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PGA TOUR MEDIA CONFERENCE
June 28, 2006
DAN HICKS: Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, members of the media and also members of a teleconference that are listening outside of this room. Welcome to the very big announcement today, most important announcement perhaps in the history of the PGA TOUR. In fact, it could be the most impactful since that World Golf press conference some ten years ago by you-know-who. So thank you for coming to this major event, which is sure to have a pronounced impact on not only the world of golf, but the PGA TOUR, and the world of sports in general.
My colleagues and I at NBC Sports, also at CBS and the Golf Channel, are extremely excited about what you're going to hear unveiled today for the first time. So let's get right to the program, it's my pleasure to introduce our distinguished guests today in the audience.
So first, I'll begin with from BMW, Mr. Tom Salkowsky, a member of the BMW executive heading up sports marketing. Next from Deutsche Bank, Mr. Mark Pfeffer, president, Deutsche Bank Securities. And a familiar face on the PGA TOUR, eight-time PGA TOUR Champion, Mr. Stuart Appleby. The Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Tim Finchem. Next is Mike Glenn, executive vice president, market development of corporate communications for FedEx. And next, from CBS Sports, and a distinguished member of their golf team, Mr. Peter Oosterhuis. Bob Diamond, president, Barclays, PLC. And finally, John Hackett, senior vice president of marketing for the Coca-Cola Company. Welcome to all of you.
Earlier this year as you know, the PGA TOUR announced a new six-year deal which will come into effect next year, 2007 through 2012 with NBC Sports and CBS Sports, as well as a 15-year deal with the Golf Channel. So at this time I'd like to recognize the leadership from each of these networks that is with us here today. First, from the Golf Channel, with us, the president, Dave Manoughian. From CBS, Sean McManus, president, CBS News and Sports. Also from CBS, Tony Pettiti, vice president and executive producer, CBS Sports. From NBC, Dick Ebersol, chairman, sports and Olympics, NBC Sports. And also Ken Schanzer, president of NBC Sports. Welcome to all of you.
Last fall the PGA TOUR announced this new season-long FedEx Cup. This bold plan, met with some curiosity, how is this going to work, what's it going to be like at the end of the season when it culminates? There were a lot of people scratching their heads wondering how it was going to be put together. So needless to say, it took a lot of work, a lot of detail, a lot of planning, and a lot of research to get where the PGA TOUR is today ready for this announcement. Today that entire plan will be presented to all of you, and I think by all accounts you're going to like what you see and hear. So to get us through the whole system, get your calculators, get your calendars out, folks. But to take us through the system here, the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Tim Finchem.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, Dan. Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to an announcement that we hope embarks us on what we hope will be a new era in golf.
This morning in Washington, D.C., we had an annual breakfast, our fifth annual breakfast with 16 or 17 members of Congress to talk about the progress of the First Tee Program. The First Tee Program was announced in 1997 and today reaches over 600,000 youth in facilities around the country; over the next four years, two more million kids, and in the First Tee in Schools program, we project 3 million kids will be reached running core values through the game of golf.
As I was coming up here today focusing on this announcement, it occurred to me that here we are again announcing a new initiative in New York, and one that I think with great enthusiasm we will be able to look back on a few years from now and recognize the same kind of progress in what the FedEx Cup is trying to do with what we've seen in First Tee. The difference is, of course, that today we're not starting from scratch the way we were with First Tee. We started with a tremendously successful platform that communicates the game of golf.
Two or three years ago, we put our heads together and were thinking about the long-term future of the professional side of the game here in the United States and around the world, and we determined that in this last few years, we wanted to focus on accomplishing two things. First of all, to put together a television structure that could really, really captivate the fan and bring golf to the fan in a more compelling way. We think the partnership that we now have with NBC and CBS on the network side and Golf Channel on the cable side does exactly that. Starting in 2007, all of our weekend coverage will be on HD television and communicated around the world, and for the first time ever, we will have all of our early-round play broadcast, so our fans know exactly where we are on Thursdays and Fridays leading into our weekend programming. We are absolutely delighted with what we think is a great premise of that television structure.
The other thing was we decided we needed to change our season. We needed to create a season where every week meant something very, very special, where players focused not just on winning tournaments in an individual week, not just on the big tournaments that occur during the course of the year, but their entire performance over the course of the year meaning something much greater than it currently does.
We also focused on the need to have a stronger ending to our season, unlike every other sport, we don't have playoffs and virtually in every other sport, the early part of the season or what's generally referred to as the regular season pales in comparison to the value and the attention that the playoff part of the season gets. We wanted to access that kind of enthusiasm and excitement, if we could, in our season.
So we went to work and we created what is now known as the FedEx Cup. And over the next little while, we're going to tell you a little bit about how the FedEx Cup is going to work. If I could just give you a broadbrush, and then get into a little bit of the details. There is a regular season, like we see in other sports, where players play week-in and week-out to position themselves to be seeded for an incredibly unique four-week playoff in which four significant events will determine the winner of the Cup. On this chart you can see we start in January in Hawaii and the regular season will go right through the third week in August, culminating with our tournament in Greensboro. Players will accumulate points each week to position themselves for seeding into the playoffs.
