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November 15, 2016
THE MODERATOR: Mr. Kunugi, I'll put you on the hot seat. Few questions for you. Why did ANA chose to invest in growing the ANA Junior Inspiration? Why do that?
HIDEKI KUNUGI: Yes, before answering this, the difficulty of this business is (indiscernible) to, how do you say, share, so I have to say thank you for flying ANA first.
In 2015, as you're aware, we were welcomed as a sponsor, as a complete alien, and there what we observe was a warm welcome at a really safe altitude.
Since then, not disrespecting legend as Dinah Shore, Poppie's Pond, we were keep thinking how we can continue to upgrade this event. And since then, not only us, but LPGA, IMG, were helping us to think of this event.
And now I'm so happy that AJGA is working our event to this level. So this is one of the deep thanks that we were welcomed in 2015, and I hope this still keep on going.
THE MODERATOR: Is there anything else that you are planning that you haven't told us about for 2017.
HIDEKI KUNUGI: Oh, yes. As I said, we were trying as a first step to cover our gateways.
February we will inaugurate Mexico City, Tokyo operation. As you are all aware, in 2020 Tokyo will host the Olympics. (Indiscernible) during these years, I am expecting other athletes who will be participating.
THE MODERATOR: Alison, you won in 2012. It's been an amazing ride for you. Only four years ago, four and a half that you were winning on a junior level. Now winning on the LPGA Tour, student at UCLA. How do you do it?
ALISON LEE: That's a good question. I get it question asked a lot. I do still keep in touch with a lot of juniors, amateur golfers. They ask me how I balance everything. Honestly, it's just something I love to do. I've met a lot of great friends at UCLA who motivate me every day to work hard in school.
I still have some good girl friends, one of my best friends, my roommate, she's still in school as well and she pushes me to play well on the golf course.
It's just something I really want to do, getting my degree and playing on tour at the same time. I'm having a blast doing it. I definitely had a lot of meltdowns, breakdowns in the past couple years, but it's all been worth it.
I just feel really lucky to have been able to have this much success early on in my career.
THE MODERATOR: Nice balance between life away from the course and life on the course. Talk about having fun with your college friends. (Indiscernible) hosting an AJGA event is serious though because you inspire young women. Doing it at a young age, what does that mean to you?
ALISON LEE: I would say it means a lot to me because the AJGA was a huge part of my life growing up, developing my golf game. I competed and played in tournaments on the AJGA from 12 all the way up to 18. I have a lot the great memories from it.
I think this event is a great opportunity for all the junior golfers. When I played we didn't really have that opportunity where you got to play in that event and if you win you get an exemption.
I knew a couple of the guys, couple boys event on the AJGA had a couple events where they could get an exemption into professional men. I was jealous of that because we didn't have that. I think it's a great opportunity for junior golfers.
THE MODERATOR: You have a junior golfer right next to you. Originally from Thailand and now lives just up the road in Bradenton at the IMG Academy. You played in the Pro-Am today. Who did you play with?
JARAVEE BOONCHANT: This morning I play the Pro-Am with Ariya Jutanugarn.
THE MODERATOR: What did you learn from Ariya?
JARAVEE BOONCHANT: It was fun playing with her and seeing how she played at this level.
Also some of her experiences. Like we talk about her experiences playing both in AJGA and LPGA events.
THE MODERATOR: You're going to get to play in the ANA Junior Inspiration next year.
JARAVEE BOONCHANT: Yes.
THE MODERATOR: Are you going to jump into Poppie's Pond if you win? (Indiscernible).
JARAVEE BOONCHANT: Uh, yeah.
THE MODERATOR: (Indiscernible.) Maybe we can have a junior pond to the right there. (Laughter.) Got a lot of ideas, great ideas. (Laughter.)
Tell me about your year. You've had a fantastic year. You're getting towards the top of the rankings. What has been helping you so much with your game this year? What have you been doing right?
JARAVEE BOONCHANT: This year try to focus on the process. Like I just keeping what I have done before and I try to focus on school and golf.
I'm going to be senior now.
THE MODERATOR: You have a lot of role models to look up to.
JARAVEE BOONCHANT: Yes.
THE MODERATOR: Is that inspiring to you?
JARAVEE BOONCHANT: Yeah, like I talk to them and they play AJGA before and won a lot of tournaments, so I kind of want to go with that path. Like I want to be successful in the AJGA event first and go to college and try to be professional in the future.
THE MODERATOR: (Indiscernible).
JARAVEE BOONCHANT: Yes.
THE MODERATOR: Well, good luck with that. They have a very, very good program there. Thanks for being here today to speak with us.
Betsy, you have great memories from the ANA inspiration. Tell you what you think of this.
BETSY KING: I think it's a great idea. A little bit jealous that I never had that opportunity. I know Dinah Shore would be so happy to see how the tournament is still around and doing well, and also that it's helping junior girl golfers.
So I've enjoyed my experience getting to mentor them the last few years. I played one of the years and then decided not play, which made it even more fun. I could just concentrate on trying to help them and make a difference.
I'm very impressed at the level of golf that the junior girls play today. Just incredible.
THE MODERATOR: You'll be involved a little bit, I would think, looking forward with the event. We've seen the legends playing with juniors. Have you learned anything from playing with the junior golfers? Strange to think, but...
BETSY KING: Did I learn anything? You know what? I been playing golf over 50 years, so hopefully I've been able to share something with the junior golfers.
I think just the incredible talent that's out there now, it's so deep. There are so many young players. What has been really neat for me to see is that all the juniors that I interact with at the ANA, they all plan to go to college and get the degree first before they go on the LPGA. So I think that's great. I'm all for that.
