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March 8, 2015
CHRIS REIMER:Â Why don't you just kick it off, Commish.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Good afternoon.Â Thanks for joining us.Â I know everyone wants to get out and get back to following this week's tournament, World Golf Championships here with the final groups going off in the next hour or so.
We have a specific announcement to make but before I do that, I'll make a couple of comments, and then make the announcement and then be happy to answer your questions.
First of all, just to comment on the start of the season, going back to October when we started, we're very pleased with the start, and the performance of our tournaments thus far.Â I think there are two things that stand out in our minds.
One is we've had a good number of playoffs.Â We've had I think five playoffs in 15 tournaments, and playoffs create a great finish to any tournament and they are a big help over the course of a year with television, with our fans, exciting finishes.
The second thing is, we recognize a continuation of the pattern from last year in terms of the number of tournaments that are being won by players, younger players.Â Particularly we look at players under 30.Â I think 50 percent or within one of 50 percent of this year so far have been won by players in their 20s and it was almost 50 percent last year, so it seems to be right on track.
We like that because our young players these days tend to be highly marketable individuals.Â They are confident, eager to play, very well schooled in what the players represented that came before them, and all of that is very good stuff for our fans and for our fan base.Â So we are pleased with the start.
Second thing I'd like to just reference is this week's championship, the World Golf Championships brought to you by Cadillac.Â Cadillac has been a great sponsor, and this has been a great place for the tournament.Â We are delighted with the changes on the property the last few years.
I think it's important to note that the World Golf Championships, like other PGA TOUR events, focus on charity; I think over $50 million have been raised by the World Golf Championships over the years.
We are particularly appreciative of our new relationship here in the charity area with the United Way.Â That's a relationship that we think will continue to boost what's happening here in the Miami area.
I'll also just point out that earlier last week, we announced a new relationship with the World Golf Championships Match Play Championship going to Austin, Texas.Â I think when we look at the World Golf Championships and the new format that we are instituting with everybody playing everybody the first three days within their bracket.Â So we have 96 matches in three days.Â It will set a record for the amount of golf we're having, but I think it's going to set the stage on balance an exciting weekend.
We really appreciate the new relationship with Dell to sponsor that event.Â This is a company on the move and clearly in our discussions with our executives, a company that understands sports marketing and we think it's going to be a good fit there in Austin, Texas.
That said, I'll turn to our major announcement.Â About this time every year, we announce the charitable giving of the TOUR and our tournaments from the previous year, and we are delighted to announce today that that number will exceed $140million, which is another all‑time record for charitable giving on the PGA TOUR.
I think there are two things in particular that we look at or point to in terms of what's now driving the growth of charitable giving.Â One is the recognition by more and more people that PGA TOUR events are, in fact, organized for charity; that all our net proceeds go to charity.
And then I think the second thing is that there is an increasing amount of communities who are getting better at using the PGA TOUR platform in those communities to drive increased charitables in any particular community.Â And we are seeing very nice growth across our platform on every tour with charitable giving.
This means a lot to us for a couple reasons.Â One is it's part of our corporate mission as an organization that the players support.Â It's also an indication, because it's the net revenue of the tournaments, it's an indication of their health.Â Because like any business, you look at net revenue.Â So having the movement we've seen in the last few years move upward in a somewhat difficult economy, is a very positive thing for the PGA TOUR as a whole.
As you know, we have in the past talked more and more in the last two years about measuring the financial impact of what players themselves do in the charity area.Â Because players come out of college, come to the PGA TOUR, see what golf means to charity, and many of them get involved in their own charities, their own foundations.Â And we're not quite prepared to say how that performed last year.Â I think last year we estimated on the previous year somewhere between $25 to $35 million was raised by players themselves.
We'll have more specifics at THE PLAYERS Championship in the end of next month, early May, to discuss what the players did in 2014.Â But we're seeing a significant increase, particularly among young players, of involvement in charity activity, as well; whether it's directly for their own foundations and fund‑raisers or helping out at our tournaments to drive their charitable numbers.
So we are very pleased with where we are this year.Â We are pleased with where we are this week.Â And I would be very pleased to answer your questions before you get your attention back to what's going on out on the golf course.
