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PGA TOUR MEDIA CONFERENCE
December 13, 2000
BOB COMBS: We'd like to thank you ladies and gentlemen for joining us today for the
conference of PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. Tim briefly is going to review the 2000
season today provide some out look of the 2001 season, but the main purpose obviously is
to have an interactive session on Q&A.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Before we begin with your questions, I'll talk a little about the
2000 season and then I'll take your questions. Obviously, we had a memorable year in PGA
TOUR history in the PGA TOUR with Tiger's phenomenal performance, but we had a lot of
other good performances from Phil and David and Justin and Sergio and Carlos. Just an
excellent, competitive year. The fan base continued to grow. Our television ratings are
up. We did do some very exciting research at Golf 20/20 this year and are learning more
about our fan base. Just to give you one example, we've seen an increase in 400 percent in
the size of the Hispanic interest in our fan base over the last three years, which I
attribute to the performances of Sergio and Carlos, and the Latino press and media
following those two guys has created a fairly significant boost in Hispanic interest, to
go along with the very strong increase in interest of African Americans. All of our key
indicators were up in 2000. Our ratings, our on-site attendance, our charity donations,
all of these indicators were up, whether Tiger was playing or not, interestingly enough.
Obviously, when Tiger played, our ratings were spiked considerably, but our television
ratings were up at tournaments where he did not play, and that is particularly good in an
environment where in virtually every other sport, ratings were down. I think for 165
million (inaudible) exceeded (inaudible). Strength of field this year continues to
escalate for the fourth straight year as based on the number of players in the Top-10,
Top-30, Top-50 -- couple tournaments they have played in. We had a great Presidents Cup.
In fact, a $100,000 per player donation was given to charity to date. The World Golf
Championships continue to fulfill their mission. I just got back from Argentina yesterday
-- make that on Monday, and I was delighted with the reaction we got in Argentina, having
the EMC2 World Cup played in Buenos Aires, the biggest golf event in the history of South
America, and it was just very, very well received. We had a very strong season on the
Senior Tour. Purses were $54 million; $12 million to charity. We are pleased with the
performances of our new players, Lanny Wadkins, Tom Kite and Tom Watson. The BUY.COM TOUR
had a great year with purses up 70 percent; 53 players earned over $100,000. Nine events
were won in 2000 on the BUY.COM TOUR by international players. The BUY.COM TOUR is the
extent to which the international players are gravitating. Now, looking forward to 2001 on
the PGA TOUR, we continue to build. We're looking for more international members. Bernhard
Langer, Jose Maria, Miguel Jimenez. We have 25 rookies on PGA TOUR next year. Twelve of
those 25 are from outside of the United States. An increase, again, we anticipate purses,
official prize money approximating $180 million next year. We've got some great new venues
starting off with Metropolitan Club in Melbourne, Australia for the Andersen Consulting
Match Play; Laurel Valley in Pittsburgh for the Marconi Classic, and, of course, we have
Champions in Houston for the TOUR Championship. A key development will be our introduction
of the Shot Links scoring system, our new scoring system, which will map golf
electronically and we will be able to be tied to television and to all of you, a lot of
exciting data about what is happening on the golf course, to enhance our ability to use
the Internet, as well. This year, of course, we will have television negotiations over the
next three, four, five and 60 seasons. And, of course, we are very excited that we are
continuing the initiative of Golf 20/20, the vision for (inaudible) -- that program is off
to a great start. The First Tee program is off to a great start. We're excited get started
with Phase 2. On the Senior Tour, prize money about approach $60 million. We have Bruce
Lietzke and Mark McCumber joining that tour next year. Pleased with our new relationship
with CNBC, get that settled down into the regular season, with regular air times every
Saturday and Sunday. We're announcing today the details of the Charles Schwab Cup on the
SENIOR TOUR. The Charles Schwab Cup will be sponsored by the Charles Schwab. The winner of
that Cup will be awarded a $1 million tax-deferred annuity. The Top-5 finishers on the
Senior Tour will receive $1 million in annuity payments from the Schwab cup. Players will
earn points in a season-long competition for each Top-10 finish. Points earned will be
based on official prize money -- giving a great enhancement to the SENIOR TOUR and a nice
fit in our CNBC package.
