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


September 3, 2010

Tim Finchem

Jim Lyski

Jack Nicklaus

Steve Rasmussen

JACK NICKLAUS: It's an exciting day for the Memorial Tournament and as we move out and the new future of the Memorial Tournament, with an old Central Ohio friend, announcing Nationwide Insurance will become the presenting sponsor of our tournament beginning in 2011.
Through the 35 years of the Memorial Tournament, we really tried to do something special for Central Ohio, and something that when I started this thing years ago, I wanted to bring back golf to Ohio in a significant way, and in my own hometown, create something for the people in Central Ohio that was very special and to benefit the charities of our area. You know, the same actual reasons that Nationwide Insurance is involved in Columbus, Ohio, and being here, we are delighted that that is the commonality that is there.
So Nationwide is our first local affiliation and sponsor. The initial partnership is initially for six years. It speaks volumes about their passion for golf and in particular, the golf fans of Central Ohio. The last few years have been difficult and trying ones in our global economy, and few industries have felt the impact of the challenges more than the game of golf, but Nationwide Insurance has been involved in the game of golf for almost 20 years now. They understand what the impact has been and have been involved in the local economy, and they have stepped up to be part of that and be part with us in moving forward.
So we are delighted that Nationwide is here. You know, we are going to continue to benefit the Nationwide Children's Hospital along our partnership of the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation and, Nationwide has been one of the leading companies of Ohio for so many years, I have admired and watched Nationwide's growth and more importantly their contributions to our community.
And so this is yet one more important contribution to our community and we are proud of our new partnership and excited about our collective future.
Steve, if you would say a few words.
STEVE RASMUSSEN: Well, I don't know if it will be any better than what you've had to say but we could not be more pleased than to be part of this great event. I have looked on this from afar for a long time. Frankly, 30 years ago was the first time that I had an opportunity to be part of this event and got a chance to be a great spectator out there, and my then less than one-year-old son got a really great chance to disturb Tom Watson and never quite sure Tom forgave us.
This is a great facility and this is a great tournament, and it obviously has an incredible host. We could not be more pleased. Jack Nicklaus represents everything that Nationwide represents. It is a matter of excellence. We all think of Jack for the excellence that he does in the golf world, having been the world's greatest golfer, but frankly, it goes well beyond that with Jack.
Jack has been somebody that has given back to communities in so many ways, including through his golf construction business, through his personal philanthropy and everything else Jack has done. We are incredibly pleased to be part of that. Nationwide has enjoyed being and working with the TOUR. Tim has been a great friend of ours, and we want to continue to see our opportunity to stay actively engaged in golf because of what golf frankly represents.
Golf is obviously a sport that is committed to excellence but also a sport that's committed to its communities. And you just have to look at the level of charitable giving that the entire TOUR provides, and we are looking forward to being part of that because that is very much a part of what we think 'on your side' means, is being part of our communities. It is not just about the businesses that we are in. This is incredibly important to us; it's important to our agents and it's important to our associates.
I suspect you will see some Nationwiders out here helping at the tournament. We will certainly be engaged in every way possible. Certainly we are pleased to continue to see a great support for Nationwide Children's Hospital. It is something near and dear to our hearts, and something we want to continue to see that entity grow.
Frankly Jack and Barbara's commitment to pediatric care in their own foundation and pediatric care is something that's very close and near and dear to our hearts, and we want it continue to see the opportunity to raise dollars to benefit those organizations.
It's a great day for us, and frankly, I don't know if very many know this, but Barbara Nicklaus is a former Nationwider earlier in her working career, so we are glad to kind of bring her back into the fold a little bit.
Actually, I understand that Jack may have sold some insurance somewhere in his past. (Laughter) I think Jack and I both made the right decisions; I not becoming a golfer and Jack has watched me do that and would totally agree, and Jack not becoming an insurance guy, but the greatest golfer any of us have ever known.
So, again, thank you all and appreciate you all being here.
JIM LYSKI: Steve, I'm thinking if Jack wants to sell insurance, we should let him.
STEVE RASMUSSEN: I'm all in favor.
JIM LYSKI: I think Steve touched on why this is such a great brand fit for Nationwide, and it is also highly leveragable fit for us, too. We really believe in connecting with our customers, our policy holders in their passion points, and golf is a passion point for so many both in Central Ohio and all over the United States. The excellence of the Memorial Tournament gives us a great venue for which to continue to build upon our relationship with the PGA TOUR.
As Steve mentioned, you know, we have been with the PGA TOUR now for almost 20 years, starting with the seniors, moving onto now the longest-running sponsor of the Nationwide Tour, and just a natural evolution on to what we think is the premiere property on the PGA TOUR.
So we are very excited about what we will be able to bring to this tournament and what this tournament can bring to the Nationwide.
With that, also, you know, as we are in year eight of a ten-year agreement with the PGA TOUR to sponsor the Nationwide Tour. We will continue through the last two years of that relationship, but then begin working with Tim and his team to look for another sponsor to take over as the Nationwide Tour's title sponsor.
We also sponsor a local event here on the Nationwide Tour, and it's the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational. It's one of the premiere events on the Nationwide Tour. This year we raised over $640,000 for local charities, $550,000 of that going to Nationwide Children's Hospital, and we are committed to that for at least the next two years as title sponsor and continue to support that tournament as long as we can keep it in Columbus. It's a very important part of the fund-raising for Nationwide Children's Hospital. Like Steve said, we want to continue to support great entities like that in our community.
So with that, just want to say we look forward to the next six years. We think this is going to be a great relationship, and you know, hopefully it will last much longer than the next six years. And with that. I'll turn it over to Tim.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you, Jim, Steve, Jack, Jackie. The last time I was here was during the Memorial on the 35th anniversary of the Memorial to participate in that and to reflect on fact that after 35 years, certainly, the Memorial will be one of the leading pieces of Jack Nicklaus's legacy.
And so, as such, if you look at the Memorial Tournament, it isn't just another stop on the TOUR. This is a premiere tournament that becomes the focal point of golf globally in May. And from the standpoint of the fans and certainly the players from all over the globe that play here, the world of golf that comes here, it is a unique week and I just want to congratulate Jack, Barbara, the Captain's Club for what has been built here in terms of the quality of this tournament, and the impact that it has.
Consequently to see this come together today, with the partnership of one of the premiere sponsoring organizations in Corporate America, with Memorial, is very, very exhilarating to the PGA TOUR, and we are delighted about it.
I think that when you look at Nationwide and the job they have done in terms of elevating the quality of the Nationwide Tour. I don't know if everybody recognizes that 282 times, the winner on the PGA TOUR has been a player who came from the Nationwide Tour; most recently with Matt Kuchar in New York; 70 percent of the current membership of the PGA TOUR came from the Nationwide Tour.
And Nationwide, as a company, and their sponsorship has elevated the impact of that tour in recent years considerably. Not just by using it as a branding vehicle, but also by integrating the messaging that they use around it in terms of what the involvement of the Nationwide Tour is. I just want to pause and thank Steve and Jim and everybody at Nationwide for that commitment over the years and for their long-term commitment to the PGA TOUR.
As we look at this partnership, I think three or four things from our perspective jump out. First and foremost, the natural affinity and synergy, if you will, of the charity side of the equation, I think is unique. Not just because it will help drive more dollars to Nationwide Children's Hospital, but because it will elevate the messaging about the impact of what can happen when golf dedicates itself to charity.
Secondly, I think it's really important to recognize that Nationwide as a company is a group of excellent marketers. They know sports marketing. They are engaged. They are not a company that lends their name to a sporting enterprise and waits to see what happens. They will be an energetic, involved, active partner to everybody who has historically been involved here, and that's going to make this tournament even better than it has been in the past.
And third and finally, I'll just mention that the continuity of sponsorship, for any tournament, is very important. To know that you have the financial stability to move forward and to grow allows all of these folks to be able to commit themselves to strategic planning and executing to elevate the tournament.
If you're in the tournament business, you know whether it's the Masters or any other tournament, that the end of the tournament, you have a long list of eighty or a hundred things that you can do to make it better the next year. You work on as many of them as you can, and you get better, and the Memorial has gotten better each and every year, because of that focus.
.having the financial security in the long term allows that focus to be accentuated and will improve the tournament even more. And personally, from my perspective, this is such a natural marriage that I can't help but believe it will last for a long, long time and that's very good news for the Memorial.
So for all of those reasons, we are very excited and we are delighted to be part of this announcement. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Tim, and thank you everyone on the dais. We will open up to questions in the audience right now.