Now each week, how many points will be awarded, and Dan mentioned, get our your calculators. Actually we have done this in a way that we think is pretty easy to understand. The vast majority of weeks, PGA TOUR events will award 25,000 points to the competitors. You have to make a cut that week to earn points. In those weeks, 4,500 points will accrue to the winner right on down to 50 points to the bottom of the cut list. I would point out that you can see from the start that we put a real premium on winning and high finish which is consistent with the historical culture of our sport.
Next we have the distribution to The PLAYERS Championship and the major championships, The Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship. We award those tournaments because of their stature 2,500 additional points that are distributed to players. You can see that the individual distribution of players is somewhat elevated that week. Although, not so much that every week is very, very important in relationship to the next week.
With the World Golf Championships, we have awarded some more points than a normal week, but not too much. 1,000, 1,250, distributed again on a curve that results in this kind of distribution. Again, if there's a cut, only players who make the cut are awarded points.
And finally, some weeks, three or four weeks during the course of the year, we'll have what we call an additional event. And in addition to the World Golf Championships we play another event someplace else, and in those weeks, since all of those players are very much in contention or a good majority of those players are very much in contention to make it to the playoffs and compete for the Cup, we award points as well, starting with 12,500 total, which equates to 2,250, about half the points we would to a normal tournament week.
And when you look at it in composite, you can see that across the platform, the first place finisher ranges between virtually all weeks except for those two or three additional events, between 4,500 and 4,950 points. So that creates a situation where there's a lot of volatility and I could give you an example of that.
Because if you look, if we had employed this points system this year, this would be the standings last week after the U.S. Open. Now we might have updated this to include the Booz Allen Classic, but the Booz Allen Classic was a tournament that would never come to an end, and finally did yesterday (laughter) and we were already at press. But if you look at this chart, it again shows you the impact and the import of winning tournaments for the top six players that won twice, including Stuart Appleby, who is in fifth place. It awards points based on performance.
Now, again, as I mentioned earlier, 4,500 to 4,950 points awarded to a winner, you can see that we're halfway through the season, there is an enormously long way to go and a lot of players could move into this list, a lot of players can move up and down this list. That is the basic points system.
And I'd like to now, as I've explained that to you, before I talk about PGA TOUR playoffs to win the FedEx Cup, I'd like to pause for a minute and introduce to you our sponsor for this Cup series. When we concluded the elements of what we wanted to do in basic form, we thought that we needed a sponsor company and a partner that had two major qualifications. First of all, we needed a company with a brand that could integrate easily across the entire PGA TOUR platform, because each week we did not want to take away from the importance of our title sponsors.
The second thing we wanted was a company that had a good, solid history of expertise and accomplishment in sports marketing, and in both of those key criteria, we struck gold with a company right in our backyard, historically, the sponsor of the FedEx St. Jude's Classic in Memphis. They have not only been a good partner in marketing the sport, but they have been a good partner in charity and that aspect of what we do each week during the course of the year.
As I invite Mike Glenn to come up here, I want to congratulate he and his team and for the energy that he and his folks have put in bringing us to this point. We spent months and months talking about this relationship and the potential of what could happen, and I'd like to introduce to you now the CEO of something services for FedEx, Mike Glenn. Mike?
MIKE GLENN: Thank you, Commissioner. It's a pleasure for us to be here today, especially given our long-standing relationship with the PGA TOUR. It's been wonderful being the title sponsor of the FedEx St. Jude Classic for so many years, and I have to tell you it's a bit bittersweet to give that up, but clearly we are moving to a new level and we are very excited about that.
It would be an understatement to say that this is a significant day for sport of golf and the PGA TOUR, and I can tell you that I speak on behalf of hundreds of thousands of employees and contractors of FedEx to say that we are very happy to extend our relationship with the PGA TOUR and to be the sponsor of the FedEx Cup.
Sports marketing has been a very important part of the way that we've built our brand and supports our brand for many, many years, and we truly believe that the FedEx Cup will be a very unique and special addition to our portfolio. The Cup is very consistent with our brand values and reliability, excellence, precision and leadership and we're looking forward to 2007 when we begin the FedEx Cup.
The PGA TOUR is also very much a leadership organization in our eyes and reflects very well on the FedEx brand and again we're speaking from many, many years of experience. And on a deeper level, it's clearly an organization that has tremendous role models. I think other sports would serve well by studying the PGA TOUR players and their behavior on and off the court -- excuse me, on and off the course, and really learn from what the PGA professionals do each and every day. So we're delighted to be associated with them.
Equally important, FedEx is an organization that really values charity and support of many charities in the Memphis community, and for that matter around the world, and we can think of no better partner than the PGA TOUR, who really has taken getting to a whole new level; it's pretty amazing when you think about the PGA TOUR, the Champions Tour and the Nationwide Tour celebrated this year reaching the billion dollar mark in supporting more than 2,000 charities and individuals around the world.
And finally, today's announcement clearly is going to revolutionize professional golf, and that's going to be great for the players, the fans and the tournaments. We believe the FedEx Cup is going to set a new standard of excellence, and we're thrilled to be a part of ushering that in.
I just want to say once again on behalf of all of our employees and contractors around the world, some 250,000 strong, this is an important day for us and we're delighted to be a part of it. So with that, Tim, I'll turn it back over to you.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Let me turn to focus on the second part, which is our version of the playoffs. As we looked at it, we had a number of questions to be answered. How can we structure playoff that is created big events? We wanted each week to stand on its own and be a huge event in the market it's played and for all of our fan base of 110, 112 million Americans to really focus on it. When I say "Americans," I should go beyond, because so many of our players today are international; it's really a world fan base.
But that challenge and the additional questions of creating a series that every player felt the need, the want and the enthusiasm to play in each and every week to create a series of weeks that is unheard of where all of the players would play head-to-head in four straight weeks created a number of questions. I want to try to answer those questions, but before I do, let me introduce a little piece of video. NBC was kind enough to ask Jimmy Roberts to take a few minutes and try to put the notion of playoffs for golf in perspective.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: So we were faced with, first of all, we needed four tournaments. We needed tournaments that had great sponsors, good brands, companies that believed in excellence and the presentation of tournaments. We needed to play in big markets where we would get the kind of media support that we thought was important. We needed to have solid purses to underpin, again, the payout of the FedEx Cup to really create a lot of excitement and attention by both the players, the media and the fans. We needed to play on big golf courses. We needed the opportunity to play on courses that could really challenge the players and allow different kinds kind of players to compete. Those were the things we focused on as we put the playoffs together.
So we have those four tournaments that you see represented here in the markets of New York, Boston, Chicago and the Midwest and then Atlanta, that I'll describe in some detail a little later with four terrific companies sponsoring these events. So that is a piece of the equation which we'll get back to in a minute is very, very solid; four of our premiere events, week after week after week.
But let me show you for a second how the playoffs set up and how they work. First of all, the players play again through the regular season and they get to a seeding point. So when they are seeded, the points they have earned to date go away, and they now are awarded a certain number of points that they will carry into the playoffs, and they will earn points each of the four playoff weeks. The screen you see is the reset point distribution.
So if Stuart, who is in fifth or sixth place right now this year, and we were doing the Cup this year were to progress and end up in first place, he would have 100,000 points. He'd have a 1,000-point lead over the No. 2 player, and you can see the distribution right on down the list. The philosophy here is that Stuart should be awarded some benefit for the play that he has had all year long. He's won tournaments, he's worked hard, he's played a well and he's got himself into that
No. 1 seed position. But it is not an award that precludes him from significant competition. Therefore, the intervals between players are fairly slim. And it creates on one hand more or less a home-field advantage, if you will; in some sports you can argue whether there is real a home-field advantage, versus a very volatile system where a lot of players go into the playoffs with an opportunity to win.
With each event, if we could go to that next screen, with each event we distribute 50,000 points. The first three of these events which will be first in New York with the Barclays, second in Boston with Deutsche Bank and the third in the Midwest and every other year in Chicago with BMW will be 50,000-point tournaments. The winning player gets 9,000 points. The fourth event, THE TOUR Championship in Atlanta at East Lake, will have 50,000 points, also. The increments here receive a little bit more points because we have a smaller field. What you just saw in terms of the interval level, there is great volatility in this system and you can certainly make a move. We anticipate that the full field starting at Barclays, every single player has a mathematical chance to win the Cup, and we've run countless models that demonstrate that that is the case. Although, obviously, the players in that Top-10, 20, 30, have a significant advantage over the players down the list. But there are so many points awarded to those first two or three positions, that if you play well enough, you can really move up the list. So this is a point distribution for the playoffs.
Then the money distribution is a total of $35 million. The winner of the Cup at the end of THE TOUR Championship will receive $10 million. The second place player will receive $3 million, the fifth place player $1 million, and the 10th place player $500,000 and right on down the list. This is the largest performance-based payout in sports. And it's a payout designed to really reward players after they have played all year to position themselves for the playoffs, and then consistently enough through the playoffs end up in one of those top spots.
When you consider that each of our four events is going to have a prize money each week of $7 million, it means that if Stuart is in that first position or in the fifth position at the end of the seeding process, the regular season, he's looking at the next four weeks being worth $63 million in total payout. And it is that amount of money, coupled with everything else going into the Cup, which we think sets it apart and makes it very, very special.
Now, with that said, I would like to invite up one by one a representative from each of our sponsoring companies for these special four weeks of golf.