Again, I want to thank ANA for doing this marvelous thing. I just can't imagine how nervous I would be if I had that opportunity to play in a junior event knowing that if I win I get to play in an LPGA major event like the ANA.
Also, in 2017, they're getting to play on the tournament course. That's going to be so much fun. It's one of the best courses we play on the LPGA Tour. For me, just to get to walk around it inside the ropes will be fun. I'm sure it'll bring back memories. Maybe I can say, Hey, I holed out from that bunker over there.
But I won't mention, Oh, I hit it out of bounds on No. 2. I won't mention that.
Anyway it's going to be a lot of fun.
THE MODERATOR: Jason, talk a little bit about the relationship between the ANA Inspiration and the AJGA and how excited you are for it.
JASON ETZEN: Oh, we are absolutely thrilled. Initially talking to Gabe about the opportunity. Mission Hills Country Club is a special place. With the AJGA, we celebrated our 35th anniversary of our club in Mission Hills junior event.
When you look at this tournament, there has been no tournament (indiscernible) and in junior golf around the world that combines, as Betsy just said, being able to play this tournament course on the final round the day before a major starts with the winner getting into the ANA Inspiration.
On top of that, being able to play with a legend such as Betsy. To be able to learn along the way and ask questions, it's absolutely phenomenal and an honor for us to be involved. I know our junior girls are extremely excited. We're going to do a presentation this week and show the video and really tell everybody about it.
But we're thrilled to be a part of it.
THE MODERATOR: Can you maybe explain a little bit about the AJGA?
JASON ETZEN: Absolutely. The AJGA has been around since 1978. Our goal is, with Alison, Jaravee, to give young men and women the opportunity to gain exposure for college golf scholarships and grow them as young men and women.
This tournament next year we're going to have probably 118th AJGA championship. This is going to be a girls invitational, which we just have a select few on the schedule. It's going to be in March, so really at the beginning of the year.
It's going to be a major event. We have 6500 members from over 55 countries, so this is going to be an event that girls are going to circle on their schedule and want to qualify for and play.
THE MODERATOR: Gabe, I know you spoke earlier. Anything else you would like to add? I know this is really a big step for the ANA Inspiration. It's not only the championship, but what happens all around it in the community.
GABE CODDING: I think as an event organizer you plan all year for the that one week, and you like to have something outside of that week to talk about. It's literally like a flight path, because you got Rancho Mirage that is now kind of the hub, and then you have all these different roots to --
THE MODERATOR: (Indiscernible).
GABE CODDING: Yeah, exactly. So for us, throughout the year, to be able to have something that strengthens ties with communities that support ANA are certainly important to us, and our tourism markets for our destinations anyway.
So there is a lot of synergy there to kind of create that -- in talking to ANA -- create that kind of tunnel or that -- increase bandwidth from there. It's very appealing for an event like ours.
When you call yourself inspiration there is a certain responsibility that comes with that. You can't just go, Hey, we're the inspiration, and then really not do anything along those lines.
So that was really important for us. And like I said, ANA, not many people know that they owned and operated the (indiscernible) Open, a men's Japanese event in Sapporo, Japan for 46 years.
So this is something that's long-term. It's part of a building block, much like our inspiring sports conference. These are part of building blocks that really help us build a strategy that not only meets their business and the values they want to communicate, but also for us as a tournament we have a leaderboard that we can tally every couple weeks of, Hey, what's coming? (Indiscernible) Our legends are so gracious in the stories and wisdom they have to pass on.
I'm a lifelong fan of LPGA golf simply by meeting Betsy and just hearing the stories. They're so gracious with their time. It seems like a missed opportunity if you didn't enhance that and put that together.
THE MODERATOR: You mentioned the conference. Going to have another conference next year?
GABE CODDING: We are working on it, yeah. Definitely are. Last year we had Missy Franklin. The idea was, since golf is going to be in Rio, let's get a bunch of Olympians together. We ended up being able to secure (indiscernible) as a keynote speaker.
Yeah, we've actually had a couple meetings about it. It's exciting, the opportunities for 2017. Yeah, stay tuned for that, because we'll be talking about what that's going to look like as well.
That's another part from these juniors coming in. One of the things we talked about in the past, you have to a field of 40 juniors. One is going to win; 39 of them may go, Oh, I really tanked on that.
Now having that sports conference where you can see people's struggles and be able to understand what it is persevere is I think another point of inspiration you can pass on, not only to the attendees but also to the 40 juniors that qualify.
THE MODERATOR: Heather, you played on the LPGA Tour with great success and now you're an executive with the LPGA Tour. With both hats on, how important is this development?
HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO: Yeah, Betsy was talking about how she's jealous she didn't have that when she was a junior golfer. I'm jealous that the juniors get to play with all the legends.
One of the things I loved about playing the ANA Inspiration is I couldn't wait for the pairings to come out. For me it was that one opportunity in the year for me to play with a Betsy King or Amy Alcott, Patty Sheehan.
It was one of the special elements for me an a player at the ANA Inspiration. When we announced the partnership with ANA a couple years ago, we were talking about soaring to new heights and how they were going to elevate the championship.
I think they've done a wonderful job of embracing the long-standing history of the championship, and now putting their own touch on it with this ANA Inspiration, Junior Inspiration.
It fits so well for everybody. It's really a win-win for ANA, IMG; for AJGA, the LPGA, and the players. It's going to help them connect with the communities and the gateway markets.
If fits well with the LPGA's mission to provide the opportunity for women to pursue their dreams through the game of golf. It's the AJGA's mission as well.
I think it's going to be a phenomenal event starting in 2017.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you to you all. I think it's going to be a fantastic week. Always one of my favorite weeks.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports