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May 29, 2001

Tim Finchem

BOB COMBS: Welcome to the media in the audience and to those media joining us from remote locations around the country. As you know we are going to have a brief press conference this afternoon relative to the Supreme Court decision in Casey Martin versus the PGA TOUR. In a moment I will bring up Commissioner Tim Finchem to make some brief opening remarks; then we will open it up to Q&A from the media here in person at the media center at Ponte Vedra and then finally I will open it up to the media calling us on the AT&T line from the locations around the country. If you would restrict your questions, please, to one and if you have one short follow-up, I'd appreciate it. With that, let me introduce PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem for his opening remarks.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you, Bob. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for being with us today. As I think everyone knows by now we were informed this morning that the Supreme Court has ruled in the ongoing litigation that has been going on for the last three years with Casey Martin and ruled in Casey Martin's favor. As we have said many, many times over the past three years, we have the utmost admiration and respect for Casey Martin as a member of our Tour. He is a delightful young man who has handled himself with dignity and with a great attitude given the scrutiny that's revolved around this case over the last three years and the extent to which the litigation has been a distraction for him. We, of course, wish him the best in his future endeavors on the PGA TOUR. I spoke to him this morning after I learned about the case. In fact, he did not know about it when I called him. And I told him that I was glad from his perspective that it was over. I was sorry about the result of the litigation, but was certainly pleased from his perspective that he can now focus totally on golf and have this behind him, and there isn't anyway now in the future that he can't be involved in it. So we are pleased for him as we have been from the start. You have to be a Casey Martin fan and we wish him the best. Now, however, we turn to the prospect of dealing with this decision. As we have said from the start, we felt that this argument in the courts was always about the question of whether or not the PGA TOUR could apply its rule equally to all players. While the specifics of the decision, that is to say, that the position the TOUR took was not totally agreed to by the court, having now had the opportunity with our lawyers to review the decision, preliminary we are quite pleased that in the context of a ruling for Casey, the Supreme Court seems to have taken the position, it gives us the latitude to continue our rules as they relate to walking the golf course as part of our sport. The reason I say that is that taking you back a couple of years to the decision that was handed down first in the 9th -- the District Court in Oregon; then the very difficult opinion that was set forth by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in which they set a standard that was very awkward, very cumbersome and almost impossible to administer. This Court, the Supreme Court, has taken a very different position in articulating their decision. They have done two things that we think are most important. (1) The court is clearly focused in its decision on Casey Martin and Casey Martin only. A number of times in the opinion they make it quite clear that they are not certain at all that this same decision would apply to any other competitor with respect to walking under the rules of the PGA TOUR. In fact, they go so far as to say that Casey Martin may be the only individual in the world that has the combination of the talent necessary to play on the PGA TOUR and a disability which precludes him from walking the golf course and playing the game. As a consequence, the court goes further to suggest that they do not think that the act, the statute necessarily should apply to players who have difficulty walking the golf course, or who suffer discomfort from walking the golf course. And as a consequence, I think we can reasonably assume, from this initial reading of the opinion, that we now have the flexibility to maintain our rules as they relate to walking. While I won't guarantee that that is the case, and while we have some further legal review to do. I believe our recommendation to our policy board will be to continue our rules as written. I believe this case can be resolved as a matter that relates soley and only to Casey Martin and to take the opinion, our analysis of the opinion as an indication that the courts will allow us to maintain rules as long as a player has the capability to walk. And this is very important because, as we have said from the start, when we try to set up the best and greatest possible challenge to the best players in the world, we are doing so in a way that combines the setup of the golf course; the emotional stress of playing at this competitive level; with a physical athletic exertion requirement that comes from walking 18 holes of golf on various topography, over four days of competition, oftentimes in very difficult weather. And it is the combination of those things that allows us to challenge these great players and that in and of itself creates Championship golf at the unique level that PGA TOUR golf assumes. So if we are able to maintain our rules in this regard, we will be able to maintain that challenge and our brief cursory review of the opinion seems to indicate that we should be allowed to do that going forward. In the coming months we will examine the opinion carefully. We will talk to our policy board and we will have more to say about it later. But for today, I can only conclude that it's reasonable to assume that this opinion going forward will relate essentially to Casey Martin and perhaps Casey Martin only. I will be happy to answer any questions.