First of all, Barclays has had an enormous impact on our tournament here in New York in the last few years. They have brought a freshness and excitement and enthusiasm and an energy to our tournament at Westchester. We will have more to say later in the year about the siting of our events, but we plan to play in a regular basis in Westchester and may play on some other areas in the metropolitan area. But I would like to call up the president of Barclays PLC, Bob Diamond, to share his thoughts. Bob?
BOB DIAMOND: Tim, thank you very much for that introduction. On behalf of all 113,000 of those of us that work at Barclays in many corners of the world, we are absolutely delighted to be a part of the FedEx Cup working with the PGA TOUR. I've got to tell you, we're even more delighted to be kicking this thing off to be the first playoff in the game of golf in August next year at the Westchester Country Club. So, we're pretty excited.
Let me give you a sense, just a couple of things about why this is important to an organization like Barclays. You know, first and foremost, it's who do we think we are and how do we think of ourselves. And you heard Jimmy Roberts talk on the video just a few minutes ago about golf being a game of tradition, it's really one of the world's oldest, most traditional games. Well, in Barclays, we first took to posit in the City of London in 1689. We have been in the banking business over 300 years, over 100 years here in the United States.
When we think about ourselves, we think about tradition, we think about strength and we think about excellence. But we also think about the importance of being around the globe of our global footprinting business. Another thing that's important to us is our U.S. build. We are a global bank headquartered in London. The U.S. businesses, we have three very large businesses that continue to grow here in the U.S. that we're investing quite heavily in all three of them. Our investment banking business, Barclays Capital, is the fastest-growing investment bank over the last five years in the world, and the biggest part of that growth has been right here in the United States. Our investment management firm, Barclays Global Investors, headquartered right here in the U.S., is the largest manager of assets in the world, 1.5 trillion. We manage money for over 60 percent of the large pools of capital right here in the United States, particularly in the corporate area, and are the No. 1 exchange-traded fund with over 45 percent market share in that market; we brand our exchange-traded fund high shares. Most recently, we have expanded into the U.S. with the acquisition of Juniper to take our Barclay Card business here in the U.S., and we expect to expect more in the current business in the U.S. here, as well.
Lastly, this is about golf. Golf is a global game. It's about trust and it's about honor. It's about excellence and it's about focus and it's about giving back to the communities that we play in, and that's the kind of branding that we think is important for an organization like Barclays. We first got associated with golf in 2002 when we began the sponsorship of the Barclays Scottish Open. Around the same time we began sponsoring tour pro Darren Clarke. You know about our experience here in the U.S. with the Barclays Classic over the last two seasons, and we've recently announced the title sponsorship of the Singapore Open.
So we really have invested in this game and we feel it's important from a branding perspective, and right here in the U.S. with such a strong part of our growth, working with the PGA TOUR, working with the FedEx Cup, we love what we're doing at the Barclays Classic. We expect to continue to invest and to continue to make it a better and better tournament.
And as I said when I started, we're really, really pumped that we're going to be kicking off the playoff next August at Westchester Country Club. Thanks again, Tim.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: The second week of the playoffs, we'll go to Boston. When we didn't have a tournament four years ago in Boston and we created a new one with Deutsche Bank, and to play in the Boston market, we had taken a hiatus from New England, and what happened up there was unique and very special.
Deutsche Bank Championship has set a record the first year for charitable giving of any first-time PGA TOUR event, and has grown that charitable giving every year. The community has totally embraced the tournament, and the quality of the golf course has been something that is very, very special today, given the hard work that the tournament and involvement with a lot of our players. We have a terrific venue and we are looking forward to moving up the road to Boston for the second week of the playoff. Here to speak to us from Deutsche Bank is Mark Pfeffer, chief operating officer of corporate investment and banking in the Americas. Mark?
MARK PFEFFER: Thanks, Tim. All of us at Deutsche Bank, as well as golf fans throughout New England, are ecstatic about the Deutsche Bank Championship becoming part of this historic new era in golf.
Since our event became part of the PGA TOUR in 2003, we have had an amazing response from fans, sponsors, and players, so we can only imagine the excitement that the new FedEx Cup will generate as the best of play; play for a shot at the title.
The Deutsche Bank Championship has more than its share of new traditions and firsts both on and off the fairways. Adam Scott earned his first PGA TOUR victory in our debut year, heralding his arrival as one of the top young stars on Tour. The following year, our fans were treated to one of the classic head-to-head duals in the sport as Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh played to the finish for the world No. 1 ranking. We're even more proud that the Deutsche Bank Championship set a record for the largest charitable contribution for a first-year PGA tournament, raising a $1.5 million for the Tiger Woods Foundation and local New England Charities.
After three years, that total has grown to $4.5 million, and we have given to causes benefitting children and communities, causes that we at Deutsche Bank believe in.
The Deutsche Bank Championship has also made the PGA TOUR into a primetime television event providing the only Monday evening finish on the Tour. We've made Labor Day weekend our place as an establishment focusing on family-oriented activities to complement the action on the course.
