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March 14, 2018

Sam Saunders

Michael Robichaud

Marci Doyle

Andy Pazder

Orlando, Florida

JOHN BUSH: We would like to welcome everyone to the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. It's a special occasion for us today as we have our opening press conference. First of all, I would like to, I would like to introduce our participants. We have Andy Pazder, PGA TOUR chief of tournaments and competition, Executive Vice President Of Tournaments And Competitions Officer. Marci Doyle, Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard Tournament Director. Michael Robichaud, Mastercard Senior Vice President of Global Sponsorship. And Sam Saunders, PGA TOUR professional.

So we would like to welcome gentlemen and ladies on the podium with us today. But first of all, before we get started, it's a very special occasion here in the Doc Giffin Media Center. Doc was not able to join us last year, due to the snowstorm up north, but it's a very special occasion to have him here with us. He is a long time publicist of Mr. Arnold Palmer. Doc, if you would please stand.


It's great having you with us, Doc. Thank you.

DOC GIFFIN: Great to be here.

JOHN BUSH: With that I'll turn it over to Andy Pazder from the PGA TOUR.

ANDY PAZDER: Thank you, John. Doc, first, this building, it now has your name on it, they have made quite a few improvements, so you must have demanded those in return for lending your name, so great to have you with us. So obviously we're very thrilled to be at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, the 53rd playing of this great event and I believe the 40th anniversary tournament here at the Bay Hill Lodge and Club. Mr. Palmer, Mastercard and the PGA TOUR created a dynamic partnership many years ago. In 2007 it was a very simple decision to rename the event from the Bay Hill Invitational to the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. And with Mastercard's great support in 2016 we conferred elevated status on this wonderful tournament. And with that came an enhanced purse structure, a three-year exemption on TOUR for the winner, but most importantly, has been the case for 53 years now, the winner gets to associate his name forever with one of the great legends of our game, Mr. Palmer.

Michael, I would like to thank you and your team at Mastercard for such great support. Without a fully engaged and supportive title sponsor, this event would be nowhere near as successful as it is. We're about halfway through the PGA TOUR season and we are off to an absolutely phenomenal start. We have had a tremendous mix of young dynamic winners and we have seen Phil Mickelson recently return to the winners circle which was fantastic, Paul Casey last week, and obviously quite excited to have Tiger Woods back and playing. This week's field includes many of our top players, you know the names, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson, the list is long and as I mentioned, obviously we, having Tiger here is just fantastic. We're also on the verge of celebrating the PGA TOUR's 50th anniversary. That's important this week because Mr. Palmer, along with Jack Nicklaus and others created the PGA TOUR. And when they created the PGA TOUR, they did so in a way that made sure charity was always going to be at the forefront of our tournaments' minds. And there is no better example of that than Mr. Palmer, his tournament supports, obviously, the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies and many other great worthy causes in the Orlando area. That charitable DNA for over 50 years now has led the PGA TOUR to over 2.6 billion dollars in annual -- I'm sorry, I wish it was annual -- in all-time cumulative charitable giving. 180 million dollars last year alone through the great work of our tournaments, the support of our players and of course our title sponsors and other partners. I want to take a moment to talk briefly about the young man seated to my far left, Sam Saunders. Sam has been a PGA TOUR member now for a number of years, recently moved into the area close to PGA TOUR headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach. Sam embodies everything that is great about our sport. He gives unselfishly of himself to the sport, to our tournament organizations, to our sponsors, he even decided this year to support the governance with the PGA TOUR by serving on our Player Advisory Council for the first time. He's become a great friend of the PGA TOUR, we couldn't be more proud to have him in our neighborhood in the Ponte Vedra Beach area. And lastly before I turn it over to Marci, I just would like to say thank you to the thousands of volunteers that support the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. It would be absolutely impossible to do what Marci and her team do this week without their countless and selfless volunteers, volunteer hours, pardon me. And that goes for every week on the PGA TOUR. We have over 100,000 individuals across the season that support our tournaments and without their help the PGA TOUR would not be what it is today. So on behalf of the PGA TOUR, welcome to the 53rd Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard we're looking forward to fantastic week.

JOHN BUSH: Thank you, Andy. Now we'll turn it over to Marci.

MARCI DOYLE: Thank you Andy and we appreciate the TOUR's continued support for the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. As you guys know this is a, it's a big year for us for many reasons. This is our 40th anniversary here at Bay Hill. Although it's the 53rd year of the tournament, it's our 40th right here at Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill, so we're excited to have that. We have record 8.9 million purse as Andy mentioned, we're very excited to be rolling out with those numbers, and an incredible player field. I think that you guys know we have five of the top-10, which includes Rose, Matsuyama, Fowler, Day and Fleetwood. We have 14 of the top-25 in the world, we actually have 20 Major winners in our field this week, which is pretty amazing. And then we had that small commitment with Tiger not too long ago, which has certainly created a nice buzz and we're appreciative of. I think the question is asked, how do you quantify the Tiger effect and the good news is we were actually up 15 percent in ticket sales prior to his commitment, so because of our field and the wonderful things that are going on with this tournament we're very excited about that and then certainly with putting Tiger in the mix, that just bumps up that much more. So we're excited to see those effects throughout the week.

So clearly our expectations are very high. I would like to take a moment real quick to recognize our three hosts for this year. As you guys recall, one of the things that we put in place last year was to have a Host Committee that would represent Mr. Palmer throughout the week. And of course we can't do that with just one person, we had five on our Committee last year. This year we're going to be represented by Rickie Fowler, who is our player rep, Peter Jacobson and Nancy Lopez. And the three of them will be around throughout the week and again their role is really to represent Mr. Palmer and the things that he would do everything from attending the events to shaking hands with the fans, greeting the players because again those are all the things that Mr. Palmer would do throughout the week to make the folks feel like they are here and a part of the family. So a couple other things and in fact I know that Andy has talked about this a number of times, because the PGA TOUR has rolled out an initiative called the fans-first initiative. And we kind of embrace that and took that on as our own here during the week and we have done a number of things across the course in order to upgrade that experience and especially with having such a large crowd that's coming out, it's everything from upgrading our general public seating, we have a Disney Springs seating area that is covered with TV's and fans, so that the general public isn't just sitting on the bleachers, they're having a VIP experience as well as they're watching. We have a number of upgraded restrooms and the shuttle system and Uber. We have a new Uber -- I know it sounds crazy, right, but the restrooms are important. Parking and restrooms. Uber is a great new setup that we have that we have been working with them for the last few years, but again just making it more efficient to make sure that we're getting those fans in and out and that it's seamless for all the folks that we expect this week. So we're not just upgrading, we're actually innovating as well. We have a couple new partnerships that are first on the PGA TOUR and our first is actually the Family Care Suite. This will be the first time on the PGA TOUR that we'll roll this out and it is sponsored by Orlando Health and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and it is located on number 18 fairway. And this is for new moms that come out here -- and new families, certainly don't want to leave out the dad's as well. It's where they can go in and get out from the elements, whether it's sunny or windy and bring their kids inside, have a place to sit, there's a TV in there for them, we have diaper changing stations, we have a place where new moms can feed, have a private area for them to do breast feeding. So it's just really, for us, it's about expanding our demographic and folks that can come out here -- because we had gotten a number of calls about what do we do when we're on-site and so we wanted to make sure that those new moms, not only come out to the tournament, but also get to stay. They get to extend their stay and instead of saying, oh, I have to leave in two or three hours, they have a place where they can enjoy the entire tournament. So the other is our partnership with Fanatic. As you guys may know, they are the leader in the industry of sports merchandise and for the first time ever they are partnering with a PGA TOUR event. As you guys know they are very tight with the NFL, the NBA, Major League Baseball, college sports, but this is the first time that they will be on-site and on-line with the PGA TOUR event. So we have a merchandise tent that has been expanded but we have four locations now, we used to only have one location, now we have four on-site. So again for the customer experience, they will be able to come and go as they're entering or exiting the tournament, they will be able to grab their favorite hat, umbrella, tournament gear as they're on their way out. So we're really excited and hoping that other tournaments along the way adopt both of these two innovations that we're rolling out these first. So the only other thing I wanted to make sure that I, it's last but certainly not least, is thanking our wonderful sponsors and that includes Mastercard. I mean, they have done an amazing job with us and certainly last year with the special year that we had they helped us with both celebrating as well as they supported the statue that is now an icon right here on campus. They rolled out the Arnie Would Program and advertising campaign last year. There were just so many things that they did and it was very organic and very kind and we thank Mastercard for their partnership because it's not just a check at the end of the day, they are true partners and they believe in the Arnold Palmer way and the legacy and building it and growing it and we're so incredibly appreciative of that, Michael, so thank you. With that I'll turn it over to you.

MICHAEL ROBICHAUD: Great. Thanks, Marci. Thanks, Andy. And we're very excited to be here, this is obviously such a huge time of the year and it's been talked about for many reasons but I don't think there's any better time to be involved in golf right now. Mastercard's been involved in golf in a number of ways around the world, we continue to support it. I think as a golfer I think the values that we have all learned and those of us that love this game just know so much about what it means to be a player and how you play the game, how you treat your competitor, how you play with your friends and family and just all that part of why we do love it so much and then how we try to bring it to what we do. And Andy was so kind saying we're an engaged partner, I think sometimes both of your teams think we're a little too engaged, but that's really because we love this event and we think of it from the point of view of the fans. We call them fans, consumers, card holders, however you look at it, but what we're really trying to do is honor that legacy that Mr. Palmer had. No one was closer to the fans, no one understood their value more of -- none of us would be here without those fans coming through the gates, those people watching TV. So it's really an obligation that all of us sitting up here feel to make this event the most phenomenal event it can be. And I think the course conditions this year -- and Sam's obviously going to be a much better speaker about that than I am, but just listening to the players, how phenomenal the conditions are, all the work that's gone into it, all of the preparation and it's really all, again, it goes back to those fans, it goes back to making sure that this is the world class event that we believe it is and the showcase event it's going to be. So we thank everybody involved in that because it's not easy. And as we look at our role and how we try to fit in and engage with that fan, we work, obviously, with innovation, we are a payments company and what that tries to bring and really connecting all sorts of different ways for people to kind of live their lives, more conveniently, more easily and maybe sometimes not even think so much about what they're having to do because it's so safe and secure. So that's kind of what we try to bring to something like this, along with our brand and the different activations we try to do, the awareness and the consumer engagement. So this is such a perfect place for us to do it and continue our season-long relationship that we do have with the PGA TOUR and all the other events, but this being our pinnacle event. So we look forward to it, we put a lot behind it and we really want to continue that investment. And as we look at what it means to be a partner of this event and clearly with the Arnold Palmer name and brand it's that legacy, so finding that balance to say there's a legacy here, there's a history and all of us that are associated with it take it as a great responsibility that he would expect us to continue working hard and making it better every year and that's what we're going to do, but also making it new and fresh and exciting and so many other great ideas that Marci and her team have been bringing for the fans have been such an important part of making this event move forward every year. So it's finding that great balance and celebration and having fun with it and moving it forward. So we're thrilled to continue to be a part -- I think this is our 15th year, so maybe not the history some others have, but we have really been involved and continue to be involved and love it. So thanks all for being here and your participation and all the support we get and we look forward to another great week.

JOHN BUSH: All right, thank you, Michael. Now we'll introduce Sam Saunders. He's making his ninth start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. Sam, if we can get some comments, please.

SAM SAUNDERS: Yes, thank you, John. And first I would like to thank you, John and Andy and the PGA TOUR for continuing to support our event. John, it's just nice to see you here and the little things of getting me through the media days out there on TOUR, I appreciate that. And Andy, your words that you started with thanking me, I can't tell you how much that means to me, because I'm proud to be a member of the PGA TOUR and I'm really proud to represent my family and this event and our association with the PGA TOUR. So thank you for that. Marci, thank you for all of the hard work that you do, not just this week, I mean this is a year-long event, it's, a lot of work goes into it, a lot of thought, a lot of planning, and I can't thank you for all of your hard work and diligence. And Michael, obviously Mastercard, we cannot thank you enough. It's, I hate mentioning that last because it's right here and we want it to stay there and we're very proud to be associated with such a great partner and you've been one and we hope you'll be one for a long time. So thank you for all that. And I want to thank everybody here at Bay Hill. The golf course this year is absolutely incredible, Chris Flynn, our head superintendent, has done an incredible job. He took over four years ago and four years ago we had a tough time with the greens and that was a turnaround year for us. Unfortunately, sometimes it can leave a bad taste in players' mouths. But the last three years this golf course has gotten better and better and better and what I am seeing this year is truly incredible. It's one of the most perfectly conditioned golf courses I've ever seen and it's going to provide these players with a truly fair, difficult test of golf. I think the feedback is going to be incredible. So I'm very grateful for that to Chris and his staff and all of the employees here at Bay Hill who -- what's so unique about this tournament for me and I think for a lot of the players is you come into the locker room, you go into the player dining, and you see so many of the same faces and that says a lot to me about what Bay Hill means to our family is that our employees here feel like they're part of a family and my granddad did an incredible job of making people feel that way and that's something that we want to work very hard to continue to carry on. We want our people here to know that we care about them and we want to keep this tournament going for a long time and we want this club to grow and continue to get better and better. The legacy of my grandfather, I'm asked about that a lot and how are we going to carry that on and obviously we have two key events, we have the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard and we have the Arnie's March, which both are helping grow Arnie's Army, our main charitable foundation. And that is something that is extremely important to us and that we are going to continue to push to grow. Yesterday we got to go do the Arnie's March and this is, what year, how many? This is our seventh year of the Arnie's March and I remember the first year when we did it I think my wife Kelly and I were talking about it yesterday we went and it was just a few people up in the bleachers and it was a nice event, but it was very small. And yesterday, I've got some numbers here and it was pretty incredible to see, we had over 1,200 people there yesterday, all these wonderful children and families, and we raised over $174,000 yesterday alone during the Arnie's March. So to see that growth is incredible to me and I'm very proud of the hard work that's gone into that and that is exactly how we're carrying on this legacy and I'm so grateful to see that. We have been able to grow this charity and give money to many great organizations that we're helping. So I'm extremely proud of that. We obviously have this opening ceremony here coming up next at 11 o'clock, or so, and I'm very excited to kick things off again. And this year has a very different feel to me and I hope it does to everyone else. Last year was exciting and we were happy to be here, but it was also a sad year and it was a tough year to get through. But this year I feel like there's a lot of excitement in the air, my grandfather would be incredibly proud of what this golf course is, he would be proud of the players that are here this week, and what we're continuing to do. So I would like to just say to everyone thank you and let's keep up the hard work that we're doing and I think we're making him very proud. And at this opening ceremony here in a few minutes we're doing something new this year by giving the Philanthropy Award. And something that my grandfather did I think better than anybody else, he knew he was very fortunate to play on the PGA TOUR and to have the success that he did and to touch as many lives as he did. With his success, he felt a responsibility to give back and that is something that we are all trying to continue. And the player that's going to receive this award this year is Rickie Fowler and someone that I think has used his success and fame -- obviously it benefits him greatly, but he has done a very good job of continually giving back and using his success as an opportunity to help others. So I'm very excited for Rickie and proud of what he's done and I know my grandfather would really appreciate the work that he has done. Lastly, to wrap things up here I just want to thank our hosts this year, Peter Jacobson, Nancy Lopez and Rickie Fowler. Obviously what they're doing to help carry on this event and make things special this week is very important to us and it's certainly has the right feel to it this year. So thank you all for being here, this is going to be a great week and very excited to see how things turn out. Thank you.

JOHN BUSH: All right, great. Thank you, Sam. Appreciate that. We will now take questions from the media. If you'll raise your hand we'll get a microphone to you.

Q. Specifically for Marci, but if anyone could comment on just what having Tiger in the field here means to this event. Obviously, the ratings at Valspar were through the roof with him in contention and I'm sure the hope is that he brings that kind of attention to Arnie's place.
MARCI DOYLE: We're thrilled to have him back here at Bay Hill. This will be his 18th time playing here at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard and of those 18 times he has won eight of them. So this is definitely coming back home for him and Orlando and central Florida are welcoming him back in a huge way. I think that he is excited to be here, he made that comment I think when he was over at Tampa and we saw him yesterday. He is feeling good about being here and we're hoping that maybe he gets that ninth. We certainly pull for everybody that's out there, but knowing if by chance he does win a ninth he would be breakage an all-time record. There's no player that has ever won an event nine times. So we are excited to have him and we have a fabulous field, we had a fabulous field before he committed, but we certainly, it's a cherry on top for him to be joining us as well, we think it's great to have him here.

Q. Sam, you had to share your grandfather with a lot of people over the years. What's Rickie Fowler's relationship with him? How would you characterize that?
SAM SAUNDERS: It was certainly unique. A lot of these guys on TOUR didn't really have the opportunity to spend alone time with him and that, as I've always said, that was, those were my favorite times, when I was truly alone with him. Most of them see him out at the tournament, they come up and thank him. But I remember a few years ago Rickie had a scheduling conflict and he couldn't attend the event and that's something that I understand. It's tough. You cannot play every event on the PGA TOUR, unfortunately, we all would like to, but everybody has their reasons sometimes. And rather than just not coming, Rickie made it a point to come here, he flew up on his own dime and came and had lunch with my grandfather so that he could tell him face-to-face, I'm really sorry that I'm not going to be able to play this year, but thank you for what you've done for me and what you've done for the TOUR and I think just making that effort tells you all you need to know about Rickie and I'm certainly glad -- I would rather him play in the field every year, so I'm certainly glad he's back this year -- but that was a really telling moment for me. So I think their relationship was personal on a level that not a lot of guys out here had the opportunity to have.

Q. What would he think about his shoes?
SAM SAUNDERS: I saw him on the putting green and we went up and said hello to each other. And I thanked him for -- that's something that's so, it seems so easy for him to do, but the fact that he knows that he can make a difference by doing something like that, it goes a long way. The fact that he has the thought to make those shoes like that and he know that is people are going to love it and he's going to be able to sell them and raise a lot of money for charity, I really appreciate that he just is aware of things like that and, yes, they're pretty cool. I couldn't pull them off, but they're pretty cool looking shoes.

Q. Could you just briefly tell me a little bit more about Arnie's March, what your duties were, exactly what you did and how that went.
SAM SAUNDERS: Arnie's March took place yesterday and it's, as Marci said, this is our seventh year of doing it and it has grown exponentially every year and yesterday my duties, Rickie Fowler was there, we had Nancy Lopez, Annika, Kelly Tilghman MC'd the whole thing and just a quick shout out to Kelly Tilghman, congratulations on her retirement, and nobody does it like she does. She did an incredible job as always yesterday MC'ing the event, so I would like to thank her for that, because things like that go much better when she's involved. But we all were able to go there, we signed a lot of hats and gave them out to a group of special children that were receiving awards and a big part of the group. And then the march itself takes place, we actually go around, we started and went through the crosswalk on No. 9 and marched up to the clubhouse, made a big loop around the ninth green. And the whole event is, it's more of a celebration, it's a celebration of what we have been able to do to help some of these children who have been going through things that are really unimaginable. It's an every -- I love going there, but every time I go and I see some of these kids who are babies to teenagers in high school who have battled cancer and many other terrible diseases and it's heart wrenching to see that, but to know that we're doing a small part to make a difference and help them, that's what the Arnie's March is all about and that's what yesterday embodied and I was so proud to see it.

Q. Sam, I'm wondering, just how special this tournament continues to be for you personally and I know I'm sure you're locked in as a competitor but are there times when you can feel your grandfather out there on the course with you?
SAM SAUNDERS: I would like to feel him making me a few more putts this week. In years past that would have really helped. So I'm -- (looking upwards) go ahead. No, this is a very special week for me and like I said, last year was difficult in a way, but this year I embrace it, it's exciting. What an unbelievable opportunity I have to get to play in a PGA TOUR event that carries my grandfather's name, as a PGA TOUR member, that, I think I'm solid here now, I think I'm staying for awhile, I hope, and it's a celebration. What a great opportunity. So I'm very proud of what this tournament has become, but I'm excited the direction that things are going right now, the golf course, if my granddad were here up on this stage right now you would have a really hard time getting him to talk about anything other than the golf course this week. He would be so incredibly proud of what it will present this week. All of the things that we're doing, the new restrooms, the Uber, all these little, the little things go a long way, we're continuing to get better each and every year and nothing is perfect, every year is a challenge, there's going to be things that go wrong, but we're going to continue to try to get better each and every year and that's what makes it so special and I'm more than anything just excited to see what this tournament's going to look like in five, 10, 15, 20 years.

JOHN BUSH: Okay. Well, once again, I would like to thank Andy, Marci, Michael, and Sam for your time. As Sam mentioned, we would like to invite everyone to join us on the driving range in about 30 minutes for the opening ceremony. And I don't think it's too much to ask let's give one more round of applause for Doc Giffin.


All right. Thank you all.

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