Q. Jack, piggybacking on what you said a little bit ago about how everybody is looking for corporate sponsorship, how important was it that it's a hometown, major corporation? How satisfying to you that it's a Columbus-based place that's sponsoring this tournament?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, that obviously has been very important to us. I'll have to say how this sort of happened, my friend, Jack Lutz out here, has sort of got us together, and Jack and Steve have been friends for a long time. Jack kept telling me, he says, "Nationwide might very well be interested in this. I need to try to help get you introduced to him." Jack has been very instrumental and we thank Jack very much for that.
But anyway, having the ability -- we didn't want to step on Nationwide and the TOUR's relationship, and I don't think Nationwide or the TOUR wanted to step on that, either. I think we wanted to make sure that whatever happened was done in the right way.
So we've spent a lot of time making sure had a happened in the right way and the transition for Nationwide, and we were absolutely delighted that Nationwide wanted to be involved here and wanted to be part and grow with us with the community.
So Morgan Stanley has been a great sponsor. They have been here for a long time, did a great job and circumstances have in the allowed them to continue. It was an opportunity that as the Nationwide Tour is sort of semi-running down, you might say, from that standpoint; the TOUR itself is not going to run down. But the relationship serves a lot of moving parts here that really work together and came together at the right time for us, and we were very pleased with that.

