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October 15, 2010

Taylor Ives

Greg Norman

LEE PATTERSON: We want to thank everybody for being with us this morning and taking some time out of your busy schedules. This is an exciting day as we start our 10th shootout here in Naples. We've got a really good group of players coming, and with that, I've got obviously our host Greg Norman up here with me and Taylor Ives, the tournament director, and Greg is just going to open up with a couple of comments about the field that we're announcing today and then we'll open it up for questions.
GREG NORMAN: I think we have enough of the regulars in here on an annual basis to know that I say this on a consistent basis, but each year I feel like I do say the field is the best field we've ever had. But this year it's eclipsed any field.
I think it's just a -- well, any PGA TOUR event would want it, there's no question about it, no matter where you're playing or what you're doing. The depth and the strength of the field, the balance of international players to American players to rookies to -- the Rickie Fowlers, the young players to the old guys. I think from our standpoint and the Naples area and for television and for our sponsors, just an absolutely incredible field.
I really do appreciate all the guys. It's been an interesting one to say the least, probably more excitement amongst the players about wanting to come to play than anything else.
Right up until the 11th hour, four guys just said I'm going to be there, and it kind of threw Taylor and I into a bit of a tailspin because I had four or five other guys who were equally as good as any of the 24 in this field that I had on the list to invite if they didn't step up to the plate. So it was more of a making a phone call saying, sorry, the field is full, than making a phone call saying, hey, you guys, are you available.
It's been a fantastic year in that department, and I think it's just a testament to Taylor Ives and to the Merrill Lynches of the world to what the Ritz-Carlton has done here to the format of the golf tournament. The players love it, their wives love it, and this year is a standing testament to that.

Q. Can you enlighten us on some of the field? Are you announcing it?
LEE PATTERSON: It's in your packet.

Q. More for you than just about the event, you're seeing guys like Bernhard Langer extending his career. He's having a fantastic year, Nick Price, good friend, having that kind of year. Does that kind of get your juices flowing and make you think about getting back out there again more than you do?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I haven't been able to play -- I didn't touch a golf club for 11 months, up until the third week of July, the second week of July, excuse me, because I had surgery. And quite honestly, being away from it 11 months, I actually really enjoyed it, the fact that I didn't have to go to the driving range. And actually there was a part of my day that I always used to allocate for golf, like five, six, seven, eight hours a day, I didn't have to allocate it. So I had a lot more time on my hands and I enjoyed life a heck of a lot more.
But then you get back to playing and you feel it again, and I've been hitting balls not on a regular basis day in, day out, but I'm hitting enough balls now where I get a little bit more excited because I'm getting some feedback. One day I'll go out and play really good golf and the next day I'll play really bad golf. So the really bad golf stimulates me to come back and play a little bit more.
Whether I'll go back and play like a Bernhard Langer does on a regular basis week in, week out, I don't think so. I really -- like I said, I really enjoy my other part of life now. I've slowed down a little bit which I really enjoy.
The economic times have had a lot to do with that, too, because the golf course design business is not the halcion days of the past. So I've got time to do other things, and I'm really enjoying doing those other things, more my private, personal side and for myself, just taking time to do things on my own, and I'm loving it. I don't think I'll be back on a full-time regular basis.

Q. As long as we're on the topic of your recent months, how does The Shark relax?
GREG NORMAN: Believe it or not, I just stay at home.

Q. Watching TV?
GREG NORMAN: No, actually don't even watch TV. Very seldom would I watch TV. I turn the TV on on a Sunday to watch the NFL. I really do watch little TV. I watch a bit of FOX News in the morning but nothing during the day. I don't do anything else. I like the music.
I don't know what I do, actually, I really don't. I'll give you an example: I went on a business trip to China a couple months ago. It's the first time I've ever taken two and a half days to sightsee, and I went to the Great Wall of China and I took my fiancé to see the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City, and I've never done that before in all my entire life. So those are the type of things.
I've traveled the world so much. I've been to every continent and probably ever major city and yet I've never gone to the top of the Eiffel Tower, for example. I've never gone to the rim of the Grand Canyon, things like that. Things that you would really like to have on your bucket list you can start putting them on your bucket list and enjoy it a little bit more.

Q. I wanted to follow up about the field briefly. I think there's one of this year's major champions here, but I was wondering if you got a chance to watch the openings of the PGA and the Masters obviously. Of those events, what most surprised you, maybe what did you most enjoy watching? You have a couple other near-major winners here, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson.
GREG NORMAN: Well, I enjoyed watching the British Open this year, watching Louis win. It's the first time I've watched 18 holes of golf on a Sunday ever in my life. I watched him tee off and I watched him hole out, and I never missed one of his shots.
And then I enjoyed Martin Kaymer's win at the PGA. I thought that was a great tournament. Anybody could have won as it turned out, and just the quirkiness of it, how it all happened, too.
You know, I sat back and watched the last six holes of that, as well. So those are probably two of the ones that captured my imagination this year.

Q. What was it like not playing last year, and did you learn anything that you can apply to this year?
GREG NORMAN: By not playing?

Q. Not playing at the Shootout, yeah.
GREG NORMAN: I didn't like it. You don't like just sitting around doing absolutely -- well, not doing absolutely nothing. Taylor is looking at me like, yeah, you did absolutely nothing.
I'm not a good person to go watch a golf tournament because you feel like, hey, I want to be out there. But at the same time you get to appreciate the things that go on behind the scenes. When we walk to the first tee, the next five hours we do what we love to do, but from sunrise to sunset there's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes, so you really get to appreciate that, you get to understand it, and you always have great people around you doing that stuff for you and representing you well, but at the same time you never get to feel it. And when you feel it, you get to appreciate it that much more.
You know, it's a huge effort to run a golf tournament, even to kind of fathom that it's a 53-week-a-year job to tell you the truth, because as soon as you stop on Sunday night you've got to start getting ready for either the Mayakoba Classic or the Shark Shootout next year, and it's a tough environment. We all know it's tough to find a dollar, and when a dollar goes in everybody wants to extract more out of that dollar, too. So everybody is seeking more value out of it.
You figure out a way. You've got to understand that the times make you create the situation a little bit differently. You actually redo your business model a little bit differently so you can survive the storms. And we're all surviving this one because the strength of the field really helps dictate that.

Q. With the full field here, who might you most like to play with?
GREG NORMAN: I'll tell you exactly who I'm going to play with. I'm going to play with -- actually, take a guess. Rickie Fowler? Okay, No. 2. Bubba? No. 3. You guys are all wrong. You don't know me very well.
I'm going to play with Matt Kuchar. I've been a big fan of Matt's for a long period of time, and I can remember praying a practice round with him at Augusta National, and the big smiling face of his hasn't changed, and to see what he's done with his game has been tremendous, kind of like he's revamped himself like a Steve Stricker did, and he's put himself up there, No. 1 on the Money List today, and I don't know how many top 10s he's had this year, but it seems like he's always up there. So I'm looking forward to it. Like I said, I've been a big fan of his for a long time.

Q. And Darren Clarke being here, can you talk about that?
GREG NORMAN: Well, Darren is a very good friend of Graeme McDowell's, and obviously Graeme, we had plenty of options and opportunities for Graeme, and Graeme was very open with us about his feelings of the event because he loved it last year and is a tremendous supporter of it, wanted to come back, irrespective when he won the U.S. Open. You think, maybe he's going to take some time off. But he was one of the first guys saying, I'll be there.
We talked back and forth, and with Darren, he likes Darren, they're good friends. Obviously the Ryder Cup, Darren was kind of an assistant captain there, and the connection obviously has always been there but just developed that much more. We love Darren. I mean, I've known Darren, played golf against him for a long period of time, and he's a consummate guy to be around a group of people. He just loves it and he entertains people, so he's a perfect fit for the format and for this event. So it was just great that Graeme wanted to have him as a partner.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
GREG NORMAN: I don't think so, no. He's probably like me. Maybe he should be playing with me.

Q. Can you talk about any talks with Bank of America/Merrill Lynch about continuing going forward?
GREG NORMAN: We have. Obviously that's a question that we knew was going to be asked, and we just know that Merrill Lynch, when they look at this field this coming week, this coming December, they're absolutely impressed with it. They know it's the best ever. They know the tournament just gets better and better and better, but they have to go through their analysis, as well.
Everything is status quo as we sit here and speak, and I know we have meetings with them scheduled post the tournament, and hopefully they'll stay in. We're encouraged by the conversations we've had, so only time will tell.

Q. The comparison is a stretch a little bit, but after the -- pardon me for bringing it up, the '96 Masters, most people would agree your career wasn't as successful, I suppose, after that point. When you look at what Tiger has gone through in the last two years with the knee injury and then the personal issues, do you see it being an aberration or just a bump for him and he's going to return to his previous former -- can you see it possibly being the kind of thing that might hinder him in the long-term?
GREG NORMAN: Well, it's only something that Tiger can really answer that question. I don't think it's going to be as easy for him as what it was in the past. I think his confidence level has been completely dented a little bit. Not on his private life side of things but more in his golf game. I'm sure when he walks to the tee now, he doesn't have the same adulation that he had before.
Look, I've been there. When I came over here and I dominated the sport here, you always have a percentage of individuals or people who don't want you to do well for whatever reason. I was an international player, so you get this -- when you walk from green to tee and there's 30,000 people and 1,000 of them between the green and tee, you get things thrown in your ear that you cannot block out, no matter how strong your mind is. So Tiger has probably experienced a little bit of that, and it's going to be tough because he's gone through 10, 15 years of his career where everybody was just yelling great things to him.
So he's got to make that adjustment, too. He's a great player. Technically he'll get his game back to where he'll be able to hit the ball the way he likes to hit the ball, and he'll get his confidence back that way, but he has to deal with the other issues, as well, and they just compound a little bit and make life just a little bit more difficult.
And as each year that goes by Tiger gets a year older and these kids get a year younger, and now the kids are not as intimidated by Tiger Woods as they used to be. The group of guys that grew up with Tiger are still Tiger's age, so they're moving on, as well, so now you have this fresh pool of young talent coming through who is saying, give me the reins, I'll go take it on any time, which is great.
I think if you look at the sport, the history of the sport, it seems like every 10 or 12 or 14 years this cycle happens. There's a good player washes his way through and another young player comes through or four or five young players come through and step up to the plate. It's just the evolution of the game.
And the sustainability for a player to be at the top level for a long period of time is tough, because hey, he's under the microscope more now than he's ever been, outside of his playability, so you get put on this pedestal so everybody wants to know what you're doing, and the more you keep yourself out there, the harder it is to keep all that stuff away.
So eventually it gets through. So when it gets through, the concentration level and the application level and the commitment and dedication are probably the same, but it's not -- probably is not the way it used to be within himself. He'll come back. He'll come back and win golf tournaments, but he won't be as dominating as he used to be is what I think anyway.

Q. Can you talk about the finish at the Ryder Cup and any effect that will have on The Presidents Cup?
GREG NORMAN: Actually that was my first thought when I saw America get beaten. I thought, oh, my gosh, it's going to be harder for us in the Presidents Cup because they don't want to lose the Ryder Cup and The Presidents Cup in a two-year time period. I thought it was great for the game of golf. I thought the tournament, the way it came across television, the support that was there amongst the spectators, the approach that the commentators made. The commentating was excellent, I thought. The play was fantastic, the way the players were with each other. Probably the best Ryder Cup from a balance standpoint that I had ever seen.
And obviously Europe winning I think is good for world golf because the game is being pushed away from America just a little bit, which is great. It's a lot to do with the economic times and a lot to do with players, too. I think it just helps the game of golf more on a global basis, it helps the game of golf going into the 2016 Olympics. There's a lot of positive things going on outside of America in the game, and the Ryder Cup for Europe will really help that, as well.
A good victory, good victory for the Europeans. But you've got to be impressed with the Americans; they came back at them. What did it come down to, the last hole, last group? Fantastic for television, to see that. I can't imagine what the pressure is like to actually make those putts under those circumstances.
Ricky did a phenomenal job. I watched his four birdies. I think if he doesn't take something out of that and move forward with his career to another level, then he's really missed the boat. But he relished it, he wanted it, and he produced the goods. So kudos to him.

Q. Sorry to go back to the whole Tiger Woods thing. It used to be not if but when he would catch Jack. Do you still think he has a chance after this past year and his lack of performance on the course that he has a chance to catch Jack?
GREG NORMAN: I think he still has a chance to catch Jack. I think the chances are getting slimmer and slimmer, though. Like I said, the younger players are getting better and better and he's not as intimidating on the golf course as much anymore, and he's not winning. So winning breeds success and confidence.
As he goes into Augusta next year, if he hasn't won a golf tournament, that's going to be nearly a year and a half maybe. That's going to be really tough on him because now you start doubting yourself and you think, okay, when will I ever win again, and then you've got to think about winning majors to break Jack's record.
He's a good enough player to do it, there's no question about it. It's just that as more time goes on, those chances start to dwindle more and more?

Q. You touched on a couple things. How gratifying is the globalization of golf given your role in it?
GREG NORMAN: I love it. I do a lot of traveling around the world. To see the development of the game of golf in the far east right now is just phenomenal, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, China, I can go right down the whole list, Korea. Look at the domination of Koreans on the LPGA Tour. It's fantastic. Brazil is exploding right now since the 2016 announcement; Argentina is on its way; Australia is still good. It's just everywhere. It seems like the energy in the game of golf is picking up tremendously well.
We're seeing a lot of the U.S. dollars being injected into places like Vietnam and building four-star, five-star resorts, tremendous growth right there, Da Nang, China Beach, that whole area which Americans are old enough when they learned a little bit about the Vietnam War, it's just absolutely opened up tremendously, beautiful beaches and gorgeous country and great food.
And then China hasn't even started yet. I mean, there's still a moratorium on golf course construction there, but they're planning -- I was at a speech in Hainan Island a couple months ago, and China really want to have more golfers in their country than what America has by 2020, 2025, so you think in 15 years' time they're going to go from 3 million golfers to 26 million golfers? I mean, that's a huge growth. And if that happens, then everybody in the game of golf from soft goods to hard goods to golf course developments to fertilizers to everything you think about is just going to go straight through the roof. And that's why China is taking its time and understanding what that impact will have in the country, and obviously you've got to build a lot of golf courses to put that many people on the golf course.
The game is really in a good place. I truly believe in the next 20 years the East will take over the West with the domination of the game. There's no question about it. We see it happening with the Koreans in the game of golf. We've seen the success with Y.E. Yang winning major championships and the gals on the LPGA.
When China opens up, I know I've got a junior foundation in China now, and to see the talent of some of these young kids at five years old, eight years old, 13 years old, and their commitment to the sport is just incredible. They produced great gymnasts for decades and decades and decades in the Olympics, so just imagine applying that to the game of golf. They'll have a pretty strong team by 2016 in the Olympics, I'll bet you that.
I really like where golf is going globally. America has just got to wash itself through the system right now and get a little bit more confidence back in themselves and get rid of some of that inventory they've got in residential communities, and the game of golf will come back here, there's no question. There's 26 million of them here, and there will be a lot more joining when the economy turns around.

Q. What do you see your role as in that, because you were one of the first real international stars.
GREG NORMAN: Well, I've been asked to get involved in China and the development of the game of golf in China with the grass-roots, the youth level, and I've taken that on. I've opened an office in Beijing. Because of that I'm a big believer in it. And I've always been a proponent of the fact that the game of golf is a global game. It's not one country's game.
So no matter where I go, I really instill the values of that, and China has asked me to do that. I've accepted, like I said, a junior foundation there. I've opened a junior foundation, academy in Myrtle Beach, as well. I've been asked by a couple of corporations to really work with the game of golf into the Olympics going into 2016. I'm putting in a bid to build a golf course for the 2016 with Lorena Ochoa as my partner.
So there's a lot of good things going on. We're just trying to -- like I say, I'd like to get a little bit more confidence back into America and the game of golf here.

Q. Last thing, you mentioned Rickie Fowler earlier. You probably have the three best young American players in this field, Kim and Dustin Johnson. How do you see the state and future of American golf on TOUR?
GREG NORMAN: Well, American golf is always going to be strong because you've got 26 million in the database, and one or two or three or four or five of those 26 million are always going to be pretty good players. And you've got great golf courses here in America, you've got a great collegiate system that produces and instills good values into the kids as they come through and develop in the game of golf. America will always be a force in the game of golf.
I think the shift a little bit, the economic shift more than the player shift, and obviously Tiger, he might lose his -- well, I just heard today he might lose his World Ranking, No. 1 spot, on Halloween. So again, where is that going to go? It's going to go to a European. So again, that shift, that thought process for the rest of the world saying, hey, the No. 1 player in the world is a non-American. I was No. 1, I was Australian, and now it could go to a German or an Englishman.
I think it's fantastic. The game of golf needs those fluctuations to share the exuberance around the world. I think whoever it becomes, whether it's Kaymer or whether it's Westwood, geez, let's all jump up and say, great, the game of golf is really balanced.

Q. Two pretty big names who I don't think have ever been here for the tournament, David Duval and Davis Love. Did they get in on one of the exemption categories or did they request sponsor exemptions, and just what do you see being the fan interest for obviously two big names?
TAYLOR IVES: I can jump in on that. They've both played the event in the past, actually I think both have won the event in the past, but they haven't played in Naples. Davis qualified on career money, on the all-time Money List. I believe he's somewhere around 5th or 6th. He's probably one of the higher career-money qualifiers. And David Duval got in on an exemption, one of his invitations that we control.

Q. Did he reach out to you guys?
GREG NORMAN: Davis committed.
TAYLOR IVES: Davis committed through the TOUR, and David Duval let us know that he was interested in playing.

Q. What do you see the interest being for the two of them?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think it's great that Davis wants to come back and play. He's supported the event; he's a past champion. And David Duval, he's a past No. 1 player in the world, as well. Both of them are great with people.
When you have this type of format, the thing that we really, I really focus in on is obviously you want the players with the credentials that can play, but you also want the players who know how to engage when they walk in that locker room or walk into a hospitality tent or go into the volunteers' marquee or go to the dinners or barbecues and stuff, they all have to mingle. Every one of these 24 guys are great at doing that.
When you hear of a David Duval, he loves that stuff, and so does Davis Love. So really it's an easy one for us when somebody expresses interest to play, and he's got a name, and he's got credentials. But he also has that wherewithal with individuals to say, hey, bring them on.
On this list of 24, I'd say we probably have a list of 36 to 40 players that we would love to have play in this event because that's the way they are. They mix very, very well with this type of format.
LEE PATTERSON: Taylor, do you want to mention a couple of outside-the-ropes items?
TAYLOR IVES: Absolutely. We launched the 5K road race last year, and we've actually brought on Comcast as a presenting sponsor this time around. The reaction and the reception we got last year was fantastic. We had over 500 runners, so we've got some internal goals where we'd like to see that grow this year.
But that will begin at 7:00 on Saturday morning, again, within Tiburón here.
And then secondly, the CureSearch family golf clinic that Greg hosts each year, that's after play on Friday. We've got a trick-shot artist that's to be determined. Greg typically is joined by a few members of the field, and it's very much a community event. The gates are open free of charge starting at 2:00 on that Friday, and it's everything from hands-on instruction to a Q & A with Greg and a trick shot display. So we hope families can come out and enjoy that.
And then lastly I think Greg would like to talk a little bit about the military appreciation week that we're putting on this year for the first time.
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, and I think we all realize what the military do for us. Some of us take it for granted in a lot of ways, but this week or the week of the tournament, it's a military appreciation week, so whether you're an active serviceman or woman or whether you're retired or whether you're with any of the forces, even the reserves, basically the gates are open. We encourage them. We want them to come in, and we want to show the appreciation from us to them for what they have committed to the freedom of the world, and not just the United States but for the rest of the world.

Q. Who is your Super Bowl pick?
GREG NORMAN: The Steelers. Hell, they won three games without their best quarterback.
TAYLOR IVES: Without their best three quarterbacks.
GREG NORMAN: Go the Steelers.
LEE PATTERSON: Also you'll find in your packets the media credential applications, so get those filled out for me if you don't mind. Thank you once again for being with us and we look forward to our 10th year here.

End of FastScripts

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