New England fans are no strangers to playoffs and championships and we are convinced that the PGA TOUR playoffs will quickly establish itself as one of the great traditions in sport. Every year, we are so impressed and encouraged by the enthusiasm of the golf fans who attend and watch the Deutsche Bank Championship. With the added intensity and the world-caliber play that the playoffs will generate, this promises to be a truly amazing event for the fans and players alike.
We are really looking forward to the event this year, and to the advent of the championship next. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Earlier this week on Monday, we announced the details regarding the third playoff event which is the BMW Championship which is -- the BMW Championship will be a continuation of what we have known over the years as the Western Open, and returns the Western Open to years gone by when it used to move around the Midwest to major markets.
The Western Golf Association has used the Open over the years to generate funding, to send literally thousands and thousands of kids, caddies, to college, and we are delighted that we are going to be able to play not just in Chicago, but also at Bellerive in St. Louis, at Crooked Stick in Indianapolis, among other golf courses as we move forward.
BMW has brought, already, a lot of energy to the planning of the launch of the new BMW Championship next year and we are absolutely delighted to be involved with this superb brand and to be able to know that the number of scholarships that will be generated by the Western Golf Association will continue to grow. I'd like to recognize from sports marketing BMW, Tom Salkowsky, for a few remarks. Tom?
TOM SALKOWSKY: Thank you to the PGA TOUR, Commissioner Finchem. And I'd like to acknowledge, ladies and gentlemen of the media for the opportunity to address you all on such a significant step forward for BMW and how we embrace sports on an international level.
BMW is very pleased to become a new partner of the PGA TOUR and as title sponsor of such a prominent position within the PGA TOUR playoffs. As Commissioner Finchem mentioned on Monday, June 26, we announced our involvement in this new playoff series. And the BMW Championship combines innovation and tradition, which are two qualities that are very, very important within our company. Being the penultimate event of the PGA TOUR's playoff for the FedEx Cup, the BMW Championship is designed to be an exciting event with its innovative, season-ending format. BMW is proud to partner with the Western Golf Association, an American tradition for more than 100 years and help an already sensational Evans Scholars Program.
Our involvement with the PGA is another example of how BMW enthusiastically embraces sports at the highest international level. Professional golf in the United States adds dimension to our company's existing involvement in golf in both Europe and Asia, and it's a natural fit with our America's Cup activities, as well as the BMW Sauber Formula I Racing program.
So in summary, ladies and gentlemen, BMW is honored to be part of the rich tradition of the Western Golf Association, to be part of an exciting new era on the PGA TOUR, and to have the opportunity to expand the premium style of our company and brands to include premiere American golf. Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: We figured some years ago if we were going to plan a special event at the end of the season in Atlanta, it would not be bad to play at the home of Bobby Jones and be in partnership with Coca-Cola. It sort of goes together.
It's been a great partnership, and we're delighted to culminate these playoff events back in Atlanta at East Lake, a golf course that has held up great with the players over the years, and has demonstrated that you can challenge the players and still let different kind of players have an opportunity to win. We think it's going to be a great culmination. And here to speak on behalf of Coca-Cola is our senior vice president of marketing, John Hackett. John?
JOHN HACKETT: Thank you. I guess it's fitting that I go last, since we are the last tournament.
On behalf of Coca-Cola, I want to say how proud I am to be here today and to represent the company. The Coca-Cola Company has been the official sponsor of THE TOUR Championship or presenting sponsor for THE TOUR Championship since 2002, as well as the official soft drink. As Tim said, we're really pleased to be the culminating tournament at the end of a very long season and to present the final championship of the FedEx Cup.
We are really pleased for a couple of reasons. One, is as Tim said, the tournament being played at East Lake, home of Bobby Jones, makes it a really special event. And secondly, it takes place in our backyard and our hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.
So, we have been pleasantly surprised and pleasantly able to host some of the world's best golfers and some of the best fans. We're really looking forward to it this year. We think that we have a couple of things to work on. One is: How do we make sure that Coca-Cola red works with purple, orange and green. Maybe Stuart, you can help us figure that out? (Laughter).
And we're also sure that nothing is going to taste better being consumed out of the FedEx Cup than a nice, cold Coca-Cola. (Laughter). As I said, we're really glad to be here, we're really glad to be a partner in this new era of golf. Thank you.
DAN HICKS: And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, the Fab Four of the FedEx Cup.
Gentlemen, thanks for your comments and your continued interest and support of this great game of golf.
Our next speaker, I know from experience, it's very hard in this business to find not only a stand-out player, and this particular individual was a six-time Ryder Cupper and won some 20 times worldwide; but to also combine that with a guy that really has become just as much a broadcaster as he was a player. It's really rare to find that kind of combination, so CBS Sports is lucky to have him, and I am privileged to introduce him to you, Peter Oosterhuis of CBS Sports.
PETER OOSTERHUIS: Thank you very much. Certainly delighted to be here representing CBS Sports, and the CBS golf commentary team. And probably before I go any further, I should say because Mr. Manoughian, my boss at Golf Channel is sitting at my table, I should say I'm hoping to do work for the Golf Channel, as well. But proud to be part of the CBS team. We are going to be doing 19 tournaments of the FedEx Cup, including the first event in the playoffs, the Barclays Classic in New York. So we are looking forward to a fantastic season.
I feel there's certainly been a different mind-set since the FedEx Cup was announced, since the playoff system was announced. It's been a different mind-set for the players, and they are certainly thinking more about their schedule, and they are determined to perform well enough leading up into the playoffs so they have it in good standing going to the playoffs. And in a moment, Stuart is going to be speaking, if we can drag him away way from his computer and analyzing the points system and which tournaments he should be playing and how many he should be playing in. It's certainly not only the players are interested in how this system is going to work, but certainly there's a buzz amongst the fans out on Tour everywhere we go covering tournaments. Next year there's going to be a change, lots of people, not only the players, but people around the game are very interested to see what's going to happen. We have been talking to the players and let's have this time to hear some of their comments.
PETER OOSTERHUIS: We should now hear from one of the leading players on Tour, eight times a winner on Tour, including a wire-to-wire victory at the Shell Houston Open this year and his consecutive win at the Mercedes Championship at Kapalua, four-time member of the Presidents Cup for the International Team, please welcome from or Australia and Orlando, Florida, Stuart Appleby.
STUART APPLEBY: Welcome, everybody. As we've seen through some speeches so far, we've got an exciting time ahead. As a player, I've been fortunate enough to bump into the Tiger Woods era. There was many players, and Peter certainly has seen some of the greats before Tiger, and as a player starting out in Australia, in a small town dreaming of getting to the U.S. Tour was that; a dream, a distant dream, and one that became a reality, and now literally America has become alive. And to see the evolution of the game, we have talked about how equipment has evolved, but now the real thing is the evolution of the game from the corporate perspective, and certainly from the fan base.
Certainly big thanks go to FedEx who have taken on amazing venture, really, something that's been said to be a total transformation. The other very important sponsors that we'll be here as we can see the big billboards behind you that are taking place to be a part of this evolution is very important for the game.
As a player, we've had multiple discussions, the Commissioner and the Board have talked and back and forth to many players, myself being one, about how do we make this work; how do we make it understandable to the player; how do you not confuse the player; how do you have a player who is potentially maybe scared of change evolve into something that is going to take the Tour to a new level. And as you saw, which I like the clip, whoever made that up, makes me feel very nervous even about the '07 season before it's even here; seeing that there is going to be an intensity in the players eyes for a season starting at the Mercedes.
Now seeing as I've won a couple so far, I'd like to get off to a good start in '07 now for very obvious reasons. There's going to be potential of players talking to one of the financial institutions making a phone call to them saying, "Excuse me, Mr. Whoever, we can't fit any more money into your account, it's full." So there's going to be one guy who is going to say that. (Laughter).
Personally, it's a goal, a real pleasure to be asked to come here to talk to you, to be involved in this little trip I guess for me from Orlando. As you know, I'm a bit of a fuzzy foreigner, and there's a couple Australians doing well on the Tour and one of them is Mr. Geoff Ogilvy. So as an Australian, we're very honored to come to play in America and come to play at this level. As I was watching, Davis Love probably said it the best in the little clip you saw, that we don't have anything that culminates in the huge excitement that multiple other sports have in the playoff aspect.
So I really think you can see, as Peter said, I'm not a computer nerd sitting there and checking the points system out, but I know there's going to be an intensity that you will not have seen from the players' perspective. You'll have guys playing, taking notes; well, how much do you get for a win and how many points and then come the real playoffs. There is going to be a real jostling for position. I think it's something that's very dynamic. It's something that is going to give new attention to the sponsor, the title sponsors that are here. And certainly FedEx being the major title sponsor of the series, it's going to bring a whole new question-asking. And that question-asking will change from the media, won't be so much now, how are you playing, how do you feel; it will be where are you positioned, what do you think you have to do, how many points. You know, there's going to be a total different mentality out there.
I'm not sure as a player, I think uncertainty is a good thing to have in life. Everyone in business here has had to make some decisions, and this is, as Tiger said, this is a no-brainer. I'd like to thank the sponsors for taking their time and the Commissioner for pushing this big animal forward and making this change. I think with the players, there's overwhelming support for this very positive change. And I hope to be, as you pointed out once, you did have me at the top of the Money List; that's a nice place to be, and I can call one of these guys and see if I can fit some money in there.
But I'd like to thank everyone for having me talk up here as a players perspective. I'm excited and I know the commentators certainly will a great deal of new material to talk about. I look forward to '07, and if I could get one more Mercedes, which will be four, I'll be a happy camper. Thank you very much.
DAN HICKS: Stuart, you'll find that it's well worth with your while to be here today, because I've just been informed by Commissioner Finchem that you and Geoff Ogilvy have been given special exemptions into the FedEx Post Cup season, so you're already in. Joking of course. Hear the typewriters around the world clacking away. Thank you, Stuart, for your comments and again thanks for being here.
We still have the post-conference question-and-answer period to come here, and I want to remind everybody that after we get through with the questions that are going to be posed here on the floor to everybody involved, we will open up the questions to the teleconference, which is listening around the country. And then in the finality of the event, there will be some one-on-one interviews that can be conducted in the back of the room, so everybody press-wise gets taken care of today.
So let's go ahead and open up the floor here to questions from the media starting with those that are here today and then again we'll follow-up with the national teleconference. So fire away.
Q. This will be for the Commissioner. I apologize if you've already addressed this before, but what will happen to the traditional Player of the Year award and money title?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: They will continue and they will be affected of course but they will continue.
The Player of the Year is an award that is determined by a vote of the players. So the difference will be that, of course, in addition to the traditional things that go into a player making up his mind who he is going to vote for, how the player handled the challenge of the Cup and the playoffs at the finish to determine the Cup will have a lot to do, I would assume, with that determination.
After THE TOUR Championship, the official money season will continue for another six or seven weeks with the Fall Series. It will be official money. The Money List will continue. But the eligibility for the following year for those players who are in a position in the TOUR Championship based on FedEx Cup point, they will be fixed in eligibility.
So even though the Money List will continue, it will be determining who is in the next 95 spots after the Top-30, and then there will be a complete Money List. There just will not be in the world of the FedEx Cup; there will not be nearly the focus on the Money List that there has been in the past. The focus will be primarily on FedEx Cup points, until we get to the Fall Series, and then there will be a focus on players trying to earn their card, because earning their card will be, really, the beginning of the FedEx Cup for the following year.
Q. Most playoffs that I know don't include every member of a league, but in yours, everybody plays in the first three tournaments. Have you thought of reducing the field after all the points were accumulated leading up to the first playoff tournament?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: We have, and we thought about it a great deal. We've concluded that with the first playoff event, the Barclays Classic, we assume that every player in the field will have a mathematical chance to win. We could reduce it the next two weeks, but we don't feel the need to do.
So now, we may change our mind and probably will change our mind on some things as we go forward as we analyze it each year, and right now, we're of the view that the players are really focused all season long on getting into the playoffs and if they played hard enough to get there, they should have the opportunity to participate.
Also, we recognize that winning is what is most important in the playoffs, and it's harder to win a tournament when you have more competition; I think virtually any PGA TOUR player will tell you that. So at this juncture for those reasons, we are going to stay the course, and we'll see as we evaluate it in the out year.
Q. How strong of commitments are there from the top players, like Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson to participate in the playoffs, particularly if they have won one or even two majors that season?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, I think you had an indication in the video of the enthusiasm those players have for the concept, so you start with that. And then when you do the analytics, when we have looked at so many models of plugging tournaments into the playoffs in addition to the TOUR Championship, which we have obviously a history of, we have plugged in numerous tournaments in those first three playoff weeks that are tournaments where all of the players play, and we've done numerous models. And every model that we've done demonstrates a fundamental thing, and if you're in the hunt, you need to play all four weeks. If you think you can have a chance to place high and take a week off, you're kidding yourself, but I'm not so sure that's that important.
What we've had, and I'll just relate to you a standard conversation I've had with players who are at least in the last five years perennially in the top five or ten players, the conversation goes something like: "Let me understand this, Tim. If I win six times between Mercedes and Greensboro, and I've got $10 million in prize money and I've at an 8,000 lead in points, you're telling me I'm now going to start over again, basically, with just a little edge on everybody else?"
And the answer I give is yes.
And then in a couple of cases, I've had a follow-up question, "Do you think that's fair?"
And my response is if the New York Yankees win 115 games and win the American League East, they start over. And every player with whom I've had that conversation's response to that is, "I get it, I get it, it's great, let's tee it up," which is what you would expect from players at that level.
I think the enthusiasm there, the construct of what we've done is helpful, but I think fundamentally it's the competitive spirit of these great players that will dictate their course of action.
Q. For the sake of the most common comparison has been made, this is a NASCAR-style points chase, in talking to some players, they point out to me that the difference with NASCAR versus golf is in NASCAR, every driver races every week. In golf, you have Invitationals, you have World Golf Championships events, not everybody has a level playing field. How do you respond to that?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, this system pulls different aspects from different kind of competitions. Obviously we've had some experience the last few years with the Schwab Cup competition on the Champions Tour. We've looked at NASCAR.
The response I have to that is that we do have a long season, and we have a long history of at least a Money List where players don't play every week; few can. Most, vast majority cannot; don't; it's not conducive to them competitively. It doesn't, for whatever reason, doesn't seem to affect drivers in that fashion.
The notion that you're going to be watching the competition as you set your schedule is an important one. And again, what we're trying to achieve here is the fundamental that every week counts. Every week is important. Every week you're in a tournament, you need to move forward if you're going to be in a top seed position.
And golf is different than every other sport in almost every other respect. So I don't think it's unusual that we should have a system that's different from every other sport in this respect. The key question is: Does it work for us and does it work with the culture of our sport.
We have a belief that it does, and we're finding great enthusiasm from the people involved in the tour that it will, but of course, we'll start finding that out January.
Q. Commissioner, there are some strange point values as you go down the line in the various calculations. Can you go into an explanation of how you determine these point totals?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: We have to look at, again, what we did in these charts, is we picked 1,5, 10, 15, 20, 25. You need to look at the exact points through a typical cut. It probably wouldn't look so strange to you. It's not too dissimilar. It's not the same, but it's not too dissimilar to what we do with prize money.
And again what we do with prize money is really a function of our culture, and the attitude that, you know, everything should be weighted to the top; that winning is by far the most important thing, and next is finishing very high in a tournament. That system also supports the excitement we have and the volatility we have week-in and week-out, and then again in the playoffs.
So I think it's important that you not get too hung up on the distribution of a place-by-place. Although as you graduate clearly from 1 to 70, you could see how next year as we get into it and we look at finish position and wins and second place finishes and compare it to the point distribution, I think for example, the chart we showed you on where players are today, you would nod your head and say, "Well, I've been following the TOUR, that seems about right in terms of how players have been playing."
DAN HICKS: There will be other opportunities for folks in the room as we mentioned to get some one-on-ones with the principles here. We want to go ahead and open it up to the folks that have been patiently waiting on the teleconference, so let's go ahead and begin that portion.
Q. Commissioner, the $10 million that goes to the FedEx Cup winner, will that be a one-time lump-sum payout, or will that be spread out over a period of time?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Dave Manoughian here is here, I've already explained all of that to him, Brian, so if you could get with him at the office. (Laughter.)
We have not determined exactly. It will be a payout and it will be paid immediately. Whether it's paid in cash to the player or paid into a deferred compensation account is something the players will be talking about over the next six months. We'll make a determination at the end of the year. But either way, the total amount of cash paid immediately paid out, immediately after the Cup, is $35 million with $10 million to the winner.
Q. I'd just like a clarification, as I understand it, you won't be eliminating any players until you get to the TOUR Championship; is that correct?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: There will be players, Jerry, who fall below a line of mathematically that are able to win the Cup. Each week that line will descend. But the field sizes, if you make it to the playoffs, you can play all three of the first three events in 2007, that's correct.
Let me just follow up, when a broadcast comes on on the first week of the playoffs, Barclays Classic will be on CBS. NBC will be carrying the next three and Golf Channel will be doing early rounds all weeks. Let me just give you an example. Thursday, the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second playoff event, based on the performance at Barclays the first week, the Golf Channel competition will come on Thursday, the first round, and they will set the stage and they will explain to the viewer how many players will have a mathematical chance to win.
What that's going to create, obviously, is a player who no longer has a mathematical chance to win might play lights-out for two weeks and move well up into the points list from a distribution standpoint. Now, that doesn't bother us, and it's another something for people watching to pay attention to.
Q. Is it possible if a player goes into the playoff with a high ranking, wins the first and then finishes high in the third, that they could have a mathematical lock on the $10 million before the final event is even played?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Theoretically it is possible. We ran hundreds of models using tournaments like THE PLAYERS Championship, the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship, British Open, tournaments and some others, but basically tournaments where all the players currently play; some World Golf Championships events in different sequences. We never had a situation where that occurred. It is highly unlikely. Mathematically, it's possible.
Q. Commissioner, the number going into Barclays, is that 144, how many players? And the 2007 BMW will begin the third day following Labor Day observed; will that be the position of the BMW each year?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: That is correct. There will be 144 players off of the FedEx Cup point list eligible to play at Barclays, and the same 144 players eligible to play at the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship.
If, and let me just further clarify; if a player is ill, he would not be replaced. If a player cannot play for whatever reason, he would not be replaced. There are no sponsor exemptions. There is no open qualifying. There is no alternate list. You must make the 144 finishing at Greensboro to be in a position to play one of those three events.
But the schedule is essentially set for those next few years in that sequence, yes, with BMW Championship being the third of those weeks.
Q. But will the third of those weeks each year follow Labor Day observance?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I don't have a calendar in front of me but I believe that's correct.
DAN HICKS: All right. That's going to conclude the teleconference portion. Again if anyone wants to do one-on-ones, you're welcome to hook up with some of the principles here and do that. On behalf of all of my colleagues at NBC Sports, my partner, Johnny Miller, our entire NBC Sports crew, and CBS Sports, from a broadcast perspective we're excited about what's going to transpire next season in 2007. Thanks everyone for coming, drive home safely to wherever you are going. Thanks again for coming.
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