Q.Â What was your reaction to your world No. 1 player throwing a club into the water, and what do you make of just the attention that that got in views, hits, replays, etc.?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Well, let me answer the second part of that.Â He's the No. 1 player in the world, so when he does pretty much anything on the golf course, it's going to get a lot of attention, and when he does something out of the norm, it probably gets more attention than it would if it was not the No. 1 player.
So that wasn't unexpected.Â What did I think?Â What did I think‑‑ well, it was described to me originally.Â I didn't actually see it live and I didn't see a clip of it until later, but it was described to me.Â You know, I thought it sounded like a player who had lost his temper and threw a club, which happens.
Having seen the clip and seen his commentary, it seems like maybe he actually thought about it a little bit, like maybe it was more premeditated (laughter).Â You know, as Rory himself said, I think at least it was reported that he said; it's not the right thing to do on the golf course.
So I'm glad that he recognized that and had that message for young people around the country.Â Things happen, and then we have to deal with them.
Q.Â The charitable contributions aspect, there is some movement afoot in Washington talking about your tax‑exempt status.Â If, in fact, something changed on your status and you were taxed, how much would that change the charitable contribution number that you have said today, do you think?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â It's hard to say because it depends on how they change it, and if they do, and whether they change what (c)(3) status means versus (c)(6) status.
We are a trade association.Â So that is technically similar to some of the other sports that we get lumped into.Â The difference is that our operations, like if this is NASCAR, it would be a race at a track; if it's Major League Baseball, it's a series of baseball games.
But if you're a tournament on the PGA TOUR you are a (c)(3) or at least organized for a charitable purpose, which is different than the other sports.
So we have always taken the view that we are different, and Congress has recognized that on numerous occasions over the last 25 years.Â You know, it would have a somewhat‑‑ it's hard to, I don't know the right word for it.Â It wouldn't be a positive thing for charitable giving.
I think when it comes to the tax code and you put the lawyers to work you can figure out ways to do certain things.Â But I think the important thing for us is that as a (c)(6), we are a true, under the definition of what a (c)(6) is, we meet that definition.Â We are an organization of independent contractors and we market them.
But I don't think we should lose sight of the other side of the equation which is that we organize the way we go about that in a way that helps people and always have, and we hope that at the end of the day, that carries the day.Â But we'll have to see.Â I mean, legislation is often talked about in Washington and these days not a lot gets done.Â We'll certainly make our case.
Q.Â You brought the fall tournaments backup to equal standing with the rest of them and players on The Ryder Cup task force effectively dismissed it by starting the new points system at Kapalua instead of the start of the season.Â Have you talked or do you plan to talk to the PGA about trying to get that reinstated?Â And secondly, what do you say to the corporates who sponsor those fall tournaments who now face a perception of being lesser than the others again?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Well, I would say the following; that when we had a communication by way of a conference call on the proposed changes, I thought they were all good.Â And I think most of them are.
But I kind of whiffed it on that one to be honest with you.Â I didn't really catch‑‑ I didn't really think through that particular change, the point change, as it relates to those events.Â And it's particularly annoying to me that I missed it because we had just been wrestling with this on FedExCup points for the last number of years.Â We would like to see them included.Â And actually, because I think it's good for those tournaments.
I honestly I don't think it makes any significant difference in the final compilation of the team, either.Â But I think when you in the early season events have players winning and now they are positioning themselves; I think last year, three of the four winners early on made it all the way to the top 30 in Atlanta.
So that's exactly what we wanted to see happen with the FedExCup is that you start the season and every event is significant.Â So moving away from that in any particular degree, even though it may not be all that important, it is important.Â So we're going to have more conversations about that but we will be speaking out to the PGA on that question.
Q.Â What do you think of Mickelson referring to them getting the lower half of the TOUR getting a head start‑‑ I'm sorry, I think it was bottom half of the TOUR.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â I think that there's always‑‑ going way back, not just with Phil, but with other players; there's always a questioning of the emphasis that we put on playing opportunities for a large number of players versus a strategy of condensing and growing the value for lesser opportunities for, quote, upper echelon players.Â And sometimes from the standpoint of the job we do, we are criticized both ways.
So it's not an unusual comment.Â I don't happen to agree with it in this particular instance, though.Â I think it has to do with having a vibrant tour from start to finish and recognizing those tournaments for what they do every year.
Q.Â In 2012, Dustin Johnson played here, then didn't play for 11 weeks, then came back for the Memorial Tournament.Â He said it was because of a strained back from lifting a jet ski.Â Do you know if there was anything more to it than that?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Well, I know that as he has said, that he‑‑ and I thought he had said early on for a variety of reasons, wanted to step away from the game because of certain things he needed to work on.
But you know, I'm not going to speak for Dustin, and I don't have any quarrel‑‑ I wasn't aware of him saying exactly that but I don't have any quarrel with him pointing to one thing or the other.
I think the important thing now is that he moved down the path and hopefully he's dealt with whatever he had to deal with and we can get past all that.
Q.Â I'm not sure, are you speaking of more recently or 2012?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â I'm speaking of his recent step‑away.
Q.Â I was asking specifically about 2012, the first 11 weeks.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â I don't even remember the details on that one.
Q.Â He played here and then he didn't play for 11 straight weeks.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Right, I remember that part.
Q.Â He said the reason was, and some people questioned the credibility of it; he said the reason was because he lifted a jet ski and strained his back.Â And I'm asking you if you knew there was anything more to it than that.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â I don't.Â I don't.Â But that's not to say that‑‑ I don't speak for him.Â I don't know exactly what the mixture of things were in 2012.Â My staff has reported to me that information in the past but I have not spoken to Dustin directly on it myself.
Q.Â Appreciate that, Tim, if I can just follow‑up.Â Why doesn't the TOUR have a simpler method of dealing with failed drug tests results by which if a guy fails a drug test‑‑
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â A simpler method.
Q.Â A simpler method, where if a guy fails a test, we announce it ‑‑ it's much more complicated8.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â We don't think our method is particularly complicated.Â When we have drug testing, we have a test occasionally for things that relate to performance‑enhancement substances, things that we view as really part of something that could affect competition.
And we could have a positive test in an area that is technically a violation from a list of things we test for standpoint, but we view it as a substance that falls into a different bucket.Â We view it as a substance that relates to substance abuse and with conduct of the individual.Â We treat those two things differently.Â It's a different process in each case.
And the PED case, if it leads to a suspension, we announce the suspension.Â If it's a matter related to conduct and/or substance abuse, whether it be alcohol or recreational drugs, we treat it as that.Â And we have a different way we go about determining need.
And the secondary, it's not black and white.Â It's more related to:Â Do you have a problem; and if you have a problem, we work with the player on dealing with the problem.Â It can lead, eventually, to suspension.
In the first case, it's more of a black‑and‑white, open‑and‑shut situation.Â Of course, there are variables there based on TUEs and other pieces of the Doping Code.Â The Doping Code and the application of the Doping Code is not a simple matter and it will never be a simple matter.
Q.Â Just wondering how much does the PGA TOUR, perhaps golf in general, how much does golf miss a competitive Tiger Woods being present here and also an event like The Honda Classic, uncertainty as to whether ‑‑ where he's going to play next.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Okay.Â For some reason or another, maybe I woke up late; I'm not familiar with your accent.Â Can you repeat that question one more time?Â (Laughter).
Q.Â Tim, you're not the first.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Give me your best U.S. version.Â (Laughter).
Q.Â I'm your curious as to how much the PGA TOUR misses a fit and competitive Tiger Woods, and also given the uncertain of the where Tiger is going to play next; how much does the golf world miss him in general?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Well, you know, I'm with everybody else.Â I don't have any idea when he's going to achieve what he said he wants to achieve, and that is a comfort level that he can compete and win tournaments.
You know, we are very aware of his attitude in that regard, going way back to when he came on the TOUR.Â And it was I think 1997, his second year on the TOUR, when he really started focusing on a schedule that he felt contributed the best to his ability to win.
And obviously when he got to be No. 1 player in the world, didn't take him very long, that wasn't a schedule that makes a lot of people happy.Â So we're very familiar historically with his focus and commitment to doing everything that he needs to do physically and preparation‑wise, scheduling‑wise to win.Â But I don't know what the answer to that is.
To answer the other part of your question is, how concerned are we about him stepping away; you know, it's the same thing we had in 2012.Â We had it for a period of time in 2009 and 2010.Â It's good news, bad news.Â I mean, it's more bad news than good news because it's like Michael Jordan stepping away to play baseball that year.Â He's your No. 1 player.Â He's the player that on balance fans want to watch play more than any other.
I think as I've said before, I think that will last a long time, that piece, just because how many other players can you watch that have won 78 PGA TOUR events.
On the other hand, if I had this job for 50 more years, and I knew I was going to live that long, there would be a point in there when he can't play golf anymore.Â So sooner or later, it's always going to happen.Â I remember how long it took for all of us, fans, media, to come to grips with Jack stepping away.Â It took years.Â Nobody wanted to let Jack go and finally he started playing some on the Champions Tour.
It's going to happen.Â So the more relevant question is, how bad is it when it happens.Â We need other stars to develop.Â They are going to develop more without Tiger dominating television coverage and media coverage.Â There's no question in my mind.Â And the instances I cited where he has stepped away, in 2010 and 2012, that happened.Â It's just more players get more exposure.Â So that's a good thing.
Again, I think most people look at it and say, boy, what is the PGA tour going to do without Tiger.Â Well, Tiger has played 16, 17 events a year.Â That leaves 30 he didn't play every year.Â Every one of those tournaments has grown every year, every year.Â It's not about that.
The PGA TOUR is going to be fine.Â But when you lose your No. 1 player, in a time when he's still in an age where he can really play if he can get back to that level; it's not going to let you perform at the same level as you would with him.Â That's true.
But during his period, and he has had a lot to do with this; the TOUR has grown.Â It's gotten a bigger fan base.Â He's brought a lot of people to the game.Â That's a contribution that he will have made whether he stops playing now or whether he stops playing in 15 years.
So you just have to keep going and keep growing, and hope that the players that come behind him are not just great players, but they can play consistently for a long period of time, and they are the kind of personality that can generate interest.
The thing about Tiger is that he wasn't just a great player.Â He was a unique individual from a lot of different perspectives.Â He captivated people, and hopefully you will see that again.Â But as I've said often times, the PGA TOUR has grown in periods of parity and it's grown in periods where we've had a dominant player.Â Fans seem to like both.Â They are just different.Â And our job is to take whatever we have to deal with and make it work.
And thus far, if you go back and look at the times Tiger was out and you look at television ratings and you look at sponsorship arrangements and the rest, there isn't anything there that would tell you that we should be wringing our hands.Â We should be continuing to do the work we've been doing.
Q.Â Maybe a language issue here, as well.Â I hope not.Â The director general of WADA this week said your doping policy produces more questions than answers because of what they say is a lack of transparency.Â How do you respond to that, and are you confident that for an Olympic sport, you are transparent enough?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Can you repeat that?Â You remind me of a guy that works for The European Tour who is our liaison on drug issues.Â I can never understand a word he's staying.Â (Laughter).Â He's from Scotland.Â Are you from Scotland?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â That's what I was afraid of.
Q.Â So WADA's director general said that your drug policy, quote, produces more questions than answers, because of transparency issues.Â A, how do you respond to that, and B, are you confident you're transparent enough for golf now being an Olympic sport?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Well, I understand the first part.Â But am I confident that‑‑
Q.Â That you are transparent enough, now that golf is in the Olympics, now that the goal posts are moved slightly?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Well, first of all, I can't comment about the questions and answers.Â I mean, if people have questions, we try to answer them.Â The doping program we have is the best in our sport globally.Â It's a program that has been positively commented upon by the World Anti‑Doping Association.Â It's been done and set up in conjunction with the World Anti‑Doping Association.Â It is with a couple of distinctions the same program that is used by the Olympic Games.Â But there are distinctions.
On the second part of your question, in the Olympic Games, when a player gets to the point, I think it's May 6 next year, that he is at that point in time would be eligible for the Games, and this is not unique to golf, this is in a number of sports; he will become part of a pool that will then be‑‑ they will in addition to our program, our program will continue.