Q. Jack or for either man from Nationwide, when did you start? Jack, when from your standpoint did it become apparent to you that Morgan Stanley was not going to be able to continue?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, we respected Morgan Stanley's relationship, which went up through the tournament; as you well know. There was no conversation whatsoever about that prior to that.
Did we have it in the back of our heads? Yes. But did we move forward -- we respected Morgan Stanley's relationship, and made sure that they got their full benefit of their sponsorship through their period of time before anything happened.
STEVE RASMUSSEN: And I'll add to that. Over the course of the summer, we have been working to trying to put this together. And it was not just a matter of coming together with the Memorial.
Frankly, we wanted to work together with Tim and his team to make sure we get an orderly process with what happens with the Nationwide Tour, because that's an incredibly important thing for us. It's like one of your children and you want to see it doing well going forward.
So we have been working with Tim, and I think until we got all of the pieces put together here, we were not going to move forward.

Q. The other announcement, yesterday or the day before, about Deutsche Bank; I wonder if you can talk about the strength of the TOUR and the fact that you're able to bring in another great sponsor here. Obviously they are already involved with the TOUR but seems like you're making strides about doing what you want to do.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, we have come through the first -- I don't know how long this economic climate is going to go on but the first 2 1/2 years of it in good shape. It's a function of the strength of the platform and what the players represent and what these tournaments do for economic impact in the communities and with charity; the economic impact here is significant, tens of millions of dollars. So that has sort of carried the day.
The other thing about it is there's great value, as Nationwide has referenced, in terms of branding and the strength of our audience. That comparatively within sports positions us quite well. This is our 19th major announcement in the last 14 months, so we are very pleased, knock-on-wood. We are virtually 100 percent sponsored for the next couple of years, but we have some things to do.
Of course with this announcement, we now have to concentrate on 2013 plus, at a minimum, for Nationwide Tour sponsorship. But this is a vehicle that Nationwide has referenced many times as an incredible branding opportunity. Some people view it as maybe the best branding opportunity in sports because of the overall exposure.
So we don't anticipate any issues. We just want to find a partner -- we may not be able to find a partner as good as Nationwide, because they have been incredible, but a partner that's active, engaged, wants to build something. And if we can manage that, we'll be just fine.

Q. Specific to this tournament, wondering if there's another tournament that you could even equate to this one when you put together what Jack has done here, his stature in the game, the golf course, this community.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, there are only a handful of tournaments in the world that are played on the same golf course every year and get virtually all best players to play. And of those, there's only a couple that the world of golf comes together.
So there are all of these different dimensions to what happens here that's unique. As I said before, the commitment to excellence in terms of execution has been there for a long, long time, and is probably unmatched. I mean, the Masters is the only tournament I would put in the category of the amount of energy that comes together to impact a focus on executing better and better every year, and in every fashion.
Some of it you see, and some of it, the individuals on the Captain's Club see because a lot of it is behind the scenes. But it's very, very impressive. And it's a testament to Jack, not just Jack, but what he's built and the family and the Captains. And that's I think why marrying that with a sponsor that's demonstrated their capability over the years on the Nationwide is going to be very, very positive.

Q. For the Nationwide people, I was wondering if you could talk about the reason that you're pulling away from the Nationwide Tour. Is it for financial reasons or for marketing reasons or for a combination of both?
JIM LYSKI: We have been very, very happy over the last several years with the Nationwide Tour, but when we had an opportunity to step up and sponsor or present the Memorial, it was too good of an opportunity to pass for all of the reasons that Steve and Jack and Tim alluded to.
So when you look at that, and you look at the inventory that we have in golf, it just -- you reach some diminishing returns when you keep adding and adding. The primary reason is that we wanted to get to an optimum spend level in the golf property, and we don't think we need a tour and two tour stops to be able to do that. So we were just looking at what's available and what made the most sense to spend down a little.
STEVE RASMUSSEN: I think I'll add to Jim's comment. The decision on this was absolutely nothing with the Nationwide Tour. It has been a great branding experience for us. But this really let's us take it to the next level from a couple of dimensions. First of all, it is the Memorial and it is Jack Nicklaus. You really can't get any better branding experience than that.
But beyond that, this is our hometown, and this is our hometown charity that's involved. And frankly, something that's incredibly important to us as an organization, it isn't just about selling insurance policies. It is also about -- it is also about the community and it's also about a relationship with Nationwide Children's.
So those all come together to help us focus. This is what we want to do in the golf space. We obviously have other sports media we do like NASCAR and others, but for this golf, we found the plateau; this is where we want to be.