BUY.COM TOUR will have four events over $500,000. Minimum purse will be up to 455,000.
We're adding new events in Arkansas and our first event in Canada. That tour continues to
develop very much as a stand-alone tour. That's a brief, quick overview of 2000 -2001. We
thank you for joining us, and I'll turn it over to any questions.
Q. I wonder, there's been a lot made in the last month about Tiger and the Golf World
interview. I wonder if you could tell us in your discussions with him what his major
concerns are at this point?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I think that after our meeting a couple weeks ago we
addressed that. Frankly, the details of his concerns have been discussed. We're both very
pleased with the outcome of the conversation and we're both looking forward to working
together. We don't have any issues that we don't think can't be resolved with the existing
framework. We think that his strategic direction on sides of things is not inconsistent
with ours. It is always in our interest to try to maintain the overall TOUR -- (inaudible)
-- supports individual players who do use it as a marketing platform. I think after we had
an opportunity to share with each other the details of their thinking and the details of
where we are and where we're going, we seem to be in a position to accommodate anything
they want to do and vice versa. I think the upshot of it, however, is very positive thing
that in a lot of areas we are we're going to work very closely together. That's very much
in the interests of the Tour, and Tiger, being the superstar that he is these days, for
everybody. So, we were very pleased with the outcome, and we're delighted with the
direction we're moving.
Q. Just to follow up, I didn't hear what you said about the TV negotiations, when do
those resume, and for what years are we talking about?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, currently we contracted through 2002. We always do our
television negotiations at least 16 months in advance -- currently projected for the may
June time frame and those negotiations would cover the period 2002-2006.
Q. This coming June?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Yes. May/June.
Q. Do you anticipate any significant venue or scheduling changes as part of this new TV
negotiations? Are there any significant events that might move to a different time of the
year because of the contracts?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, we have paid, as you know, some changes in the schedule for
2001 and 2002 by moving the American Express World Golf Championships into the early
October time frame, which gives us access to virtually all golf courses in the United
States and golf courses in northern Europe and the British Isles. But beyond that, I think
that when we look at 2003-2006, I don't see huge changes in our schedule there will be
modifications in the schedule, we're always looking at better places to play the PLAYERS
Championship in March or May; that's always a question. Again, to speculate that we're
moving from March, it is working so well in March, but we are always intrigued a lot with
the idea that it perhaps would work as well in May as well. We're looking at three or four
things in the schedule. I do not expect any major changes from what we have today.
Q. On the Senior Tour, has there been any decision about whether the TOUR Championship
will be coming back to the TPC?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: There has not been a final decision yet, but we anticipate a
decision by January 15.
Q. What exactly intrigues you, what are the pluses of any possible move of the PLAYERS
Championship from March to May?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I think that there's something new about the issues that
relate to March and May. I think that we have from an operational standpoint the
tournament works very well in March. It would be a benefit if we had more daylight; we
could play later with Daylight Savings Time; because we could maximize our television
exposure in a very positive way which will greatly give us an opportunity greatly expand
the television audience. That's a major factor. We think there are some interesting things
in the way the schedule flows that would be beneficial to The PLAYERS Championship, things
of that nature. On the other hand, a lot of people feel like -- at least they used to feel
like, THE PLAYERS Championship kicked off the golf season. I don't think that's anymore
the case, with the strength of the schedule on the West Coast, again next year. From an
agronomy standpoint, the golf course is actually -- gets into a little bit of a transition
thing in May, so that tournament returns to us. So there are pluses and minuses each way.
So we take the opportunity every four years when we set our schedule for television to
evaluate those pluses and minuses and we are trying to come to a decision which is what we
will be doing between now and May.
Q. If you had to give a percentage on whether or not that tournament would be moved,
what would be your percentage, a 50 percent chance, a 20 percent chance, a 75 percent
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't know exactly how to characterize that. I would say that
somewhere -- it might be a 45 percent chance. I mean, I think that it is pretty close. But
odds -- a fairly substantial chance we could move. Certainly, a live possibility we could
move it. So if you want to characterize it as 60/40.
Q. You mentioned discussions with Woods and I am wondering if there are areas you can
discuss where the TOUR might make some adjustments to meet some players demands or
requests, whatever they are?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think that the issues that we discussed handled within the
existing framework. I think 90 percent of the meeting was understanding of where Tiger and
his people want to go from a business perspective, and then what our plans are from a
business standpoint in certain areas, and the upshot of that -- to walk down this path
together. So, I don't think that we have to make any major adjustments or significant
changes. I don't think there's anything that we have to adjust -- neither group needs to
adjust the direction and strategies we're going in. Again, let me restate that we are
actively together in some of these areas which are -- not only make sense, but it also
means that there is a mechanism in which Tiger and his people will be involved in the
direction of our business and vice versa.
Q. I was curious, with the increase in all of the prize money, and it is certainly
going to be going up it appears, are you concerned just philosophically that there is
going to be lessening of motivation by the top players to play a fuller schedule, and
perhaps cut back slowly but surely to the point where the TOUR might have some real
problems just fielding, really, top names week-in, week-out?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No. I think it is just the opposite. I think that over the years,
you look at how many tournaments the players play, and you say, okay, the player plays 24
weeks -- the player is playing 24 weeks, what is he doing the other 28 weeks? Not taking
all that time off. He's doing other things. He's doing corporate outings. He's doing
endorsement arrangements and things like that. But prize money and retirement plan money
does, as it shifts the equation, puts more of a premium opportunity to the player to play
the official money schedule. That allows us to better compete. We are competing with our
own members for their time and focus and commitment. That has played itself out in the
last few years, and especially these past two years, like I said earlier -- to enhance the
number of players playing. The bottom line is the players are playing more now with
greater purses than they did before the purses went up. The reason for that is we are in a
better position -- there's two reasons for it, really. It is our position to keep
(inaudible) -- for the players versus their other opportunities; and secondly, depending
on the specific goals, now talking about the top players, typically those goals relate to
things which have to did with playing a fair amount, either make the Ryder Cup or want to
make the Presidents Cup or "I want to be in contention for Player of the Year, make
the Top-30, the Top-64 for a World Golf Championships." All of those things require
you playing so that you can compete with the other guys. And money is not the other issue
here. So for all of those reasons, I feel comfortable.
Q. Do you anticipate the attendance at the World Golf Championships to be better or the
same or fall off in two or three years?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think we said a year ago when we made the scheduling
adjustments that it would be enhanced. I think we look back at the first two years now,
we've had a participation rate of 93 percent (inaudible) of eligible players. I suspect
that the next two years -- after Australia, which will be difficult, of about 96 to 98
percent. So I think the participation of the World Golf Championships events is going to
be very, very strong in the future. We're just getting started with those events. As I
said a year ago, we made some miscalculations and some mistakes in the schedule, which has
made it difficult. On the other hand, nevertheless, there are very, very strong events
throughout and they are just going to get stronger.
Q. Does this unity between the USGA and the R&A with respect to driving clubs and
limitations put any pressure on you in 2001 with respect to international competitions
where players may show up with different drivers based on different rules, and is there a
contingency plan if an issue arises?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, the plan is that we will do what we did this year for next
year, which is if we are playing an official money event overseas, just as we have always
done with the British Open, which for a number of years now has been Official money, we
will utilize the rules adopted by the Royal and Ancient when we are outside of USGA --
(inaudible) -- when we are in the United States, just the opposite. Now, I think players
understand that. Players have expressed some concerns about it. But that is what we are
going to do. On the other hand, we have encouraged the R&A and the USGA certainly in
the equipment area, to come to a joint discrimination on certain matters and have one set
of rules, not only because it assists us in our competition, but because we feel very
strongly that in order to preserve the attitude of the general player -- (inaudible) -- so
that it is not undermined by a different set of rules. And for both of those reasons, we
continue to encourage those organizations, figure out a way to work together. But in the
meantime, when we're playing overseas, we will follow the R&A.
Q. You anticipated my follow-up, which have the rule-making bodies responded to your
encouragement, which I think is almost a month old by this time?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: They have responded by saying that they share our concern about
having different standards out there as it relates to the drivers. They are sympathetic to
our position and they are having discussions. I don't think we would ever anticipate that
we would make a suggestion that even if it is agreed to, that these two bodies would move
somewhere down the road before additional equipment issues arise beyond the drivers that
come to grips with some system that gets us to one set of rules as it relates to that.
Q. Is it possible that you could ever utilize the International Federation to come up
with its own equipment standards for use on all Tours, and the only exception would be the
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It's possible. Under the PGA TOUR rules, we follow the rules of
the USGA here in the United States. We reserve the right to differ with those rules as we
may see fit. That's our position. It's in our tournament regulations. In the past, we have
done so on occasion. So, technically, it's true. Now, do we want to do that? No, we would
be -- the rule-making bodies generate rules in such a manner that they develop and
maintain the confidence of the rank-and-file players, and they do so in a way that makes
sense for international competition. So we're not on a -- we could do that, but we're not
on a direction right now to do that.
Q. Secondly, I wanted to ask if you could say how many purses from official events will
be at least 4 million in 2001; and secondly, do you have any plans for 2001 to increase
the prize money at the World Golf Championships events?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Both those questions, I'm not going to comment on today.
Q. Should I take that as a yes?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No. And the reason for that is, in fact, I was just at a meeting
this morning where we were reviewing some of this. We just now -- we're not done
finalizing arrangements. So we will be making an announcement in a short period of time to
answer that question and will include all of the details, and we'll include at that time
whatever we do within the World Golf Championships.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the -- you touched on it briefly -- the tremendous
amount of success that you enjoyed in Argentina, and does that give confidence to the move
to Japan for the World Cup for next year?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I think the World Cup -- you know, this is the first year
it is as a World Golf Championships. It is new territory in terms of trying to elevate the
quality of that competition. I think as I have talked to people around about it, I think
that they like the format change. They like the foursome/four-ball mix. And certainly, the
response in Argentina was very, very positive. I have already, however, concluded from my
visit to Tokyo in June where we announced the World Cup for Japan next year that it is
going to be huge, a very, very big event in Japan. Of that, I am certain. I already know
about next year. But I think things are very, very positive right now.
Q. The Honda Classic was told that the PGA TOUR was looking at the possibility of
moving the World Golf Championships to Florida in 2003 and Honda could lose -- what would
it mean if they lose their dates and are there any further developments about that?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We certainly never took an official position. There are no plans
at this time to move a World Golf Championships event to Florida.
Q. Is there anything in your meeting with Tiger, anything that could be construed that
you could tell us about in which Tiger would receive slightly different standards than any
other player, either having to do with the number of tournaments he needs to play, or any
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Oh, I think Tiger is committed to play a full schedule. I'd like
to see him play a little more; I always would. I'm delighted that he moves his schedule
around a little bit each year, tries to. He plays more golf than some of the other players
in the last 20 years who have reached the No. 1 position. So you can't fault him for the
number of tournament he plays. He plays a very solid schedule. We don't have any issues
with regard to that.
Q. Any other areas where he was asking or could be granted special situation?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think, as I said, I understand where you want to go with all of
this, but -- except the reality of the conversation about the reality of business, about
the realities of our business, and in some areas, questions about our regulations and
guidelines; and that clearly was the case with respect to the use of image and existing
guidelines are quite adequate concerns. I think in the general business areas, let me say
it I now -- I think for the third time, we did not have any major disagreements. We
understand his direction. He understands ours. And it is based on a thorough sharing of
information that we could gather down the road, and that's what we intend to do and
there's frankly no point in discussing it further.
Q. I'd like your opinion on a question I'm frequently asked these days. If Tiger wins
at Augusta, is that the Grand Slam or do they have to all four be in the same year? What's
your opinion on that?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I guess there's three Grand Slams. One Grand Slam is when
you at some point in your career have won all four majors. A number of players have
achieved that; Tiger is now one of those. Another Grand Slam is winning all four majors
and you win them in consecutive chronology. No player has done that. Tiger is in a
position to be the first player to do that. And the third Grand Slam is you win all four
majors and you do it in the same year. It is not for me to decide if they are in the same
calendar year -- it is not for me to decide what is more compelling. I guess that is up to
the fans to decide. I can't decide for anybody else. Me, personally as a fan, I think it
is pretty compelling to win four major championships in a row. Is that the Grand Slam? I
don't have a regulation anywhere that says what The Grand Slam is. So that is up for you
all to write columns and argue about.
Q. Leaving out Tiger Woods, what can be done to boost attendance by top players at Tour
events that are quickly becoming known as second-class citizens -- I'm talking about the
Greater Milwaukee Open, the Quad Cities, etc. They are wonderful tournaments that get
great community support, but year-in and year-out, seem to lack the marquis players. What
can the Tour do to either compel or encourage their marquis player to support those
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I think as I said earlier, I think our fundamental there is
to create a structure where players are playing tournaments, period. You start with that,
and that -- (inaudible) -- unlike the trend lines that we see. Secondly, we try to
encourage players to move their schedules around. We get a player's attention when we have
a tournament that has -- (inaudible) -- particularly from a strength of field standpoint,
the Top-10, Top-30 from the World Golf Rankings or whatever, a uniquely weak field for its
particular date. So all of those three things we do. So now having said that, historically
and today, there are dates on our schedule that are not positions of making a crack on
those dates as strong a group of players as other dates. You mentioned the John Deere,
playing the week before or the week after the Open is a disadvantage from a standpoint of
attracting some of the people on TOUR from making that trip. However, I point to the John
Deere as a great example. Here is a great tournament that gave $1 million to charities,
Quad Cities is making new fantastic golf (inaudible) -- the reason it can market itself,
even though you might compare its field negatively to, say, the Memorial. The reason it
can market itself so well is that again each and every year, you have a growing list of
strong, well-known players, by giving it the mount of television that we have and the
quality of the competitors. And that trend has been consistent in the last 30 years. It
continues today and we can't get hung up by which player plays what week. We have to look
at the overall strength of the marketing effort of these tournaments. And given their
location, the date, we look at each and every one of them, and I think we are stronger
today across the board than they were five years ago or three ago, and I think in three
years from now, we will be stronger yet across the board.
Q. The Tour now has a minimum number of events that every player must play to retain
membership. Do you foresee ever compelling players to follow a provision along the lines
of: You must play one new event or two new events that you did not play the year before?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, we have that provision. That provision is 15 events, and
that provision, frankly -- virtually every player plays significantly more than 15. So you
have a figure that would drive -- you have to have a number, given that the average starts
for players in the Top 50 are 25 or 26 events. Let me answer your question this way: I
don't think it is necessary in this environment at this point in time with the overall
value that's being generated to local tournament organizations and sponsors additional
constraints on the players. If at some point in the future the value is diminishing, then,
certainly we could look at that. At this juncture, the structure that we have, and
enhanced (inaudible) -- the direction that we are going to be on for at least the next
couple of years.
