WGC NEC INVITATIONAL MEDIA DAY
April 25, 2002
JAMES CRAMER: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I'm James Cramer,
director of media operations and communications of the World Golf
Championships. I'd like to welcome you to this morning NEC Invitational
I'd like to begin by introducing the gentlemen who are joining me here on
stage. To my left, the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR Mr. Tim Finchem.
Executive director of the NEC Invitational, Todd Rhinehart.
From Sahalee Country Club, Scott Erbe.
And from our title sponsor, NEC, Mr. Ken Vedder.
I'd like to begin, to give some background, showing a video we showed
earlier. We had a very successful and well-attended corporate breakfast
earlier, the reason for our little bit of a delay, and I'd like to show the
video we showed to the people who attended there.
JAMES CRAMER: Every time I watch that video I'm struck by one thing, and
that's in 2000, showing Tiger finishing in the dark. And I can just say,
and all of you at the television stations certainly know this, when you
open up the lens, it makes it look a lot lighter than it actually was. A
number of us were standing maybe ten feet from the green, and you could not
see. It was definitely nighttime.
In addition to NEC the World Golf Championships we are fortunate to have
three other umbrella sponsors who are involved in the series: Accenture,
EMC2 and American Express. And at this point I'd like to recognize Mr.
Dean Olmstead from Accenture who is with us today.
I'd also like to recognize senior vice president of PGA TOUR Championship
Management, Mr. Mike Bodney.
At this point, I'd like to ask PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem to come to
the podium and say a few words.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you, James.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for joining us for a few minutes to talk
to you about the arrival of the NEC Invitational, a World Golf
Championships event, here this summer. I'm going to make a few brief
comments about the PGA TOUR World Golf Championships, and then I gather
we're going to have questions after our short program and I'd be happy to
answer whatever questions you have about this and other topics.
First of all, I think it's important to note, especially in communities
where we have not played PGA TOUR events on a regular basis, a couple of
things about the PGA TOUR, for your frame of reference. The PGA TOUR, as
you all know, is professional golf organized around the United States, and
now around the world, but it is separately and differently structured than
other sports. I think it's important that you note that.
We don't have owners in our sport. We don't have unionized athletes. The
athletes are independent contractors. They are not obligated to play in
our tournaments. Our tournaments are organized for a charitable purpose in
95 percent of the cases on both the PGA TOUR, the SENIOR PGA TOUR and the
BUY.COM TOUR, all three tours we coordinate.
And as a consequence of charitable organization owning the tournament and
not a for-profit ownership arrangement, we are in a unique position in
sports in not having difficulties between the athletes and the management.
The whole organization is the organization, the players, as independent
contractors, much like the American Dental Association.
We stage tournaments for primarily three reasons. One, to benefit the
players and their families. Two, to help grow, promote, protect the game
of golf. And three, to generate what we would like to think is significant
financial resources for charities in the communities where we play.
This year, tournaments on the PGA TOUR will generate approximately $68 to
$69 million to be left behind in the communities where we play for local
charitable giving. That is a policy that is endorsed and supported by our
players. It's not something we have to do, frankly. I think fans will
come out and watch players play. Volunteers will come and be close to the
players and work the tournaments because they like the game of golf.
The charitable relationship is really fundamental around the country in
terms of building the community enthusiasm for our tournaments, and
consequently, it's a very, very important part of the fabric of the PGA
Now, several years ago, we were looking at ways to better position PGA TOUR
level golf on the international level, to present it globally to fans, to
sponsors, to television, to the news and to the media, and we devised what
is now known at the World Golf Championships, to do that.
The World Golf Championships employ four different formats spread through
the course of the year, and when taken with the Ryder Cup and the
Presidents Cup played in alternating years, THE PLAYERS Championship and
the four traditional majors, you have a good number of events now, eight,
nine, ten, events, when all of the top players in the world come together
in different formats to play.
As a consequence, over the last three or four years, we have been able to
better position the sport globally because we have a global fan base. And
because it's a global fan base, we obviously have television and
sponsorship interests that run globally.
