q. Ryan, what is one of your favorites memories from previous Presidents Cups, particularly when it's played internationally?
RYAN HART: Thanks for the question. It's funny, when you think about its tie to Canada, my first memory, really, the first Presidents Cup I attended, actually was at Muirfield, and obviously that was Graham DeLaet's showcase, really. And to be able to be standing there as a proud Canadian and watching him hole two bunker shots, very important bunker shots in a row, and watch him erupt, but watching the amount of Canadian fans around there, it really gave me a sense of how big this was. It wasn't a matter of, you know, one country cheering for one guy. It was the entire amphitheater around Muirfield on the 18th erupting.
And that, to me, really, it set the stage for my love of this event, and I remember it like it was yesterday and something that I look forward to seeing us replicate in Canada.
Q. Jay, what's it mean for the Presidents Cup to have it hosted at a golf club like Royal Montreal which is the oldest in North America? Having that kind of history behind the Presidents Cup, it must be prettying exciting for you.
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Yeah, it really is. To think that you're talking about 150 -- when we play, it will be the 151st year is truly remarkable, a golf course that has withstood and stood up to the test of time; it's a true gem.
I think that played itself out in 2007 at the Presidents Cup when we had the opportunity to return in 2024, as you heard earlier from Mr. Richards, I mean, the amount of effort, the commitment, the passion, not only for the Presidents Cup but for their club and showcasing their club to the world and showcasing their club to the best players in the world, was evident throughout the entire process, and that was something that we were reminded of early and ultimately led us to this decision.
But to be able to combine that rich history of a golf course with a venue that we've played at before and had remarkable success, as I said earlier, players on both sides felt so welcomed. I remember those crowds. I remember watching the event just seeing the size and scale of it, and we're really excited to get back in 2024 and to take another big step forward for golf in Canada and with The Presidents Cup.
Q. Was it confirmed that Royal Montreal was getting the Presidents Cup in 2023?
MICHAEL RICHARDS: We were never confirmed we were getting it until just recently, and in the meantime, because of COVID and because of The Ryder Cup being postponed for a year, then our discussions switched to the year 2024.
Naturally, we were a little bit disappointed. We would have liked to have had it during our 15th anniversary, but we are just so pleased to have it at all; and the fact that we have one more year to prepare is going to make it even easier for us to make it the best.
Q. Course-wise, what has to be done on the course for future improvements for this 2024 Presidents Cup?
RYAN HART: I think that that's one of the benefit we have in the runway that we have now to 2024 is to get out there and work with our competitions committee and work with the club itself to see what needs to be evolved. It was a great competition in 2007.
And I think that it's a blessing to have a property the size that we do at Royal Montreal, and definitely there will be many conversations between now and then as we evolve and grow between now and 2024.
MICHAEL RICHARDS: Can I add to that? As you know, our Blue Course, which is our championship course, had the benefit of an updating with Rees Jones in 2004 and 2005.
So in terms of the layout, we don't expect that it will be necessary to make any changes, but naturally, we will have some discussions with the PGA TOUR and we will take their advice.
What we do have to do is make sure we are in tiptop condition, and we are confident we can do that.
Q. If I can ask the question to Mr. Monahan about the main reasons for this come back in Montréal, what will you say is the main reason? Is it the success in 2007 or it's mainly the time zone kind of fits right in for the TV.
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Well, there's so many factors, but I think you start with the passionate golf fan base, the passionate participation base that resides throughout Canada. Couple that with a strong working partnership that we have with Golf Canada, the success that we've had with the RBC Canadian Open, the success that we have had with Mackenzie Tour PGA TOUR Canada AND matriculating great Canadian athletes to the Korn Ferry and PGA TOUR to the incredible lineup of athletes that we have today from Canada; I was looking at three of them sitting next to each other or standing next to each other hitting balls last week at the PGA Championship.
