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August 12, 2015

Pete Bevacqua

Kerry Haigh

Derek Sprague

Kohler, Wisconsin, USA

JULIUS MASON: Good morning, everyone, and thank you very much for joining us this week at Whistling Straits and today at our PGA Championship news conference, where you will hear from PGA of America's president, Derek Sprague, who is from Malone Golf Club in Malone, New York. You will also hear from the PGA of America's CEO Pete Bevacqua and our Chief Championships Officer, Kerry Haigh from PGA of America headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. After some comments we'll go to Q&A, answer some questions, after the Q&A portion is over, if you want to come up, shake some hands and meet these gentlemen in person. They will stay for a couple minutes afterwards as well. So with that, Derek, let's begin with you, please.

DEREK SPRAGUE: Thank you, good morning, everyone. We are excited to be back here at Whistling Straits for the third time, three times is a charm. We were here in 2004, 2010 and of course this year. The Kohler company has been a great partner to the PGA of America. It is very evident when you talk to the Kohlers, their passion for the sport of golf is incredible. They want to make sure that the game is held in the highest regard and certainly they pull out all stops to do that. Hopefully you felt that great hospitality here as you have embarked on the Kohler area.

Leading the team here on the ground I'm pleased to say that three PGA professionals have done an incredible job preparing years and months and right down to the wire this past week. The PGA General Manager and Director of Golf, Jim Richardson, has a unique position in that he sits on our National Board of Directors, but he also oversees the operations here for the golf operations. And he's done an incredible job balancing both roles, wearing two big hats, one serving the PGA of America and also representing the Kohler brand and making sure that everything is done perfectly for this week's PGA Championship.

Also, PGA Director Of Golf, Derek Willis has been on the ground here as well, doing an incredible job, making sure he is sort of looking after all the players and filling all the voids of the team, doing an incredible job as well.

And PGA Head Golf Professional, Mike O'Riley has done a wonderful job. He's really big here in player development and on the teaching side, a great player in his own right. These three gentlemen have over 40 years of experience here at the Kohler company. And Derek has been involved with all three of the championships, 2004, 2010 and now 2015, so he brings a great perspective. And coming here for the third time now in 11 years, they have really been able to improve the operations and the process each and every time, taking away what happened during that championship and making it better as they move forward.

Again, we had our Past Champions Dinner last evening, the comments from the players were unbelievable about the conditioning of the course here. That is headed up by the director of maintenance here and grounds, Michael Lee. And their respective teams for their hard work and preparing the course and I think you'll hear Kerry say some comments about that, so I won't steal your thunder, Kerry, too much here.

We're pleased again to have the strongest field in golf this week with 97 of the top 100 players here in the field. It really is a showcase event of Majors. And I think they're going to experience not only the great course conditioning, the great course setup that this gentleman on my right will provide, but they're also feeling that we heard it loud and clear last night the great Kohler hospitality and the whole Wisconsin hospitality here has been warm and welcoming.

This is an all professional field. It's the only Major run by professionals for professionals and we're pleased that we have 20 of our club professionals, these are gentlemen that wear multiple hats. They're like myself, I'm the general manager at Malone Golf Club, we run events day-to-day, we teach the game, we do PGA Junior League, but these 20 in the field this week also have the unique perspective to be some of the best players in our association and they will be playing alongside of the world's greatest players.

It gives me a great deal of honor here to say that in the long drive contest for the second year in a row, one of our club professionals finished in the top three. Yesterday, our PGA Professional National Champion, Matt Dobyns from Long Island, New York finished second, only four yards behind and Anirban Lahiri with a shot of 323 yards. So, last year Johan Kok finished third, so the club professionals can still hit it a long ways.

This year too, again, taking the experience to the 2004 championship, the 2010 championship, we have really looked at increasing our corporate and spectator viewing areas and enhancements to both those groups that are a vital part of any Major Championship. We have brought our corporate hospitality closer to the action. Again, we learned that from 2004 and 2010 and certainly we look at that in 2015 and of course we'll take what we learn this year to prepare for the 2020 Ryder Cup that will be here, held here at Whistling Straits.

Turn it back to Julius now to continue.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much, Derek. Pete, I know you are as thrilled about this venue.

PETE BEVACQUA: No, absolutely, Julius and thank you, Derek. Whistling Straits, obviously it has a history of great drama. When you think back to 2004 where Vijay Singh, 2010 with Martin Kaymer, we have no reason to think any differently this year in 2015. Just a spectacular venue, a beautiful venue, a wonderful championship golf course. And the way that the area, the region, quite frankly, has turned out to support this championship in terms of spectator numbers already at this early point of the week have been off the charts. Corporate hospitality, we couldn't be more pleased. And a special thank you to the Kohler family. Obviously, they are one of our most important, critical partners. The relationship we forged with the Kohler company, they have been great for the PGA of America. They understand our strategic mandate to serve our members and to grow the game. They have been wonderful for golf. Herb and Natalie and obviously David and Nina, we couldn't have a better partner at the PGA of America than the Kohler family.

We're excited, we're excited not only for the people who will be joining us here this week. As Derek mentioned, I think the site has become more fan friendly each and every time with the advantage points for the spectators, the advantage points for our hospitality clients. And then if you're not lucky enough to be here, we're really excited about the broadcast coverage. With our great partners, CBS and TNT, we'll reach over 200 million homes. We'll have 28 hours of live coverage. We'll supplement that and augment that with PGA.com, new advancements on PGA.com, on-site and off-site. With the use of drones and Bluetooth coverage and a new array of apps that we really think bring the PGA Championship closer to the spectators and to the golf fans around the world. So obviously we have our fingers crossed for some great weather and some great drama. We do feel this is one of the great championship sites in the country. We expect and hope for a good week and then we'll be back here in four short years with the 2020 Ryder Cup. So we have a great home here at Kohler and at Whistling Straits and we couldn't be more thankful. So thank you. Thank you, Julius.

JULIUS MASON: Yeah, thank you very much, Pete. Kerry, I guess the question for you is, are you ready? Is the golf course ready for the 97th PGA Championship?

KERRY HAIGH: Well, thank you and good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Indeed we are. It's exciting for me to return once again help put on a Major Championship. We are going to have a little discussion about bunkers and I just wanted to I guess clarify what has been done and what we are doing and why we are doing it.

As many of you know, we have posted a notice, we gave this to every player in the registration packet. We gave it to every caddie in their registration packet. And we have given it to all of you, the media, so that you will be aware of the rule of how we are playing these bunkers this week.

Again, we posted it on the locker room notice board and on the starting tees. The question has come up, well, why are we playing it this way as opposed to at Kiawah Island where we did not play the bunkers, there were no bunkers on the course at Kiawah Island. The difference is, here, all the bunkers are designed as bunkers, they're built as bunkers, defined as bunkers and are filled with sand. At Kiawah Island when we were there, parts of the bunker were shaped, but in many cases the sand just went off. Maybe 20, 30 feet, sometimes 200 feet, sometimes a quarter mile all the way to the ocean. There was no definition to where the bunker would stop or start. So, in that case at Kiawah, it made all the sense to play no bunkers on the course. Here, where the bunkers are far more clearly defined, there's sand in each of them, as we did in 2004 and 2010 and again this year, we are playing them all as bunkers.

There have also been several, why don't you play those inside the ropes as bunkers and those outside the ropes not as bunkers. Well, and only those bunkers that are raked you play as bunkers. Well, as you know we have certain occasions where ropes go through half of a bunker so half of it is raked, half of it will have people walking through it. And what would happen with a bunker outside if somebody were to grab a rake and rake part of a bunker or part of the sand, does that suddenly become a bunker? So obviously there would be so much confusion we have to have it, we feel as a Committee and are very comfortable with having all the bunkers here play as bunkers, they're built as bunkers, and they have sand in them. So, we're very comfortable with it. We were the last two PGA Championships, and we are continuing to do so again this year.

With regard to the golf course itself, Derek certainly touched on the staff and I would want to make a special mention both to Michael Lee and of Chris Zugel, his staff, his crew, are unbelievable. You'll see them 4:30 in the morning, setting it up, getting everything ready. And if you want to ask them how it is to rake almost a thousand bunkers in the morning and again at night, there's an awful lot of work involved. But an outstanding job.

We could not be happier with the way the course has been presented. We did have rain on Friday, last Friday, we had a sort of a steady all day rain. We had six-tenths of an inch of rain, which certainly softened the golf course. And we were -- it was starting to dry out and then on Monday, the practice round, we actually had four suspension of play in the practice round, which is unfortunately probably a record for us. But with those suspensions we ended up with another over a quarter of an inch of rain. So as a result, the course, in honesty, is a little softer than we would want it. But yesterday we had good weather, today we have got good weather, so our hope and expectation is as we get further on the week it will dry, firm up a little, get a bit more bounce and be a little more fiery.

But we could not be more excited. The golf course, a great test of golf, some relatively short par-4s, with no wind we certainly expect a lot of good scoring, a lot of excitement. It will be fun to watch. I can't wait. I wish we were playing today, because I think there will be a lot of great golf played. And yeah, it does have a lot of stern, three, four, five, pretty stern par-4s. But the best players in the world are here, we are here pretty much to set the golf course up for them to show their skills. We are not -- don't want to be in there, the golf course is there, it's a beautiful golf course, a beautiful setting, and I can't wait to see the 97 best players of the top 100 in the world perform and show us how, what an exciting venue this is. So with that, thank you.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much, Kerry. Derek, before we go to Q&A, I think you have a little bit more news to share. Kind of outside PGA Championship news.

KERRY HAIGH: Sure. We have thanks Julius. We have got a great Major Championship season this far with a great Senior PGA Championship at French Lake Resort in Colin Montgomery defending his title. He's in the field this week. But we're really excited with our new partnership with KPMG and the LPGA with the Women's PGA Championship that we held at Westchester Country Club this year. We have already announced for 2016 that we're going clear across the country to Sahalee. But today we would like to announce our 2017 and 2018 sites. The PGA of America is really excited to announce that the 2017 KPMG PGA Women's Championship will be played at Olympia Fields Country Club and in 2018 it will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club right near in the Chicago area. So not too far away from where we are today and I know that those two clubs will do an incredible job hosting the Major Championship for the women. I would like to just have Brian Morrison, the PGA Director Of Golf here from Olympia Fields please stand and be recognized and thanks for all your working bringing this Major Championship to Olympia Fields.

(Applause.) Now I would like to have Steve Jouzapaitis from Kemper Lakes please stand and be recognized. Did Steve make it?


KERRY HAIGH: Not here yet? I know they were trying to get here. But this will be a special moment in time for the LPGA and the Women's Major in the Chicago area and all the fans in this area to really experience a Major Championship in women's golf. So, Julius.

JULIUS MASON: Pete, I don't know if you wanted to contribute anything to that special announcement at all.

PETE BEVACQUA: Absolutely. We're excited as many of you know this partnership with the LPGA and KPMG is an important one to us. Hat's off to the work that Kerry and his team did this summer at Westchester Country Club and when you think about being able to bring the Women's PGA Championship with KPMG to Sahalee next year and then to Chicago two years in a row, wonderful venues like Olympia Fields and Kemper Lakes, that's what we were trying to do. That was the vision of ours, of the LPGA, of KPMG, to take this event, this Major Championship, to some of the very best venues in golf around the country and we feel we're doing that. And we couldn't be more excited and we couldn't be more thankful.

JULIUS MASON: Derek, Pete, Kerry, ladies and gentlemen, we're very happy to answer any questions you might have right now.

Q. Kerry, the forecast does call possibly for some wind tomorrow and I'm wondering how that would affect the course and your setup and with players teeing off as early as 6:45. How late can you wait to make changes that you want to make if you need to make some?
KERRY HAIGH: Great question. One of the unique things or the interesting challenges about this golf course is the wind. That's what really makes it so fun to play, so exciting and so difficult. And days when the wind does blow, we know from history, that it can be quite a test. We work with a meteorologist on-site and Brad Nelson, who is here, and he's my best friend this week. We talk a lot. Four times on Monday. We talk about the wind strength. And tomorrow morning when we set up, 5:30 or 5 o'clock when we go out, we will make our best decisions based on the forecast that we have throughout the day, just as we do at every other championship round. A bit of wind will be fun to see. I think it certainly makes the golf course play more difficult, but we'll see what the weather brings. It always changes.

Q. I guess this is best for Derek. Just going back to back to the Chicago area, was there a strategy involved with that or did it just kind of fall that way?
KERRY HAIGH: Well, certainly KPMG wants to go in markets that are good to KPMG. And again, first thing that we do with any of our Major Championships is to find Major Championship venues. And we have this in Olympia Fields and Kemper Lakes. And that was one of the early discussions. And Pete, jump in here if you want, that you had with John Veihmeyer and Stacy Lewis from KPMG that they wanted to play Major Championship sites that the men had played on before and this fits certainly fits that mold, so.

PETE BEVACQUA: I think there could be some great efficiencies in going to Chicago in back to back years. The clubs obviously have a great relationship working together to make sure that we deliver a wonderful experience in 2017. And that that same group of people and more people come out and experience it again in 2018. I think we can use that really to the advantage of the championship.

KERRY HAIGH: And they're both great golf courses.


Q. Do you see Olympia Fields as a potential future venue for a PGA Championship, a Senior PGA Championship?
PETE BEVACQUA: I would tell you and obviously Kerry jump in, we have had and continue to have a wonderful relationship with Olympia Fields and we look forward to conducting this championship. And it's our goal to really keep that strong relationship with this unbelievable club going well into the future. We think it's a relationship the PGA of America will have with championships for the next half century.

JULIUS MASON: So ladies and gentlemen we do have the folks from Kemper now on board with us. Thanks very much for joining us, ladies and gentlemen. For folks looking for interviews with the folks from those clubs, they are on-site. Question on Mike No. 1.

Q. One of the nice touches both here in the media center and all across the golf course was the banners that fly for the future PGA Championship venues. But there seems to be an omission, you made an announcement awhile ago that Trump Bedminster was going to host a PGA Championship in 2022 but as we are here, there isn't a single banner either in the media center or on the grounds that indicates Trump Bedminster is going to be hosting it. Has there been a reconsideration, are there discussions going on, what are we to make of the absence of the Trump Bedminster banner?
PETE BEVACQUA: I would say you're to make nothing of it. We are scheduled to go to Trump Bedminster for our PGA Championship in 2022. As you said we have announced that. It's a wonderful facility, it's two great golf courses. I mean obviously everybody in this room's aware of the situation and presidential politics that is we don't want to get involved in. We're not here to talk about presidential politics. We're certainly here to focus on this year's PGA Championship but we have a relationship in terms of our 2017 Senior PGA Championship presented by Kitchen Aid in the Washington, D.C. area and the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster. Both of those are scheduled.

Q. Where are you guys playing the Grand Slam of Golf and do you go back to Trump L.A. if he wins the election?
PETE BEVACQUA: Again, we won't be prognosticators here in terms of the presidential election. I think we're all smarter than that. But I would tell you, you know, as you are well aware, we made the mutual decision with the Trump organization not to conduct this year's Grand Slam in Los Angeles. We didn't want the Grand Slam or any one of our events, our championships, to be compromised by politics or to be any kind of a political football. That's the intent of our championships, that's not what we want to bring to golf. That would be unfortunate. It wouldn't be fair for anybody involved in the Grand Slam. We are certainly considering options for the Grand Slam this year and in the future. We haven't made those decisions, it's top of mind. And I would tell you when we have definitive news, we absolutely will make a decision and an announcement in that regard.

Q. Gentlemen, a few years ago there was discussion that this championship might actually be played internationally once in a while and I want to know where that at that discussion has ended up is it on the back burner completely, since we're obviously well ahead to 2022 and do you see it being a potential thing in the future?
PETE BEVACQUA: As we have continued to develop our long-term strategic plan that really at its fundamental core is to serve our 28,000 members and to grow the game. However, a critical piece of that plan is a global footprint for the PGA of America. We're in the process of talking with our officers and our leadership and our Board of Directors of just what that entails. We happen to think that the primary focus of our global footprint should be taking the great education and experience of our PGA members and working with our peer organizations around the country to grow the game. Whether we're growing the game in the United States or growing it in Europe with our friends at the PGA, GB&I and the PGAs of Europe, that's the mission. I would tell you, have we talked and done an analysis of an international PGA Championship? Absolutely. We have learned some very interesting lessons from that, both positives and negatives, as you can imagine. I would say for the moment it's on the back burner, it's certainly not forgotten, it's something we'll always consider, always keep on top of mind, but the larger role, and the larger goal of our strategic plan is to make sure that the PGA of America influence and the great relationships we have around the globe are strengthened and increased and are magnified as we move forward.

Q. You had announced previously that the Olympics next year will force you to move the PGA to July. Now we're hearing the PGA and the British Open are going to be two weeks apart. And if that's correct, can you talk about, were you kind of saddled with that or the decision there.
PETE BEVACQUA: Derek and Kerry will jump in. We're tremendous proponents of golf in the Olympics. The PGA of America has had a large role in that -- I actually in my role as CEO just left an IGF board meeting that we had earlier this morning. So we couldn't be more excited about golf in the Olympics and the future of golf in the Olympics and quite frankly the impact that could have around the globe.

Next year at Baltusrol we will conclude the PGA Championship in July, it will end on July 31st. I would tell you, for next year in 2016 at Baltusrol and that part of the country I'm from the New York market, the major metropolitan market. I actually think it's a great thing. We all agree it works to our advantage, it's better for the golf course, it's better for the marketplace. Many people in August leave the area. The temperatures increase. If you think back to 2005 with the heat that we had at Baltusrol -- not that there's a magic number there, that the temperature goes up significantly in August, but as for that part of the country at that golf course, we're actually quite pleased and think it's going to be a benefit to the PGA Championship.

However, it is something we will certainly keep our eye on going forward. As the Olympics move forward, as the PGA Championship moves forward, it is something that we're considering and analyzing. Should the date of the PGA Championship be adjusted down the road, I would say all of that is very much on the table, but nothing has been decided yet.

KERRY HAIGH: Next year's schedule is new for everybody. So in talking to a number of the players, they understand the role of golf in the Olympics, and we have been working on this schedule with Kerry for a number of years, just trying to figure out what the best solution is. So next year will be a good test year.

Q. My apologies, but I have to ask you another question about Mr. Trump. And how would you describe your relationship with Trump's organization before the comments about Mexicans and immigrants and after those comments and as a Latino reporter, I would be curious to know your feelings about those comments?
PETE BEVACQUA: I would tell you, we have a relationship with the Trump organization as a golf entity. That's what we're focused on. As an organization that has golf facilities around this country and around the globe, as an organization that, obviously, if you look at the entities in golf, whether it's us or our friends at the PGA TOUR, the USGA, the European Tour, our friends at the R & A, the Trump organization is certainly a factor in golf, there's no doubt about that.

The Trump organization is also an employer of PGA of America members, that's critical, in their wonderful facilities. I would tell you, as busy as they have been and his team has been, I think presidential politics are probably more top of mind than golf. But we're in constant communication as much as we can be, we're monitoring the situation, as we have said publicly, we certainly don't comment necessarily on presidential politics, we don't agree with everything that's been said or done, but we're monitoring the situation and we made the one decision about the Grand Slam and we haven't made really more decisions than that, other than what's already previously scheduled.

JULIUS MASON: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us and we hope you have a wonderful week. Thank you very much.

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