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September 11, 1996

Brian Allan

Tim Finchem


WES SEELEY: We have been joined by, to my left, Brian Alan, Chief Executive of the PGA TOUR of Australasia and to his left Commissioner Tim Finchem, and I don't know if they have comments to begin or should we throw it to them?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We thought we'd make a brief comment, each of us. My comment would be that my read of the players is that they're very excited about the competition, and as we get closer to it, they get more excited. All of us are excited. We're looking forward to a great event this week. The golf course is in real good condition. And there's no reason that we can foresee that we won't meet our expectations with regard to the conduct of these matches. And after Brian finishes, I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

BRIAN ALLAN: Without repeating any of the things Tim has just said, I think that this week, it's quite noticeable that this event has now gained some significance. And I say that from the International Team's point of view, understanding that to put an International Team together, one of the things we found difficult is to create a strong team spirit. I think we have it this week. My experience and my association with the players is they're raring to go. We also have a significant number of dignitaries, if you like, that have come to represent the various countries, and I'll just name them for you, Prime Minister Sifirani Rambuka from Figi, who is a very keen golfer, who is probably the easiest one to get; former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who's also very, very happy to come along; former President of South Africa, Mr. DeKlerk, and the former President of Zimbabwe, the Reverend Bunano. So we are very happy to have those people here along with the Japanese Ambassador Yakio Takayuchi. I think from the International Team's point of view, we are very happy with that sort of reaction from the officialdom. We've already got the right reaction we wanted from our team. And we're ready for you guys.

Q. Tim, obviously the weather has been an issue. Are there contingency plans in effect in case the weather gets worse?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We have a number of contingency plans worked on now for the opening ceremonies. Obviously the competition is something we would evaluate as we get closer to it. Right now the weather forecast here seems to change hourly, so obviously what -- we already have plans if there are rain delays, but I think, on balance, the weather forecast is one that we look at and think we're going to be able to play the golf tournament; the opening ceremonies outside, given the logistics of them, we'll just have to keep our eye out to make a decision probably sometime tomorrow morning. But if tomorrow's forecast turns out to be like today, we should be fine.

Q. If this hurricane comes up here and we get a lot of rain, what's the minimum points necessary to award a Cup?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: That's never been decided. There isn't anything in the history of the event. It would have to depend on the agreement between the captains, change in the captains' protocol with regard to that. We haven't entered into any conversations about that as yet. But as far as the hurricane goes, where I live, we've been watching these all year, we have yet to get a drop of rain. I think, on balance, the odds are that this new system coming over from the west is going to push it up to the northeast. So at least that seems to be the prevailing forecast right now. I hope that holds.

Q. Tim, has there been any decision made yet as to where this event will be held in the coming years?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No. As soon as this event is concluded, we will sit down with the other Tours and discuss all of our options. I think what I've said in the last week or so is that, clearly, there is a lot of interest on the part of the other Tours and certainly on the part of the International Players for them to have a home game pretty soon. So the option to move overseas is one that will be evaluated. Obviously, if we go overseas, we will be focused on Australia, Japan or South Africa. And all the Tours will have to agree to that. But the big question would be when, and then the second question would be where. At this juncture, no determination has been made. Hopefully we'll have more to say about that before the end of this year.

Q. What's the TV status? Is CBS --

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: CBS is committed through 1998.

Q. Do they have any control where it's played?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: They have made -- given us assurances they will cooperate with whatever decision the TOUR makes in term of venue.

Q. Brian, Steve Elkington said he'd like to see the event in Sidney in the year 2000. What's your feeling about that?

BRIAN ALLAN: My personal answer is so would we, we would love to see it. But there's a lot more to consider than our personal feelings about it. There's no doubt we could make some tremendous venues available, maybe not necessarily Sidney. I think with the Olympic games being played in September, we may need to look at that, if it would go there. But as Tim said, it's early days. There's a lot to be considered here; not the least is the television coverage because of the time gap. The other problems that we will have is that September is probably one of the worst months you could play golf if our country. It's the first month after winter, and even though it doesn't snow on the golf courses, the grass doesn't grow for three months. So there's things to be considered.

Q. Tim, because of the flap over, the changing of captains for the International Team, will there be a specific set of criteria for captain selections in the future?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I think the protocols generally are being discussed between the Tours this weekend. There may be some adjustments, with regards to specific language. The issue of captains will probably remain. However, under the prerogative of the Tours that present those teams to the competition. But that is a matter that will be discussed in the next few days.

Q. What's your impression of how that impacted the tournament, the overall perception of it?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't know. I heard some people say isn't it nice to get more press coverage for an event. I've heard other people say, it's the worst thing that happened in golf. I don't know how to evaluate it. I don't think at this juncture it is having any effect in those involved in preparing the competition. I don't think it's having any effect on the players, focusing on the matches in front of them. I think the people involved in the event, competitors, and administrators have pretty much put it behind us.

Q. This is for both gentlemen. I guess the America's Cup and the Ryder Cup didn't really take off until the U.S. lost. Do you think -- is that what it's going to take here for an International victory?

BRIAN ALLAN: This weekend. I hope so. I think as long as we've got a good match this week. The situation with the first event, I think if we can hark back to that a little bit, our players were -- we have never played in this type of competition before. Remember it's the first time for all of them, from the top to the bottom as far as rankings are concerned. And it was very much an unknown quantity. They'd never played in a team at this level. And before they knew where they were, they were 5-zip. It was very hard to come back from there. I would really anticipate that that's not likely to happen this week. I think we'll see a very, very close match.

Q. I think that's necessary for this event to put down roots.

BRIAN ALLAN: I think it's necessary for any golf competition to be a good competition. There is no doubt this event has changed substantially just in the two years, from the first time that I came here, coming back this time, there is a much stronger atmosphere. And I can tell you that even our own media in Australia - and they are very difficult people - perhaps no different than the rest of the world, if they're not here, they usually don't write about anything. And we've had good coverage in the period leading up to this event which is a good sign.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think to amplify that a little bit, I think we have five on-site television distribution systems worldwide, Japan, Australia, Scandinavia, South Africa, SKYTV, which gives us a good indication of the interest level around the world.

Q. What about domestically, do you think there's much interest? Do you get a sense that the event is gaining interest?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think so. I think the first running, we put it together in six months. We had a couple of players who had previous commitments that couldn't play, and Ernie Els, legitimate commitments. And then Greg got hurt. This year we have a full compliment of the best players. The International Team has played one tournament for a little bit of experience in terms of trying to come together. They have a much more difficult time, at least from my perspective in coming together as a team because they're not together as much as our guys and they don't play Ryder Cup. But they seem to be putting it together a little better. And I think that the people sense that. I think a close competition is going to be required to get a lot of interest on Sunday, as you would expect. But I anticipate it will be a close competition.

Q. Tim, if it rains over the weekend and these guys want to do an iron man, do you think they'll give this tournament a shot of credibility, the "Rain Cup," will be remembered for years in the future?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think all these little things that happen with regard to these type matches create the lore and the history of the matches in 20 years, everybody will look back and comment on certain things that go on with these matches - whether it be the weather or other things - and that helps build the history of the event. The only thing this event, in my judgment, is lacking at this point is history. We didn't have any history before the first balls were in the air in 1994. I remember watching the first balls going in the air and saying, well, we now have a little something to talk about. The matches, I think Brian put his finger on it, they got down 5-zip and they came become and on Saturday it seemed to me when Corey chipped in on Saturday it was kind of the turning point of the match. But they were in it. And now we'll have a little more history. And each match will have more history, and if we do our job right pretty soon we'll have a base of things that happened that make for a great event. As I say, this competition is a great competition, the players are great players, and now we need a little more history.

Q. Did the strides that this has made in public awareness meet or exceed your expectations when it began? Is this about on schedule?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Brian has his own perspective, I thought that we came out of 1994 significantly ahead of where originally I thought we would. And I think that as we looked ahead to '96, I think on the International side of interest, I think we already made some good moves domestically, and I really do think we're ahead. I think if we have a good, close match this time that I think I said this to Len Shapiro last week, originally I was really thinking that let's get started with this event, in 20 years we can have an event of really premiere quality. Now after the start that we had, if we have a couple of good matches here in the next couple runnings of the event I honestly think within ten years of the start we'll be in the upper echelon of golf tournaments. So, yeah, I think we're ahead of expectations.

BRIAN ALLAN: I think the real measure of the event is the enthusiasm shown by the players that wanted to play. They really did want to play this year. And they are quite serious about getting out there and doing the best they can. I suppose all of the things that happened in the last couple of months one of the very positive results has been there is just this tremendously strong team spirit. It is amazing. We're very happy.

Q. Do you think you'll have to end up paying the U.S. players more or paying them, period, more than they're getting now?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I think that the basic structure of the event as constituted is a good one. The net proceeds go to charity in the name of the players. I think the vast majority of players endorse that. And I would hope that that would continue. I think that now that we have two of these events, we have one every year where the players are asked to -- some of these players are young players coming up, others are focused on their careers, impact on their families, it's not easy. It's not an easy commitment to make. It's costly to them. And our job, if that structure is going to continue, is to, one, make sure that the charitable donations are significant in their minds and secondly to do our job to make the event worthwhile from their perspective in different ways. One is to make it a first rate event and secondly is to promote their skills in this competition in a different kind of way so it impacts positively on their career. If we do our job with that, I think we could continue this structure and that is our objective.

Q. Tim, your policy board had some meetings earlier this week, can you tell us anything that came out of that and anything significant that we ought to know about?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, let me see, I can't think. We ratified a number of items. And I think it was the USA Today, we ratified the Battlefield promotion that's been in discussion for a year. We ratified -- we passed for consideration by the players, under our rules you have to pass and then come back and ratify, and the players directors agreed to a proposal that changes our slow play policy. And I would characterize the action as one where they basically put on the agenda for player review a new approach on slow play that shifts a little bit the system. We'll be laying that out for you in the next few days. That will be discussed thoroughly at a couple of meetings coming up and reviewed finally in December. But there was not a lot of earth shaking news at this meeting. This was an abbreviated set of meetings because of this week. The December meeting is going to be somewhat more meaningful.

End of FastScripts....

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