Q. In the past, one of the purposes of increasing purses was to bring TOUR players
earnings more in line with other professional athletes, and I'm wondering if you could
assess where you are in that goal, especially in light of some of the recent baseball
salaries that have been announced in the last week or so?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, when I was a kid, my hero was Peewee Reese, and I can't
believe a shortstop could get paid that kind of money -- (inaudible) -- we do have people
say, always ask me, where are purses going, are ou continue to raise purses. Purses are
one part of the equation. You have to also look at the strength of the retirement plan on
both Tours and for all compensation. But we still have an awful long way to go to reach a
point where world-class athletes in our sport are compensated at a level commensurate with
the other sports. And then again, you start to look at overall compensation, the fact that
we do structure our Tour as a marketing platform for players. We don't have official
uniforms or anything like that. We have players who reach the apex who competitively can
take advantage of the platform and generate those kinds of numbers. Down the list we are
not there yet and we have a long way to go. So our objectives are continuing to grow and
continue to move in that direction and try to move the disparity that exists.
Q. I have a couple questions, and in a way it relates to the Tiger situation, and in a
way it relates to a lot of different players. I am told that some players think that they
should get residuals when they do made-for-TV events and they are played over and over;
and I'm also told that some players think they should get their Internet rights; and for
the best players, I'm told that would be a lot of money. What is the situation on that?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I'm not so sure what you mean by "Internet rights." The
only thing they don't have rights to is the use of the footage of television tournaments
which is owned by the Tour -- (inaudible) -- to access it for any personal use they might
have which some of them do. As far as some of the residuals go, I don't know what the
market really is for that value and how you segue out for one player or the other for a
residual value. What we do is we take all of those dollars, all of those footages, we try
to maximize whatever dollars we can get out of it -- the numbers are not huge -- and take
those dollars and they go back to the players in the form of increased purses or
retirement money. So the players are benefiting, and I think -- I don't know which player
are -- you are talking about, but I think players understand that system.
Q. Well, do all players then have a right to have their own Internet setup if they want
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Sure. If a player wants a Web site we can have a Web site. A lot
of them have.
Q. Do you control anything that they can't have on in the Internet respect?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: The only thing we control is their image in a competition.
Nothing else. They can do whatever they want. They can do lessons. They can talk about how
to play the game. They can do games. They can do lots of different things.
Q. Do you control their image in a PGA TOUR competition?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Any televised competition.
Q. You talked about a lot of positives in the past year, but what would you like to see
the PGA TOUR, and not just the competitive side, but the whole operation, do better in the
coming year than it did this year?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: That's a very general question that relates to -- I could go on
for an hour.
Q. You could go on for three minutes?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We systematically look at -- on an annual basis or sometimes more
frequently depending on the area, every aspect of our business: Our courses, our
tournament schedule, our branding at tournaments, the way in which we support our
marketing effort at tournaments, the tournaments we manage on all three Tours, all of the
supporting businesses to support those business, the quality of our staff, the extent to
which we communicate effectively with players, the extent to which we communicate
effectively with you. I mean, there's 50 areas on the Tour that we say: Are we make
progress? What's our long-term strategic plan? Are the people involved in this area doing
the job? What was our performance rate rating for this past year? What areas in each of
those areas do we want to concentrate? So, I mean, this is a buttoned-up, well-managed
operation because of the quality of the people that we have here are good managers. And we
work very hard. I mean, let's just take THE PLAYERS Championship. THE PLAYERS
Championship, you come to THE PLAYERS Championship, you're a player: "Boy, this is
the best-run tournament on the PGA TOUR, we love the way it is run." At the end of
every year, we have maybe 50 or 60 things that need to be improved. If you ever get to the
point in this business or any business where you can't improve anything, it's time to go
do something else.
Q. How many tournaments do you control on the regular and senior tours, and do you see
that as a growth industry for the Tour, and do you see it as a conflict for local
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We actually -- by control, you mean we manage. We manage probably
10 events on the PGA TOUR, the Senior Tour and the BUY.COM TOUR, basically THE PLAYERS
Championship, the TOUR Championship, the SENIOR TOUR Championship, the BUY.COM TOUR
Championship. And then we manage the Buick Invitational in New York, we manage a couple of
special events like the Senior Tour Tournament of Champions, we manage the Grand Slam of
the Senior Tour. And then we manage the World Golf Championships events. But no, we don't
see -- the growth industry meaning do we want to manage a bunch more events, no. I think
that we have a lot to save grace from a tournament management standpoint now. We would
like to spend more resources on working with local tournament organizations in terms of
how they manage events, because one of our strategic objectives is to reduce the disparity
just week-to-week in terms of the way tournaments are managed, whether it is operational
issues, player issues, branding issues, communication. We'd like to see more consistent
(inaudible) -- management throughout both tours and the BUY.COM Tour. We have been moving
in that direction for a few years, but that is an exercise of using more people and
resources to work with local tournament organizations in terms of moving them all to the
same level and quality of overall management and presentation. That's a major priority.
But we don't see the need to have to control management from here to get that done. Rather
it is a question of a tournament organization is on board in terms of strategic planning
Q. Earlier today I heard a radio interview with the former owner of the Seattle
Mariners who basically said the numbers in baseball no longer add up; meaning, all the
money you pay the players, you can't get it back. Are we anywhere near having a problem
financially with golf because the numbers are getting bigger each year?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I don't think so. I think it is something you always want
to consider, because we don't want to ever be in a position of -- (inaudible) -- purse
levels is a very public thing. Money list is a very public thing. We want to be in the
position of being able to increase it. Remember that we are a sport that will generate
over $60 million this year for charity in 2001. Those are the net dollars. Baseball people
are talking about a situation where it is impossible to break even from an ownership
standpoint. They don't have that dollars going to charity. So they are in a different
economic model that is a very difficult economic model. Now, the NFL is tough, not so much
the player economic model from the standpoint of growing their sport. Baseball has an
economic model, that, frankly -- (inaudible) is not going to help grow their sport. As far
as we go, we have a very different structure. We have a very little for-profit interest
for the sport. We have a very healthy retirement fund, charitable giving (inaudible) --
financially, and I don't see us in the position of having to retrench from a purse
standpoint, but you do have to keep your eye; you don't want to get them up so fast that
you had an economic downturn.
Q. Obviously, with adding the World Golf Championships, the regular season stretches
now into November, and I was just curious, as you negotiate a new TV contract is it safe
to say that you have sort of maxed out the number of weeks in the regular season, or is
there a possibility of spreading it a week or two further or a week or two shorter, or are
you pretty comfortable now with the length of the season?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I think that we're reasonably comfortable. I think, you
know, if we go any later -- we have trouble scheduling. We get that TOUR Championship over
to Atlanta and places like that, we get a little iffy with the weather. So if we go
farther, we are going to be restricting ourselves back into, you know, southern
California, south Florida, for the year-ender. Gives us less options. We go shorter, it
doesn't mean we're not going to be playing golf -- if we reduces the schedule two or three
weeks. There will be events those two or three weeks. They will be unofficial events for a
small number of players. So I think that -- at least at this juncture, we are pretty
comfortable with the length of the season as it is.
Q. Also, I wanted to ask, I'm not sure if your concern was about this, but there's been
talk that guys are making so much money during the regular season that these so-called
silly-season events are having trouble attracting marquis names. I wonder your reaction to
that, if any, if that's a problem?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think that we certainly have a lot of interest in those kind of
events. So I think the market is strong enough to support them -- sometimes the players
focus more on the official money season. And generally, I don't think it is a huge change
in terms of the players available for playing some of those events in the fall. I think
they are being a little more selective. If you look at the first events on the West Coast,
the West Coast fields have greatly strengthened, with guys going out and playing three,
four, five weeks on the West Coast, or even two or three weeks on the West Coast. They
want some time off perhaps more than they did a few years ago. From our position, they are
okay. They are delivering reasonable value, and they are an additional opportunity for the
players who want to take advantage of them. So that's probably true, but not at a level
that is going to start making anything go away.
Q. The BUY.COM TOUR, just with the competition for retaining and gaining TOUR cards
getting more and more heated year to year, I just wonder if there was any way that in the
future more BUY.COM guys, as far as, you know, not just the Top-15, have you ever thought
to increasing the number of guys who would automatically gain their Tour cards for the
following year, any thought given to that?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: What we do is every single year we research the comparatives
accredited performance of the players that came off that TOUR versus the players that came
out of the qualifying school, the rookies that came out of the qualifying school, and we
compare rookies and veterans in both. We compare both of those groups with the bottom of
the 125 and how they fared. We try to do it apples-to-apples with players that had
reasonably the same amount of access, scoring average, etc., As measured. And then we look
at it and we say, now is there a case made to move either way in terms of access. And at
this point, we are comfortable with that mix, but it is something that is reviewed every
year, and I would not want to effectuate -- (inaudible) -- we would necessarily stick with
the 15; that tour is getting stronger and I sense that we are looking at it more carefully
now than maybe we did two years ago. But right now, I don't contemplate any change in the
next couple of years.
Q. Is one of the scenarios if you ever decide to give an extra, say, five or 10 cards
for the BUY.COM that you would reduce the 125; in other words, only the Top-115 from the
previous year's money list going to keep their cards, or is that always going to be set?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: The thing we look at there is how many tournaments a player is
getting into from the BUY.COM and from the qualifying school. And, you know, four or five
years ago, a player from the qualifying school was only getting in 18, 19 events, the
bottom of the qualifying school, that number is now up to 23, 24, and, of course, we have
added some events which has helped that. And the reason we look at that is if a guy works
all his life to get a TOUR card, he needs to have a reasonable opportunity to demonstrate
his competitive level. So, if you said that I were going to give five more cards to the
BUY.COM TOUR and we were going to keep the Qualifying School at the same level, I think
you would probably be faced with having 125 so that you could provide reasonable access.
If you gave five more cards and then reduced the qualifying school, and -- (inaudible) --
and then again, that is why we measure competitive performance of not only the players
coming off the BUY.COM TOUR versus the players that come off the qualifying school, but
also, the players who performed at the bottom of the 125 comparatively. So we measure all
three groups versus -- for averages to try to determine, you know what is generating the
most competitive player, and then that is No. 1. And then No. 2 is making sure that they
have a reasonable amount of access.
Q. You mentioned the January 15 time frame for the SENIOR TOUR Championship site. I
wondered if Dallas was still in the running for that?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: You know, I honestly don't know the answer to that question. I
know that we are looking at three or four different markets. I don't know whether Dallas
is on that list or not. I don't believe so.
Q. Secondly, I keep seeing January as a time when the Supreme Court is supposed to hear
the Casey Martin issue. Is that known for a fact or is that everybody's best guess?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: The oral arguments are scheduled for January 17 at the Supreme
Court, and that is set. There will be oral argument that day. When the opinion will be
forthcoming, we don't know. We assume late string or summer.
Q. The RCGA has requested a move of the Canadian Open from a summer date to a fall date
to allow it to better organize and move the tournament around the country. Is that a
consideration, and if it is a consideration, when could it happen?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, it is a consideration. The earliest it would happen is
2003. It is very difficult -- it is a very difficult scenario, because we have, as you
know, a very full schedule in the summertime. We are beginning the process now of setting
that schedule for 2003 and beyond. We understand the interests of Bell Canada. Obviously,
we are delighted with the quality of the event the Canadian Open provides. Actually, we're
delighted with Bell Canada's sponsorship. John Sheridan is a first-rate executive who runs
(inaudible) -- for those two reasons, we are bending over backwards trying to find out if
there is a way to get that done. I don't have an answer right now. All I know it is a very
difficult proposition, but we will make that determination probably by the May/June time
frame of next year. Thank you all very much.
End of FastScripts...