You take that, and you look at 15 playings into the Presidents Cup and to be able to take all that and return to a treasure like Royal Montreal, I think the timing really is perfect. That's a long time between plays. We felt like 2024 was a perfect time to return, and I think with the continued evolution of the Presidents Cup, we're just going to see a really exciting Presidents Cup that the world is going to be excited to see.
There's so many factors that are in favor of returning the Presidents Cup to Royal Montreal and Canada; those are just some. I'm sure I'm missing some. But to just be able to lay those out is pretty exceptional, and they are chief amongst the reasons why we are going to be at Royal Montreal in 2024.
Q. Wondering which course or which country were involved in the finals, and then Royal Montreal getting the pick, the final pick?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Well, I would just answer that question with we were fortunate based on the way the Presidents Cup has grown and evolved to have a lot of interest from international markets to host the Presidents Cup. And the fact of the matter is, amongst all those great conversations, and we're very thankful for all those parties, that at the end of the day it was Royal Montreal that received the bid, and we are excited to par with them in 2024. Par.
MICHEL LaCROIX: Thank you Commissioner Monahan, Mr. Richards for being with us today.
For the second portion of Q&A, we welcome Adam Hadwin, Graham DeLaet and Mike Weir.
I'll start with Adam and Graham, asking you your feeling about playing in The Presidents Cup, and what does it mean to you to see the Presidents Cup coming back in Montréal? Adam first.
ADAM HADWIN: Yeah, it's hard to describe, really, representing not only your country ball of the international countries, it's been amazing.
I've been fortunate to be on two teams, and like I say, it's indescribable, the camaraderie. We don't get to play team golf very often, so to spend that much time around the best players in the world in the locker room, feeding off each other, sharing the week with each other.
Now to have that experience going back to Canada, obviously I remember 2007. I remember Mike and Tiger battling it out. So to have that opportunity to potentially represent the international squad on home soil is something that I think we would all look forward to doing, and it's very exciting for the country.
GRAHAM DeLAET: Yeah, it's great, obviously for the growth of golf in Canada as well as around the world. It's amazing.
My first real memory that sticks is when Mike played Tiger in that singles match in 2007 at Royal Montreal and that's kind of what got the juices flowing for me to hopefully be on that team one day, and was luckily enough to do that once.
I look at the potential for Canadians to be on that roster, and obviously Adam's been playing some great golf, Nick and Mackenzie, Taylor Pendrith is coming off the Korn Ferry Tour next year, I think you've got to watch out for him. Obviously Corey Conners everything, as well.
I think it's really exciting for golf in Canada but also for all the Canadian golfers who have legitimate chance. We could have potentially four or five guys on that team.
I think that's pretty special, and the timing couldn't be better.
MICHEL LaCROIX: Mike, as a player, you were on the International Team five times. You also served as an assistant captain. Let's go back to 2007. Can you reflect on that week spent in Montréal?
MIKE WEIR: Yes, of course. I mean, so many great memories. Things that stand out to me is how great the golf course was, how great it held up for the best players, and the fan support. The fan support really was huge. A number of players from the U.S. side came up to me and said, "I can't believe how great the fans are to us, very respectful." Obviously they were cheering for the International side, but very respectful and well-knowledged golf fans. That's something that really stands out to me, and as the other guys said, with four years away, there's a lot of great Canadian golf happening right now, and hopefully there will be a few guys on the team going forward.
But yeah, it's a special memory, 2007, for me as a player, and you know, the guys that will make that team in 2024, it will be special for them.
Q. Mike, what did it mean for you to be playing in The Presidents Cup in Montréal back in 2007?
MIKE WEIR: Well, I think like Adam said, when you know it was around the corner, it was on my mind for those couple of years knowing that the Presidents Cup was going to be up in Canada, and having played on it a few other times, I really wanted to play. I wanted to be on the team and I wanted to play well. That's what I remember leading into 2007.
I guess getting there, it kind of exceeded my expectations with the great job Royal Montreal did and the Province of Quebec. They just did such a fantastic job, and the turnout, the crowds, were huge and very into it. That's what I remember. They were really trying to get the International side going. We got off to a slow start and they really tried to get behind us.