Q. You have just said the Supreme Court ruling addresses Casey's position and Casey's position only according to your guys' legal position. It seems to those of us out here that Judge Cofin laboriously singled out that it could only apply to Casey Martin and Casey Martin alone so we thought that that was the state of affairs back in February of 1998; having that been the case, would there be any regret having gone through all of this to get the same point that you were, in effect, as you just admitted?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No, because as you know we have had two distinctly opposite opinions at the Circuit Court level. One in Chicago the USGA case; another with the Casey Martin case in San Francisco; coming out of Oregon. The law was split. And there was no clarification. There was no procedure or process. We were very troubled by the way the court in Oregon got to their opinion. Certainly our lawyers were troubled. We were even more troubled by the standards set by the Circuit Court in the 9th Circuit and the direct inconsistency of that that occurred in the Chicago Circuit Court that ruled in the Ford Olinger case. So it was very important to understand how to administrate our rules, administrate our sport, have some closure on this issue with the role of the ADA in professional sporting events such as PGA TOUR events. We now have that closure, and, as I say, in what we think is a very well written opinion, with, I might add, a strong dissent by Justice Scalia, notwithstanding that the opinion sets forth the standard that I think, again, our preliminary reading would seem to indicate that we can have rules going forward that allow us to maintain walking in this sport, clearly and succinctly stated. We did not have that feeling when we came out of the District Court in Oregon. We did not have that feeling in San Francisco and certainly it was inconsistent with the Court in Chicago.

Q. Having said that, is it worth, you know, the obvious public relations hit that the PGA TOUR has taken during this time, as perception is in the public, that the big guy was beating up on the poor handicapped golfer?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think that was always the risk we took. But, frankly, I don't think you can look at it from the standpoint of risk/reward. We were trying to maintain the integrity of our rules. We were doing the best we could with that. I think frankly that while -- and we have examined public opinion very carefully ourselves and notwithstanding with some of the things that have been written in the media which are a little off base in terms of what our motivations were, I think people respected the fact that we cared a great deal about Casey Martin as a member of our Tour, No. 1. No. 2, we were trying to protect the integrity of our rules. And I don't believe that I see anything in public opinion that doesn't understand that. I think there is a very strong feeling in public opinion that Casey Martin is a great young man; who has overcome significant challenge in his life, and a vast majority or significant majority of people would like to see him be able to exercise his dream regardless of any rules. And certainly we understand that. But also, by the same token, I think that a lot of those same people understand why we were in the position that we were in and why we felt it was important to take it to this point. And actually, given what we now seem to think is the results of this opinion, certainly it was well worth it to get this level of clarification.

Q. Given the conservative makeup of the Supreme Court were you surprised by the ruling and was the conservative makeup, you know, rationale for an appeal?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No, I wasn't surprised by the opinion. I know that given the nature of the questioning at the oral argument in January, there was a lot of speculation that the court was sided heavily in the favor of the PGA TOUR position, but you can never assume from a Judge's comments where the opinion is coming from. So I don't think this is really a liberal or conservative question. I think it was a court that, if you read the opinion, was struggling with whether or not there ought to be an application here. There certainly was a sensitivity to where the application could lead in terms of professional sports. And I am pleased that I think, as a part of that concern, the Court concluded that this should be an extremely narrow - not just a narrow ruling, but a ruling that not only is narrow, but also went so far as to suggest - in rather strong language - that this could be the only player in the world that it ever applies to. So I think that while we are happy for Casey Martin today, we are also happy that we got this straightened out and it appears to be in a way that will allow us to maintain walking as part of golf at the professional championship level.

Q. Following up what you were saying in the sense Justice Scalia said something about concern about sports and the U.S. government, not just relating to this case, is that a concern or something you are looking at as well?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, Justice Scalia goes farther than the majority and he suggests that the Court should not have taken this position. He clearly was on the side that sports should be able to define, in and of itself, what is fundamental in its sport and make no exceptions about it, if that's the position they want to take and certainly that was the position of the Chicago Circuit Court. While on balance that would have been a preferable result to all of this, I am certainly heartened by the fact that even though that was not the decision, the decision it appears allows us to maintain walking and if we all work together in analyzing that and applying it to our rules and regulations, I think now that there is a reasonable chance that we can come up with a system that allows us to do just that. And while it's not a perfect solution, certainly it is one that we are very positively reacting to at this point in time.

Q. Have you spoken with Casey?, What reaction did he have?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I spoke to him this morning, actually. I called him. I didn't know where he was. It turned out he was out on the West Coast so it was a little early so he did not have the word yet. He was pleased, but I thought he took it with sort of a matter-of-fact attitude, with all the speculation that the TOUR was going to prevail in this matter; it didn't seem to be a surprise to him. He was anxious to go out and play some more golf and we determined to get together when he is back out on the BUY.COM Tour.

