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June 2, 2003

Leonard Foster

Craig Parry

Don Plusquellic

Tom Strong

Ken Vedder

JAMES CRAMER: Good morning, everyone. We'd like to women come you to the 2003 World Golf Championships NEC Invitational Media Day. My name is James Cramer. I'm the senior manager of communications and media operations for the PGA TOUR and again I'd like to welcome you here. I'd like to begin by introducing our distinguished guests who will be speaking throughout the program. I'd like to begin with our defending champion, Mr. Craig Parry. (Applause). Mayor Donald Plusquellic from the City of Akron. From NEC, our umbrella and title sponsor, Mr. Ken Vedder. And from the Northern Ohio golf charities, Mr. Leonard Foster. I'd also like to introduce some of the distinguished guests we have in the audience today: Mr. Larry Foster, volunteer chairman for the 2003 NEC Invitational; Mr. Tom Knoll, the club chairman and one of the governors of Firestone Country Club; Mr. Don Pagent, the GM of Firestone and vice president of ClubCorp, Incorporated; Vincent King, the executive director of the First Tee Chapter here in Northern Ohio; and John Conti, councilman at large for the City of Akron. As I said, we are very excited, all of us that work at the World Golf Championships, to come back to Firestone Country Club. We enjoyed our stay at Sahalee last year, but Firestone really feels like home for this tournament and we're really glad to be back. One of the changes you're going to see from the last time we were here is the change in the eligibility criteria which really, we feel, enhances the tournament and expanded the field. It really is a world-class field. It's going to be one of the top ones of the year. As a matter of fact, on the 2002 PGA TOUR, there were only three tournaments where all 50 of the world's Top-50 appeared, and the NEC Invitational was one of them. I believe the NEC Invitational was the last one of them and there has not been one yet this year. We may go the whole year until this year's when we get all Top-50 again. Before I introduce the executive director of the NEC Invitational, I'd like to again recognize NEC our umbrella sponsor and also send out our gratitude to the two other umbrella sponsors at the World Golf Championships, American Express and Accenture. Now I'd like to introduce the executive director of the 2003 NEC Invitational, Mr. Tom Strong.

TOM STRONG: Welcome, everyone. I'd also like to extend a welcome back to NEC and Ken Vedder who is here representing now. They have been great partners for the NEC Invitational for last four years and we are glad to have them aboard. As many of you already know, the NEC will be back here at Firestone not only for 2003 but also 2004 and 2005. So it's really a privilege to have them as part of our sponsorship package, as well as Accenture and American Express. Hard to believe, we are 79 days from the day the gates open, and what you'll see when that happens, as James had already mentioned, the field size will be somewhere between 70 and 80 players versus the 40 that we had in past years. That definitely changes when we start our gates are going to open a little bit early at 7:30 in the morning as we get into the golf on Saturday. For Thursday or Friday, we'll end at about 7:00 in the evening and then we'll go to more normal times, 6:30 and 6:00 on the weekend. The spectators will definitely like it a lot more. Corporate hospitality will surely like it because we have moved the hospitality venues onto the golf course. Embassy Row, which was located on the parking lot here has been moved to between 16 and 17 fairways and also the Federation Club Table is adjacent to 18 green. So from a hospitality standpoint, it will be a great change and you'll be able to see a lot more golf than you have in the past. Changes on the golf course as most of you already know, the 14th hole has been extended to 467 yards. I was talking to Craig earlier, depending if they lay-up short in the bunker or hit a 6-iron into the green. Probably the biggest change was the 16th hole had been pushed back to 667 yards and that will bring the two bunkers in the right more into play and so the players will find that those will add some challenges as they play the golf course. And last thing, ticket packages and sales have gone extremely low. We are still anticipating a sellout. Corporate hospitality packages, we only have two left, and we will sell out in that category as well. I'd like to introduce Donald for his comments.

MAYOR PLUSQUELLIC: I want to welcome back the NEC Invitational. We are very happy to host this event. Thanks to many of the people here and thousands, actually, literally in this community, we enjoy our relationship with professional golf and the NEC and we really want to thank everyone involved and for giving us the opportunity to see golf at its best. I think the most significant and probably heartfelt portion of this support has been the millions of dollars that our organizations have received, organizations that have benefitted club donations from Akron Golf Charities and it has been an important part of the organizations. This year we are looking forward to partnering as we open the First Tee part of our golf course, a golf course designed built with the First Tee Program in mind. John Cochran and I are proud to say -- John actually -- we are proud to say that we initially thought we were building a $2 million golf course and I think we are up to $5.5 million. I guess the reason is because we kept adding things and making it better. And so it's going to be a wonderful partnership that will help our young people and encourage them to be involved in this sport. I want to thank everyone mentioned, Tom Knoll, Tom Strong and Akron Golf Charities and all of the volunteers and the sponsor, NEC for the support that they have provided to bring us back to Akron. We are very, very happy to have you all back here. Looking forward to the tournament in August. Thank you.

JAMES CRAMER: As I mentioned earlier, the World Golf Championships are fortunate to have a set of three umbrella sponsors that are over the whole series, and as I mentioned, American Express and Accenture sponsor events, but this event is sponsored and title sponsored by NEC. I would like to introduce Ken Vedder from NEC USA to comment on their involvement.

KEN VEDDER: On behalf of NEC Corporation, it is a privilege to be able to be here at this press conference, with Craig Parry, defending champion. As James mentioned, the World Golf Championships and the Invitational since they started a couple years ago and with the expanding qualification, the NEC Invitational has become an outstanding event, more so than what it was when it first started. The ability of the Invitational to tract a large qualifying group of international players further expanding the golfing experience for spectators on the course and for others who watch it on television or seeing it otherwise. I think it's good for the invitational and it's good for the game of golf, our golf fans, to be exposed to some of the world's outstanding players. We are very pleased to be able to continue that and we look forward to another great year with a great qualifying group this year. We are also pleased to be back after a one-year hiatus. Seattle was splendid, but now we are back here with our old friends, back with the support of a great tournament committee, the volunteers, it's a wonderful golf course and Firestone is a wonderful facility. We also want to also glad to see as the Mayor pointed out that the tournament continues to provide benefits to charity, like the First Tee. Golf is great but we also like to see the support of the community which is so large. So we are really pleased for that, as well. I'd like to say thanks again for coming and we look forward to seeing you all in August for another big tournament, plus the sunshine and no rain.

JAMES CRAMER: One of the special things about the NEC Invitational is the honoring each year of individuals that have given back to the game through the Ambassador of Golf Award. I would like to now introduce Mr. Leonard Foster from the Northern Ohio Golf Charities to make the announcement as to the 2003 Ambassador of Golf.

LEONARD FOSTER: On behalf of Northern Ohio Golf Charities, we'd like to announce that this year's recipients are Robert Devlin, Sr. and Jack Vicars. Jack Vicars and Mr. Devlin have left their mark on the game on the course and through charitable endeavors. Mr. Devlin is founder of ClubCorp, of which Firestone is a partner. Mr. Devlin was recognized for being entrepreneur of the year, Dallas Humanitarian of the Year, Texas Business Hall of Fame, and he has a law school named after him, Devlin School of Law, Devlin College, Devlin Center. Mr. Vicars is founder of Castle Pines Golf Course where THE INTERNATIONAL is played. In addition to the Boys and girls Clubs he sponsored Youth International, Youth International Golf Clinics and International Youth Golf Series and International Pro Junior Challenge and he is a member of the College Golf Hall of Fame. We'd like to recognize those two gentleman and appreciate the efforts given by all of you in supporting the Ambassador of Golf.

JAMES CRAMER: Thank you. Before I introduce our defending champion I want to mention that in everyone's media kit there is a CD which is this year's press kit, and on there in addition to the standard documents, there are photo files, video files. We wanted to try something a little new this year and I'm looking forward to your feedback when we come back this summer as to what you thought about it and about going forward with it. Last year at Seattle, we saw a masterful performance. As everyone recalls, Tiger Woods had won the NEC Invitational for three consecutive years here at Akron, and there was a lot of attention placed on him as he was trying to become the first golfer in 50-odd years to win the same event four years in a row. Craig Parry came through with a great performance on a tough golf course. I believe it was your 20th or 21st international victory, your first in the United States. I'd like to now introduce Craig Parry to make a few comments before we take questions.

CRAIG PARRY: Thank you. Well, obviously last year was pretty special to me. Seattle is a very tough golf course. It was in great condition. It was probably one of the last events I was going to play on TOUR, so I was relaxed, went out and played well and just had to beat Tiger. Earlier in the year I had been in New Zealand, I had beat him at the New Zealand Open, and in the event I beat him again. This year is going to be a little different. We are coming back to Firestone where he did win. It's a great golf course. It's a tough golf course that you really have to drive the ball very straight and your drives have to be accurate. All around it's a great golf course and the players do love to come here. I've played it about five times. The last time I played here, I think I came in about third so I look forward to coming back.

Q. How is the state of your game heading into the U.S. Open in a couple of weeks, and have you had a chance to take a look at Olympia Fields? Can you give us your general impressions of the golf course?

CRAIG PARRY: My game is probably not what I would like. I played the Nelson -- after the win last year I didn't really have a chance to have a holiday. The first time this year I was at the Mercedes in Hawaii and I didn't really have a break, so I decided to have a break. You know, now I'm getting back, I did a lot of practicing last week and the week before and I played Olympia Fields last Tuesday, the day Tiger was there. I thought it was a fantastic golf course. It brings the short hitters a chance to win the U.S. Open whereas last year really no short hitters had a chance to win.

Q. What do you remember when you did so well that you tied for third and how does that compare to Seattle?

CRAIG PARRY: Last time I was here, I actually hit the ball well tee-to-green. I had a lot of great iron shots into the greens. This is the type of golf course that can play fast. I remember I didn't putt as good as I would have liked. I think that's hard -- -- obviously Tiger won. But I feel like I can play the golf course.

Q. How will it be different from last year?

CRAIG PARRY: Well, everything. It was just one of those golf courses I felt really comfortable on the golf course. It was very tight and those of you who know the game, I tend to hit it very straight. I find the golf courses on the Tour, it helps if you hit it long, not so much if you hit it straight. Sometimes you get past the trouble if you hit it long. Where as- the fairways -- you could hit a tree where in Australia we play tight golf courses and courses like Sahalee, or Firestone I should say. That's why I believe my game is more suited for Europe.

Q. How big was last year as a win in your career?

CRAIG PARRY: It was definitely the biggest event that I've won anywhere in the world. It took a lot of pressure off me as far as not having to prove myself. I had won in Europe quite a few times and in Japan and in Australia. It was nice to have a breakthrough and not only have a breakthrough, but this was one of the bigger event of the year. I went back to Australia after the tournament victory and all the media and everybody, I had uncles and people like that; it was a nice feeling.

Q. How different is it to win in one place and now come back and defend someplace else? Does it give you a different feeling, a sense of the tournament?

CRAIG PARRY: Probably it's a little bit different because when you win a tournament, the tournaments now that stay in the same place -- it's not that way if you if you win a national tournament, the tournaments move around. I'm still looking forward to coming back and playing. I know the golf course. It's a great golf course. I'm sure I'll play well.

Q. Will you feel any extra pressure being champion? And the secret of your success in Sahalee, keeping the ball in the fairway, is that going to be pretty necessary here at the NEC?

CRAIG PARRY: Yes, they are similar golf courses in the fairways, they are very straight. There is a little bit of slope on a couple of the fairways and you really don't want the ball feeding down in the fairways because it can run into the rough very quickly. You really don't want to have to hit a shot out of the rough on this golf course. There's not too many holes you get up where you can make a birdie from the rough. The second hole is your only chance if you hit a bad drive to make birdie. The weather is going to be a bit warmer here. Last time when we were in Sahalee, it was a little bit cooler, very tree-lined. This has trees, but they are not the same places that they are in Sahalee.

Q. Last year, the third day, you were very relaxed about the whole thing, with not a lot of media out there. Now there will be more pressure on you here because you are the champion and people do know you.

CRAIG PARRY: Not really. Obviously I want to go out and play well every week of the year, and all of the professional golfers, we go out there and try to do our best, and if our best is good enough, well, that's great, but it's not good enough, you go ahead and play the following week. I know the golf course well enough. There are times when you come and don't know the golf course that you might go and play in places that you shouldn't go. This golf course, a lot of the players have played it quite a few times. I know Tiger is a lot longer and drives the ball great and is on top of his game -- it will be tough to hold up against Tiger, and he's the best player in the world.

Q. Can you talk about the added length on 14 and especially 16, adding on the 40 yards to that par 5?

CRAIG PARRY: Well, I was talking earlier about the fourth hole. I was hitting one -- and 3-iron off the tee to get in in between the bunkers and sometimes hit 6-iron into the green, that's really probably not going to play any different. 16 is going to be a lot longer. The bunker on the right-hand side are going to be in play a lot more and you're just going to have to drive the ball well. It's a hard golf course. You've got to drive the ball, good irons, and your putting.

Q. What was the pressure like, playing 236 TOUR events, just was it getting to you, wondering when this was going to happen?

CRAIG PARRY: I thought it would happen. It was a matter of -- this year I was actually going to be in Japan. I won in Japan '99, and that was a ten-year exemption. I live in Australia, so straight up to Japan, nine-hour flight, one-hour time change and I was looking forward actually to going to Japan and having a normal life. This year, obviously it's changed a lot, winning a tournament. I really didn't feel as though there was a lot of pressure on me because I was playing with Fred Funk and Robert Allenby, both good mates of mind and we had played practice rounds. It was more of like a couple guys, that's what it felt like. Tiger was three groups in front of us and he was taking all of the heat which was great.

Q. It almost seems that there's a disproportionate level of success per capita of Australian golfers. Can you speak to that?

CRAIG PARRY: Well, the advantage we've got in Australia, we've got very good weather. We really don't have weather as far as like you guys have. We don't play golf courses more months at a time. It's really golf season 12 months of the year. We have great golf courses to play. The wind normally blows so you have to be able to fly your ball. We have got great coaches. You know, we've got a pretty good tour. We play golf courses that are hard on our tour and we have a junior program that is well very well respected around the world. We have a lot of guys that had success, and everyone feeds off everyone else. We have a lot of good juniors coming through. In the next couple years, we'll probably have another four or five on the Tour.

Q. You had a dry spell in 2001, what was going on there? Was that anything physical?

CRAIG PARRY: That was mental. Not really. I did a lot of traveling. I live in Australia. My wife and kids are at home. I do my schedule more or less around obviously the bigger tournaments and school holidays. Over the last four years, I've real little only missed one school holiday. In Australia, they go three months and then two weeks off, so I try to spend as much time as I can at home. I'll go to the British Open, go home for another two weeks. I went seven times last year between L.A. and Sydney -- that's four or five times across, that's quite a bit of flying. It makes it hard the first week. You come back down, and you are always waking up at two o'clock in the morning and then the next day three o'clock and then four o'clock. That's probably the hardest thing.

End of FastScripts...

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