That's what I really remember about 2007, and I expect 2024 will be the same.
Q. Obviously you guys both have experience playing in The Presidents Cup, but not playing the Presidents Cup in Canada, what do you think it would be like for either of you if you're on the Presidents Cup team in 2024 playing in front of your home country's fans?
GRAHAM DeLAET: Well, I think I can probably speak for all the Canadians when we say the one tournament we look forward to every year is the Canadian Open, and it's because of that fan support. I only played it once and it was in the United States. Adam got to play in Australia; so to have a little bit of that home-team feel.
But to do it in Canada I think would be extra, extra special. Obviously there would be maybe a little bit more pressure on you, but I think that that's what -- as a professional golfer, that's what you want. You want to be in that spotlight and holding your country's flag on your back and doing what you can for those other 11 guys on the team.
I think that's what's so amazing about this tournament is just the fact that you get to really play for someone else. It's about team. It's not but for the first time in your career, basically, and it's just so much fun.
I know, I think that the golf course is perfectly suited for it with some risk/reward holes, depending on how its setup. There's a lot of precision out there and I think it sets up well for the International Team, and I look forward to watching it, or being a part of it, ideally.
Q. Adam, did you want to add on to that?
ADAM HADWIN: I mean, Graham said it pretty well, but I feel like it would be the most nervous, anxious, excited, basically every emotion that you could think of that week. Playing, you know, like Graham said, when we get to play the Canadian Open in front of Canadian fans, I know there's a little bit of added pressure, a little bit more anxiousness, wanting to play well in front of them.
Obviously we have some of the best fans across the world. Graham and I, Mike, we have all travelled across the world and played professional golf, and the Canadian fans show up everywhere in some of the least-expected places.
So to have this big of an event in Canada, and then to be representing the International Team, but like Graham said, having the Canadian flag, as well, on your back would be such a tremendous honor and I know that with this announcement, I know I'm not going to be the only one working their butt off for the next 3 1/2 years to get on that team.
Q. Mike, I know it's not confirmed yet, nor has maybe the question even been asked, but how much of an honor would it be if you had an opportunity to be the captain for the International side in a couple years' time?
MIKE WEIR: Well, yeah, if that does come my way, that would be an unbelievable honor. I've been pretty vocal in saying the Presidents Cup has been a huge part of my career, not only getting to know some of the best players on the International side from around the world, the likes of Ernie and Greg Norman and Elkington and Vijay, all the guys I've had a chance to play with over the years, and it really enhanced my game playing with those guys and playing in that competition.
As Adam and Graham alluded to, we all played team sports, most of us in Canada, and it's the only chance we get to play on a team. Early on in my career, I was really eager to get on a Presidents Cup team, and so to play a few of them and to be part of it for a number of years now, you know, to be the captain, that would be a huge honor. I would really relish that if that comes my way.
Q. Hopefully your health will allow you to play in The Presidents Cup in a couple years' time, but if it doesn't, if you get asked to be a part of the team from a leadership standpoint, would you say yes and how much of an honor would be for you?
GRAHAM DeLAET: Well, I would say yes in a heartbeat. That would be a massive honor. I don't know if I really have the credentials for it, but yeah, that would be pretty high on my list, and that would be a super, super honor.
Q. Is there any timeline as far as naming captains for 2024?
RYAN HART: Again, I think with the runway we have, we have Charlotte in front of us in 2022, and I think once we get through Charlotte, I believe the conversations will begin from there.
You know, when you think of Canada, and you think of the people that are joining us on this screen, it would be hard for us to believe that they wouldn't be in the conversation. So we look forward to that when it happens.
Q. Maybe you could compare now, you being a captain -- you've been an assistant captain now twice, maybe you could talk about coming in as an assistant captain for a first time and being captain in 2024?
MIKE WEIR: Yeah, I guess me being part of it a couple times on the captain's side and seeing what Nick Price went through and the job Ernie did, as well, you learn things along the way and you hope that you can add to that, as you go forward.
Whether I'm an assistant next time in Charlotte hopefully, or if a captaincy came my way in Montréal, if that happened, I think being part of it, definitely helps. You know, the U.S. guys have done that, and kind of kept that group going pretty well on their side.
So yeah, there's some benefit to that I think, and learning how the pairings and seeing how different guys gel and all the number of different moving things that we put into putting the pairings together. So hopefully be an asset.
Q. Graham touched on some of the risk/reward elements of Royal Montreal. Could you break down the course from a match play perspective, maybe the back nine specifically, your memories of 2007 and why it was such an exciting course for match play.
MIKE WEIR: The course has a lot of doglegs and you have to pick your angles well depending how far you hit the ball. You know, so you can bite off a little bit more if you want to play a bit more aggressively.
I think the pin placements on some of those holes on the back nine can be very difficult to chase some different pins. So that always leads to, you know, some interesting things in match play, if guys take a little bit of chances as Graham was alluding to.
So I don't think there's any real big forced carries or anything like that. It's subtle angles and subtleness of Royal Montreal that makes it great. It's more a traditional golf course than maybe more of a modern golf course. I tend to prefer those types of golf courses. I think it really makes you think a little bit more. You know, it led to some great matches, not only my match against Tiger, but some other team matches during the course of the week came down to the wire, could have gone either way, I remember, and that makes it fun for the fans and makes it fun for the players.
Q. You guys have all talked about how there's a possibility that there could be two, three, maybe four Canadians on a future Presidents Cup team. If you were on a Presidents Cup team with another Canadian, how much would you lobby the captain to play with your fellow countrymen, especially if it was at Royal Montreal? Would you even go out there if you weren't allowed to play with your fellow countryman?
GRAHAM DeLAET: It would be so much fun, the excitement and everything around the group. But to be on that team, you play with anyone and you just put your nose down and you do whatever you can do to try to get a point or a half-point or whatever it is you can do. That would be pretty great.
ADAM HADWIN: Yeah, basically the same thing Graham said. It would obviously be incredible. You would love to find a pairing, what was it, like Branden Grace and --
MIKE WEIR: Louis maybe?
ADAM HADWIN: Louis, yeah. Grace and Louis they went 4-0 in their matches. It would be incredible to have another Canadian on there, partner up and just kind of sweep through matches. I mean, what better way to get the crowd fired up and get them behind you than to do that.
But at the same time, knowing what I know, having been a part of the 2019 team and the direction that the International Team is going and relying on stats and matching guys up, pairing guys up based on who would play well together, in that situation, you have to do what's best for the team.
Who knows, maybe the stats don't say it, but putting two Canadians together and playing well and firing up the crowd might be what's best for the team. If that were the case, that would be amazing. That would be awesome. I would love to be a part of that team. It would be a major point in Canadian golf history and I think that's what we all work to be a part of. But whatever is best for the team, whatever we need to do to get the win in Montréal.
Q. You spoke a little about maybe being captain, but for fans in Montréal, it will be like a dream if you were named captain against Tiger Woods with what you've done in Royal Montreal in the past. What will it mean for you to be captain for the International Team against maybe Tiger in four years?
MIKE WEIR: Like I said, it's along ways away. It would be a dream. It would be great if I do get the nod there. Obviously Tiger, would have to see what his plans are, as well. But obviously Tiger's shown great interest in being a captain. Did a great job in Australia and is a great leader.
You know, who knows what the future will lead to, but yeah, it would be a thrill, a huge thrill. It would be a big feather in my cap to be a captain there, especially Royal Montreal.
MICHEL LaCROIX: Thank you. Thank you, Adam. Thank you Graham. Merci, Ryan. Merci, Mike. This is the end of the presentation, and we look forward to welcoming you at Royal Montreal for the Presidents Cup in 2024.
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