The World Golf Championships have, as I said, four different formats. We
start early in the year with the Accenture Match Play Championship played
at La Costa three of the last four years, where we have match-play No. 1
versus No. 64, and No. 2 versus No. 63 from the World Golf Ranking.
Then we have the American Express Championship, which alternates between
the United States and countries in Europe, which is the Top-50 players in
the World Rankings, along with the very top players from the Money Lists of
the five major tours around the world playing stroke-play competition.
Later in the fall we have the EMC2 World Cup, which is a unique competition
where each country sends a team from its top players from the World
Rankings playing very much as a team because they play foursomes and
four-ball, generally referred to in this country as "better ball" and
"alternate-shot," two rounds of each. David Duval and Tiger Woods have
represented the United States in the last two World Cups. The last one was
outside of Tokyo and was very successful.
Coming back to the NEC Invitational, we changed the format a little bit
this year. The last two years we had a format where if you made the
Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup team, that was your eligibility to get into the
NEC Invitational, and we have kept that, but we've added to it. In
addition, any player who wins a tournament that has in excess of 100
points, 100 points or more in World Ranking points -- the way the World
Rankings are devised is that based on the strength of field. In that
tournament, you're given a certain number of points and they are
distributed to the players and that impacts their position in the World
Rankings. Any tournament worldwide that has 100 or more points, the
champion of that tournament gains entry into this championship. In
addition to that, each of the smaller two areas has a particular
tournament, the winner of which would have eligibility, as well.
So, the consequence of that is for the first time in the history of the NEC
Invitational, we will have a field which is just about as good as any field
you have all year in golf. We'll have about 80 players, virtually 80 of
the top players around the world, and from a World Ranking point
standpoint, it will stand there with the PLAYERS Championship, which has
the deepest field in the game and the fields of the major championships, as
So the fans here will have the opportunity to see every great player,
currently great player, in the World Rankings and Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup
competition and tournaments winners worldwide, which is a terrific step we
think for the presentation of this format.
The World Golf Championships have been played in seven different countries
on five continents the last four years. They have brought a great deal of
attention to our sport on an international basis and have been well
received. But in golf, to create stature for a tournament takes decades,
not years, and that's why we are so delighted that at a very young age the
World Golf Championships have already taken their position in the minds of
the players, particularly, but also the fans as very special competition.
They are ranked very high in terms of important tournaments to win if
you're a player.
I should also mention that we are delighted that the charitable recipient
of this championship this summer will be the First Tee Chapter here locally
that has a multiple number of sites that they are focused on building a
number of First Tee Facilities over the next number of years. The First
Tee Program nationally is over four years old now. It has 86 or 87
facilities open and operating for kids, another 50 or 60 facilities in
The whole concept of the First Tee Program is to create an environment that
some point in the future where any kid who watches a Tiger Woods or a Phil
Mickelson play and wants to pick up the game, any kid, has the ability, the
access to the game, to do that. This is, obviously, not been the case in
the history of the game, and we are already making great strides in that
direction. To be able to provide affordable, accessible facilities for
kids is a huge part of our vision for what golf can be in this country and
worldwide, but it takes resources.
So, we are delighted with the response we are receiving here, and we're
looking forward to being able to make a significant contribution to the
First Tee efforts in this part of the state.
I'd be happy to answer any of your questions. I'll come back up in a few
minutes and try to do so. Thank you.
JAMES CRAMER: Thank you, Commissioner.
I'd now like to ask Todd Rhinehart, the executive director of the NEC
Invitational, to come up and say a few words about this year's event.
TODD RHINEHART: Thank you, James. It's a pleasure to have you all here
today. As you see, especially those who have been out here since 1998,
Sahalee has changed a little bit. We have this beautiful clubhouse, which
has almost doubled in size and I know they are going to be glad and proud
to show it off in four months during the NEC Invitational.
It is hard to believe that four months from today we will be crowning a
champion on Sunday. The purse is $5.5 million. It has raised $500,000
since last year, and they play for the Gary Player Cup, which is to my
right here, a beautiful trophy, a Wedgewood piece.
We have one champion over the past three years, Tiger Woods. He is trying
to make history here in August. He will try to become the third player
ever to win the same event four consecutive years, and the last time that
was done was 70 years ago during the late 20s, early 30s when Gene Sarazen
won the PGA Championship in the late 20s and Walter Hagen won the Miami
Open around 1930, '31, '32. So this is a great chance to be part of
history in four months.
As mentioned in your media package, there's a player field list. It shows
you, as the Commissioner mentioned, how the players become eligible:
Presidents Cup, Ryder Cup members, Top-50 on the World Golf Ranking, and
winners of events for the strength-of-field rating of 100 or more. The one
variable is the Top 50. That's the only thing that will change between now
and then. If we played today, we would have 71 players here which
represents about the Top 85 in the World Golf Rankings.
This is the second of four scheduled events in the World Golf Championships
this year, the first being the Accenture Match Play earlier this year where
Kevin Sutherland won.
Without the support of our umbrella and official sponsors this would not
happen, but it also takes local corporate sponsors from the community to
assist us to make this happen. We have had a great response to date, and
we know as the weather is getting prettier and prettier each day -- I've
been here four short weeks, and this is the second day of complete
sunshine. So I'm excited and I know we will have this same weather in
August, which I keep hearing, so I can't wait.
Of the 71 players here who will be here, 20 countries are represented. So
as you can see, it is a worldwide, international flavor that will be here.
We will have 15 hours of live coverage on USA and CBS which is one of the
top-tier telecasts, and 140 countries worldwide will be able to watch the
City of Sammamish and Sahalee Country Club and the NEC Invitational on TV.
So, the eyes of the world will be upon us.
A little different format than when you were here in '98. Our gates will
open on Tuesday and Wednesday with practice rounds. The actual competition
is Thursday through Sunday. One of the changes with the limited field, tee
times will begin around 8:00 in the morning and run until 10:00 on both 1
and 10. We will be playing in threesomes. Play will be concluding all
three days at 3:00. That's important. A little shorter window, but it's
also an opportunity to walk around with your favorite players in the
morning with spectators and go find their favorite spot, whether it's 17 or
18, to watch the players come in.
One of the changes since the '98 PGA Championship is the change of No.
18. That was played as a par 4 back then. This year it will be played as
a par 5. That's really just based on player comments. The tee has been
moved back 50 yards.
The only change in the golf course since then is the removal of a tree
right there that was in a bunker now that got filled with grass. Those are
the only changes since 1998. So the players are very familiar with the golf
course and the conditions and are very excited to be here. That is the
reason why we are here.
When we looked at other events and where to go, we talked to the players:
Where are the courses you played that you like that don't have an annual
stop, and this is one of them, and the players are very excited to be here.
The biggest thing in this great sports town of Seattle is: What's going on
this week, what other competition or what else is going on. Well, the good
thing is the Mariners are out of town. They will be playing the Yankees, I
believe the weekend before, but will be out of town during the week of the
The Seahawks' new facility is just getting started. Spectators will have a
great opportunity on Saturday to come out here and watch the top 75 players
in the world play golf and then go watch them play the Chiefs at night,
7:00. There's no problems there.
The University of Washington, they start their season the week after at
Michigan. So this is going to be a great week. Great chance for the
public to come out here and see the world's greatest players.
The economic impact on the event what it means to the community. We
mentioned that the First Tee is our charity of choice, but in the times
we've all faced since September 11th, with tourism down a little bit,
hotels, direct spending, indirect spending, an event like this brings in
$30 to $35 million to the local community and it is a way for the City of
Sammamish, East Kings County to revitalize their tourism and bring people
back to this beautiful area, and we hope we can use this event as a
springboard to get us to that point down the road.
We also have 1,100 volunteers who make this event happen. Without them, we
could not put on an event of this magnitude. Whether it is transportation,
marshaling, scoring, player services, we need the volunteers to make this
happen and we appreciate the support of the community.