Q. For Jim, you mentioned the commitment for the next two years to the Nationwide Tour event at Scarlet; can you give any indication of how confident you are of being able to extend that agreement or is it in a wait-and-see mode?
JIM LYSKI: Over the next two years we are confident we are going to be putting on a great event at Scarlet. After that, we are going to be working diligently with the local community to figure out who makes the most sense to be able to take on the title sponsorship. We fully intend to participate, but just not at a title level, but we will do everything we can to ensure that that event continues on.
Like I said, being able to generate over $1.5 million for Nationwide Children's Hospital in its first four years, probably a greater success than anything on the Nationwide Tour has been able to accomplish in its first four years.
So this thing is a home run, and we just want to make sure that it's handed over correctly to whoever's turn it is to take it on and continue to move it forward.
STEVE RASMUSSEN: We want to stay actively engaged in it, but this is just another opportunity to take that tournament to the next level, as well, because the fans here in the City of Columbus are outstanding and they support that event like no other in terms of the Nationwide Tour. It is a great opportunity which we will stay engaged in.

Q. Certainly something that everybody is very happy about, all of the things going on here with the tournament and securing the next six years of having the event, but wonder if you can speak to something that's important to you, which is the Nicklaus Children's Healthcare Foundation and how this partnership secures that, as well, and boosts the initiatives that you have there.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, when we brought the Nicklaus Children's Healthcare Foundation into that, we did it as a partnership with the Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Memorial Tournament.
Our goal, and Nationwide's goal, is to have better national recognition. We not only support -- our foundation is primarily supporting in South Florida, and we wanted to be able to extend on that and be able to help kids wherever we have the ability to help kids.
We certainly don't want to take one dime out of Columbus, Ohio from the Nationwide Children's Hospital; that's certainly not our intention. Our intention is if somebody in Peoria, Illinois wants some help, the tentacles of Nationwide Children's Hospital and Nicklaus Children's Healthcare Foundation might be able to help those people, and that's what we would like to be able to do. And the more than national recognition we get in that, the better position we are to be able to help, and the people that understand who out are out there can help us do that.

Q. Off-topic, but it is the Memorial Tournament. Since you've been in town, I assume you've had a chance to see the 16th hole, and what are your thoughts.
JACK NICKLAUS: The 16th hole is no longer a pleasant way to get from the 15th green to the 17th tee. It's a golf hole -- I don't know if the golf hole will be all that more difficult, Bob, but the golf hole is beautiful. I think they are taking the press out there after that; is that correct? It's actually starting to turn green. The green has been mowed about three times. The lake's water is filling up in the lake. The lake should be full probably by Sunday or Monday. (Laughter).
But our intention was to try to create a golf hole that was just not a -- I know you've heard me talk about when we did the membership and polled the holes of -- what the favorite holes were, and we had 14 or the 18 and I knew I had four to work on. Well, 16 was one of those; it took me 35 years to work on it.
I'm not even sure it will be more difficult, but the hole will be more exciting. We about doubled the gallery area there and we have the ability to put skyboxes in an area. With The Presidents Cup coming, historically many matches are finished at 15, 16 area. So the gallery area will be able to accept that.
There's many reasons why it's going to turn out to be really nice, and I think every person that's been here over the last couple of months that's gone by that looked at it, they have just gone, wow, what a change and what a difference. It's really quite pretty and I think it's really -- the hole is only 200 yards long, so the fellas, they will probably play it downwind, so most guys will probably play a 7-iron to it. It 'snot going to be a long hole. I'm standing back there with a 4-wood or a 5-wood, but I don't play back there anymore. (Laughter).
I think it will be a great addition to the tournament, Bob. It's turned out very nicely. And did some other things, too. It actually allowed us to expand our maintenance area, because when we reshuffled it, we needed that space. Created a new nursery area for us. There was a lot of different things that it did for us; it wasn't just a hole but some things that we needed internally within Muirfield Village.

Q. Have you set dates for that Presidents Cup yet? I know it was up in the air when you announced it here a few months ago.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No. Because our new television cycle starts in 2013, so we will be setting those dates during the course of 2011. But you could anticipate that they will be in the same time framework that Presidents Cup/Ryder Cup generally is, which is the end of September, early October. I can't imagine we would move much away from that. Probably be right in that framework.
THE MODERATOR: That will concludes our interview portion and we will ask the five gentlemen up here to take a picture. Thank you for being here.

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