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September 9, 2014
THE MODERATOR:¬† Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us this afternoon for our annual State of the TOUR press conference with PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem.
As has been the custom the last couple of years, we'll start with the Commissioner's remarks, take Q&A from media, and then transition to an exciting announcement about the Payne Stewart Award recipient, our 15th anniversary of the award.
With that I'll turn it over to you, Commissioner Finchem.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:¬† Good afternoon, everyone.¬† Thanks for being here in Atlanta.¬† This is our 14th TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola here in Atlanta, and it's been a good run, and we're excited to be back.
Excited about our partnership with Coca‑Cola, of course‑‑ we talked last night about the extent of their brand recognition and the 230 countries that will see the telecast this week‑‑ our partnership with the Southern Company, and we're going to have Tom Fanning joining us for that announcement regarding the Payne Stewart Award; and our partnership here at East Lake.
And I think everybody's aware that one of the reasons we originally chose to bring the TOUR Championship here was to try to tell the story of what Tom Cousins and the East Lake Foundation have done in this area of the city.¬† And in those intervening years, that program has now gone national with Purpose Built Communities, taking that initiative and reaching out to communities around the country.¬† And we are trying to be helpful to them in those endeavors as well.
We particularly want to thank Tom and Ann Cousins for their hospitality this week.¬† And on behalf of the players, to everyone involved in the preparation of the tournament, everything looks absolutely superb.
Let me start first by talking a little bit about what is going to happen this week.¬† We have another year when we have basically the same format for the competition.¬† We have a lot of great stories coming into this week, starting with Chris Kirk, who has won in Boston, he's won a couple of times.
Billy Horschel's win over the weekend was great, particularly given his poor timing of a bad shot in Boston the week before; Bubba Watson winning the Masters and playing well enough to still come in here in third place; Rory McIlroy's run to get him into that top five; and Hunter Mahan winning the Barclays sets us up for the top 5 having the opportunity, each of those guys having the opportunity, to win the FedExCup with a win.
And I might just comment that the three weeks coming in here, Barclays at Ridgewood was a record‑breaker from a lot of different perspectives.¬† It was actually twice the size of the tournament that was held at Ridgewood the last time we played there, which shows the continued growth of the FedExCup and the way our rotation around New York seems to be working.
We had another great year in Boston at the Deutsche Bank at our TPC up there.¬† And last week we had anticipated that Denver in Cherry Hills would be a terrific venue given that we haven't played any golf there in a number of years, and it blew past our expectations, when you consider we were absolutely sold out on the weekend with the Broncos playing their home opener at home on Sunday night.¬† You don't have to say much more than that.
And record amount of charity dollars raised for the Evans Scholars by the Western Golf Association, and given the tournaments they played and the markets they played over the year, that says a lot as well.
So we had a good run to this week.¬† We're excited to be here for what should be a great finish.¬† In addition to the top 5, of course, there are a lot of other great stories.¬† Jimmy Walker, who won three times during the season; Martin Kaymer, who had a phenomenal early part of this spring and summer by winning THE PLAYERS and Open Championship; Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar played consistently well.
And as you go on down the list‑‑ I hadn't really focused on this fact, but we had Bill Haas last night for the Coca‑Cola dinner, and he was commenting that he came in here 16th, which actually is a little better than the position he had the year he won.
So a lot of different things can happen.¬† Jim Furyk has had a phenomenally consistent season as well and is just below that top five, and then a lot of other guys.¬† So we couldn't be more pleased with the setup.
And I think when you look back at the last four years and you recognize that it's been the final shots really every time in the last four years, we have no reason to anticipate anything other than that.¬† And as a consequence, we think this week is going to be compelling, as the last number of years.
With that said, let me turn to a more broader context and talk a little bit about the rest of the TOUR activity during the course of the year and the way we sort of see it, and then I'll take your questions for a few minutes before we talk about the Payne Stewart Award.
First of all, this week we come to the conclusion of the first wraparound season.¬† We're pleased with the overall reaction we've had to this season changes from our players, sponsors, and the media.
We had a little bit of a concern in terms of the strength of fields in the fall, starting off this first wraparound season and how it impacts field quality later in the year.¬† But if that continues, it's a small problem to have given all the positives that the wraparound season has generated, being able to finish the season on Sunday with everything coming to a conclusion is great for the fans and for you all that cover the sport.
The ability to hand out the FedExCup and turn right around and get the ballots out for Player of the Year with the Arnold Palmer Award being decided as well makes for the first time we've had a really definitive conclusion to our season.
And that means a lot to us.¬† But in addition to that, the qualifying process that ensued from that, the recognition of the Web.com as the path to the PGA TOUR, the strength of our tournaments now in the fall, growing in stature and growing in prize money, all that's very positive as well.
With regard to the Web.com Tour, our 25th year, and in this 25th year, as I mentioned, solidifying its position as the pathway, I think it means a lot for that tour going forward.¬† We're right now in the midst of the final series, with the finals for that Web.com Tour Championship that will be held at TPC Sawgrass on Dye's Valley Golf Course here in a few weeks.
If you had to point to one thing this season on the Web.com, it's that the young guys are winning.¬† It's always just, I don't know, five or six years ago when a lot of pundits were saying where are the young players in golf, particularly American players, they're not winning anymore.¬† And here on the Web.com we had ten winners in their 20s.¬† It's a continuation of the youth movement we've been witnessing for the last few years, and we actually think it's accelerating.¬† We look for good things from the Web.com going forward.
On the Champions Tour, Bernhard Langer has just had a phenomenal season too, and he'll be leading the way into the Schwab Cup Championship at Scottsdale at Desert Mountain here in a few weeks.¬† Colin Montgomerie I think snatched the lead from him for a brief period of time.
But that tour continues to perform very well.¬† Our leaderboards are consistent virtually every week.¬† Our field quality is consistent.¬† And we have a lot of happy sponsors on that tour.
So we've got‑‑ I know Davis Love‑‑ I think it's been announced that Davis Love‑‑ has it been announced?¬† It's been announced.¬† Great.¬† Davis Love playing out there in a couple of weeks is I think going to add additional stimulus to that tour.
In the three tours we've startled in the last couple of years, PGA TOUR Canada is coming toward the end of the season with three tournaments left on the schedule.¬† PGA TOUR China has five more tournaments left.¬† Both of those tours have performed well this year.¬† They're doing as we expected.¬† They're growing slowly but surely going forward, and we look for big things from them in the years to come.
PGA TOUR Latinoam√©rica, as I know you're aware, is played in two parts.¬† The second part starts in a couple of weeks in Ecuador, and that second part will feature ten events over the fall and winter throughout South America.¬† That tour is doing very well, and we expect to see a great surge in‑‑ big surge in elite player development out of South America in the years to come, which we think is a really healthy thing for the sport as a whole.
With regard to sponsorship and tournaments, we were very excited about the announcement we were able to do with PGA of America out in San Francisco this spring in announcing we'd be playing the match play at Harding Park in 2015, and with it, along with a new format for that World Golf Championship, but we also included the fact that we'd be playing the Presidents Cup there down the road as well as a PGA Championship.
So those things together will establish Harding Park as a key West Coast venue for tournaments in the future, which means a lot.¬† Certainly one of the reasons is it's TPC.¬† So we're pleased with that.¬† But it just lends itself particularly well to Presidents Cup‑type match play but equally well to a tournament as big as the PGA Championship.
So San Francisco is a major hub of industry and thinking right now on a global basis and to be able to cement our long‑term relationship there I think means a lot to the PGA TOUR as a whole.
We announced a new tournament down in Alabama.¬† The Barbasol Championship will start in 2015 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.¬† We're excited to be back there.¬† We used to play the Web.com Tour finals there some years ago.¬† We liked what Alabama did with the Trail, and it's great to be able to remind people of what states can do when they take golf to heart and support building facilities that will attract tourists and at the same time provide playing opportunities to their in‑state citizens.
On the Champions Tour, we also added a couple of events‑‑ one in Tucson, Arizona, and one in Nassau, which addressed to some extent our interest in balancing out the season on the Champions Tour by playing more early on, making a more cohesive season.
On the Web.com Tour, new events were announced this year‑‑ Nova Scotia, Cleveland, and Portland.¬† Getting back to Pumpkin Ridge in Portland was a very nice addition to the tour, and we're glad to be back in Cleveland, and Nova Scotia as well.
We continued to make reasonably good progress in the sponsorship landscape across the board, notwithstanding the continued uncertainty with the economy.
Couple more things before I take your questions.¬† I would say that on the television standpoint, it was kind of a mixed bag this year.
Our ratings, if you just look at ratings‑‑ which we don't ever like to just look at ratings, we look at cum audience‑‑ but if you look at ratings, they were off somewhat.¬† And we attribute that somewhat to Tiger not playing and somewhat to the fact that we had very few playoffs this year compared to the last two years.¬† And playoffs really do help our ratings.
But on the other side of the coin, our cum audience, the total number of people that tuned into our audience, was up 7 or 8 percent this year.¬† And increasingly given the volume of hours we have on television, we look to cum audience as a key metric.
So mixed but certainly acceptable, and we think we're poised for next year in good stead in that regard.
The Olympic Games coming up now.¬† We're only less now than two years away from being in Rio.¬† We had made reasonable progress in accelerating the effort on the golf course.¬† It's really all about the golf course at this point.¬† The format is set.¬† The players are ready to go.
We've got to get our golf course completed.¬† It seems to be holding to the schedule as set out the first of the year.¬† And while there's a lot of work to be done, we are increasingly optimistic that we'll have a product there that will be worthy of golf's reentry to the Olympic Games.
We certainly are excited about golf's entry to the Olympics from the standpoint of growing the game, regardless of where the medals go in Rio, the impact of being part of the Olympic program throughout South America and around the globe is going to be very, very positive, and we're already seeing the effects of that in a variety of regions in the world where we're doing business.
Lastly, I'll just comment on, as chairman of the World Golf Foundation this year, we've been having a variety of meetings during the last six months to talk about enhanced collaboration among the players and the industry and the stakeholders in the industry to continue to move the existing initiatives that are in place to help grow the game and diversify the game and at the same time bring on new initiatives that complement those to make sure that at the end of every year we look back and we like to see a work product that says to us that we're doing everything we can to take golf to people who have an interest in playing it.
And so I think that collaboration has got new energy and focus by the golf organizations.¬† And I think in the next year or two you'll start to see real impact beyond what we already have, which is not inconsequential by any means.
There's a lot written about the golf economy as a whole, a lot of commentary about it.¬† In my view, mostly in reaction to atypical situations.¬† But there are headwinds for the game that have been generated largely since the downturn.
The two that are most troublesome to me is that the economy that took a big hit in 2007, 2008 has had an impact on rounds of golf played.¬† There's no question about it.¬† Whether you look at the employment market, just people in private clubs being concerned about their savings coming out of 2008, 2009, dropping some memberships, that problem we think as we look around the country has been generally accounted for now.
But also importantly is the housing industry, which for 40years had a huge impact on the development of new golf courses.¬† The housing industry continues to be in the doldrums, and it would be great to have the housing industry back and vibrant, creating new neighborhoods and new communities that choose golf as they did for decades as an amenity that really works for that.
So those are concerns.¬† On the other hand, we don't think that noise around these issues is consistent with the reality.¬† When you consider that even after the downturn, the United States enjoys probably having half of the golfers on the planet in the United States.¬† We see real signs of growth and interest at almost every turn.¬† There seems to be a perception out there that young people are no longer interested in playing the game.
And we don't see that at all.¬† As a matter of fact, we are very bullish about the future of the game from these standpoints, when you consider 3 1/2 million kids took advantage of the First Tee Program last year, the USGA, PGA girls initiative has girls lining up to try the game.¬† The women's part of the game is certainly on a growth curve, and millennials played about 6 million rounds of golf last year.
So while there are some headwinds and while we need to do more, we think we're in a very strong position.¬† This is a $70billion industry.¬† It is an industry that generates 3.9 to $4billion of charity revenue throughout the industry.¬† It's an industry that's appealing to young people.¬† But you have to take the game to the young people.
Young people aren't going to come to the game, and we have to do a better job of that.¬† So I personally am very bullish about the next 25years of golf in this country.¬† I know we have a lot of work to do.
But we have a lot of the programs in place that can get that work done if they're funded at the right level, and we intend to continue to provide whatever leadership and support we can from a PGA TOUR perspective to make those dreams a reality.
With that, I will pause and see if you have any questions on the state of the game before we turn our attention to tonight's announcement of the Payne Stewart Award winner.
Q.¬† A few of your top players have said that a three‑week offseason‑‑ or if you're in the Ryder Cup this year, a one‑week offseason‑‑ is not enough to recharge batteries and that also it helps for the fans to not have the games for a while so they actually look forward to having it return.¬† What are your thoughts on that?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:¬† I'm not so sure I understand the last part of that.
