home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 16, 2016

David Barger

Tim Finchem

Alastair Johnston

Raja Rajamannar

Orlando, Florida

JOHN BUSH: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is John Bush from PGA TOUR Communications and I'd like to welcome you to the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.

We're honored to have the guests with us today, including PGA TOUR Commissioner, Tim Finchem, we have Mr., Raja Rajamannar, MasterCard Chief Marketing Officer; David Barger, Arnie's Army Board member and former CEO of Jet Blue, and we have Alastair Johnston, CEO of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, Arnie's Army Charitable Foundation Board Member.

Gentlemen, thank you for joining for joining us. With that, I'll turn it over to Commissioner Finchem.

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thank you all for being here and some announcements regarding the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Let me just start by saying that I think from my own perspective, without question, Arnold Palmer has been the most dynamic, impact-full player in the history of the game on a lot of different levels, and if you just bear with me for a minute I'd like to share with you my personal history in that regard with him.

Because I now interfaced with Arnold Palmer for a lot of decades, some without knowing him and more recently knowing him very well.

In the mid 1950s my father, who was a marine sergeant, took me to Wilmington, North Carolina where I watched Arnold Palmer finish 2nd. Two years later or a year or two later he won the Masters and I was a golf fan for life.

What I didn't know was that that win and his partnership with, in the minds of the fans with Augusta National and CBS, would lead to 50 years of steady, unbridled growth of this sport domestically and globally.

Ten years later I was in college, I paid some interest to the fact that Arnold had teamed up with Jack Nicklaus and others to break away from the PGA America and start what was the PGA TOUR. In those days I had no idea that that would be in my future.

In 1987 I began working with the PGA TOUR first in Washington and then in Florida and I got to know Arnold and it wasn't until two, three years into that period that I fully understood the impact that this man has had on so much of what is the game of golf, building hundreds of golf courses, leading the way with the marketing platform that players today pretty much take for granted but use to their great benefit. That was all Arnold Palmer.

And along the way he decided to build a golf tournament here in Orlando which is now the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The golf course he designed to host that tournament, if you look at it and watch the play this week, you can see Arnold Palmer all over it. It's risk/reward, it's tough conditions, it's made to order for an Arnold Palmer-type player. And that's what makes it a very exciting week.

This tournament has been very successful over the years but today we want to talk about a few changes which we think will have a dramatic impact in terms of its perpetuation into the future as one of the leading events globally and certainly on the PGA TOUR.

And I'll just tick off a few things and you'll hear from some others here and then we'll take questions.

We set-off a couple of years ago on a road to elevate this tournament and, in doing so, have a week that can really speak to Arnold's accomplishments and his impact on the game.

So, first of all, on the charity side, starting in 2017, the newly established Arnie's Army Charitable Foundation will be managing oversight of the tournament as the host organization for the tournament. And we are delighted by this development.

This tournament and Arnold personally has done unbelievable things for charity over the years but now to structure that charitable involvement this way gives it more leverage, more impact in the community and the ability to do even more.

In addition to the charitable activity, the Foundation was also established to carry on Arnold's strong legacy of giving back as well as health initiatives, helping children and youth and strengthening the overall economy of the community and the environment.

We're also pleased to announce that next year the purse here will be $8.7 million which positions this week as one of the premiere weeks from the standpoint of financial benefits to the players.

And as we started last year, the winner's exemption will be a unique three years, again, positioning the tournament with unique stature.

As well in collaboration with MasterCard, Golf Channel and NBC Sports, there will be significant recognition of Arnold's accomplishments for golf and society in the years to come and they'll be many things in the telecast and related media endeavors.

This will include historic clips showing how Arnold established his reputation as the most exciting player in golf and celebration of his charitable endeavors, including the establishment of the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women And babies.

In addition to those structural things, I'd also like to comment that all of this is being done very much in partnership. We view this and our folks view this as really working as one entity.

I think all of you are aware that all over the country the PGA TOUR spends time, energy, people, resources to grow the charitable impact and the economic impact in communities, and in most of those tournaments which raised last year $160 million for charity, that working relationship is very close.

This may be the closest working relationship we have. We are absolutely committed and we're right up the road to doing everything we can to work with the Arnie's Army Foundation going forward, to perpetuate what this tournament is all about and to continue the charity impact.

With that I'd like to ask a representative of the Board, David Barger, on behalf of the Board of Arnie's Army to make some comments and describing in more detail what the Foundation is about all. David.

MR. BARGER: Great. Thank you so much Commissioner, very much appreciate the opportunity to share some thoughts regarding Arnie's Arnie Charitable Foundation and on behalf of our Board of Directors we're absolutely so excited what today's news with regard to this tournament, what it means in 2017 and beyond.

Before I just share a couple of stories with regard to what's happened off the golf course, this brand, Arnie's Army, which I think we all know what it means, on behalf of our Board, if I may recognize Amy Saunders in the audience, Mr. Palmer's daughter and president of our charity foundation. Amy, thanks so much for your leadership as we've been working through this over past couple of years. Thank you, Amy.

When you think about the man on the course, who I have only known for less than ten years Commissioner, you read so much about this individual and some of the quotes over the years, Alastair, that you shared with the stories and I love one along the lines of which is as follows: "I know the support of Arnie's Army had as much to do with my winning the championships as the shots I played."

And it really does talk about this force, this tremendous support of the people off the course, family and friends who are allowing that to take place with the natural ability on the course to make it happen.

And as we know, over the years this charity, this philanthropy is part of the DNA of giving back is enabled because of the talents on the course have been very, very significant and let me just share a little bit of color about Arnie's Army Charity Foundation and our pillars of support and that which is important to us.

You've certainly heard from the Commissioner with regard to them but there's three pillars and they're as follows, and I'll be very brief with few stories: Children and Youth Development, Health and Wellness as well as Community and the Environment.

These didn't just happen. They happened over decades worth of, again, the ability to give back and wanting to give back, not just the man, Mr. Palmer, but also the family.

First of all, with Children and Youth Development, I think you go back decades and we look at the national spokesperson for the March of Dimes and seeing that on TVs and tournaments across the country. I remember that as a kid certainly growing up in the Detroit area and these different commercials.

And then you move to supporting groups such as First Tee and a little bit of color as we talk about again, Children and Youth Development of the Palmer Cup this year will be the 20th event that's taking place of the Palmer Cup and, again, collegiant golfers in the United States, Europe, a Ryder Cup-type competition but I think what's really, really interesting about that is the fact that the peers playing really based on embodying the behaviors of Mr. Palmer are also extended a sponsor exemption into this tournament.

So tomorrow Maverick McNealy, All-American Junior from Stanford will be playing as a result of this competition. Again, this pillar really bringing to life much of what's happening behind youth development.

Health and wellness. John Bozart, our CEO of our organization, we think about Orlando health, certainly the Arnold Palmer Medical Center, we think about 25 years ago the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies some ten years ago.

By the way, interesting with numbers, we think about 68 or shooting 70 or whatever the case might be. 14,000 babies delivered on an annual basis in terms of that hospital.

Then you get inside of that and, again, what all of this support off the course. We think about the Alexander Center for Neonatology. Ten percent of those babies in Central Florida, Southeast United States and across the world have special needs in this 142 bed units.

Dr. Gregory Alexander will be on the green on the 18th hole on Sunday helping to present to the winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational the award. It's an amazing facility when you walk-thru it.

And the community, there's the Howard Phillips Center. I think most recently with a fellow Board member, Roy Healy and his family who established the Healy Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, further establishing the pediatric bone marrow program that's taking place later in 2016.

Commissioner, it's children, it's youth development, it's health and wellness over decades here in Central Florida and maybe just one more story, if I may, it's community and the environment.

I had the opportunity to visit the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Latrobe, Pennsylvania adjacent to St. Vincent's College.

It took stamina from Winnie Palmer, from those in the community to say hey, listen, we're not going to develop the I-30 corridor and simply put up another set of strip mall stores, we're going to preserve the scenery and I'd really hope that you visit the Enviromental Learning Barn reconstructed from 1879 which is the center for this learning environment.

And so when I think about these three pillars and, again, this announcement today from the Commissioner, what this allows us to do, this charitable foundation, the brand is strong, Arnie's Army. It's been around for decades. The charitable foundation has been around for less than two years.

I can't tell you how excited we are in 2017 to manage the oversight of this tournament, the responsibility that means to us as the host organization.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, on behalf of all those making this tournament happen -- and, if I may, on Saturday you may see 1400 volunteers wearing a shirt that says, "I Am Arnie's Army". Those are the people that make this happen day-in and day-out.

Commissioner, thank you so much for the news today. Thank you so much for allowing me an opportunity to talk a bit about Arnie's Army Charitable Foundation and, if I may, introduce to you for more of the story today the Chief Marketing Officer of MasterCard, Raja Rajamannar.

MR. RAJAMANNAR: Thank you very much. We appreciate it. So, on behalf of MasterCard just wanted to mention a few points and I will be very brief.

First and foremost, we love Mr. Arnold Palmer, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and we love the kind of philanthropic work that's being done by Arnold's Army and his foundations which has really been a privilege and an honor to get associated with over the last 13 years and it's such a delightful thing for us to know that PGA TOUR is actually increasing the purse and bringing in all the elements that Commissioner Finchem has just mentioned.

It elevates the stature of this event but also sees into the future that it continues at that level of attractiveness to the players to participate and make sure that the field is always strong.

So, we are very excited about this and as a longstanding partner of PGA TOUR, we deeply value their partnership and they're one of our most significant partners across the board, period.

So, from that perspective we are very excited and looking forward to partnering and continuing this partnership into the future and delighted to be here, to be on the stage with Commissioner Finchem and are excited. Thank you very much.

JOHN BUSH: Gentlemen with that, we'll now open it up to questions including any questions you have about Mr. Palmer that Mr. Johnston can answer.

So we'll pass the microphone around. If you'll raise your hand.

Q. Tim, do you anticipate the date for this tournament staying the same for the foreseeable future? Among the changes made, will that stay constant?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Do you really want me to talk about schedule today? Not particularly.

I mean we're going through a test phase with the Olympic year which moves things around during the course of the calendar and that's had some impact and we are looking further out with the calendar than we have in the past.

So, we're usually out three to five years. Now we're looking at 6 to 8 years. So whether that means they'll be a little bit less movement or not -- we don't have a lot of movement -- but -- but I couldn't tell you right now it's going to be much different than it is right now but I suspect there will be some changes but, you know, the schedule as you know is a very difficult process.

You have weather issues, you have when our sponsors want certain tournaments at certain times of the year. Lot of factors. As has always been the case with this tournament, this will be a priority to make the dates work for this week.

JOHN BUSH: Questions?

Q. Tim, the same thing comes up with Jack's tournament, maybe to a lesser extent right now, but I'm sure we're going forward with Tiger, when not all the top players come.
What's your feeling on that? I mean do they need to always come to these tournaments, Byron Nelson as well, or are you sympathetic to the plight that they've got a lot of choices?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: You know, there's two different -- it's in two different levels. One is what somebody's perception of the field is and the closer you're involved with the tournament, the more you're focused on that and the other is how the tournament performs, how it performs on the television audience, how it performs with charity and the impact on the community, what kind of golf course we have. All those things that make up a great tournament.

So, there's different ways to look at it. I think that yes, human nature is we went for I don't know, almost 20 years when Tiger was playing 17 times. We have 47 tournaments. Everybody wanted Tiger and sometimes you'd hear people say, "My tournament isn't working that well." All those tournaments grew every year that he wasn't playing there.

So, it's probably an overstatement. On the other hand, you know, we inaugurated a bit of a change in our procedures this year in terms of encouraging and actually requiring players to move around a little bit more with tournaments that they haven't played in four, five years and we think that's a positive thing.

The other side of the coin is that, you know, tournaments on the PGA TOUR are competition for players. So, there's competition for doing the best you can with the purse, having the best golf course, adding it to the marketing platform for players and doing the things that entice a player to come play.

So, that's healthy. On the other hand, it can't shadow the fact that we need a reasonable percentage. It's easier in today's world when the media, you guys generally refer to us as the age of parity. Lot of different players playing at a relatively equal level and moving up and down the Top 20 list.

But, we pay a lot of attention to it and we listen carefully to our tournaments and our sponsors. We also listen to the players about -- and actually go out and find out why players made decisions that they do.

Sometimes younger players, 21, 22, 24, oftentimes they're not into a pattern that you see with a 26, 27, 30 year old player. So, they're feeling their way and they're doing a lot of things maybe and they figure out maybe I shouldn't do so many or they're not doing so much and they work it out.

So, we pay a lot of attention to those things though and we do the best we can.

Q. Alastair, maybe this question is best for you. What was the motivation behind starting a new post organization?
MR. JOHNSTON: Well, let me get your question right, a new --

Q. New post organization.
MR. JOHNSTON: The Foundation, yeah. I think that primarily at this stage in Arnold's career one of the things we talked about very much was a long-term strategy for Arnold Palmer for his legacy, for Arnie's Army continuing to march and, as Tim said earlier, Arnold has had an amazing impact on the PGA TOUR. The new PGA TOUR was company founded by him and Jack back in the '60s, '70s.

So, basically what we wanted to do was say in addition to it being a cofounder, in addition to being an officer holder, in addition to being an ambassador to it and in addition to being a tournament sponsor, what can he continue to give back to the PGA TOUR?

The work that Arnie's Army Foundation has done and continues to do to support the hospitals that Dave mentioned will continue. Amy Saunders, you know, has inherited her mother's position of really, really hands-on in these areas but we wanted to kind of expand the mission, and they mentioned the Arnold Palmer Cup.

This is giving back to college golf and what he wants to do to expand that and talk about future PGA TOUR players, 27 percent of the field in the U.S. Open, 25 percent of the field in The Open Championship last year were Palmer Cup graduates, things like that to basically bring along young Tour players.

One of the most significant things when Arnold and I sat down several months ago to talk about one of the missions for Arnie's Army was how can he support, continue to support PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR players?

How can, you know, the Arnold Palmer name be perpetuated and one of the things Dave didn't mention but I think is a very significant thing that we're doing is that the Foundation is going to encourage PGA TOUR players to share the spirit of philanthropy.

We're going to financially support selected young professionals whose charitable ambition is aligned with Arnie's Army.

So, what that means is that what Dave was talking about with respect to supporting youth and kids, et cetera, we have already basically studied what other Tour tournament players, what their foundations are, especially the young players.

So, basically support the spirit of philanthropy. Arnold basically is going to, for the foreseeable future, every year, we're going to select several young players whose foundations, charity and philanthropy supports -- excuse me, is aligned with Arnie's Army and Arnie's Army is going to be a benefactor of these players' charities every year. We're going to select 2, 3 players and provide support to them.

In other words, as Arnold and I said 20 years from now there are PGA TOUR players who haven't yet been born are going to get the benefit of Arnold's largess and philanthropy.

Arnold himself has committed an 8 figure number to Arnie's Army to ensure that all the basic, you know, charitable requirements of what he wants will be sustained.

Obviously this Foundation is going to be a fund raising. We're going to be seeking funds for all sorts of great causes.

But, in addition as part of the strategy is going to be actually passing on the spirit of philanthropy and the process of how younger players can follow in the spirit and so many young players are actually doing that today.

We just want to continue to encourage that.

Q. Alastair, can you give an example of what kind of support you would give to a young player's foundation for Arnie's Army's Foundation?
MR. JOHNSTON: Primarily it's going to be financial support. We might do other things. We haven't contemplated that much. It's going to be financial support.

As I said, you know, provided it is within the mission of Arnie's Army. We have to be consistent the way that Dave described it. We will, you know, we will be contributing for perhaps two, three players each year a meaningful sum of money to their particular charities.

Q. And, Commissioner, in a perfect world, what would be the No. 1 characteristic of Arnold that you wish everyone of your players would be like?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, probably his enthusiasm for people. He draws energy from the reaction he gets from people and he takes great pride in his diligence in reaching out to people and reacting to people.

I think somebody just did a study a few years ago suggested that - Ty, was it 5 million -- he signed his name on stuff 5 million times, and that's incredible in and of itself, but the other thing is 5 million times perfectly (laughter).

He fusses when he sees an autograph from a player that you have a hard time reading. I never show him my particular signature. And I commented recently there may be a player out there that shows a little bit of this from time to time.

He has this other dimension that you can't articulate. It's just that people see him and they love everything about him and he does things that reinforce that for people and he is so open and so engaging and he never says no, but he has that something and just sets him apart from anything I've ever seen in sports.

I mean it's an amazing characteristic. So, I'm not articulating it very well, either, to answer your question but he's just a very, very, very, unique person.

JOHN BUSH: Gentlemen, we appreciate your time. Thank you all for coming.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297