Q. Follow-up: Have you gauged - I guess - the thoughts on the TOUR members as this whole process has gone along and has it stayed about the same?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think it stayed about the same. As you would suspect, I think these players who are on the TOUR, probably more than the public, more than myself, more than the media who cover our sport, more than anyone, recognize what this young man has accomplished. And as a consequence, I don't see much difference between the attitude of the players and the attitude of the public on the question of: Would you like to see Casey be able to play. I think that there is a very strong emotional support for Casey among the players. At the same time, I think that more than anyone else, the players recognize the importance of walking in our sport, in terms of the athleticism that goes into it. I know that most of us who play golf ride in carts. Most of the people, if we don't play golf, we see playing golf, riding in carts. And as a consequence, it is hard to draw the nexus between walking as an important element of competition at this level. The players understand that. So as much as they emotionally were in support of Casey Martin and clearly wanted to figure out a way to provide an exception for Casey without giving up walking, which we were unable to figure out a way to do, nevertheless, they wanted to maintain that as an integral part of the sport as well. Hopefully with the way this opinion is written we can have our cake and eat it too and that would be a great thing if that were to come to pass and we are hopeful now that that can happen.

Q. You said something about you might be able to work together with the various sports organizations to keep walking as part of the game. And the way you describe the opinion it certainly seems as if you might be able to have your cake and eat it too. At the same time, inevitably there will be a player who might come before you with the kind of disability that might not be like Casey's, but would be similarly covered and you might have to face a similar decision and that player might say: "But there is this ruling perhaps I can apply it." Do you have any system in mind for dealing with that player?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, Marsha, we don't, at this point in time and the reason is quite simple: We did not want to presume where the Court was going to come out on this matter. We looked at what would happen in a world having lost this lawsuit and we determined that it was probably the best course to wait and see. We felt that it was reasonably -- we were reasonably positive in assuming that the Court would address this whole question of a standard. And in fact, in the opinion the Court has laid down a multi-part test that is applied in certain instances which again is very positive from the standpoint that we looked at. It is a much more well thought out test and approach in cases than the one that the 9th Circuit addressed. And it now gives us a framework to work off of in the context of other case law that has developed since the adoption of the ADA, and will allow us to move in that direction. Now, where we have to go because of this in terms of a process, I am not certain. All I am saying at this point is I am reasonably confident that when we adopt that process based on what we see in the opinion and the way they have given the test points and the commentary around the test that we should be able to end up in an environment where walking is maintained as an essential part of the sport and where exceptions to that are extremely infrequent; maybe nonexistent. And again, to quote the Court: This could be the only player in the world that's affected. Now, I don't know exactly whether that will come to pass, but I am persuaded that there is much more light at the end of the tunnel in terms of this issue coming out positively than we frankly thought there might be in a situation where we actually lose the case. I think we will have a very much more specific statement on that in a couple of months time after we have had time to totally review it, review all the case law, talk to our policy board and probably by the fall we will have a full and complete statement of how we shall proceed.

Q. Two quick questions. No. 1, in your conversations with Casey either today or in recent weeks, have you ever sensed that he was sort of embittered by this whole experience and felt some resentment toward you guys?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No, I don't think so. I think he has been a little frustrated with the process sometimes and that's understandable, obviously. But I'd never noticed any, what I would call, bitterness on his part. I think, as I have said to him today again, and I have said a number of times publicly, I think given everything involved I think he has handled this whole thing extremely well throughout the entirety of it. And as I have often said many times, this is the kind of young man you want playing on our TOUR. He is the kind of young man that helps build the image of the TOUR and so again, this has never been about, in our view, Casey. But no, I haven't noticed that. In fact, today I thought he was very upbeat.

Q. Just following up, now that it is over, can you tell us what you might have done or what you would have done if it had gone the other way, if it had gone in your favor? There's been a lot of speculation that you would have grandfathered him in and said basically the same thing that the Court did that there is only one human being like this right now and we are going to let him play?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Absolutely we would give him an exception.

Q. You would have given him an exception?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No, I am just joking. I think, Len, we absolutely -- I think there was a very strong sentiment to try to do that. We have had the lawyers into two Board meetings in the last six months to talk about exactly that; how could it happen; how could it be structured in such a way that it did not preclude the TOUR from maintaining walking in the sport. We just have never been able to figure out a way to do that. Although, we did not plan a final-final decision on that until such time as we saw the opinion because it wasn't impossible. We thought it was unlikely, but we didn't think it was impossible that if we had won the opinion it might be written in such a way that the standards set that gave us some flexibility in that regard.

Q. Just to follow that up, your personal opinion, what would your preference have been, you, Tim Finchem, Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, my personal preference would have been to figure out an exception if the exception did not preclude our ability to maintain the athletic challenge of walking in the sport. If we could have figured out a solution to that, I would have been in favor of that. But I will be candid with you, coming into this decision, we did not have that figured out. Maybe a different opinion would have helped us, but we did not know how we could have done that.

Q. Two things. One to clarify when you were talking about the fact that you talked to Casey already today and it was early where he was, did I understand you to say that when you told him about the decision that was the first that he had heard of it?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: That's correct. He did not know. I had the opportunity to inform him that that he had prevailed.

Q. That's certainly irony there; isn't there?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I don't know. It was a neat conversation. Irony didn't strike me at that time. I was initially kind of surprised he didn't know. And then I asked him where he was and I found out he was on the West Coast. I guess it was about 7 o'clock out there, you know, I wasn't surprised.

Q. The second question: Would you go so far as to listening to your characterizations of the decision, would you go so far as to refer to this, what has come down today as a win/win situation now that it has been decided?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: That might be a little strong. I would say this: That if in the future we are able to work within the structure of this opinion, and be successful in maintaining walking as an integral part of the sport at the PGA TOUR level, I would definitely say it's a win/win. I just don't want to predict that at this point because we have just read the opinion, but we think the opinion is very promising and given us the chances to effectuate that. We have a long way to go. We have to finish that analysis. We need our policy board to review it. Frankly, we need the players to support whatever our review suggests. But I do think that there is a real chance that it could lead to a win/win situation, yes, sir.

Q. I think my question has basically been answered if this wasn't something that couldn't have been achieved by the TOUR on its own to make a window so narrow that basically it just was, you know, wide enough for Casey to fit through.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I don't, honestly, know how. The concern the lawyers always had, Mark, was that once you make any exception, you cannot argue that walking is a fundamental part of the sport. If it's not fundamental, you are going to have a hard time maintaining it. Now, if this Court had just put out a one-page opinion and ratified the opinion in the 9th Circuit given the way they wrote their opinion and the standards that they set, we would be in a very difficult situation in terms of maintaining walking as an integral part of the sport. As a matter of fact, I don't think we would be able to do that. But the thought that has gone into taking the position this Court did, puts us in that posture. I just don't see how we could have manufactured it through a position that we took before the law of the land was set forth.

Q. You mentioned the Ford Olinger case. The Martin versus the PGA TOUR was already in the Court roughly two years before the Supreme Court ruled on the Court really had the decision on Olinger. So was the need for the clarification of the rulings, of the conflicting Court ruling, the real impetus besides for you guys to carry on or was it really both?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I think it was both, but it clearly -- the opinions at the District Court level and particularly the Circuit Court level were very difficult, confusing, unworkable, et cetera. The Olinger case was going to come along regardless of what position we took and the aftermath of the Oregon case. It was waiting to happen. It happened and then having happened, we had two Circuit Courts with diametrically opposed views of what the law was. So it was extremely important to get that resolved so that we could move forward. We moved forward. It is now resolved and I think as I have said several times today, I think we are poised to move in a positive direction here. Casey's situation is finished. He can go play golf, and now hopefully we will be able to work things through so that we can maintain, nevertheless, walking as an integral part of the sport.

Q. Following up, how would you characterize your feelings right now just personally? Are you relieved? Happy? Sad? How do you characterize them?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I knew what my feelings were going to be pretty much in this matter. I felt that if we won the case that we were going to be very challenged in terms of attitude about the reaction of the case and I was going to feel badly for Casey Martin on a personal level. If we lost the case, I was going to be happy for Casey because he has been through enough of this, and that we were going to be in a very difficult position to try to maintain what we think is a very important element of this sport. Now, however, given the way the opinion was written which we are relatively surprised about in some language that is used by the Court that really helps us in this area, I must say that I am pleased because the disagreement with Casey is finished now and yet we still have, I think, reasonably good chance to maintain the sport as we know it. So I feel very good about the situation and frankly much better than I thought I would if you would have told me a few days ago that we were going to lose because one of the real challenge is to protect the integrity of the competition moving forward. And I think we are in a relatively strong position to do that now.

BOB COMBS: Thank you very much to everyone who joined us on this AT&T conference call and the media that have been here in person. Full transcripts of the press conference should be available within a couple of hours on pgatour.com. And obviously please feel free to call our offices for more information. Thank you very much.


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