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PGA CHAMPIONSHIP


August 6, 2014


Pete Bevacqua

Ted Bishop

Kerry Haigh


LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY

JULIUS MASON:  Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the PGA news conference.  We have a lot of information to share with you and we want to be able to answer all your questions afterwards, so let's go ahead and get right to it, please.
Please welcome the 38th president of The PGA of America, from the Legends Golf Club in Franklin, Indiana, Ted Bishop.
TED BISHOP:  Thanks to everyone in the media for taking a few minutes out of your busy schedule to be here with us this morning.  Obviously the PGA of America looks forward to being back here at Valhalla for a third PGA Championship, and if this year is anything like the two previous ones we had here, it's certainly going to be another very memorable major and another great page in the history of Valhalla Golf Club.
I've said all week and I will stand by it; I think this is going to be the most exciting week in professional golf here in 2014, particularly when you consider all the ramifications and everything surrounding this championship.
As you all know, in November, we announced that we were doing a major purse increase this year.¬† It will be a $10 million total purse.¬† The winner's share will be $1.8 million, second place money will be close to $1.1 million.¬† I think that will be a great thing for this championship.¬† Hopefully it's an indication to the players on the PGA TOUR how much The PGA of America appreciates what they do week‑in and week‑out, and obviously those players are also members of our Association.
I think the other thing that I'm particularly pleased about is the condition of the golf course, given the changes that we made here after the Senior PGA in 2011.  We came in and did an extensive renovation with Jack Nicklaus; and I say extensive; I know that a lot of the changes are not necessarily noticeable, but we certainly redid all the greens, reconstructed them, put SubAir in, recontoured many of them and I think improved the putting surfaces and in many cases gave Kerry Haigh a lot more pin placements to work with and this week.  We redid all the bunkering.
We put a new irration system in, which is a big deal here in Louisville, in August, when you can now irrigate your rough differently than you do your fairways and we obviously regrassed all the rough three years ago.  The comments we are getting from the competitors on the condition of the golf course are nothing but stellar.
Just a couple of comments on yesterday's Long Drive Contest.¬† Like to congratulate Louis Oosthuizen for his 340‑yard drive.¬† Jason Day, as you know, finished second a couple of yards behind him, and interestingly, Johan Kok, one of our PGA club professionals in the field, finished third.
A lot of fun out there yesterday, and just a couple things I would say about the Long Drive Contest.  We spent a lot of time with Kerry Haigh prior to announcing that we were actually going to do this to make sure that we conducted the competition in the right spirit.  We tried to make it player sensitive.  We certainly made it an optional competition.  We put in a nice charity component.  We obviously brought it back from the past and captured some of the great history of The PGA of America.  Really, it conforms with the type of fun and innovative things that the The PGA of America has tried to do and stand for in the game the last couple of years.
It was great to talk to Rory McIlroy yesterday and have Rory say, Well, I'm going to play nine holes and a practice round, but I'm going to go over to the 10th tee and hit a long drive.  It was great to see the interaction with a group like Phil and Rickie and Keegan yesterday.
I think the most compelling thing of the day was if you look at Louis's drive at 340 yards and you go back to 1963, when Nicklaus won that contest with a 341‑yard drive using a Persimmon driver and a wound ball, it maybe makes you rethink a lot of this conversation that's taken place the last couple years about technology and equipment and some of the things that people think need to change in the game.¬† That was fun and something that certainly based on the succession of the competition, we'll definitely be doing again next year.
Then the last thing that I would say before I turn it over to Pete and Kerry is that obviously on Sunday night, we are going to know who our nine guaranteed spots are on The Ryder Cup Team.  That's a nice subplot to the 2014 Championship.  I would invite all of you to be here at one o'clock for Tom Watson's press conference.  There's going to be an exciting announcement made at that time.
But I think with this purse increase ‑‑ and there's not been a lot said about this up until now maybe, that with that winner's share being $1.8 million, that's going to translate into 36,00 Ryder Cup points.¬† So good or bad, you could conceivably go down the list to the 45th, 50th player in The Ryder Cup points right now, and somebody could play their way on The Ryder Cup Team.
So there's going to be a lot of jockeying, a lot of movement probably, depending on what happens with the United States Ryder Cup Team, and we look forward to that press conference we are going to have on Monday and having a better idea of who our nine guaranteed spots are on the team.
Then the last thing that I would say is it's really very special to have Kenny Perry in the field this week.  I think that was one of the most enjoyable things that I've been able to do this year was to let him know after the Senior PGA that he was going to have a special exemption in the PGA Championship.  I was driving down here on Sunday afternoon from Indianapolis and I heard that Kenny had won, and I called and immediately left a message on his cell phone and I said, "Man, you've got to love it when a guy like you makes me look like a genius" because he's obviously playing well coming into this tournament.  I want to be out there on the first tee when he tees it up tomorrow, because it's going to be an exciting and emotional day.
PETE BEVACQUA:  We feel good about where we are.  It's early in the week, and Kerry will speak to the condition of the golf course, but in terms of the overall layout of the facility, we feel like we are in a great place.
Ted talked about the Long Drive Contest, and we are doing some other things to add to the enjoyment of the week in addition to it being a major championship.  Obviously we somewhat reinvented the Pick the Hole location presented by Jack Nicklaus as a result of our relationship with Samsung.  I think we were able to take that to a new level.  We are focused on the 16th hole, which I think will be one of the two or three most difficult holes out there over the course of the next four days.
It's great if you go on to PGA.COM and participate in this.  To hear Kerry, obviously as our Chief Championships Officer and the person who really has his fingerprints all over the setup of the golf course, talk about the approach and how to approach the 16th hole.  And then, also, obviously to listen to Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golfer of all time, golf course architect, obviously the architect of the place where we are right now, talk about playing the 16th hole.
But what we added to it this year, is not only can you do that and vote on it, but you can play it virtually.  So we are excited about that.  We have had some really nice feedback and we will look to somewhat reinvent it next year again as we move into 2015 at Whistling Straits.
Also for those of you, we are all here to watch 156 of the best players in the world, but as you walk around this site, we are particularly proud of our championship shops, our new merchandise facility.  We think our team has really done a nice job there.  And then the overall entrance area of this championship with our Patron activation, we would like to tip our hats not only to Brett Sterba and our championship team, but OMEGA and Samsung and Mercedes for what they have done, pretty spectacular.
In terms of our broadcast partners, proud to be with Turner and CBS.  We'll have 28 hours of live coverage over the course of the next four days.  We also have 44 international broadcast partners and we'll be available in about half a billion homes over the next four days.  So certainly the spotlight will be shining on Valhalla.
And for us, bringing the PGA Championship to Valhalla is special because it's a PGA of America facility.  It's our home.  In my role as CEO and in my time with the PGA of America, it's the first championship I've been involved with.  Obviously I've watched and visited the others, but it's such an ideal major championship site; from the golf course, a big, difficult golf course, to the amount of room we have out there for everything else that goes into conducting a major championship.  It's just good and it's comfortable.
So obviously we have critical days ahead of us, but we are confident where we are right now, and to be honest, and in talking with Ted and our officers and our board and Kerry, we can't wait to get back.  We know that this will be a championship venue for us that we will visit regularly because it just makes a lot of sense.
So we are excited about this week and we are excited about the future of the PGA Championship.  As I said quickly, we are at Whistling Straits in 2015 and at Baltusrol in 2016.
What we wanted to mention today regarding Baltusrol in 2016, with golf back in the Olympics after nearly a hundred‑year hiatus, which obviously affects the golf schedule; and in working with our other entities of golf, our friends in golf, we are actually going to move the date of the 2016 PGA Championship.¬† For the first time in 45 years, we will not be playing it in August and we will be playing the 2016 PGA Championship from July 28‑31.¬† So we will be finishing at Baltusrol at the end of July.
Talking with Kerry and his team, we actually feel really good about that.  We think an end of July date in that part of the country and the major metropolitan area just outside of New York city makes a lot of sense.
So with that, I want to turn it over to Kerry Haigh, our Chief Championships Officer.
KERRY HAIGH:  Thank you, everyone, pleasure to be here.
With regards to the golf course, I'd just like to say a couple of things.  Firstly, Roger Meier, the superintendent, as Ted mentioned, he has done an unbelievable job.  He started right before the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid in 2011, and worked through the renovation and restoration of the championship course.
As you can see from the product, we have had seven major championships played here, and in my opinion right now, the golf course is in the best condition that we've ever had it for any of our major championships.¬† So that's a credit to Roger, his crew, his full‑time staff here at Valhalla, as well as almost 100 volunteers who have come in from around the country to help him and us this week make this the greatest PGA Championship that hopefully, as Ted said, we have ever had.
Highlighted by that is certainly the T1 bentgrass which we have put on the putting surfaces and we could not be happier with their overall conditioning.  The recontouring of those greens that Jack Nicklaus and the Nicklaus company did has really provided us more hole locations, which I think we will be able to use to our advantage to make it even more of a fun, more exciting and more challenging golf course for the best players in the world.  Certainly that's our aim, as it is every year at the PGA Championship, to make it a great test of golf, but hopefully plenty of birdies, eagles, bogies and whatever else.
With the rough cuts, we have two rough cuts out there.  We do have a second cut of about two inches.  That has been done in three or four places:  To the left of hole 6, on the island fairway on hole 7, and on the right of hole 15 and hole 16.  Reason being, to try and encourage players to take the left fairway on 7, which we think is more exciting for a player to try and go for that green in two.
Hole 6, if you miss it left, it also will give a player the option of trying to hit it over the water on the second shot.
On holes 15 and 16, by mowing it with a lower cut, it brings the creek and the trees more into play for a ball that may be going off to the right.
So as I say, the golf course, the overall conditioning, we could not be happier.  The greens are right where we want them.  We have championship speed for them all week long and we are looking forward to testing the best players in the world.  Thank you.
JULIUS MASON:  Kerry Haigh, thank you very much.  Ladies and gentlemen, the floor is open to you.