Q.¬† That they've used the comparison of the NFL; that after the Super Bowl you have several months of anticipation so that by the time the games rolled around last week people were really excited to see the product again, whereas in golf it just feels like it's an endless cycle anymore.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:¬† Well, first of all, we don't like playing four weeks in a row in the playoffs either.¬† We think in the playoffs there should be a break week.¬† We didn't do that this year for some unusual reasons.
I can tell you right now it's not going to happen in the next few years.¬† We already know basically the schedule, and there will be a break week.
Coming off of World Golf Championship, PGA Championship, and playing four in a row and being mentally prepared for Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, four in a row doesn't really work.¬† So we understand that.¬† We didn't like it this year, we're not going to do it going forward.¬† So that's that.
As far as the other question, that depends on how you look at it, I guess.¬† When we started the FedExCup and added the playoffs, we heard some criticism in some quarters that isn't our fan base going to be tired of the game by then.¬† They'd perform beautifully on television and on site.
Taking the game around the country, getting to more markets is in the interest of the sport.¬† It's in the interest of our model, which is generating playing opportunities and financial benefits to players.¬† But also growing the game, which is what the professional game does by playing and also by helping communities, which is what we do by playing and raising money for charity.
So we like the wraparound year.¬† We have a good break at Christmas.¬† Players figure out their own schedules.¬† They're not under any requirement to play any particular schedule.¬† And they're all different in the way they approach it.¬† Some two on, two off.¬† Some six on, three off.¬† They're all individuals in that regard.
So we've been very, very successful in the last 10 or 15 years with this size of a schedule, and I anticipate we'll continue to be successful and grow going forward.
Q.¬† Looking at what is a very deep roster of talented players on this tour, in your eyes how important is it for there to be a dominant personality or a player rise above this large pool?¬† And in that end, where do you see Rory fitting in as far as being a focal point of the game?¬† And being a foreign player‑‑ many points to this, but being a focal player from overseas and how popular can he be in the United States?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:¬† That's a very good question.¬† First of all, let me take you back a few years.¬† In 1986, Jack Nicklaus won for the last time on the PGA TOUR at Augusta.¬† I started with the TOUR.¬† I was actually already representing the TOUR in Washington.¬† I started with the TOUR January1st, 1988.¬† From 1988 to 1996, after I became commissioner, in particular, I was often asked the question:¬† How do you manage to grow the sport without a dominant player?¬† Jack's gone.¬† You've got this parity out there.
Every one of those years the PGA TOUR grew, and virtually all of our tournaments grew.¬† Then we got Tiger Woods, and by 1998, 1999 he was definitely a dominant player.
So everybody asked me:¬† How do you manage to field 47 events when the dominant player in the sport is only playing 17 or 18?¬† Well, the answer is that every one of our tournaments grew each of those years, the entire TOUR grew.
Lately with Tiger being injured more often the last three, four years, I'm getting the question again the other way:¬† Okay, when Tiger's gone, how do you manage the sport?
Well, fans like golf.¬† They like to watch golf.¬† They like to watch some players more than others, there's no question about that.¬† And I think Tiger's got a long shelf life in terms of being a contributor because people like watching him play golf regardless of the records.¬† Even though the records are of keen interest to fans also.
So I don't think you'll see a lot changing in the short term.¬† But when it does, when he passes by, we will have other players, some of whom you just referred to as Rory McIlroy.
With Rory McIlroy specifically‑‑ and, by the way, I would just insert that what we're seeing in our research is fans are particularly interested in the young players coming up, who seem to be‑‑ compared to 10 or 15years ago, are more confident, certainly more knowledgeable about the top players they watched on television, of which there are a zillion hours now since they were eight years old.¬† And we're seeing the results of it week in and week out.
As far as Rory goes, he's a great ambassador for the game.¬† He handles himself beautifully.¬† He's articulate.¬† He's a good communicator.
When he's playing at his best, he's phenomenal to watch play golf.¬† No question about it.¬† So he already seems to me to be a centerpiece in the scheme of a competitive standpoint if you're a golf fan, and an exciting piece.¬† He's an exciting player to watch.
We couldn't be more pleased with that.¬† But what's going to happen, what that means a year from now or two years from now or three years‑‑ I mean, in 2013 Tiger won five times, PLAYERS Championship, two World Golf Championships, ranked No.1 in the year.¬† And he's been hurt all year.¬† Things change.¬† It's hard to predict.
But Rory's one of a lot of good, young players who are charismatic, who create interest, who carry themselves well, who adapt well to social media and can build an audience.
And I'll tell you, just from my perspective, I couldn't be more excited than we are right now about the future.
Q.¬† You mentioned being pleased with the progress of the Olympic course down in Brazil, but there was a legal challenge last week over some environmental concerns.¬† How concerned are you about that?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:¬† This is the second time the same thing has come up.¬† All our legal people we talk to down there say that this is a red herring, if you will, it's a political situation in that area in Rio.
We have had people there virtually every day for the last six months.¬† We're very knowledgeable about the rules and regulations down there.¬† They're being followed.
The mayor's office thinks this is a distraction.¬† So our own people are comfortable on the ground and the people we work with there down there, and the Olympic Committee, seem to be all reasonably relaxed about it.
So I suppose that could change, but right now we feel okay.
Q.¬† Is there a flaw in the system in which a player can miss the first three playoff events and still qualify for the fourth one?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:¬† Is there a flaw in it?¬† I don't know.¬† Is it possible to do?¬† You tell me.
Q.¬† It's happened this week.¬† Dustin.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:¬† No, we like the system pretty much the way it is.¬† I think that you get to a point where you could have a debate about should you legislate this or legislate that, and I think the FedExCup clearly stands on its own two feet now.¬† It's something that players want to be a part of.¬† It's the biggest prize in golf.¬† But it's also a big stage.¬† All you have to do is be there last week and see the numbers of people and who the people were.¬† To some extent it's outside the ropes.¬† It's a huge stage.¬† So it's part of the fabric of what you want to be as a player.
Candidly, in my view, at least, when the FedExCup went from a new interesting property to one that had huge potential was the year that the players realized they enjoyed it.¬† They enjoyed being in part of the two competitions.¬† They enjoyed the added pressure.
They think if they can play well in this kind of format, the best players in the world, it means a lot to their future career, et cetera, et cetera.
So we're not worried about that potentiality being a weakness in any regard.
Q.¬† Would you consider, if there was a consideration being made to changing the current format of the points, would you want it to become more volatile or less volatile going forward?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:¬† I don't think we need more volatility.¬† One of the things we wrestled with the last few years is should we pull the volatility back down a little bit.
By the answer in my previous question, I wouldn't say that we wouldn't necessarily do that, because we continue to evaluate it.¬† First two years we pretty much decided we didn't want to make any more changes for a while.¬† So we took it under advisement.¬† And we've looked at it.
I wouldn't rule it out.¬† But it's one of those things where if we pull the volatility back a little bit, I don't think it's a major thing, given where the Cup is now.
But it may be something we want to do.¬† We'll continue to look at it.¬† We certainly want to make sure everybody understands we're keeping our options open in that regard.¬† Thank you.¬† Good question.
Q.¬† There have been cases in other sports this year involving commissioners‑‑ Adam Silver and his dealing with Donald Sterling and the Clippers and Roger Goodell recently and Ray Rice, they've both been pretty open and outspoken about the cases they were dealing with.¬† I wonder what your thought as a commissioner in seeing how they dealt with those situations.¬† The TOUR has been notoriously tightlipped on situations not quite similar but along those lines.¬† I wonder if that had any impact on you or if you had any thoughts about the way they conducted themselves and if that shapes how you go forward?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:¬† Saying not quite similar is probably an understatement.¬† A little bit of an understatement.¬† But, no, it has not.¬† They took strong action in very egregious situations and they spoke about it.¬† We're comfortable with the policies we have right now.
Q.¬† If Dustin is on a leave of absence, why is his standing allowed to stand so that you have only 29 players here and someone gets left out?¬† He's been playing in all the lead‑up events.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:¬† That's the way the regulations are written.¬† He will participate in the payout of the FedExCup because we pay out the list as it ends up.¬† If you broke a leg in the middle of the year and you wound up X number on the list, he would get a payout from the FedExCup.¬† That's just the way the regs are written.
But in terms of getting paid as a non‑performing player this week, he would not get paid because the only way he would under our guidelines was if there was an injury or a family emergency.¬† Neither one of those two things happened here.
With regard to a player who has stepped away and not filling that spot, that's just the way the Cup was set up right now.¬† It may be something we evaluate after this year, but right now we're operating under the regulations that we operate under and the guidelines.
Q.¬† Do you foresee that changing?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:¬† I wouldn't characterize it as changing.¬† It doesn't obviously happen that often.
I haven't even talked to our team about it.¬† So I don't know whether it's a matter that they're concerned about that much or not.¬† It's just one of those things we'll take a look at after the season.
THE MODERATOR:¬† I'd like to transition us to the Payne Stewart Award announcement and give up my seat to chairman, president, and CEO, Mr. Tom Fanning of Southern Company.
TIM FINCHEM:¬† This is a day which we all look forward to every year and have since 2000, going back to the start of the Payne Stewart Award a year after he was in that tragic accident the week of the TOUR Championship in 1999 in Houston.
So this is our 15th year.¬† And I'd like to start off, before I turn it over to Tom Fanning, but let me preface this by saying that while the award is a special one in golf, the players view it as a recognition of what they have learned since they were seven or eight years old in terms of the etiquette of the game and the core values the game represents.
The Southern Company has really done a phenomenal job of carrying the message to why this award is important and why the individuals that have received it are so special and so impactful on the game.
I wanted to, before we get into this, thank Tom and his staff for that commitment over the years.¬† This year's honoree personifies the ideals that the award represents‑‑ sportsmanship, integrity, giving back to charitable causes, understanding what it means to be a role model.
Everybody who has earned this award since the first three in 2000‑‑ Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer‑‑ have distinguished themselves through their demeanor and their presentation on and off the golf course.
This year's recipient, we think, is also a personification of these qualities, and he's Sir Nick Faldo.
On the golf course, Nick made his mark as one of the best players of a generation.¬† He won 39 times, including six major championships.¬† He was for nearly 100weeks the No.1 player in the world.¬† And he represented Europe in 11 consecutive Ryder Cup teams and captained them in the 2008 matches.
But it's off the golf course that he's continued to make a huge impact since he put away his clubs.¬† He's well recognized as the lead analyst on both CBS and the Golf Channel.¬† As an analyst he probably logs more hours per month of our season than anybody in that seat in the history of golf on television.
He's designed 26, 27 maybe now, critically acclaimed golf courses around the world.¬† And perhaps the biggest part of his legacy will be that he has created the Faldo Series of Junior Golf tournaments.¬† This series was helped to identify the next generation of champions through grassroots initiatives and the development of more talented players at a young age.
There are currently 40 tournaments taking players in more than 30 countries with approximately 7,000 young people benefitting from the tournament experience that they receive and the expert advice they get.
Two graduates of this series are Rory McIlroy and Yani Tseng, and we think a good group of elite players coming behind them.
Unfortunately for today's ceremony and this afternoon Sir Nick could not be with us.¬† He is in the UK with his family.¬† Both his mother and father are ailing, and I learned a few minutes ago that his father has just now passed within the last hour or so.
So our prayers go out to Nick, to his family, certainly to his mother, and our sympathies.¬† We will miss him today.¬† He will join us tonight by way of a two‑way satellite communication to be part of the actual ceremony.
But before I ask Tom Fanning to speak on behalf of Southern, we'd like to share a short video with you that tells Nick's story.
NICK FALDO (via video):¬† Your Majesty, ladies and gentlemen, welcome from sunny Windsor.¬† Unfortunately, I can't be with you as I am nursing my father.¬† And to keep it on a lighter note, if I put it into golfing terminology, he's playing the 18th hole of life.¬† We're in the middle of the fairway, and the creek on the left just turned into a lake, and the bunker, somebody just put six inches of new sand in it.
So unfortunately things aren't looking good.¬† But I've sent my lovely boy, Matthew, over to be with you to represent me and the Faldo Series.¬† So I'm sure he will do a great job.¬† And girls, yes, that's where he got his good looks from.
I want to thank the PGA TOUR, Commissioner Tim Finchem, Ty Votaw, and Southern Company.¬† Thank you so much for this very prestigious award.¬† I'm very honored to be receiving this.
Payne was a very recognizable character, wasn't he?¬† He had many trademarks.¬† Obviously the walk, the dress, the sway, the swing, the big high hands and the big knees and his follow‑through.
But probably more importantly was his attitude.¬† He wasn't afraid to speak out.¬† And occasionally if you announce pre‑tournament that "I'm going to win this," some people think:¬† Who are you?¬† What are you talking about?¬† And whereas we know inside, as professional sports people, that's what you should be thinking.
So I admire Payne for that and his outwardness to really‑‑ in a way it would be motivating yourself, wouldn't it?¬† If you've set a goal and you're not quite there, basically saying to yourself, hey, I've just said I'm going to win this, it's a great kick in the backside to keep you motivated.
We had‑‑ through our careers in the'90s we had a few tussles here and there, but I remember Payne more at the Ryder Cups, especially moons ago at 6:30 in the morning he'd wake the team with one of those giant boomboxes things in those days with Bruce Springsteen blaring out Born in the U.S.A.¬† So that was delightful at 6:30 in the morning.¬† But I'll let him off on that because I'm not beating you on that one, not too sure.
This award means a tremendous amount to me.¬† The Faldo Series, we're 18years in to our series now and what I would call pay forward, pay back, go golf.¬† And so what we've done I'm very proud of globally with this series.
We're now in our 18th season.¬† We play 40 events in 30‑plus countries.¬† My boy, Matthew, would tell you a lot more about it.¬† But the most important thing is we give kids opportunity, experience globally.¬† We're very unique.¬† We're the only global amateur boys and girls series.
And, briefly, the history is pretty cool.¬† As I said, we started 18, 19years ago.¬† About 10 years ago a young kid was with me on a team founded in California.¬† His name was Rory McIlroy.¬† So Rory has always been there and supported the Faldo Series.¬† I think about eight years ago a young girl came along to help me launch the series in Asia, Yani Tseng.¬† So we had a very proud moment a couple years back when both were world No.1 at that time.
So I want to thank the Southern Company for this donation to my series.¬† This is a huge amount to us.¬† It means so much.¬† We run things pretty much on a shoestring, charitable trust, every penny goes back.¬† This is a considerable amount of money to us.¬† We can put it to great use.¬† For example, we've got a hundred kids coming over from Europe in October to the Greenbrier for one of our grand finals.
With that, once again, thank you all so much.¬† I'm very honored to receive this award along with many, many of the great names from our game.¬† And I promise you I will look forward to seeing you next year when a new recipient receives this wonderful honor.
Thank you all so much.¬† Good night.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:¬† With that, I'll turn it over to Tom Fanning.
TOM FANNING:¬† Thank you, Commissioner.¬† I'd be remiss if I didn't say likewise our thoughts and prayers go out to Sir Nick and his family in this difficult time.
When I think about the importance of this award and why it's important for Southern Company to support the way we do, I want to draw a bit of a parallel between kind of how we think about ourselves and how we think about the PGA TOUR and this award.
And it's really this:¬† Southern Company is one of the largest companies in our industry in the world.¬† From an energy production standpoint, we're just a bit smaller than the nation of Australia.
And when you look at the kind of whats of our business‑‑ making, moving, and selling electricity‑‑ by any metric we lead the United States.¬† Our generation fleet's the best, our transmission fleet is great, and we satisfy customers.¬† The top four customer satisfaction companies in the United States this year, in our industry, were our four companies.
And so we really work hard at the whats.¬† But I think what really distinguishes our company and really companies that are iconic in their industries are not the whats, they're the hows.¬† It's the culture.¬† It's the behaviors.¬† It's how you interface with people.¬† We have this idea that we've got to leave the communities better off because we're there.¬† We've got to be citizens wherever we serve.
And in thinking about that, that's why we associate with the PGA TOUR.¬† And that's why we think an award like the Payne Stewart Award really signifies the importance of not only the whats, but importantly the hows.
And when you think about the characteristics underlying the Payne Stewart Award‑‑ character, charity, sportsmanship ‑‑ it's been such an honor for us to have been involved with this for 15years and to think about the honorees and all the thousands of lives that they have touched for the benefit of the game and for their lives beyond the game.
When I think about Sir Nick, he's been a true champion both on and off the course.¬† Of course, as Tim said, 39 victories, six majors, No.1 player in the world.¬† His whats are without question.
But I think his hows likewise are just remarkable.¬† The philanthropic work, touching thousands of people in over 30 countries, is just amazing.
So this is a person that clearly leads by example.¬† He's a person that we all wish to be, that we aspire to.¬† People that give more than they take from the game.¬† And so we're very honored to promote him as this year's winner.
And so on behalf of Southern Company, I want to offer to Sir Nick Faldo our congratulations and our thanks to him for all that he's done for golf.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:¬† Thank you, Tom.¬† And just FYI, Matthew will be joining us tonight at the ceremony to receive the actual award that will be presented.
We'll be happy to answer any questions about the Payne Stewart Award before we conclude or the history of it.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports