home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 7, 2007

Tim Finchem

Ed Whitacre

Tiger Woods

JAMES CRAMER: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us today for this announcement regarding the future of PGA TOUR golf here in Washington, D.C. In addition to the media that are here in mass, we are also joined via live satellite feed and via national teleconference by national and international media from around the word. I'd like to begin by introducing the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Mr. Tim Finchem.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you, and good morning, everyone. We are delighted to have such a wonderful turnout and we are especially delighted to be back in Washington, D.C. We were not gone all that long, but we're back.
Today is a day where we want to provide you some detail on what will be we think one of the most prestigious events in golf and certainly on the PGA TOUR; an event that will involve the world's No. 1 player in a very special way and the Tiger Woods Foundation, his foundation as well; an event that will be played July 4th weekend in the nation's capital celebrating the nation's birthday; and an event that we think will bring to not just the Washington area, but to the country and the world, some very special competition.
I'll come back and talk about some details in a minute but I would like to start by saying that we are just absolutely delighted with the response that we have gotten from the business community here, the members of Congress, leaders in government and the fans in response to the very preliminary announcement we made just a week ago that we would be staging this event.
I would also like to mention that this event will round out, if you will, PGA TOUR golf in the Baltimore/Washington corridor. This fall we have the inaugural visit to Baltimore of the Senior Players CHAMPIONSHIP, which will be sponsored by Constellation Energy up there, and then this spring we will have the inaugural event of the Melwood Prince George's County Open on the Nationwide Tour. Their tournament director, Teo Sodeman, and their executive CEO, Janice Frey-Angel, are with us today for this announcement, because this new Nationwide Tour event will sponsor and raise money for the Melwood Group, which is the facility that provides intellectually-challenged individuals and has helped that thousands of them over the years become proficient and given the ability to achieve employment. But today we are talking about the PGA TOUR and a very special event.
I'd like to mention just three key things about this event that make it -- put it in a position where it can achieve we think instant stature and growing stature in the years to come.
First of all, Tiger Woods has been not just a great player, not just a great competitor but somebody who has changed the face of the game of golf and certainly elevated the impact of the professional side of the sport, and to have his direct involvement is unique for the Washington, D.C. area.
And secondly, and I don't want to talk too much about the Tiger Woods Foundation, I'll leave that to Tiger, but over the years since that foundation has begun, we have seen the commitment it has made to touching the lives of kids all around the country. And the completion of the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Los Angeles really created a model facility for what can be done to affect lives through educational stimulation.
I also think the third key piece here is the nexus between Washington, D.C. and July 4th. The PGA TOUR has been committed over the last several years to recognizing and supporting our men and women in uniform around the world in conjunction with the Pentagon and the America Supports You Program. And we are delighted that Tiger and his foundation are also committed to these goals, and you will see during the week of this tournament a recognition of a hosting of and an involvement of our men and women in uniform from the Washington area around the country and around the world in a very special way.
Now let me give you just a few details. First of all, there's been some speculation, and I know Lenny Shapiro has been working hard on this -- I don't see Lenny out there right now, but I know he's there. You got it right, Lenny. We had been talking to the Congressional Country Club.
We think that Congressional is the ideal spot to launch this tournament, and we have requested access to Congressional to play the tournament in partnership with the membership and leadership at the club in 2007 and 2008. Their board has been positive in their response and is submitting that request to the membership here in the next few weeks, and we encourage any members of Congressional that might be here today to vote aye and give Tiger and the Foundation the capability to really start off on the right foot here in Washington.
We obviously have some other options going forward. If we're successful with Congressional in 2007 and 2008, we have a long-standing working relationship with Robert Trent Jones which has hosted the Presidents Cup. We will finally get to work in redoing and rebuilding the TPC Avenel golf course this summer; it will be ready in two or three years, we're not sure when. But right now we are focused on the launch of the first two years, and we hope to secure partnership with Congressional in that effort.
The structure of this tournament from a management standpoint: The Tiger Woods Foundation will be the host organization. It will be the sanctioned group that manages the tournament. The staff of the Foundation will actually manage the tournament. And this is an easy one because Greg McLaughlin, who has run the Foundation for the Tiger Woods Foundation Board and for Tiger for a number of years now, was I think many of you know, the tournament director at the Western Open in Chicago for a number of years. He was a superb tournament director, and he will be interim tournament director here as we get started during the first part of this year.
The PGA TOUR will provide significant resources and people to support the Foundation because -- well, the good news is, we have a great event to stage here. The challenge is, we don't have much time to do it, and we have an awful lot of work to do in a short period of time. And we will be collaborating with our title sponsor and the perfect title sponsor to bring forward this event in the most impactful way possible.
The purse will be no less than $6 million. The tournament competition structure, we've just gotten into this in the last couple of weeks so, I don't want to get into too much detail. We have some work to do with our board, but I've had conversations with our board, and I can assure you that the structure of the tournament across the board, whether it's the field size, the makeup of the Pro-Am, those kind of aspects will be done as a quality level that provides for the best possibility to give us the best product and will be at a level that is commensurate with some of the Invitationals that are currently hosted by a couple of our other great players.
I should mention television. We have begun preliminary conversations with our two partners that week, CBS and the GOLF CHANNEL, and in both instances, we know we will have enhanced television coverage that week, given the quality and the stature of this event, and we will have more details on that to talk to you about in a few weeks.
Now if you look around the PGA TOUR and you look at the great big tournaments, the tournaments that really do a great thing for charity, the tournaments that are staged well, the tournaments that are communicated well, they have three basic elements. They have a number of things that come together that create a good field. They have a good, solid charitable relationship that resonates in the community, and they have a terrific title sponsor.
We have the best title sponsor in our judgment. When we lost our tournament on this date a few weeks ago and we got to work on options and we started in earnest talking to Tiger and the Foundation, we talked about, what's the optimal title sponsor. Well, we concluded it's a company with a great brand, a brand that really resonates domestically and globally. It's a company that has commitment to the things that it gets involved in. It's a company that has resources and capability, particularly to communicate the staging and the stature and the things that you're trying to tell a fan base that is today 120 million in the United States and globally, and it's a company that hopefully understands the importance of the charitable focus.
We prioritized a few companies; there was one company clearly at the top of the list. It was AT&T and they did not hesitate to step forward to sponsor what will now be known as the AT&T National.
The thing about AT&T is that Ed Whitacre, who I am going to introduce in just a second, has configured 'the new AT&T,' a company of an unsurpassed brand, a company of unmatched capability in telecommunications and media, a company that has a history with the PGA TOUR and charity because they are involved today in four co-sanctioned PGA TOUR events; two on the Champions Tour, two on the PGA TOUR; they are involved at Augusta National. And their commitment in those five tournaments has resulted in those tournaments over time having raised now almost $100 million between them for charity. They are a company that is committed to the concept of sport-related relationship to charitable giving. And, coincidentally, they are a company that has been supportive of and directly involved with the Tiger Woods Foundation.
They were the perfect fit, the perfect match, and I'd like to introduce to you the architect of the new AT&T, a company that prides itself in promising to the consumer that they will deliver your world, and a company we are confident will take the initiative to deliver to the fans the world of what this event is all about, the AT&T National. Ladies and gentlemen, Ed Whitacre.
ED WHITACRE: Thank you, Tim. Tiger, thank you. Thank everyone at the PGA TOUR and Tiger Woods Foundation for making this day possible. I've been called to Washington many times to speak. This is one of the few I've actually looked forward to, so it's a good thing. (Laughter) So if you ever have to choose between announcing a golf tournament sponsorship or testifying before Congress, my advice to you is to take the golf tournament. It's a lot better.
You know, golf is a sport for all ages, and AT&T is very pleased to be associated with golf and to help bring the sport to millions of fans. We are proud to sponsor the AT&T National. I like that name of that tournament a lot. Hope you wrote that down. The AT&T National has a nice ring to it I think.
But the tournament does have several natural ties for AT&T. And those ties are: We do have an existing relationship with Tiger and the Tiger Woods Foundation; the location here in our nation's capital is a very important market for AT&T; and it's also a tribute to the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces.
Our various AT&T golf tournament sponsorships generate more than $12 million a year to support worthy non-profit organizations, and they really do provide us a great way as a company to connect with our customers.
We have come to know Tiger and his foundation through our annual sponsorship of Tiger Jam in Las Vegas. We have seen firsthand how the Tiger Woods Learning Center, which is really an impressive thing, is making a positive difference in the lives of some young people. Tiger is going to provide you with some details shortly.
But we are thrilled that this tournament will help expand the Tiger Woods Foundation reach here on the East Coast. With Tiger and his foundation hosting the tournament, we know that the AT&T National will be a first-class event focused on helping young people. We are also pleased that the tournament will benefit The First Tee and other local charities here in our nation's capital.
This area is rich in golf history and golf tradition. Washington deserves a premiere stop on the PGA TOUR. With Tiger's involvement, we believe that the AT&T National will be one of the most anticipated events on the TOUR schedule. Of course, having the tournament during the week that we celebrate our freedom will make it even more special.
AT&T has a long heritage of supporting those who serve in our nation's military. You probably know, but I'll tell you anyway, we operate overseas calling centers for our service men and women, and we donate millions of dollars of prepaid phone cards to help them stay connected with their loved ones. We are a worldwide strategic partner with the USO supporting the entertainment tours they make and the care package that they give to the troops. And we are also a founding donor of the World War II Memorial, which is just a few blocks from here, and it is a beautiful thing, as you know.
The opportunity to join the PGA TOUR and Tiger to honor those who serve and sacrifice for our freedom was a big reason AT&T quickly agreed to sponsor this tournament. It will be an exciting week in our nation's capital.
So on behalf of the men and women of AT&T, I want to thank you for allowing us to be a part of this great event, and it will be, the AT&T National.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't think I should spend too much time introducing to you folks in the media the most recognizable athlete in the world. So I'll just make one comment.
Over the years since Tiger emerged on the scene, I think many of you have written about or commented about the extent to which he brings his best game every time he tees it up, the intensity of focus that he brings to his preparation to be the champion that he is. In the conversations that we've had about this tournament in the haste to put this together in a short period of time, I can tell you from my own special perspective that he has that same amount of fire, drive, commitment to making this tournament as good as it can be. I would like to introduce Tiger Woods.
TIGER WOODS: Well, thank you everyone. This is a pretty historic day for us at the Foundation, one that we've been lucky enough to have had the opportunity given to us by Commissioner Tim Finchem and Ed Whitacre here of AT&T.
This is a dream come true for myself. I remember back when I first came on TOUR and was able to play events and we started our foundation in 1997, my focus and my goal one day with my father one day was to be able to host an event on the PGA TOUR. This is a pretty momentous day for us because we are lucky enough to have the opportunity to do that. I just wish my father could have been here to see it. It was a dream that he wanted to have for us at that foundation. It was something that we tried and worked so hard to build a foundation, so we were able to help as many kids as we possibly can.
Along the way, our foundation has now about 4 million kids in our Start Something Program, our mentoring program and career achievement program around the country, and that's absolutely amazing for us in a short span of time to be able to do something like that.
Well, I think it's basically a no-brainer for us to say yes, that we would love to come here to our nation's capital. With my father's history being in the military and serving in special forces, to come here during the nation's birthday.
And something that I want to make clear to everyone here is that during the tournament, anyone who is in active duty will get free admission to our tournament. That's something that I think is very important. They have put their lives on the line so that we are able to enjoy the lives that we have today and freedoms that we are able to enjoy. So we'd love for them to come out and enjoy. It will be a family event. It will be, all kids who are under the age of 12 are able to get in free as well. We want to make this a family-oriented affair, and it's something that I know that we promote on the PGA TOUR, and AT&T does as well. So that's one of the reasons why we're so looking forward to having such a great event here, hopefully at Congressional.
I know we are in the midst, I know this happened so quickly, but over the past year, we at the Foundation have been looking and exploring opportunities up and down the Eastern seaboard for a future East Coast Learning Center, and we are looking at now here specifically in the Washington, D.C. area of having another learning center where we're able to impact the lives of our future generations.
This year on our West Coast Learning Center, we have just about 5,000 kids that are going to come through the Learning Center and get a chance to explore and experience what we have to offer. We have had some amazing success with the Learning Center, and hopefully be able to do something as special here in the D.C. area with the commitment we have with the TOUR and AT&T and obviously with the entire community here. I think hopefully with our impact, I think can be pretty impactful and pretty significant. That's one of the reasons why I am so excited about being here, being able to do something for the kids here in the local community.
I'm looking forward to coming back here and playing and hosting this event. I know it's going to be a lot of work over the next few months putting this all together. We have had just an amazing effort and support working with the PGA TOUR and AT&T in making this happen. Hopefully all of you can come out and enjoy and experience what we have to offer. Thank you so much.
JAMES CRAMER: Thank you, Tiger. Before we move to the Q&A portion of our program, I'd like to recognize a dignitary we have in attendance today, the Honorable Mayor of Washington D.C., Adrian M. Fenty.

Q. How much revenue do these tournaments generally generate, revenue to the surrounding communities and cities where these events take place and how much do you expect this one to?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, we have 125 tournaments on three Tours, probably 120 of them are organized for a charitable purpose. They will raise $110 million this year for charity. We have some huge charitable fund-raisers that have built up over the years in Dallas and Phoenix that are $5, $6 million net per year. San Antonio, the Valero Texas Open, over $6 million. And then I would say very few are under 1 million, and it usually takes probably four or five years for a tournament to get mature in it's charitable generation.
We have not finished our pro formas on the first year yet, let alone a five-year plan, but I have to believe that given the different pieces of this event and why it's so special, it will perform quite well in the marketplace. We will be calling on the community tonight at a reception to start with and as we go forward to get involved in the tournament. It really has a lot to do with the extent the community gets involved and get supportive, and I think Tiger's announcement today that he plans to look for a site for the Learning Center should assist us in stimulating additional giving.
But my just preliminary projection I would be say within five years, it will be on the premiere list of top charitable generators on the PGA TOUR.

Q. (Operator interruption. Question about size of field.)
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I've had some preliminary conversations with our board and I have to believe that we will work with Tiger and the Foundation to fine-tune it, but my guess is that at the end of the day, the field size will be commensurate with what you generally see in Invitationals which is a somewhat limited field.
Now there's a couple of reasons for that. One is prestige of the event. The other is, even though it's snowing today, it's quite warm here -- I used to live here for ten years, July 4th, and pace of play -- we want the pace of play and the experience for the players to be positive as well. So you put those two things together, and it argues for a somewhat shorter field and I think that's where we'll be.

Q. When the votes come up before Congressional, when do you expect to get an answer on that?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: The board of Congressional has reacted very positively to our discussions in the past couple of weeks. They are having an open meeting for their members this coming week, next week, I think on Wednesday, and then it will go to the members for a vote. And we won't know until about 30 days after that, finally.
We feel comfortable about the direction it's going, but we have to let nature take it's course and we'll have some planning that's already commenced contingent on a positive vote, and we'll have some other things contingent on a negative vote. But right now the energy at Congressional is very, very positive and very supportive and we hope that carries over to the response from the overall membership.

Q. And Tiger, you're going to be there as a host and you're going there as a player, how do you join the two? And also keeping in mind that Arnold and Jack at their two tournaments have good parking for the press. (Laughter.)
TIGER WOODS: Good parking? Okay. Hopefully I can work on that, too. (Laughter).
As far as hosting events, I've hosted the Target World Challenge, as well as been basically an unofficial host at the Deutsche Bank event. So I've been, those duties, pretty much accustomed to and understand my responsibilities off the golf course. On the golf course, that's the easy part. But I understand over the years of competing and playing and understanding the events I need to host, and responsibilities I've been doing a while. So I think that part -- well, I certainly have some experience in that, so shouldn't be too bad.
Just that we're excited about coming here and bringing an event back to the D.C. area.

Q. We just heard you say, I'm going to play here, which are words we haven't heard before. But you also are going to become a father this summer. I wonder if you could talk about the time frame and how much of an impact that's going to have on your decision to play?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I plan on playing. Now, a lot of it is dependent on obviously the birth of our child. Obviously that's the most important thing in our life right now. You know, my intention is to play. But you have to take that up with Elin. (Laughter).

Q. A couple of weeks ago Charles Barkley said he was going to urge you to get more actively politically. Washington is a very political town and you're meeting with some Congressional leaders today. Is this the beginning of your foray into that world?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I don't know. I've had experience, you know, before in the past of meeting influential people in the political arena. Right now my main focus is with the Foundation and all of my energy is directed to that. I don't know what the future lies for me beyond that and beyond my playing days. But as of right now, I have my hands full with trying to put that little white ball in the hole, and obviously with the birth of our first child and expanding our Learning Center to the East Coast and hopefully our Foundation around the world. I've got my plate full for right now.

Q. Are you adamant that this tournament be played at Congressional every year or are you willing to go to RTJ or Avenel if necessary?
TIGER WOODS: I would like it to be played at Congressional for future years. But obviously it has the Amateur and U.S. Open coming up, I believe in 2011 and the Amateur in 2009, I believe. Obviously those are years in which we obviously couldn't play Congressional. The off-years, I would love to have it played there, obviously it's one of the greatest golf courses here, not just in the United States, but around the world. You won't have events like that that come to your golf course unless you are premiere caliber. The time I played there in '97 during the U.S. Open, it thoroughly was a test, and it was a test that kicked my butt pretty good.

Q. What opportunities will local charities have to participate in the event?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't think we've talked too much about that at this point. Around the country, we have a good number of tournaments; in Palm Springs, the money is raised for the medical center; in Dallas they are raised for homes for dysfunctional families. We have a good number of tournaments that are a single-focus charity involvement, and that's the way we view this one.
Now, if the Foundation determines to make grants from that to impact the role of the Foundation, the mission of the Foundation, that would be a Foundation question to be determined downstream.

Q. There's a long tradition going back to the Bobby Jones Invitationals, have you ever been close to putting this together before, and how fast has it gone in the last six or eight weeks having this all in place?
TIGER WOODS: Have I been close to putting an event together like this before? No. This is an opportunity for us, as I said, our Foundation has been involved in the Target World Challenge, but it's a very small field, 16 players; originally 12, but now 16; and obviously our involvement at the Deutsche Bank event. We are not running the event. We are just one of the recipients Foundation-wise of the charitable dollars there.
As far as putting this together, I've never been this busy and I'm sure Tim and Ed here and all of our staffs, something that happened so quickly, as I said it's something that I wanted to have the opportunity to be able to do one day in my life, and I'm lucky enough to have had the opportunity to do this in my playing career.

Q. You mentioned that your father was adamant or wanted you to host an event like this. Why do you think he really wanted you to do something like this?
TIGER WOODS: Because we thought it was the best platform in order for us to gain awareness of what we're trying to do with our Foundation. We believe that it was a springboard for us to go global and reach with what we are trying to and the kids we are trying to impact around the world.
So that's one of the reasons why we've always wanted to have a TOUR event. And now we've been given the opportunity and obviously in the future, I don't see any reason why we can't spring board this into a global region or foundation.

Q. Would you anticipate or consider in the future partnering with the Tiger Woods Foundation in any other official PGA TOUR events?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, the way we look at it, Tiger gets to host one tournament for every 50 wins. (Laughter) So he keeps playing hard enough long enough.
I don't think at this time there's been any discussion about that. I think Tiger's comments speak for themselves; that he's looking at this as a unique platform. You know, it may seem like this is all easy, but it's an awful lot of work to making this get to the success level that it needs to get to to meet his expectations and the expectations of the Foundation, and candidly, the expectations of the people in this room and the fans in Washington.
We talked for a number of years about how to get a premiere situation here in Washington, and now we have an incredible, positive thing. I think we just want to stay focused on that.
But you know, if Tiger calls up in a couple of years and says, "Let's do it again," we'll answer the phone, but I think we're going to stay the course for the time being.

Q. The energy for this event that Tim has spoken of is being generated by you obviously among the other aspects, and you also know the chain of events began with The INTERNATIONAL folding. Do you hear the concerns of tournament directors such as Jack Vickers in the events that are have Tiger and the events that don't have Tiger, and is there anything that you can do in your schedule in future years to perhaps accommodate more of these events?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think as everyone knows, I play a pretty limited schedule. I don't play an inordinate amount of tournaments each and every year. My focus is obviously to win the tournaments I play in, and that takes a lot of energy. I know we're really excited about getting an opportunity to do something here in the D.C. area, and that's our main focus right now.
JAMES CRAMER: I'd like to thank everyone for this great turnout. There is a lot of excitement, and we look forward to seeing everybody later this summer. I'd like to thank Commissioner Finchem, Mr. Whitacre and Tiger Woods. Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297