They will also be tested under the Olympic code as all Olympic athletes are.Â And there are some differences in that program.Â We don't think they are significant differences, but at least at this moment‑‑ although we made add some things to our program at about the same time they are looking at some other things, and I don't want to complicate this too much.Â
But the athletes that go to Rio will all be in a pool of athletes that will be under the Olympic doping administration, and we started the process of educating our players on that point back in San Diego a few weeks ago.
Q.Â So to go into that pool, if they have‑‑
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â I'm sorry.
Q.Â The ones who go into that Olympic pool, if anyone involved in that has fallen afoul of your doping regulation previously, do you pass that information on?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â If you go into the Doping Code, what happened previously?
CHRIS REIMER:Â If you failed previously.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â If you failed a test previously.
CHRIS REIMER:Â Do you pass that information forward.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â If they are under suspension, that would be communicated as it is to other tours now.Â I don't think anything else would be relevant honestly.
Because, see, in the Doping Code of the Olympics, their program is not set up to relate to any prior activity.Â It's about a test and what we do with a test, and I think I'm correct on that.
Q.Â Earlier this week, Donald Trump said that he felt like he had some sort of influence on how the golf course was set up, specifically after Thursday's opening round.Â I'm curious, what's the protocol of golf course owner, operators having some sort of voice in the room when it comes to setting up a TOUR golf course?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Well, I heard he made some comment like that.Â I didn't pay much attention to it.Â But then I saw him out setting pins this morning and (laughter) I was a little taken aback, I'll be honest with you.
I think that the officials on our staff, and here we're talking about World Golf Championships, so it's under the framework of the International Federation of PGA TOURs, but the PGA TOUR is the managing partner.Â And we, with the ones in the United States and partnership with Europe and the other tours, administer the rules, and that includes setting up the golf course.Â That's done no differently here than any other week.
If the tournament is hosted by a great player of the past, or the tournament is hosted by the owner of the property, and a well‑known real estate developer, they are fully open to give their opinion about the setup of the golf course.Â Our people do that work, however.Â They make the decisions.
And after every tournament on every week of the year, we download what we heard about it, what we liked in terms of the finish, the way the golf course played, the impact it had on the fans, how it performed on television.Â We listen to television commentators.Â Most importantly we listen to the athletes and get their opinion.Â But we also listen to the opinion of people that might own the golf course.
But the philosophy that's applied to setting up the golf course is our philosophy, and it's executed by our staff, and within the context of their judgment.
Q.Â Earlier this week, Nick Price and Jay Haas were in talking about Presidents Cup, and there was a discussion about, again, format and the possibility of a format change, Nick being pretty adamant that without the format change, it would probably make it very difficult for the Internationals to compete, as it's been difficult for, like, the last, I don't know, eight or nine Presidents Cups.Â They say it's in your hands right now.Â Can you give us an update on where that and what the likelihood is of a change?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Well, we do this every two years.Â When the captains get named, we have an opportunity to go through some of the things, pieces to the structure of the matches, the way the points are distributed, the way the pairings are done, some things about the week itself.
And these are things that typically are surfaced by the captains from the prior Cup, or players who played on the prior teams, and we enter into a process.
Since the first Cup, one of the basic elements of that process is that The Captain's Agreement, which was a compilation of things that was done in the first Presidents Cup in '94, between Hale Irwin and David Graham were the captains, starting with that document, it specified all these things.
And in that document, there were a lot of differences between The Ryder Cup.Â Obviously when we started The Presidents Cup, everybody was looking at The Ryder Cup.Â Those two captains felt strongly that there should be certain things that differentiate from The Ryder Cup and a number of those things were incorporated.
Since that time, when these conversations occur, the policy we followed is that we leave The Captain's Agreement alone unless both captains agree on a change.Â This is not a decision I make.Â It's not a decision that the board makes.Â This is, at least thus far, it's a decision that we listen to all the input.Â We put out the options that can be looked at.Â We try to narrow those options down.Â If we are having differences of opinion, we make a recommendation.Â But the end of the day, it's up to the captains to make that agreement.
Now, in this particular situation, going back, let's say, four years; in the last four years, there has been a lot of conversation by the captains four years ago, two years ago, and now this year, about certain elements of the competition.Â Most of that relates to, comes from a focus on the string of very close matches that has been occurring with The Ryder Cup over the last ten, 15 years versus what on The Presidents Cup has been a couple of very broad or wide losses for the International Team early on, followed by three, four or five Cups of basic parity, followed by in the last few Cups, not very close matches.Â And there's a frustration there.
So there's a fair amount of dialogue about, are there some things we can do in that Presidents Cup agreement to change some of the structure in an effort to try to make it more competitive.Â But it's not‑‑ you can't structure that.Â That has to do with which team makes the most birdies.
It's really a question of in a situation where it could be competitive, are we recognizing that the United States is probably deeper, at least this period of time; is there a way you can tighten it up a little bit.
And so we've been looking at those things, and hopefully we'll reach‑‑ we do not have an understanding between the captains yet, but hopefully we will, certainly as we get into the spring in plenty of time for the Cup.
Q.Â Do you have any concerns, I know you have a very strong policy on when you make it known that a player is suspended, i.e., that it's a performance‑enhancing drug offense.Â But in other cases, do you feel that there is a need, perhaps to make suspensions publically known on the grounds that players who take a leave of absence for the game for the most innocent of reasons seem to get caught up in speculation and allegations being made that there may be something more sinister to do with their absence?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â We do make a strong effort with the players, because at the end of the day, we can test all we want, but the viability of the program is based on the athlete following the rules.
And doping, in order to follow the rules, you need to know the rules; and you have to do something else.Â You have to take a step.Â You have to, if you're getting ready to take a supplement, you need to pick up the phone and check the supplement with our people.Â If you don't do those things, you can trigger a positive test.
But to question about if there's a positive test, if I understood you correctly.
Q.Â What I'm saying is that in the case‑‑ it doesn't necessarily have to be even a drug offense.Â But when you suspend a player‑‑
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â What we do, when you're talking about drug use and PEDs, we announce suspensions.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â We choose not to when we are dealing with conduct violations.Â And I know that a lot of you don't like that and you've been very candid with me about that over the years.
But we view conduct violations as very different things than violating The Rules of Golf; or, The Rules of Golf including doping violations, PED violations.Â So we take a very different view of that stuff.
But if it's conduct, generally, we don't‑‑ we reserve the right to but we generally don't make public comment on it.Â That's not to say we wouldn't ever, depending on the facts.Â And again, I've said this many times:Â We don't think the fans really want to know about most of the stuff we would be talking about.Â We don't think there's a large volume of it and we don't think much of it is very serious.
I think you raise a good point when you say, well, if it triggers a situation where a player is stepping away from the game or getting, maybe being suspended but we really don't know, does that create confusion, and that's one point that we are giving some thought to on that particular situation.
Q.Â As a quick follow, are you basing this all on what you think the fans want?Â Could there be a deterrent to the other players when they see something publicized?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Well, I think it seems from‑‑ this is before testing and getting into the PED, even recreational drug stuff; that we don't think it makes sense to go out and remind people of something that five people saw on the fourth green, and nobody cares about except us and the player.Â And we don't think it's in our interest to do that, and I know a lot of people don't agree with that but we just don't think it is.
If this was a situation like you had in team sports sometimes where Rory and Phil are out there playing, let's say Rory and Rickie, and there's a bunch of Irish guys out there and they get into a brawl with 13 young kids who are dressed like Rickie Fowler and they are beating the hell out of each other, we have got to say something about that.Â And if the players got involved in it, some where a player instigated it; there are situations where, you know, somebody jumps off a basketball court and starts slugging somebody in the stands, I mean, the fans have to know about that; what did you do about that.
But most of the stuff we deal with is not of that variety, and we just don't see the need to do it.Â When we get into the substance abuse, it's kind of in between.Â I mean, I can see some of the benefits of dealing with that differently.Â Thus far, we have chosen not to.
Q.Â And secondly, if there's a phrase I've heard more this week, more than any other week, it's been "flat"; that there's a feeling the atmosphere out here is flat.Â I'm not suggesting you would agree with that necessarily.Â But heard it from, there was some observations, parents of players, etc.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â I've heard it from people.Â On the weekend, the weather‑‑ I think this is a good weather town.Â I think if we were playing in this weather at Herb Kohler's place, it wouldn't affect the galleries at all.Â It does here.
We look behind that and say, well, what is going on, and we see very strong sales in the community.Â We have seen a lot of people in the community, the broader Miami community, step up to be involved in the tournament over the last two years in significant numbers.
We see a lot more‑‑ the tournament now has the ability to invest back into‑‑ I was talking to the Mayor, the local Mayor here this morning, and I said, "I give us an A, we would like to have an A‑plus."
He said, "Well, what's missing?Â Seems to be going great."Â In his view, there is a good buzz in Miami.
I think the couple things I would point to is we need to make sure if it's a World Golf Championships, we are at the cutting edge of things for people on site.Â We like the telecast.Â We like the way the golf course looks on television.Â We like most of the competition side of what comes out of the golf course; although, I think there are things there to look at, when you have three of the longest hitters on the TOUR, No.1, 2 and3 on the leaderboard; there's always things to look at.
I think investing back in the presentation is on the right trajectory but has a ways to go.Â Eventually, I would say within the next five years, we would like to get to that tipping point we see, for lack of a better one, Jacksonville, Florida is a good example, northeast Florida, where you get to a certain point on the charity side and it's almost like, okay, now everybody understands.Â You can drive more sales and a higher level of sales in the community, which then allowed you to turn around and invest more in the tournament.
So I think we are not there yet here on the charity side but we have seen good movement the last two years.
Q.Â But if you throw out the weather and just look at the last two events, traditionally in the last two or three years, Honda has had a much bigger buzz to it than this.Â Curious if you think, demographics aside or whatever, the idea of a 74‑, 78‑man field and no cut, and half the field when they are ten over, they are about to go to 20; if there's anything you can look at to refresh these.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Well, I go back here to before this was a WGC, when Tiger was in his prime, there was huge buzz here because he was doing things like driving the par 4.Â It was interesting; he had a couple of good duels down the stretch.
I can remember when Ernie played well early on in the late 90s here, and even Tom Kite in the mid‑90s, so it's got a good history to it.
I think it does, you do like to see what we had at Riviera and what we had last week in terms of playoffs.Â I think that those things create so much ‑‑ that's why I don't like the leaderboard today.Â It creates so much buzz.Â That does create buzz; did you see the finish to that thing.
I think our guys are going to tighten it up out there, but we'll see.Â But I think the underlying things are what we look at, some of the things that relate to who plays well and who is on the leaderboard, that comes and goes.Â But if the underlying support and interest is there, and we really think it's on a really good growth curve here, everything we see, then I think we're going to be fine.
Q.Â I think you might be wearing your special WGC blazer today, and if so, is it like Augusta National where you can't wear it off‑campus, or how does that work?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Where do you come up with these questions.Â (Laughter).
This is not an official anything.Â This is just a lighter blue blazer.Â I think I wore the lighter blue because it's Miami.
Q.Â On a similar note, you've had such a long successful run on the PGA TOUR, and I'm wondering when did you love it best?Â When did you like it most?Â When did you like your job most in your long run at the PGA TOUR?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:Â Well, not so much in the last 30 minutes (glancing down at watch).Â (Laughter).
I don't know, I've always liked it.Â I like working with the players and this great team we have.Â I just really like that.Â I guess the thing that's the most fun is when you are doing something different, you're figuring out a different way to do it and it works.
Right now, I'm really excited about the Match Play.Â A number of you, I think starting with Doug, have been writing for a long time that Wednesday of the Match Play is maybe one of the best days of the year in golf.Â You follow that line of thought to what we are going to have in this format, I think it could be really, really good.Â So I'm excited to see, and we've got a great sponsor and a great market.
We have been wanting to go back to Austin since Sam Snead and Roberto De Vicenzo and everybody who played the Legends in 1978 was something good, and it just hasn't worked out.Â And now, I think it's going to be really cool.
So things like that happen and you get real excited about it.Â But it's been a pretty even level of enthusiasm, if that's what you're after.
CHRIS REIMER:Â Thank you and congratulations on the $140 million to charity.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports