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September 10, 2014

Jacques Bungert

Franck Riboud


THE MODERATOR:  First of all, of course, we're all very happy to see you here and to see the sun as well.  Yannick's teams in particular are most pleased with that.  Obviously we're going to give you the opportunity very quickly to ask your questions.  This year we have, of course, a fantastic lineup of players, and it's going to be a very special year, very special year for us here.
JACQUES BUNGERT:  And on the social network it's also very interesting because we are really exploding, growing, which tells a lot about our new status, and I would say the new cycle we've started with this major championship status.
Just to give you an idea, for instance, on Facebook, we have doubled the numbers of followers.  Just to give you an idea, today the U.S. Open that is quite a reference in terms of Facebook has roughly 80,000 fans, including men's and women's U.S. Open.  We to date before the tournament starts, we have 40,000, which has never happened in the past.  Twitter, same.  We've doubled the tweets so far.
The great news, and I think it's quite usual on the tour, but for us it's very important, the players, more than 75 percent of the players today are tweeting about Evian, which is great, and interacting with the audience on Twitter.  So it's really amazing.  And as far as Youtube is concerned, as you know, we have a special channel on Youtube, and we have nearly two million views, which is a lot for a great women's golf tournament.
So just it gives you an idea that the little box of Evian is now really radiating throughout the world out of what you knew, which is the numbers of countries that are really broadcasting the tournaments.  And now through that we are now counting the countries that are not broadcasting the tournament, a few of them.  And I think it tells a lot also on the world where the status that the tournament has taken.
So that was just a little point on the fact that now the tournament has really gone global, and we believe and probably we'll talk about it in a few minutes, but all the feedbacks we have show that this year, this 20th anniversary is quite special and it's really starting the new era of the Evian Championship.  Maybe, Franck, you want to give us a few words.
KARINE ZEGRIR:  Mr.Riboud was just giving us a few details about the course.  The players have had very positive feedback on the course in comparison to last year, which is great news.
What's important to say is that just three weeks ago we didn't even know if we could actually organize the event, with the huge amount of rain that we had over July and August.  Some areas of the course were just completely drowned in water.  There are various springs all over the course, as you may know, and up until two or three days ago work was still being carried out.
The course obviously needs two or three more years possibly to be up to perfect standard, but the baby is okay‑‑ is well.
KARINE ZEGRIR:  So the most important thing is that a new technical platform has been installed behind the village, and near the 16th hole.  And currently there are 800, 900 people come to work on the site three weeks before the event actually happens, and so now they can work in excellent conditions, and it means that the facilities can be installed without touching the golf course itself.
The next thing that needs to be looked at are the facilities for the media.  Whether the media center could remain as close as it is now to the course is to be decided, but it's the next step.
And the main priority for the golf course itself is drainage and drainage and drainage.
JACQUES BUNGERT:  Before we start answering your questions, I would just like to salute and thank the presence of Helen Alfredsson, who if you didn't know, she's over there.  She has become the ambassador for the resort.  As you know, she has always been, from '94 when she started this tournament with us, I would say, she was already a hearted ambassadress, and now she's definitely on the way of helping us throughout the world making this resort a great golfing destination as well.  Thank you, Helen.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
FRANCK RIBOUD:  We have no idea, because the first thing is we have to decide what kind of dimension we need, and after, we will see if we have a location answering to the dimension we need.  But could be the end of the village, because there is a big platform over there.
We can use also the parking below.  We can also extend behind the fifth.  So there are many solutions.  Will be balanced between efficiency and cost as usual.
JACQUES BUNGERT:  But you have to know‑‑
FRANCK RIBOUD:  I'm saying that for the people in charge.  I'm just review the budget session.
JACQUES BUNGERT:  As you know, and as well for the course, as well for any other modification we do on the course, we always get feedback from you guys, and definitely Lawrence and Olivia are going to talk about it throughout the week to get your feedback, but definitely we need, as Franck said, we need to improve the facility so that you can work properly, you can entertain yourself.
It's true that we have great entertaining moments out of the facility for where you work, and by the way, there is a great Friday evening at the casino, you're going to discover this new place, which is called The Purple Lounge at the casino.  It's very nice.
There will be the Rama, which is going to be obviously a very nice moment, and throughout the week, as you know, and Olivia knows it, you are invited to many events of the tournament, be it at the Royale or be it on the spot.  But that's great.
As we all know as well, the course is the key here.  Media wise it's important to have the right facilities and the right booths and everything.  So we'll do it really technically.
FRANCK RIBOUD:  What Jacques is just explaining is very important for us because as you know, we travel a lot in many tournaments.  I will not give names, but in the best men tournament and the best women's tournament, and I'm always impressed by the fact that for us a tournament is a family, and in a family you have different members, and we really push all of our sponsors when they organize dinners or party or whatever to invite the whole family of the tournament, meaning the caddies, the media, the everybody, because golf is wonderful, but sometimes we can speak something else or we can exchange or we can have a different friction on different subjects.
So we really try to put everybody together, and that is the reason why, again, if you can come, if you want to come, please, you have to participate.  We want you in everything we organize.
JACQUES BUNGERT:  Talking about it, and if I may, I'm sure our friends from the U. S. will forward it to him, I just want to give a little salute and a little hello to our friend, Ron Sirak, who is not here this week because he's going to go through, hopefully, a minor surgery.  He's going to be at the hospital AT the end of the week for two days.  I just want to say hello to him because he's usually part of it.  And he'll be back next year he told me, for sure, so just a little hello from me here.  So questions.

Q.  So you've been a major now for one year.  What has changed over the past years and over the past 20 years now that the competition has become a part of the Grand Slam?
KARINE ZEGRIR:  Mr. Riboud said, well, you could say that nothing has changed and that everything has changed.  Becoming a major didn't happen overnight.  It's something that happened through progressing year after year after year, and it would be a mistake to say‑‑ would have been a mistake to say that now we're a major, we don't need to work anymore.
And that's in a way what happened last year.  There was a lot of pressure, and some people got forgotten.  For example, the marshals, to whom he wrote and apologized to them for the way that they had been treated last year.  This year they have their own home, house, in the center of the village.
What's important is that each year the tournament will continue to improve, with the aim of having the course 60 to 70 percent of the year in the same condition as it is for the tournament.
Mr.Bungert then added that what's important to note is that we work all year around.  Being a major is obviously very important for the LPGA, and the tournament has worked throughout the year with the LPGA so that they can understand the uniqueness of the tournament and its specific requirements.
Mr.Riboud then gave an example of the sixth hole.  There are brown patches on the sixth hole, which actually are due to the worms which are coming out at this time of year, and even maybe in the U. S. if they would kill them all off, that doesn't happen here.
And the tournament here has an eco label, French eco label, which is called Ecocert, and it's absolutely out of the question for the chemicals to be used on the course, and this will soon undoubtedly be forbidden throughout the world.
JACQUES BUNGERT:  Fantastic translation.  And if I may just add something on what I said.  I said what has changed is probably also the implication of the LPGA, and the best example is the work, fantastic work done by either Donofrio, who even went to learning French to be able to communicate.
FRANCK RIBOUD:  Other than that, she wants to live in the area.
JACQUES BUNGERT:  Yeah, Mike doesn't know about it yet.  And the relationship, the fact that the relationship with the LPGA has become so close, and throughout the year has changed tremendously, and you can see the result now, and this is very important to us.
KARINE ZEGRIR:  So the question is what about the French players, we're delighted to see so many French players here this year.  Could you tell me about the invitations for the French players?
KARINE ZEGRIR:  Mr.Bungert said that something that he repeats every year is that when it's a sport, you qualify because of your talent, not because of your passport or your nationality.
Golf is a profession, and it's a way to earn a living; and in France, the French system must produce its own champions, so with regards to the wild cards, Jacques and Franck think about stories behind the players, about personal stories, for example, things that have happened to the players, and they suggest the names to the LPGA.
JACQUES BUNGERT:  To the board, the tours and their sponsors.
KARINE ZEGRIR:  Okay.  This year they wanted to help a player in their career, to help them launch their career, something that's already been done.
JACQUES BUNGERT:  With, for instance, Cheyenne Woods or Lexi Thompson or Michelle Wie, who started this tournament with a wild card.
KARINE ZEGRIR:  And so really the message this year was about amateurs, but of course, they needed a story, and this is because it's very nice to have an amateur, but the amateur takes the place of a professional player who's earning their living.
Qualifiers were organized this year, although the French players didn't come.  Some of them need to change perhaps sport.  And after that behavior it's difficult to get out the wild cards.
The qualifiers were won by a Chinese player in a playoff.  The playoff was against Caroline Alfonso.
JACQUES BUNGERT:  Alfonso, who is a professional player.
KARINE ZEGRIR:  And so this is why she was given the wild card.  It was for the Australian.  The second wild card was for an Australian.
JACQUES BUNGERT:  Minjee Lee, who is No. 1 amateur worldwide.
KARINE ZEGRIR:  And she actually turned pro the week before the tournament.
JACQUES BUNGERT:  Which added to the nice story.
KARINE ZEGRIR:  And the other player, Joanna Klatten, who plays‑‑ who was rewarded for her efforts of playing in the USA, which is the most challenging place to play.  She's had good results, and the idea was to help French girls.  So she has been awarded a wild card.
JACQUES BUNGERT:  What is interesting behind the story of Joanna Klatten, if I may, is that actually the board had talked about Mika Miyazato to get the exemption.  So Joanna Klatten wouldn't have had an exemption.  But it happened that Mika Miyazato qualified.  Why Mika, because she is No. 2 Japanese player.  We have a special relationship with Asia, as you know, and with Japan, and because of the Rolex Ranking system of points, she was not entering the field at that time.
But it changed, and so it allowed us to give Joanna to reward, as you said, the fact that she joined the LPGA and the American tour, which is one of the most difficult in the world, and encourage the fact that she was really a rookie with talent and performance to get this exemption.  So that's why she got it.
And then obviously we've got‑‑ since we had said that we wanted to really push some amateurs, we said we're going to offer another exemption to an amateur, and obviously then No. 1 prevails, and the No. 1 French amateur was Celine Boutier versus Matilda Cappeliez, who is now No. 2 in France.
And Franck had a discussion, explained to the family and explained to Matilda that hopefully next year she will become No. 1 amateur, and it doesn't mean that she will get an exemption, but at least this is a good way to think about the Evian Championship.  We can maybe start up a company.  No?
KARINE ZEGRIR:  The question was obviously you remember the difficult conditions that the teams worked in last year.  What are you going to say to them the day before the tournament this year?
And Mr.Riboud said that what we're saying to them is that we want quality from April through to the end of October.  This winter the greens were‑‑ they had like‑‑ they were a little bit ill.  They had a few problems because we don't use chemicals here.  What we have done this year is to invest in machines, to invest in staff.
We have a young greenskeeper, and that motivates the teams.  There were two people who went to the French Open.  Their exchange is set up to motivate the teams.  They are young people who come from an agricultural school, which helps them to see how things work here, and that's how we motivate them.
And they're all very proud of what happens here, even though during the summer they were a little bit worried.  In July the course was actually closed for six days, and in August no golf buggies were allowed on the course.  But the aim above all is the quality of the course, and that's everyone's aim, all the teams.
And Jacques added that parallel to that, there were approximately a thousand people who work here during the tournament, and another project that's been happening is the refurbishment of the Hotel Royale, which also gives them a great sense of pride since it has now reopened.  It reopened in July.
KARINE ZEGRIR:  The question was the fact that the Ryder Cup is happening so soon afterwards, does it take the limelight away from the tournament?  And also, could there be more interaction and exchanges with the men players?
Jacques said that there are links between the two.  Jordan Spieth, who played in the Juniors Cup, is a good example of that.  Mr.Riboud said that men and women, the fact that they mix, is not overly important.  It's not the same game.  There are other examples of men who want to come here.  For example, Jack Nicklaus wanted to come this year, but was unable to, although you will see‑‑ there will be a video from him at the Rama awards, and that's another example of the links that are happening between the men's and the women's games.
As far as the Ryder Cup is concerned, it can only be a positive because it promotes the game of golf, so it's beneficial for everyone.
JACQUES BUNGERT:  Any other questions before we end it up?  Just the last point, you will see on the course and in the village, and do it because it's nice, some big drop‑out pictures, in front of which you can take yourself with a selfie for the 20th anniversary.  So put it on the wall; post it on the social media so you will have it with the trophy so you can hold the trophy.  You will have it with players that aren't just in picture.  And so you can use this, and it's pretty fun.  So that was just a little minor point on the 20th anniversary.  And many other surprises, especially on Saturday night.  You'll see.  Thank you.  Thank you for being here, as every year, and hope to see you on Sunday.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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