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THE BARCLAYS MEDIA DAY
August 4, 2008
MIKE CRISPINO: Ladies and gentlemen, if we can have your attention for a moment. Welcome to the Barclays Media Day for 2008.
I'm Mike Crispino of Madison Square Garden, also the host to "The Road to the Barclays" television show, which is a weekly half-hour. We air on Madison Square Gardens eight times, all about this golf tournament and the PGA FedExCup Playoffs. Peter Mele is my co-host, he's sitting here. We'll meet him in a couple of minutes.
But we thank you for joining us on media day. All the players and all the guests who were here at this beautiful country club, Ridgewood, where we've moved for this year, and, who knows, beyond. Maybe more, we'll see.
We want to thank a few of the folks that have made our stay here in the weeks prior to the tournament and, of course, the tournament week such a pleasure. David Reasoner, the head pro here.
David's been on the show with us. He's a terrific player and a great head professional here at Ridgewood Country Club. So, David, thank you for having us.
I met the president of the club today, Steve Hennesey, couldn't be a nicer gentleman. We thanked him for his great hospitality, Steve Hennesey.
The tournament chairman is one of the members and a guy that's very, very familiar to Ridgewood Country Club members, I'm sure. Alex Khowaylo, we thank him for all his efforts. He's got his golf swing back in order, I saw that today.
Also, the course superintendent, who is the guy that's in charge of getting this place to look like a PGA Tournament golf course, and he's really done a great job, Todd Raisch, we thank him.
Now we have with us on the telephone Steve Stricker. Before we get to the defending champion, we're going to show you a video that was produced to recap what had happened last year in this golf tournament, and what the latest is in the FedExCup Playoffs. Let's take a look at that.
MIKE CRISPINO: We hope you're all here with us beginning that week, August 15, and the defending champion is with us now on the phone, Steve Stricker.
Steve, welcome to New Jersey, Paramus, New Jersey. You're a midwest guy, Wisconsin guy, who won this thing in Westchester last year. Tell us about how that helped you get going with your momentum as the season ended last year? You had a great finish.
STEVE STRICKER: Thank you, And thanks for having me. Sorry I missed your day there today, but we're here in Detroit getting ready for the PGA. I'm very much looking forward to coming back to the New York area and trying to defend.
Last year was a big year for me. Leading up to there, I had some good tournaments, was close in a few tournaments. Couple of majors I had an opportunity to win and didn't pull it off. It finally all came together at Westchester, a course that I had really only been to one other time prior to that, and didn't have very good memories from that time I was there either. But put it all together last year for that week.
Like I said, it all came together and propelled me on to a strong finish in the Playoffs. Was a highlight, really, of my career was Westchester and that run towards the end of the year.
MIKE CRISPINO: A victory for you, as we just saw in the video. You're one of the top punters on Tour. Top 27 at this point in time. As you get to this point in the season, can you give us a sense of what the players are talking about? What they're thinking about in relation to this FedExCup Playoff?
STEVE STRICKER: Again, it provides a lot of excitement for the players and fans and media people alike. It's just something more to talk about. And something more for us to be involved in and adds interest to our game at a time of year, typically after the last major is played right here, the PGA Championship, that the interest in our game tends to go away a little bit because the football season starts to come around. Brett Favre has taken up a lot of time on the air, and that's what it tends to go towards.
Now with the Playoffs, there's just more excitement in our game. I think if, you know, it proved out last year. I think a guy from my position can come up and challenge the likes of Tiger or Phil or any other, you know, top player in the world. I think that adds excitement.
I look for someone to do the same again this year. Hopefully, it can be me again. But I look forward to someone else providing a challenge to, you know, the greats of the game.
MIKE CRISPINO: We're joined here at Ridgewood Country Club by some of the esteemed writers in golf. We have some questions from the group, we hope, for Steve Stricker. If we have our microphone somewhere and anybody has a question, we can go with that now.
Q. Can you just talk about defending at a golf course different than the one you won on last year? I know you said your original impressions of Westchester were not that favorable. But after a win there last year, I wonder if that changed at all?
STEVE STRICKER: It did change. All of a sudden, it was the best course in the world. It's funny how your perception of things can change when you've had past success at a place.
But it will be a little different, you know. Coming to a place where I've never seen before. A course where I didn't win at last year, but from what I've understood talking to people out there and who have played Ridgewood, we're going to a great facility, old-time classic course with some tradition, too, from what I understand.
I'm looking forward to coming there, checking it out and playing. So, again, it will be kind of weird that it's not the course where I won at, but, again, that happens. Looking forward to playing at Ridgewood.
Q. When you come to a new golf course that you've never played before, can you talk about your preparation? And if there is a drivable par 4 in this golf course, tell me what you think of those: Like them? Hate them? Neutral about them?
STEVE STRICKER: Sure. The preparation, usually when I go to a new course, I tend to get there a little bit earlier. Maybe half a day or a day earlier, just to make sure that I get around it twice.
As far as reachable par 4's, I think they're great. I think we first got to see them from some of the TPC courses. Out at Hartford has one, and, you know, a few of the other TPC's have got them. So I think it's great.
I think it adds a lot of excitement. I think the fans love it when a guy can, you know, pull out a driver and make it 2 or make it a 5 or a 6.
In Boston there is one at the TPC up there that provides a lot of thrills for not only the spectators. But I think the players really enjoy them, too. I enjoy them. You can play them a number of different ways. Usually you can lay up on them and make a three that way. There is a risk-reward factor there, that you need to weigh in all these drivable par 4's. But I think it provides a lot of fun for everybody.
Q. Just give us an idea of where you're at with your game right now as you prepare for the PGA Championship? What types of things are you working on? Do you feel like you're at your best at this point in the season in August?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I've been playing a little bit better of late. I hit a rough stretch a couple of months ago - two or three months ago where I missed four cuts in a row.
From that point on, I've been playing a little better starting with the U.S. Open. Then I hit a Top 10 at the British Open. So my game is starting to come around a little bit better.
Working on some things. I tend to drop the club underneath and get it stuck behind me like a lot of players do and provide some inaccuracies, really. It shows up a lot in my driver. So I haven't been driving it as well as I was last year. But I continue to work on it.
You know, this game, it's always you need to work on it. It's just something always seems to creep up in some facet of the game. So I'll continue to do that, and looking forward to a good, strong, PGA showing.
I've got a lot riding on the line with Ryder Cup. I'm last man in right now. So I've got an important week ahead of me. Hopefully, get off to a good start and have a good week.
Q. Last year you were quite emotional at the end when you won. Do you think when you were on the first tee and they announced you as the defending champion, there will be a little emotion at that point?
STEVE STRICKER: Hopefully not where I'm crying like I was last year on the tee. But, you know, I'm sure it will hit me there a little bit.
It's not like I win every other week out here. You know, I've only had four wins in 15 years. So for me they're a special occasion when I happen to win. I'm an emotional guy. It's just the way I've been, you know, forever. It's the type of guy I am.
I'm sure I'll have some positive emotions. Hopefully, I'll draw from what I did last year, and try to get the same going at Ridgewood as what I was doing at Westchester and try to get those same feelings.
It provides new life, really, this playoff system. Once everybody gets readjusted with points at the start of the Barclays. Everybody's for the most part if you're up near 20th, 30th, you've got a legitimate chance of winning this thing.
So that provides a lot of excitement and gives renewed life when you come to a tournament at the start of the playoffs. Hopefully, I can get that going again and draw on some of those memories that I took from Westchester.
Q. Can you talk about the feel of a FedExCup playoff event as opposed to a regular PGA TOUR or major you're at this week?
STEVE STRICKER: Well, it's probably not quite the same feel as a major. But it's -- or even a World Golf Championship event. But, you know, it still holds a lot of importance. You know there is a lot riding on the line. And depending where you are on the point list, that could vary from one player to the next.
But last year I can remember going to the Barclays and feeling like this was a big tournament, this was an important tournament. A lot of the top players were there except, I guess, Tiger, the top player. But it's still -- you still feel like it's of major importance.
Like I said, there is a lot riding on the line. You want to play in all of them so you can keep moving up. There is a lot of money involved. They all mean a great deal and you want to do your best.
MIKE CRISPINO: Stricker's currently 18th in the FedExCup standings. Any other questions for the defending champion of the Barclays? I think that will do it.
Steve, thank you so much. Best of the luck at Oakland Hills, and we'll see you in a couple of weeks here in Ridgewood.
STEVE STRICKER: Yes, thank you for having me, we'll see you there in a couple of weeks, and hope you had fun today.
MIKE CRISPINO: Thank you so much.
So that was Steve Stricker. Obviously, one of the great players in the game.
We did have fun today, though if you missed the fairways, as Peter Mele has warned me many times, I had to have Caddie help to get my golf balls. That's going to be an issue even when the pros get here.
Let's move on to an introduction to a very important gentleman here on the premises who is the tournament chairman. He is a very important guy to everything that goes on around this facility and for this tournament, the Barclays, please give a warm welcome to Peter Mele.
PETER MELE: Thanks, Mike. Mike was very generous when he called me as co-host. I'm more of a straight man than anything else. He has no fear of me rivalling his profession.
First of all, I want to thank everybody coming today. We really appreciate the support and everything you've done for us up to this point, and what you're going to do for us going forward.
This is kind of bittersweet for us and the staff here. This has been a very quick process from beginning to end. We moved here in March, and here we are two weeks before the event, we kind of liked this one to linger a little bit longer. It came and went kind of fast. We have a lot of work to do ahead of us.
But really a huge debt of gratitude to the folks at Ridgewood from president Steve and Alex, the first vice chair and all the staff, Edmond and Todd and David. Just wonderful, wonderful people. We've got vice chairs that are just outstanding that are all members.
The board has been supportive. They've worked with us in every way as partners, and I cannot thank them enough for that. It's been huge for us. It's been an absolute joy.
The Mayor of Paramus has been outstanding, given us every level of support he and his staff could ever give anybody. From the public safety side of it to the permit side, to just working with us with traffic and parking and all of that. It's just been outstanding.
We could never do an event of this size without all of these partnerships in place. It just can't happen.
You can't have six people or a dozen people manage something like this without the support and cooperation of the entire community.
On behalf of Barclays and the PGA TOUR, and our benefiting charities and players, we want to thank all of you for being tremendous partners to this point. I know the next two weeks we're going to have some fun and have a great golf tournament.
I also want to thank my staff. My full-time staff, our intern staff, they're wonderful people. They work tireless hours. They've made the transition in venue as we started this rotation process, and they've really risen to the occasion. My hat goes off to them.
What we've done from a sales side, on corporate sales has been terrific. What we've done building out a golf course that was never built out on before.
People asked us what the biggest challenge has been, the biggest challenge is taking papers that you do in the middle of winter walking in the snow, and actually building the structures out when the grass comes out and see if it all fits. Because two inches here and there makes a difference. So that's been the biggest challenge for us since we've never built here before.
As I said, corporate sales have been terrific. We're pacing roughly 10% over last year's numbers in corporate sales in a very difficult economy. So hat's off to our sales team and all of our partners that are supporting us. Ticket sales are also going very strong.
We're running remarkably right now almost two times last year's total admission sales where we sit today two weeks to go. Apples to apples, two weeks ahead we're running five times where we were last year with two weeks to go. So ticket sales are doing great. But with that said, there's a lot of work to do.
People have always asked me, what is the best part of my job? The best part of my job is giving charity checks out at the end of the day. It's not hanging out with Phil or talking to Padraig or Steve Stricker. It's handing out the charity checks at the end.
That is the best part of my job, trust me. I've done it for a long time. Nothing feels better than handing to one of our charity partners a check that we know is going to go to a very good cause and help the people in need.
The charity dollars are driven by admissions, so we need your help to help us sell tickets. Whatever you can do in your publications, in your radio shows, in your television stations, if you can help us sell tickets, that's going to drive charity dollars.
The more admissions we do, the more charity dollars we can give away. 100% of the proceeds from these events stay right in this community, with some great charity partners that are here today and some that aren't.
When I tell you that the more we do, the better they're going to do. So if you don't necessarily want to help us, help them. Because they're going to help a lot of very needy people, and we have some great partners that I'm not going to get into mentioning now because there are just too many and I'll probably leave somebody off. But David will talk about a few of them later.
But tickets will be on sale at the gate. I'm not sure if that was the case in 2001. But at this point we're not looking at a sellout, where we will not sell tickets at the gate. So please get that message out.
Parking is at Bergen Community College. Get that message out. It's very easy. Walking right into the golf course, right on the practice range and right to 18. There's no better situation anywhere.
So again, thank you for coming today, I'll be around afterwards if there are any questions, we turn it back over to Mike.
MIKE CRISPINO: Thank you, I don't think a golf tournament or a sporting event could have a more positive title sponsor than Barclays. They've been terrific with us in the television show and Peter in the tournament. And lending their name to an event like this is huge, obviously.
So I want you to meet a very important guy that is going to tell you about Barclays involvement here. He is the Managing Director and Head of Investment Banking and Debt Capital Marketing for the Americas, his name is Jim Glascott.
JIM GLASCOTT: I can assure you I'll be very brief. An investment banker in a suit is not what you're here to hear. I can tell you driving up here today, having been lucky enough to play this great course probably ten times in the last five years with a good friend of mine, I thought what a dope I'm wearing a suit and driving up to Ridgewood. There is something wrong with that.
On behalf of Barclays and 135,000 employees worldwide, we're thrilled to sponsor this event. As a card carrying member of the MGA, which I am, this is a great venue. We'll have great crowds as Peter just discussed.
Barclays, as you know, is very, very involved in golf. We've obviously sponsored the Barclays. We've sponsored the Scottish Open, which believe it or not in Scotland every year. We also sponsored the Singapore Open. So we are big fans of the game, of the integrity that the game supports, and the people at the game attracts. We just are very, very involved and proud of it.
We also are very proud more recently to sponsor Phil Mickelson. There's a very subtle Barclays logo there on his shirt if you can notice it. We're proud to sponsor him, and we also sponsor Darren Clarke, he's been a great supporter of the firm for many years.
We also have 600-700 employees right here in Whippany. Right over in Whippany. So it's important to us to be involved in New Jersey, and to support the community. And as Peter pointed out, the real winners here are going to be the charities. So I specifically mentioned, if I left anybody off, I apologize.
The First Tee of Metropolitan, New York, The Children's Aide and Family Services of New Jersey, the Burrough of Paramus Firefighters, the Bergen Community College Civic Engagement Fund, The Ridgewood Education Foundation, the Valley Hospital Foundation and the Valley Hospital Auxiliary. These are all some of the great folks that benefit from the charity here.
Again, we at Barclays are very, very honored to sponsor this event. Again, I know it's been harped upon all day, but this is such a great, great golf course, and we are really looking forward to playing it. Hopefully, we'll have days like we had today.
Again, on behalf of Barclays and all our employees and all the folks involved in golf, we do thank you for coming and thank you for being involved.
We'll have a great tournament which you know starts August 21st. If you happen to be here for the Pro-Am, which is August 20th, I went out early with Patrick and was touring where we're going to have our tent on the 18th hole to the left there. If you see me coming up, that's snap hook territory, please don't stand anywhere near that venue. But look forward to seeing you August 21st, thank you.
MIKE CRISPINO: Thank you. We'll keep that in mind. Snap-hook, that's what I did today.
Jim mentioned the integrity of this game and the people who play this game, and there is no other sport like it in my opinion, I cover them all, football, baseball, hockey, basketball, all the majors and some of the minor ones, too. So that's one of the beauties of being involved in a golf tournament, and being on hand to watch the greatest players in the world play.
So you talk about integrity, you have to have people on the highest levels managing in the PGA TOUR levels to make sure that that's the case. I want to introduce you now to David Pillsbury, Executive Vice President Management of the PGA TOUR, to tell you a little about the Tour's commitment here.
DAVID PILLSBURY: Thank you very much, it's really a delight to be here. This is a magical place. There is no question about it, on behalf of Commissioner Finchem who couldn't be here today. I want to extend his deepest gratitude for your support, and for your assistance as we lead up to the event here, the final stages.
I want to also acknowledge a few folks, we mentioned the Mayor, Jim Tedesco is here with us today. Again, Mr. Mayor, thank you for your gracious hospitality. Of course, Steve Hennesey, President of the Board, all the other board members who are here today, a very special thanks from the PGA TOUR for your incredible hospitality.
Alex as well, you've been terrific. We couldn't do it without your support. We hear this from Peter day-in and day-out.
Needless to say, a tournament like this is impossible without a great partner and a great sponsor. I think we all agree that the Barclays is just a great company. We're so proud to be associated with Barclays, Jim, and we look forward to a really successful event here this year.
Peter Mele and his team do a great job. I can tell you from behind the scenes, the level of commitment and passion Peter and his team have for making this an event that the members at Ridgewood will be proud of, PGA TOUR players will be proud of, and the world will be proud of is one that we take very seriously.
He's supported by Brian Goin, you'll see Brian Goin around a fair amount. He runs a number of our events. Championship management. Brian's here with us today. Make sure you say hello if you get a minute.
The club is really the stage. This is where it all happens. Certainly that's in large part a function of the leadership of the management team here. Several of the team were mentioned, club manager, Evan Ross, he's done such a fantastic job along with the head professional, and Todd, the superintendent.
But we got to witness some of the culinary staff's excellence today, so how about a round of applause for the culinary team here at Ridgewood?
You know, when we think about Ridgewood, we recognize that this is one of America's great clubs. One of our great golf courses. It's impeccably maintained, but perhaps more importantly, the tradition here is so incredibly rich.
To think that in two weeks, the best players in the world, based upon how well they played, the best players in the world, are going to be walking in the same footsteps as the 1935 Ryder Cup team. In the shadows of the likes of Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen.
Pretty incredible when you walk through some of the rooms here at the club and you see its history and tradition here at Ridgewood, it gives you goose bumps.
Just sitting here at the table, I look up at the FedExCup, etched in the first FedExCup, the champion Tiger Woods, makes you think who is going to be the champion this year? We know that the first stage will be set here at Ridgewood.
We also know that the world will be watching. 144 countries will watch this tournament. 355 million households, which we think is very fitting for a club of such renowned tradition, and the FedExCup coming together here at Ridgewood.
We'd like to thank the media for your assistance in getting the word out that the tournament is here. Because we think from a fan perspective, this is going to be an incredible event. This is a venue that is very easy for a fan to traverse. To walk around this golf course and watch the best players of the world, hopefully, in weather conditions like we've had today, it is truly going to be a treat for fans.
We think the concept of rotation among some of the best golf courses in the New York, New Jersey marketplace, is one that is exciting for a number of reasons.
We've got a 40-year history at Westchester Golf Club. We're delighted to have the opportunity to spread our history in the FedExCup with Barclays here to Ridgewood. And in 2009, the Barclays FedExCup tournament moves, of course, to Liberty National in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.
We think these three venues provide for a tremendous challenge for the best players in the world, and an opportunity for fans in these different parts of New York and New Jersey to come out and experience the competition from the best players in the world.
I would say, finally, the most important part from a community perspective is the fact that tickets equal charity, and Peter spoke to this.
This is a very important part of what the PGA TOUR does. You all know that a couple of years ago we crossed the billion dollars mark in terms of the dollars that we raised.
To some extent that gets lost because it's a big number. The reality is it's where the rubber hits the road. It's what happens in the community. It's how these dollars actually change lives.
So the charities that Jim mentioned are about people who are passionate about having an impact in the community. And we are so proud to be associated with each and every one of those charities and hope that we can maximize the dollars that are available to this community as a result of the Barclays Championship here at the beginning of the FedExCup.
In closing, I'd just like to say that Steve Stricker started the FedExCup series off in great form last year. He was a great champion here at the Barclays. He will defend. I'm sure he'll do it in a very classy way.
I know we are going to have one heck of a competition. These players are going to have a very stiff challenge in front of them as many of you witnessed here today. So we're delighted to be here.
We look forward to another historic event in this new history of the FedExCup with the Barclays. We look forward to seeing you all here in the next couple of weeks. Thanks very much.
MIKE CRISPINO: Thank you. Also, Jim and David will be around and Peter Mele afterwards if you want to ask specific questions.
Thank you for joining us on media day, and we'll see you when the tournament begins in a couple of weeks.
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