Q.  With the announcement of the date change in 2016, how hard was it to come up with that position on the schedule?  I know you said you're happy with it.  What other logistical concerns are there?
PETE BEVACQUA:  It really wasn't difficult at all to come up with that date.  We worked closely with the R&A and the USGA and obviously Augusta National being the caretakers of the other majors, and it just makes sense.  It's a condensed schedule in 2016.  Obviously with the Olympics, it's also a Ryder Cup year; you throw in obviously the FedExCup, so it's a very congested schedule.
And I would tell you that we view it as a positive.  We think that the end of July at Baltusrol just outside of New York City is actually a better time of year than August.  We think the temperatures will be better, also, in terms of really the activities of the residents of that area.  Quite honestly, less people are on vacation, more people are in town and we think it will work out as a real benefit to the 2016 PGA Championship.
TED BISHOP:  The other thing I would add to that is that we are very sensitive about the fact that the PGA Championship needs to have relevance in an Olympic year, and based on the scheduling in 2016 and the wraparound Official World Golf Rankings that will be used to determine the United States Olympic team, that will not be the case in 2016.
When we made the Harding Park announcement for 2020 that was one of the things that we liked about the San Francisco market was the flexibility going forward in an Olympic year to possibly even examine where the PGA Championship would fall, possibly earlier in the schedule so that, in fact, it does play a very important part in the selection of the United States Olympic team.

Q.  Have any of you had any communication with Tiger Woods, and what do you expect?  Is he going to play?
TED BISHOP:  Mark Steinberg has done a great job of communicating with Pete, Kerry and I multiple times each day, Monday and Tuesday.  And we are kind of like you, we don't really know much more than you do at this point.  I think the longer the week goes on and the fact that we don't hear any negative announcement is hopefully possibly a positive thing.
But as soon as we find something out, we'll let you know.

Q.  Could you tell us about the reported extension in the deadline for Tiger Woods' registration?
KERRY HAIGH:  Yeah, I'd be happy to add that.  I think there may be a little confusion over it.
Our customary procedure is to notify players, we have registration open Sunday through Tuesday and tell players, you can register any time upon arrival, Sunday through Tuesday.  Any player that doesn't or can't register at that time, we just need to know and notify them so we either call their agent or the player calls us and says they are going to be late.
There's no wrong way or penalized or disqualified for not registering; so long as we are in touch and we know that a player has been in touch with us, it's no problem.  Any player that has not registered by 5:00, as long as they have been in touch with us, has up until their tee time to make it to the venue and play, and we'll deal with the registration process either before or after the round once they arrive.

Q.¬† Could you give us a possible last‑minute scenario, then?¬† Tell us Tiger's tee time and how late he can arrive.
KERRY HAIGH:  Like any player, he has until the tee time to arrive.  We have alternates that are on site and they are allowed to practice and play the golf course.  John Huh landed last night, he is playing today.  I believe Robert Garrigus is coming in today and will also play.  They will be on standby all day tomorrow for any player that either injures themselves on the range or comes late.  That is what the alternate procedure is for.  No different than any other PGA Championship.

Q.  Could each of you please give me, in your heart of hearts, do you think he'll come or not?
TED BISHOP:  Do I think he'll come?
JULIUS MASON:  John Hopkins, past PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in journalism winner, ladies and gentlemen.
TED BISHOP:  Well, as I said a few minutes ago, John, I think the longer the week has gone and the fact that he has not said he's not going to be here, I think that's good.
I mean, we have no idea.  We don't have any more information at this point than you do really.
PETE BEVACQUA:  You asked each of us; I would tell that you knowing Tiger, he's making every effort in the world to play, and I think it's no secret, obviously we want him to play.  We would love to have Tiger Woods here.
In my heart of hearts, we want him to play.  Do we know what he's going to do?  We have no way of knowing.  We are just rooting for him to play because it would be a great thing to have Tiger Woods here, that's for sure.

Q.  It was said a few minutes ago, and I can't remember which of you said it, that you can't wait to get back here.  What's the most realistic scenario, and what tournament would you imagine bringing back?
PETE BEVACQUA:  We've talked about that this week with our officers, with Kerry.  Really, no definitive plans as of now.  Of course we'll see how this week goes.  But this is a wonderful golf course.  It's a PGA of America facility and I think we have every intention of bringing multiple championships back here over the course of the years.
We don't have a definitive time slot or schedule built yet but I wouldn't be surprised if that wasn't something we discussed with a lot of seriousness over the course of the next few months.

Q.¬† Two questions quasi‑related.¬† First of all, given The Ryder Cup and the size of the purse at $10 million and the double points applied to The Ryder Cup standings, you could have anybody in the field, if you won this week, would be mathematically enough to get on the team.¬† Are you still comfortable with double points in the majors and have you considered making it a point and a half?
PETE BEVACQUA:  Had a little trouble hearing, but I think I got a sense about the number of points you could earn this week if you win the championship and how ultimately that could place just about anybody on The Ryder Cup.
I would love to hear Ted and Kerry's perspective, as well.¬† I'm comfortable with that because it means you won the PGA Championship.¬† It's not as if you rolled out of bed and made The Ryder Cup.¬† You played four days in a major championship at a really difficult golf course and beat 155 of the best golfers in the world in a major championship.¬† I'm of the mind‑set that if you win the PGA Championship, you probably ought to be on The Ryder Cup.
TED BISHOP:  Yeah, I've been tracking these Ryder Cup points, and it was really interesting from the beginning of the season, if you looked at in 2012, Hunter Mahan had just over 4,000 points and he finished in ninth place.
When you factored in the addition of the Fall Series, the purse increases in the major championships, you would have figured that it was probably going to take somewhere around 4,500 points to make The Ryder Cup Team this year.  The way things have gone the last three months, really, it's conceivable that we are going to have players make this team with less than 4,000 points in the guaranteed spots.
I don't think the way things are trending that somebody is going to come out of the blue way down on that Ryder Cup points list and play their way on the team this year.  I think this is a golf course that while it certainly has lent itself to some exciting finishes, and you've had guys like Bob May in the mix in 2000 here, anybody could win; there's no question about that.
I think it's a great system.  I don't see any reason to change it in any way, shape or form.

Q.¬† To Pete's point, I think John Daly would hardly agree with you; that a PGA Champion should be in a Ryder Cup, but that's another story.¬† On the relationship that you've kind of started with the PGA TOUR, curious if any thought has been given falling in line with the other majors to give THE PLAYERS Championship winner more than a one‑year exemption into the Championship here.
KERRY HAIGH:  We have not had any further discussion on that, no.

Q.  This is a neophyte question, but to make sure I have this correct; the alternates, they can be on site and wait till the very last tee time and see if somebody goes out?
KERRY HAIGH:¬† Every PGA Championship, we always have the alternates literally on the putting green or practice range during the tee off, the two‑hour tee period so that if any player either misses their tee time because they were running late, caught in traffic or whatever, or somebody calls and says they are withdrawing, that alternate is there ready to go, and has to be there ready to go by whatever time that player misses their tee time.¬† So they have to literally stay on or around the teeing ground or the putting green or the practice range.

Q.  But they move just right into that tee slot of the person who defected?
KERRY HAIGH:  The first alternate would move into the first player that missed their tee time or withdrew, yes.

Q.  And final question, I understand besides Tiger Woods, there's five other players that requested this late registration; is that correct?
KERRY HAIGH:  I think there were three or four others at the end, yes.  And as I say, that's not uncommon.  A lot of times, players came in the week before, had a practice round because they knew they had other commitments or business issues, so they played last week or a couple of weeks ago, knowing that they would be coming in late.

Q.  Can you tell us who the other players are that have requested the late registration?
KERRY HAIGH:  We haven't given that out, but I think they are arriving today.  Transportation is picking them up.

Q.  The statement that you made of 4,000 points or less could make this team, and it's never happened before, I don't think that it may be an amount of talent that's diluted, but it's ratcheted up, and we have a long stream of guys with talent.  What are your thoughts on that, but yet they are unproven in a Ryder Cup competition?  Do you feel comfortable in that way of them representing the team without that competition under their belt?
TED BISHOP:  Just to clarify one thing.  I never said that less than 4,000 points had not made The Ryder Cup Team, because it did in 2010.
Well, I don't think there's any question, if you look at the results of the major championships the last couple of months, obviously the European players are trending pretty well right now.  You have Martin Kaymer win the U.S. Open.  You have Justin Rose win The Scottish Open.  Rory McIlroy wins The Open Championship.  Sergio García has played well.
But I think all of us that are involved with golf know that there are cycles, and glad The Ryder Cup doesn't start tomorrow.  Happy it starts seven weeks from now and hopefully our players will be trending on the upward way when we get to Gleneagles in late September.

Q.  Could you all talk a little about the Grow the Game initiatives that are out there right now, whether you see any inroads being made and how long it might take to measure some of that, when they will start making a dent, so to speak, in what you guys are trying to do?
TED BISHOP:  Well, I think the most profound growth of the game program in 2014 has been the PGA Junior League.  We have seen an increase of almost 200 percent in the number of facilities that are implementing the program this year.  I think we are close to 25,000 kids that are participating.
This is golf's version of Little League Baseball.¬† Boys and girls, ages 7 through 13, can compete together.¬† They play a nine‑hole match and a three‑hole segment.¬† It's a scramble format.¬† I had the pleasure of coaching my team at my facility this year.¬† We had 24 kids that participated.¬† We had five girls, two African Americans; it was a very diverse and interesting group of kids that I had.
I think in all the years I've been involved with golf, this is first time we've tried to promote and teach junior golf with a team element.  All the kids have a jersey and wear numbers on their back.  I really believe this program is going to transform the way that junior golf is built in this country.
But what may be even more impactful is the fact that these kids' parents are all millennials.  There's been a lot of talk about millennial participation in the game and their involvement in the game.  The interesting thing that I'm seeing firsthand is that you're having a lot of parents who otherwise did not play golf to get their kids involved in the PGA Junior League program, and once they see the experience their kids have had, they are starting to migrate to the game, as well.
We had a very positive committee meeting yesterday, and we are going to announce in the next couple of months, after we can think through some of these things, some ways that we can make integrate some parental involvement in the sport through the PGA Junior League, as well.
There's been a lot written about the state of the game over the course of the summer and I think when you look at the PGA Junior League, and when you look at the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship being expanded in all 50 markets, when you look at Get Golf Ready registrations being up 14 percent, these are three specific things that gauge what I would call player development in this country.  We can sit here and talk about rounds played and the business of golf all day long, and they are impacted by a lot of factors, certainly weather in many parts of the country this year.  But I think from a player development standpoint, the game is in a good spot and it's in a better spot than it was last year.
PETE BEVACQUA:  The only thing I would add there, with PGA Junior League golf, we are so excited about it's growth because it's such a new program.
As you may or may not know, yesterday we announced that Rory McIlroy is going to be an ambassador of the program.  And as we look to continue to put our energy and resources behind PGA Junior League golf, we know that Rory can help us take it to new audiences and to masses around this country, and quite frankly, internationally at some point.
So to the statement Ted made, we are incredibly bullish and enthusiastic about what we can do with PGA Junior League golf.

Q.  Obviously Dustin Johnson not competing here this week is disappointing.  Can you just talk about whether you know if there is a time frame for his return and what support you guys at the PGA may be providing him, if you are?
TED BISHOP:  Well, you know, one of the roles I play as the president of The PGA of America is I sit on the PGA TOUR Policy Board.  I think that we were all really saddened by the fact that he was going to have to take this leave of absence from the game.  There's been no time frame set on what his return would be.  I would leave that in the hands of the PGA TOUR and Dustin Johnson's people to make that announcement.
All I would say is that it's a huge blow to our Ryder Cup Team.  He's the type of player that, you know, he hits a high, long ball and that would have been very beneficial to have at Gleneagles.  So we certainly hate that fact.
We were very excited last week when we made at announcement that we potentially had 100 of the Top‑100 players in the Official World Golf Rankings in this championship, and obviously that changed with that announcement last week, as well.
So The PGA of America wishes him nothing but the best.  As I said earlier, he's a member of our association, and we hope he's back real soon.

Q.  What is some of the feedback that you're getting from the players concerning the changes to the golf course here at Valhalla; and because of some of that feedback, is there anything that you would change the next time around?
KERRY HAIGH:¬† To be honest, I haven't‑‑ you've heard more than I have.¬† You talk with the players a lot more.¬† So I think generally, the conditioning of the golf course is outstanding.
And we haven't started the championship yet, so I think after four rounds of the championship, we'll be able to give a lot better answer than we would today.  But right now, we are extremely happy with the conditioning, how we are going to try to set it up.
We told the players, there are four or five holes where we may use tees that are forward to change how the course plays a little bit, and those tee markers are out there today.
We're so excited.  We can't wait for it to start tomorrow morning and looking forward to the greatest PGA Championship we've ever had.
TED BISHOP:  The only thing I would add is that I do think the changes were subtle.  I think they were more agronomic in nature than they were design changes.  I have heard some positive comments from players about the contours of the greens, most notably the 8th hole, which was a par 3 that we had redone many times.
I think by and large, these were subtle changes and a lot of people that weren't on the inside wouldn't notice.

Q.  Any news on the senior Ryder Cup?
TED BISHOP:¬† You know, we continue to have a good dialogue on this.¬† There's a lot of moving pieces, as you can imagine.¬† We had a very constructive meeting yesterday with the PGA TOUR.¬† We are going to have a follow‑up meeting this week with Ryder Cup Europe.
We are still a ways from determining whether or not this is going to be a viable concept or a doable idea.  But I think it's exciting.  It's been good to hear the conversation, and particularly, the interest from the players in the past few weeks.  I think that's important.
PETE BEVACQUA:  Yeah, Ted, not much to add.  If you think about who could participate in a senior Ryder Cup, it gets very interesting, and to recreate some of those wonderful matches that helped make The Ryder Cup what it is today is intriguing.
To Ted's point, we are going through an analysis and we need to do a lot of due diligence and a lot of conversations that need to take place to see if this could ultimately become a reality.
JULIUS MASON:  Questions?  Questions twice?  Thanks very much, ladies and gentlemen of jury.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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