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September 9, 2015

Jacques Bungert

Heather Daly-Donofrio

Franck Ribaud

Hyo-Joo Kim

Evian-les-Bains, France

THE MODERATOR: Not that you guys really need an introduction, but we have Jacques Bungert, our vice-chairman of the Evian Championship; Heather Daly Donofrio, Tour operations officer for the LPGA; we have Franck Ribaud, our chairman of this championship; and our defending champion, Hyo Joo Kim, two-time winner on the LPGA Tour; and her manager Joe Oh, who will be helping us with some interpretation.

Hyo Joo, we will start with you. As our defending champion here this week, I remember last year I was here and I remember you winning on that 18th green and you looked a little shocked. Looking back on that moment, when did that finally sink in that you knew you were a major champion?

HYO JOO KIM: It's true after the win, I got a win here, I didn't feel like a winner, but after I went back to Korea and I just arrived at the airport and I found a lot of reporters in Korea at that time that I felt, oh, I'm a winner. Even though I got the check, I didn't feel like a winner. But after I arrived, too much like cameras and the reporters, and then I realised I'm the winner, at the time.

THE MODERATOR: Now, we all remember 61, a round of 61 to open up this championship, the lowest round by male or female in major history. What do you remember about that round the most? What was the thing that stuck out the most? Quite a memorable day for you. It had to be.

HYO JOO KIM: I didn't feel anything like when I had like a score of 61, but I think the most, like I can summarize it, I feel like I have good luck. I had a missed shot but suddenly the ball is going into the hole. A lot of times I said, oh, I missed it, but the ball is going to really good spots. I think it was really good luck.

THE MODERATOR: This is your first LPGA tournament as a defending champion. What's been the biggest difference so far this week? Obviously a little bit more media, a little more attention. Has there been anything much more different as the defending champion?

HYO JOO KIM: Yeah, even though I was defending, I'm defending, but I didn't feel anything. I felt the same as another tournament. But just one thing I just can pop up, I got like a really good hotel. I really like it, and then I could sleep well. That makes me shoot good scores because you have to know that all the past champions are staying at the Royale. It's a good hotel.

Q. You look as if you're understanding the questions, so secretly is your English better than last year? Have you learnt quite a lot?
HYO JOO KIM: It's true. I could a little bit understand English better than last year, but I cannot speak English well, so I feel really sorry for you guys. Also my personality is kind of shy, so I could understand, but if I think the meaning was wrong, I couldn't speak really well. That's my point.

Q. What did you treat yourself to with the money that you won here last year? What did you buy?
HYO JOO KIM: I got the money, but I didn't buy anything for me. I didn't even have a driver's licence, so I couldn't buy a car, so I didn't get anything from that money.

JACQUES BUNGERT: I guess 61 is going to be hard to beat. If I hear the players who have played the course since Monday, it's going to be a tough one. Pretty sure that this record is going to stay for a while. And by the way, I think it's pretty fresh that Hyo Joo keep this level of spirit in Korean, so don't learn English too quickly.

No, I think as always, and I'm going to turn it over to Franck, I think this year not only the sun is with us, but it's an important year because you can see what we're trying to build with this tournament aside from the championship itself, and the fact that we have started a new cycle, which is important, also, for the team and the challenge it creates for the team.

I think we also are trying to build an ecosystem around the tournament with a very simple objective that is the vision of Franck, and I'm going to turn it to him, which is about young talents, and I think this is the way we've been trying to build, as well, the field as far as the wildcards are concerned. Franck?

FRANCK RIBAUD: I don't know if I have to speak in English or Korean or French. I think he already summarised it to innovation. Next year, as you know, we start two years ago with qualification tournament here in Evian. Next year we will add a qualification tournament in the U.S., and we will add a qualification tournament in Korea, being held by Lacoste. I can say that; do you agree?

But no, I think it's important we open the field through qualification. It's through that this year that we decide it was really a decision to focus on young amateur players because when you have the best players of the world, and as a French I wish to have some day a French player winning this tournament, but I'm also very pushy to be sure that young players -- I try to explain that, but golf historically with the men but also with the women, everybody was talking about the right age to be very strong in golf between 28 and 30 average. Now if you look at this sport, it's really going in the huge transformation because it's more than Lydia, Jordan Spieth and the others between 18 and 22. That's the reason why I think our job is to focus no more on 20, 22, but 12, 13 years old, which is the case in Korea. That's the reason why you have a lot of Korean people, players, because in their country, they take care of the young player.

The question is there, do you want your country to win or not, and we can help by doing this. We are not a country, but we can really help by offering to the young player the opportunity to play one of the biggest tournaments of the world. I discussed with all the young amateurs we have this year, and I told them, no, you are there because it's normal for us because of your results. So you have no pressure. You are there to get the right friction to prepare your future as a professional, and it's exactly the reason why we choose what we choose in terms of what job this year. I'm afraid we will continue with perhaps bad news for the pro, but our job is not to confirm the pro. Our job is to make more attractive to develop the golf, the women's golf, especially through the young.

It's too early to speak about that, but you know me, I'm always saying things before I negotiate everything. But I'm afraid in 2016 we will have under-18 boys and girls tournament in Evian, and we really want to create the best of the world. Everybody was laughing when I was saying that about this tournament, but 20 years after, it's true. And because of the experience we have, I can tell you it will go much more faster with this under-18 tournament.

And to summarise, at the end, we will have the La Haribo Kids Cup, 8 to 12; the Euro Open, French, Belgium, Spain basically. After that we have the Junior Cup with a wonderful story. We didn't do for that, but we are very lucky because when you have a player becoming worldwide No. 1, I think played the Junior Cup seven years ago, not 20 years ago, seven years ago. For him it's incredible memories. Every time we ask to Jordan Spieth to send us a picture, to sign the picture, to make an interview, we always have a yes as an answer. And with Justin Thomas and now the players making selfie in front of the picture. I don't know if you look at the Tweet of Michelle Wie about that and all the players on the PGA reacting. It's a real true story, so we have a hole, which is the under-18.

So we are going to have the best under-18 from really all over the world coming here. It's an ongoing process, but I'm afraid we will achieve it.

So basically that's the news for the tournament and for tomorrow, for next year and the year after. There is a special one for the French, if we succeed or not, if they succeed or not, because I was a little bit unhappy to look at -- we have another French pro organisation called PGA, and there is a tournament where girls and boys are together, but I don't know why the prize money of the boys was something like ?2,000 and the prize money of the ladies was perhaps at least ?10,000. I don't think that was fair.

So I proposed to two French pros, Gwladys and Karine, also, to take care of their own PGA tournament, and we promised to them that we will give to them the Evian Championship platform and the golf course and even the money they need to be sure there will be similar to the men. But we asked them to take care of the tournament, to be in charge of the tournament, to find a sponsor, to find the right formula, to find the right criteria to select the players, and we will start also that next year in 2016 because we really want to put the success of our tournament, the Evian Championship, to deserve the rest of the golf family, especially children and ladies. That's it.

JACQUES BUNGERT: That's good news. Before we go on with the press conference, I think we'd like to release Hyo Joo because I think you've got some work to do. A lot of things are waiting for you. Thank you. Merci.

Maybe before I open up to questions, a few words from Heather in French because Heather is not learning English, she is learning French.

HEATHER DALY DONOFRIO: You really want me to do it in French? I would have prepared it in French had I known.

On behalf of the LPGA we're excited to be here with our partners here in Evian. It's our third year as a major championship, and it promises to be another very exciting week for us.

We've got 24 different countries represented in the field, 45 out of the top 50 in the Rolex Rankings, where you have more than 22 hours of television coverage. We're going to be seen in 171 countries and potentially reach 200 million viewers around the world, which really speaks to the growth of the tournament and women's golf and the global nature of the LPGA and this great event, and we'll be on network TV in the U.S. again this year.

It's going to be a fantastic week celebrating Inbee Park's achievements, her two major championship wins this year. She's already clinched the Rolex Annika major award with her great play this year and we'll celebrate her on Saturday night.

But the course is going to be challenging. It's going to be -- it's a very demanding challenging golf course. We're going to move tee boxes around quite a bit this week to challenge the players and give them a different look on a couple of holes. We've got a new tee box on 18, which we're excited to use, and a tee box on 14, as well, so we're looking forward to a fantastic week.

JACQUES BUNGERT: Looks great. The sun might get off on Sunday evening, but not even sure, so we might be really lucky. Let's go on, and you get all these figures and more available in the press kit, so I'm not going to bother you with figures. But we are here to answer your questions and exchange, so please feel free.

Q. Franck, with the emphasis you're now putting on youth, are you slightly worried about the kids getting too good too soon because they can't get onto the LPGA Tour until they're 18, something I would have thought has to be done to keep them in education?
FRANCK RIBAUD: If you benchmark with the other sports, it's really something happening everywhere. I think it's more or less -- must be under the control perhaps not of the LPGA but the parents themselves, whether they choose between education and golf. But I think the LPGA, they must control this evolution, perhaps to keep rules to accept under 18. I don't know, but they have to fix this. They can't let it go like this, otherwise at the end, especially with ladies, because ladies, as you know, they are becoming adults sometimes much more faster than the boys. We have 13 years old or 14 years old girls turning pro, and I think it's -- beyond your question, I agree with you. I think it's too early, because at the end of the day, you have to build the human body. You can't just let a girl 12 years old becoming a pro. It means traveling and not going anymore at school or even not learning a foreign language, for example.

So I think like always, there is positives and there is negatives, and the role of an organisation like the LPGA, and I'm not on the LPGA, but I think it's to control that, to fix the rules, to make sure that we are not doing mistake, especially in this crazy world where everything is going too fast, not only in golf.

HEATHER DALY DONOFRIO: If I could just add to that, I've had the pleasure of meeting some of the wildcards this week, and not only are they obviously extremely talented golfers, but they're a very mature group. I spent a lot of time with Albane Valenzuela, who's off to Stanford, so when you speak to education, here's a phenomenal young player, and she's off to play at Stanford.

But I think the positive about having these great young players come to an event like this is the opportunity for mentoring and for them to see the best players in the world and how they prepare for a major, how they play the golf course, the interaction and the expectations that are asked of the players, so they have something to aspire to, work towards, and dream about.

JACQUES BUNGERT: And I think we play our role, because Franck was mentioning Steph, but we can mention Maguire. Leona has played the Junior. It's gone her path, and she's around 20 now, and she's there; she's in the field, and she's mature. It's an interesting path, an interesting slow process.

FRANCK RIBAUD: But the question was do we accelerate or not this. That's the way I understood your question. Perhaps yes, but even if we are not there, that will continue to accelerate. So I think the inverse, it's a good opportunity somewhere let's say to train this young lady to get the right friction within that kind of tournament. When I'm talking about friction, I'm not talking about only the pressure coming from the tournament. It's a pressure to be beside the other ladies, to be alone, to be this, to control the situation, even to answer and to say yes when we ask them to make a press conference with young players here in France.

I think we really help them to pre-discover what could be their future life. After that, as I said, they have their role, we have our role, but honestly I think we are really giving more than the opportunity to play a major. This will be the small way to look at it.

We're offering an experience which perhaps could be what they will have to deal with their next time years. I'm talking about Albane. It's a good example. I'm sure there are other examples, but if you look at Albane, she's young, but she just exceeded this maturity with the best ranking in Switzerland, and she will join one of your American universities just after. I think we control the risk on our side. But I understand perfectly your question.

Q. What feedback do you have on the golf course from all the players?
FRANCK RIBAUD: I think the question is personally I'm very strict on that because I don't think we have to listen the feedback from the players because the golf course is central to every player. I heard a lot, not from the top players as usual, but very often we got from -- especially during the qualification, for example, oh, it's too hard, the greens are too difficult, it's too hard, and I'm very lucky because I was allowed to play in Augusta three times, and trust me, I found it very difficult. But I was not there to play golf, I was there to get an experience, to look at the beauty of the course. I want to play without my shoes if possible at Augusta. That's what we want to build here, an experience.

I was telling the story about your 18 year olds, so difficult or not, because if you play well, golf is not difficult.

Q. I ask you this question because since the beginning of the Evian Masters and championship, you always had the habit to speak a lot with all the players, and that's a reason in my opinion of the success of this tournament.
JACQUES BUNGERT: Until we change all the golf course, and the responsibility of the LPGA, the direction of the LPGA.

Now really the thing for me is to continue to prioritize the golf course within our investment. That is the reason why we bought new machines. That is the reason why next year we will not transform, or so this year because as I said, we have two new tee boxes. The reason is not for the golf course, the reason is because we want to be sure that we can depend the wind, depend the situation, depend the different score, what do we want to do, how do we want the finish. We give the opportunity to the LPGA to manage a show somewhere. At the same time we change the green of the 12, and I'm sure we will continue to, year after year, add to it, just to answer.

But globally speaking, I think we don't have to be under pressure from the players because that will be always 50/50, and they have to play golf.

JACQUES BUNGERT: And with a very natural and ecological approach.

FRANCK RIBAUD: This is an important point for me. I said that last year. I am definitively convinced that soon chemicals are going to be forbidden all over the world, and I can tell you that it's going to be tough to get the quality everybody expects without chemicals.

So I think all the golf family, they have to integrate in their mind that, okay, greens is going to be -- the color will not be the one you can find on television because you will have this, you will have that to deal with. As I said, very often, here in Evian when your children are playing golf on our golf course, you don't have to ask them to wash their hands before going to lunch. That's all. I can tell you in French if you don't understand. Especially because all of you, you know, below this golf course, you have this, so we will never take the risk to go above the limit because we will never take the risk to damage natural water, because this water is an unfiltrated water, which is a difficult concept sometimes to explain to our American friends. But water is not H2O when you are talking about Evian. It's a 10-year filtration through the mountain, no filter, no ozonation, nothing, and we will never take one risk with this.

But the future, I think, will look like what I described, not the inverse, which is already the case in the U.S.

I think one day welcome back and play on yellow golf course in the summer. Don't forget that it looks beautiful, but we have no water, no rain, nothing during six weeks in August, July and August, six weeks without one drop of water. That was forbidden to put water on the -- we negotiate with the local state golf and the agency. On top of that, the ground, the temperature of the ground was at 6:00 p.m. something like 28 degrees. Not the air, the ground. Now imagine the impact you can have on the quality of the course.

So honestly, the job that the greenskeeper and the team did is just incredible.

JACQUES BUNGERT: Thank you very much. I think we're going to have a great week. Let's get our eyes and TVs acquainted to the new colors of nature because definitely this is the future, and we are very happy to share this future with everyone and with the LPGA for this major. Have a good week. Bye.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks for being here. Jacques and Franck, thanks for hosting us.

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