As Tim mentioned, the First Tee is our charity of choice and we are very
fortunate to have a chapter in Olympia that is existing and three coming on
board in the greater Seattle area. It is really a great, great fun way for
people who do not have the ability or accessibility to golf to learn about
the game of golf, and the integrity and the values that come with it and we
are very excited to be a part of that.
NEC has had an historic past in its relationship with golf. Before coming
one of our four umbrella sponsors, they were the sponsor of the NEC World
Series of Golf in Akron, Ohio. A very historic past and they have been
part of us, heading our fourth year.
It is my pleasure to introduce Ken Vedder with NEC to say a few words.
KEN VEDDER: Thank you and good morning, and thank you for attending this
You gentlemen have already covered most of what I would say. But I've only
been out to Seattle, really, two times in recent history, last November and
these couple of days. I've been here and I've learned two key words that
come up in conversation all the time: One of which is "golf" and where
we're going to play; and the other is "sunshine," when it is going to come
out and how much are we going to see in August. I'm really glad to see
that the sun has come out yesterday and today, and looks like a great
harbinger of the event in August. If it's anything like, this it will be
spectacular. It's a beautifully club and a beautiful facility, and we are
really looking forward to being here.
NEC has been involved with golf for quite a number of years with the NEC
World Series of Golf, 15 years prior as the Invitational and the World Golf
Championships. So we have a history and an alliance with golf to benefit
not only NEC as the title sponsor of the events, and our customers and
those businesses, but also to the community in which we have these events.
So we are very excited to be coming to Sahalee and coming here to the
In the past, the field has been smaller. It was running about 45, 40
players a year. An outstanding field and spectacular finishes the last
three years, which are really unbelievable. With the new format and the
extended field, the play can only be that much better and that much more
exciting for the fans and the people that enjoy golf.
So I'd just like to say that we're really pleased that we're going to be
here. We're pleased to be the title sponsor of this great, outstanding
event as part of the Tour and the efforts the charities will be receiving
and the communities. We look forward to seeing you all back here in August
for a great event.
TODD RHINEHART: Thank you.
When we move these events from place to place and we move -- we set up an
office 18 months 15 months in advance, it's hard to really become a part of
the community in such a short time. We are very fortunate to have found a
great partner here in Sahalee Country Club who has helped us out in many
ways from their experience in '98 things that worked well, things that
didn't work well, help us to be part of the business community; again,
relationships and friendships with the business community as well.
And here to speak for behalf of Sahalee Country Club is their present,
SCOTT ERBE: Thank you, Todd. I'd like to welcome you all on behalf of the
players members and employees of Sahalee Country Club.
Sahalee was created the late 1960s by founding members who envisioned a
golf course worthy of hosting a promotional championship, and that dream
became a realty with our hosting of the 80th PGA Championship in 1998.
This August, professional golf returns to Sahalee with the highest-ranking
players from around the world to meet in the NEC World Golf Championship.
With the opening of our new clubhouse this past February and the drama of
the World Golf Championships, these are, indeed, special and exciting times
for our club.
I'd like to give special thanks to those founding members for having the
vision to create a dream and all of the people that have worked the endless
hours to make that dream come true.
I'd also like to recognize one of our founding members who is here with us,
Mr. Jack Wright, in the back of the room. If you have a chance to meet
Mr. Wright before you leave today, the history of Sahalee lives there.
I'd like to thank you all for joining us today. Thank you.
JAMES CRAMER: Thank you, Scott. I don't know if there's anything that
speaks higher about a golf championship than the venue where it's at, and
with the World Golf Championships, we have been really fortunate to have
played at some of the greatest courses around the world: Valderrama, at
Firestone for this event for the last three years, the Metropolitan Club in
Australia, and I think it's really wonderful that we are able to bring this
Before we get to the question and answer period, I just wanted to touch an
a couple of housekeeping items, media related. There will be a golf outing
in June. You will be contacted and invited to come out and play this
course. And we are also in the process of working with Tiger Woods and his
management to set up a teleconference, defending champion teleconference.
At this point, if there is any questions.
Q. Is there a chance for Seattle to get a full-time event, considering not
only this event, but there is a TPC agreement, nothing has happened there
yet and I wondered where you are headed with that.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, we would like to play here, a PGA TOUR,
SENIOR TOUR event on a regular basis, to be honest. We have our PGA TOUR
schedule set through 2006 and we have the SENIOR TOUR schedule set through
But one of the things we are carefully evaluating with this championship is
the level of support in the community that is available. That's not the
only determining factor, but it's definitely on the radar screen as
something that we need to do as we move forward and we'll what happens in
Q. What about an event at the TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We have had discussions. It is a licensed
arrangement where we licensed our name. We have had discussions off and on
about the possibility of determining a timetable that is required , but
not to my knowledge. But we think it's a terrific golf course. Otherwise,
we wouldn't put our name on it and certainly it would be at the top of the
list of where we would like to play. Certainly, it would be our hope.
Q. Was player reaction the main reason for increasing the size of the
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No, I don't think so. I think a couple of factors.
One, we are a little concerned generally about a player who earns the
right to play in the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup to be able to go and play
with a 40-man field. But to be able to showcase another 30 or 40 players,
very top players in the world, and as a consequence, give us really a
terrific strength of field. We thought that was an important ingredient
for the fans. More stories for you to cover, a little bit more work for
you to do perhaps, but the flavor and the texture of what we are doing
competitively we think will be enhanced.
The other sort of side factor was that , and this is a player issue or
media issue, but it is important to recognize winning. Winning on the PGA
TOUR or at the PGA TOUR level globally is a tremendous accomplishment. A
lot of guys never win who are terrific players. The rewards for winning
need to be maintained, and we felt that in addition for playing for two
years, earning a spot on a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team or teams and
having eligibility, it was also important to recognize winning. At least
winning against the better field tournaments in the world and that's why we
made the changes.
Q. Do you have any plans to move this event around, and would you consider
bringing it back to Sahalee?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Actually we have no particular plan going forward.
We will go back to Firestone next year. I think generally we envision
Firestone being the home base of this championship going forward. We may
stray out again, and it has a lot to do with -- the rest of your question
with respect to Sahalee, it would have a lot to do with club, the
performance of the community, the reaction of our partner, NEC, and the
impact of the championship. There's a number of factors.
We may continue to move every few years, leave Akron for one year, but
we'll see. Firestone is a great place. So is this. It's just something
we'll evaluate a few months after the championship. It's possible. It's
possible. I would say this; that if what we know now is any indication of
the kind of championship we are going to have here, certainly, again
depending on the attitude of the club and the members here, this is
something that we would certainly explore.
Q. With all the talk at the Masters this year about standardized ball,
would the PGA TOUR become involved in equipment issues?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Yes, I'm on record publicly all through last year
and this year encouraging the USGA and R&A to first of all resolve their
differences on the Coefficient of Resolution, COR issues; and secondly, to
take some steps with respect to the overall distance testing and the way we
test to draw a line in the sand in terms of how far the golf ball travels
with regard to using current, state-of-the-art equipment.
I think we need to have a standard. I think bringing the distance back is
probably unrealistic, but certainly we have the technology available to set
a bar where it's going now and I see no reason why we shouldn't do that.
We have pace of play issues because of how far the ball goes, and the golf
course set up for challenging players.
Plus I think it's a distraction. The growing debate about equipment
distracts people's attention from the quality of the play. So in the long
term, I think that's in the interest of our sport. I think the USGA and
the R&A are fully engaged on this issue, and I'm reasonably confident that
steps will be taken in that direction.
Q. Would the PGA TOUR consider writing their own rules.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I think these are issues that we have to deal
with one way or the other. If I said we would do that, then it sounds like
I'm kind of, you know, threatening to do that. So I don't want to say
I just want to say that I think we need to take some steps, and I have
every confidence that they will be taken, steps to evaluate and support the
tradition of the USGA and the R&A, and we are reasonably confident that we
will they will take the appropriate measures.
Q. Do you have any recollections of the 1998 PGA Championship here are
Sahalee, and what do the players think about the course?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: They say there are a lot of trees here. (Laughter.)
When you're standing on the tee, you can see a lot of trees. They seem to
be reasonably close together.
I think, you know, rather than me answer that, I'll just refer you to Tiger
Woods, how he answered the question after he won for the third time.
I know none of you all in the media do this often, but this particular
fellow was trying to create a bit of an issue. Tiger just won his third
title in a row at Firestone and this particular person asked: "Well,
Tiger, you have to be pretty upset at Firestone and they are taking the
tournament to Sahalee; you must be furious about that."
Tiger who, has gotten quite good at this stuff, said, "No, no. We'll be
back here eventually. I want another shot at Sahalee. I think it's a
great golf course, and I wasn't real pleased with my better form answer in
'98. So I want another crack at it and looking forward to it."
I think, you know a player of his caliber, he plays against all the other
players, but he's also playing the golf course. So I think the players
have a great deal of respect for Sahalee. I know Vijay , he felt like he
had to play his very, very best golf here to have any chance of winning on
this golf course in terms of shot-making.
If you look at a championship and you see a golf course that can put
pressure on every phase of the game, that's a good thing. Certainly we try
to do that at THE PLAYERS Championship, and that's what happened here in
1998 and that's what's going to happen here again.
Q. Does the game need one person to stand up as a challenge to Tiger?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think if Tiger goes into a playoff like he did
with Jim Furyk, that's better. I don't see any fall in the ratings when he
wins by ten shots. I think it's -- that whole question that you just
asked, how do you answer that question, is a very interesting thing about
the game right now. A very interesting thing for people to talk about.
I think for a sport to have people talking about aspects of the game is a
positive thing. I think college football gets some benefit out of the
controversy of the BCS. That's something to talk about. As most sports
fans we all like to talk about sports.
You know, everybody says Jack had challengers in Arnold for the first four
or five years Jack was on the Tour. But Jack won handily in a lot more
majors than Tiger has so far; he just didn't win by some of the margins
Tiger has generated.
You take Augusta this year. Tiger got 1-under the last day and won by two.
Everybody says, well, the rest of the field evaporated because they were
focused on Ernie Els hitting to the left on 13, and then what happened to
Vijay Singh. But I think ever player in the field said the golf course
was playing very, very difficult.
Now in addition to it playing difficult, the four or five guys felt like
going into the last round felt like they were chasing Tiger, they knew what
he was going to shoot. So they had to play that golf course more
aggressively. They felt like, you know, they had to shoot 67 or 68, and,
you know, they paid the consequences.
It's very interesting. I don't know that it's necessary that one player
emerges. I think we have a lot of great stories. Phil Mickelson seems to
be there every single week and from a fan standpoint, you've got to love
watching Phil, for a whole lot of reasons. He does some interesting things
out there. But an incredibly talented player. And you go right down the
list with Els.
I know this: That right now, the situation we have is very, very popular.
Fans are excited about it. We are getting great television ratings.
People are signing up to play golf. Our fan base is growing among
Hispanics, African Americans, women and young people. Our demographic is
broadening. It's not just of Tiger. Tiger is driving the train, but the
Sergio Garcias of the world and the Ernie Els's of the world are major
contributors to that popularity, and, of course, they will all be here.
Q. What do you think of when you hear about courses being "Tiger-proofed?"
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Ridiculous. Because if you talk to players, you
lengthen a golf course, you're helping the longest players. That's just
the way it is. I guess if you're focused on scoring, you can come to that
I think all Augusta did, really, was they put a little more premium on
driving the golf ball. They put more pressure on driving the golf ball.
The players were very supportive of those changes because of that. Like I
said earlier, the players believe that -- especially for a significant
championship, there should be some pressure on every phase of the game, and
for years people have said driving at Augusta -- a few years ago they put
more rough in and now they added more length. At 18, they created some
more pressure on the approach shot. But the rest of the ranges really put
more pressure on driving the ball golf.
I mean, Augusta today is not -- is it longer than THE PLAYERS
Championship? I think it is. We've had that distance for -- we made a
30- or 40-yard change five or six years ago. I think the changes were
solid. On the other hand, Augusta doesn't have anywhere else to go.
Q. Can you tell us your feelings about the Major Champions Tour issue?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, first of all, I don't think this is a Freddie
Couples issue. Freddie indicated he likes the idea and he would play in
To this day, I have the greatest amount of respect for Fred Couples and
what he's done for the game. I mentioned in the corporate breakfast that
in the ten years prior to Tiger, Fred Couples and Greg Norman were the
most, by far, impactful players on the PGA TOUR.
And today, he's extremely popular player, and for good reason. He's a
tremendous golfer, professional golfer and TOUR player, but he's also got a
unique personalty that everybody loves. He's just been a tremendous asset
to the sport.
This isn't about Freddie Couples. This is about the idea that came about
and he indicated an interest and support. I have indicated in the past
that I think the structure of the game for a lot of reasons make the most
sense, and so I would encourage players -- I don't think we need yet
another tour right now. If the players want to change the configuration of
the existing TOUR, we do that all the time, but again, this isn't about
Q. Do you plan to set up the course the same way it was set up in 1998?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't know off the top of my head the specs that
were used. We sometimes differ a little bit on setup philosophy.
By and large, I would say we are going to want a fair amount of the length
that the golf course will give us. We are going to want significant rough
conditions and firm and fast greens and fairways. I think that's what we
had four years ago. We might differ a little bit on the rough
configuration, and we'll just have to get into that. Our staff may have
already gotten into that. But our inclination is to, again, create a
challenge for every facet of the game.
Q. Could you address the SENIOR PGA TOUR and do you think that there is a
chance that is will see an upswing?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It is, actually. Our crowds are up this year.
Local sponsorship is up. The history of the SENIOR TOUR is a mirror of the
PGA TOUR; it went through a little lull in the 80s after Nicklaus,
post-Nicklaus and Palmer. The SENIOR TOUR is going through that, I think
it's just starting to come out of that same transition and in about five
years, from 1996 to 2000, where there was very much a lull.
We made a number of structural changes which are going to help it, but
largely, it's a function of -- if you look at 2000 with Tom Kite and Tom
Watson, came out and you look forward five years to 2007, during that
period of time, you've got 15 or 16 and it's just a whole different story.
You will have Nick Price and Curtis Strange and Greg Norman, and that
creates a whole different tour. We're already starting to see some of the
effects of that. I think we are going to be fine.
Our television product has not worked as well as we would like, and I think
we need to -- we are working hard to make it a more exciting television
product. We're getting the fans more up close and personal to the players
on the Tour. We are trying to create an instructional platform so that if
you were to spend an hour with it on television or on the radio or in a
magazine, you would learn something as a golfer.
I do think it's important recognizing that the SENIOR TOUR is a little
different than the PGA TOUR. In one instance the SENIOR TOUR and the PGA
TOUR has grown significantly in interest level. So the SENIOR TOUR has to
work harder and be more aggressive and be prepared to change and make
adjustments to get these players that are coming out now in this new period
squarely out in front of the fans in a dynamic and effective way and that's
our objective. I think it's going to be fine, though, I really do.
Q. There seems to be a lot of talk about sponsors pulling out of golf
events lately, is there a chance that a spot on the schedule will open up
for an event in Seattle?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Let me clarify, we are pretty much set on the PGA
TOUR through 2006 and prefer pretty much set on the SENIOR TOUR through
To answer your question, because of the recession we will have a little
more turnover in sponsorship than we have had since 1990, which is our last
recession. But the good news is, we have a significant majority of our
sponsors. Several have come on in the last five or six years are doing so
poorly because of the recession and we will be replacing some of those.
But the key thing about this process is that the value versus cost that we
are looking at in terms of television costs, which we capped in our
negotiations last year, is very solid, and consequently, I'm very
Thank you very much.
JAMES CRAMER: Thank you, Commissioner. I'd like to thank everybody for
coming out for today's Media Day.
End of FastScripts....