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April 6, 2019
Rancho Mirage, California
CHRISTINA LANCE: Good morning, and welcome back to the media center here at the ANA Inspiration. We are really excited to change gears a little bit. We have an exciting announcement today regarding the 2020 UL International Crown.
Before I introduce the gentlemen on the stage, I would like to direct you to the screens. We have a quick video with Keith Williams, UL President and CEO.
KEITH WILLIAMS: Hello, from Northbrook, Illinois. Well, actually as you watch this I'm not in Northbrook, Illinois, I'm in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens.
I am delighted to be with you by video today to announce the date and location for the 2020 UL International Crown. Where will it be? It will be at the Centurion Club near St. Albans, England. When will it be? August 27th to August 30.
We're delighted to bring this event to Europe, the third continental stop for the event after the Americas and Asia. We are delighted to bring this event to the fans of England.
As they know, Team England in 2016 was very strong, Team England in 2018 tied for second, and everyone will expect that in 2020 Team England will be a formidable force on their own home soil.
We are also delighted to bring to Europe UL's 125-year mission of promoting safe living and working environments for people. We have this partnership because we want to build our brand awareness around the world, and because we wants to spread our safety mission to people everywhere around the globe.
I also want to thank our partners, the LPGA, who ae the best partners that anybody could ever ask for; the players of the LPGA, who are the best people in the world you could ever ask to be associated with; and IMG, who will being presenting and organizing this event.
We're really looking forward to having the UL International Crown in England and we're really looking forward ti having a late-summer event and having everyone who is a golf fan in England come and cheer on Team England.
CHRISTINA LANCE: Thank you so much, Keith. As he said, we're excited to take the UL International Crown to the Centurion Club in England.
At this time I'm going to introduce the three gentlemen on the stage. In the middle we have representing the Centurion Club Scott Evans, the Managing Director. To the far side Ross Hallett, Senior Vice President for golf events with IMG. Directly next to me, Dennis Baggett, the LPGA's Vice President of Properties.
I'm going to ask them a question and then open it up for questions from the audience. Scott, I'll start with you. We're very excited. Thank you very much for having us. I know the Centurion Club previously hosted the Golf Sixes tournament, having both men and women on the course. How big of an honor is it for you to bring the UL International Crown to the Centurion Club, and how do you think it's going to setup as a match play venue?
SCOTT EVANS: Well, we're delighted to work with the LPGA for the first time. It's a whole new experience for me. I think the golf course will work out pretty well for match play. We'll get three par-5s in the last six holes and water on 17 and 18; should make for a fun event.
We're delighted to work with IMG as well, and, you know, we have a great sponsor in UL. Looking forward to it.
CHRISTINA LANCE: I know you like the water. The players may be a little picky about that once we get there. Dennis, we spent two years in the USA for the International Crown, most recently in the Republic of Korea. What went into the decision-making process of going with England and visiting the Centurion Club?
DENNIS BAGGETT: Well, we've been working with out partners at UL in talking about the evolution of the UL International Crown and what's the next best step for this. When we started to talk about the opportunity in England and who we would want to partner with, that's really what this event has become about. It's about great partners.
We have a great title partner with UL; we have a great partnership with IMG in the events that they manage, and we work with them around the world. IMG introduced us to Scott, and I knew the first time we sat down with Scott at Centurion Club and he took us around, before we looked at anything I thought, This is the kind of guy who we want to partner with on an event like this, and to help elevate women's golf.
We sat at lunch and he talked about some of the ideas about promoting the event. Centurion Club specifically is a fantastic golf course. It'll be a great golf course for match play, as Scott said, the way the layout works. It's a great course for viewership.
When we look at putting on an event operationally, we look at things that make sense for the tournament. This has great viewing, it's got great parking, it's got great hospitality, it's got a great membership who are going to come out and embrace it.
Like I said, the partners we have in IMG to manage and Scott and his entire crew that we met, I was excited from the first day to be able to bring the event there.
CHRISTINA LANCE: Ross, IMG is basically part of the LPGA family. Your team knows the LPGA so well. IMG runs so many events, including this week at the ANA Inspiration. Tell us about the excitement on the IMG team but also the challenge of running a new event like that.
ROSS HALLETT: Yes, as both gentlemen have said, we work very closely with the LPGA. It's a great partnership. I think we run something like 30% of the LPGA's international calendar across Asia, Europe, North America.
Adding the UL International Crown is hugely important for us. We've got to know Scott on the team and UL a little bit over the last six months of discussions. We share the same values and we share the same passion for what we want to deliver.
I think if you look at where women's golf particularly in the U.K. is right now, 2019 is very exciting with the Solheim Cup this year, 2020 on the back of the Olympics, and then a three-week run of events gives us a great opportunity to build on this momentum for women's golf to help promote it.
We've spoken a lot about how we're going to promote the event to families. We are in the middle of the school holidays. We're only 20 minutes north of London, so it's a great, great opportunity for us to build on something that's already been created and established and hopefully take it to the next level.
CHRISTINA LANCE: I know we're very excited. Coming on the heels of Georgia's win at the British last year as well, it's a great time for English golf.
Open it up for questions.
Q. Couple questions here. Did the growing strength of English contingent spur more interest in wanting to host?
DENNIS BAGGETT: Yeah, from our perspective, in looking at host venues, obviously the evolution of this event staying international and the - not really the growth of English golf - but in women's golf we have some players who have made some incredible runs. Obviously Georgia's win. Their experience at the Golf Sixes.
We ask for feedback about the golf course, and some of them had already played at Centurion. Played a big part in the selection of Centurion specifically. But really working with UL where the idea about England came from is in discussions with UL and Keith and the growth of their business in Europe, and England specifically, led us to the direction of -- we had a lot of talks internally. Do we need to make this event U.S., international, U.S., international.
It's the UL International Crown, and so we thought that we would like to take an opportunity to bring it somewhere like England as the next step, considering the partnership that we had with someone like Scott to grow it.
CHRISTINA LANCE: Scott, I'm going to ask you, tell us about the Golf Sixes experience, what that was like, and did that maybe lead to an interest in something bigger along the lines of UL International Crown?
SCOTT EVANS: Yeah, I think Golf Sixes was a good fit for such a young club. It was a new, exciting event. Took a bit of a chance with the European Tour in doing the event, but it worked out pretty well.
Yeah, it was a forerunner for bigger things. We think we're going to have an exciting event in this UL International Crown. Thank you.
CHRISTINA LANCE: Any questions?
Q. Dennis, once the decision was made to go to England, did you look at any links courses, or was there always the idea that you would take this to a parkland course?
DENNIS BAGGETT: Yeah, along with IMG, we looked at a lot of different golf courses. I think ultimately the decision of the Centurion Club came down to a couple things. One, we thought that it was important to be close to London, and this is a 19-minute train ride I believe I took to get there.
We looked at their experience with hosting other events in the past. Yeah, overall, the partnership -- as you know, Steve, and we experienced this at a lot of other courses -- it's really important when you're trying to run an event, one that's different and also of this scale, that you have a willing partner to put that on.
We wanted to be something that we knew over the next few years this will be a focus and an area of significant importance with the membership and the leadership at Centurion Club. We knew that we found that there, and there wasn't really a reason to continue to look at a lot of other places.
CHRISTINA LANCE: Somyung?
SOMYUNG RYU: I can answer the question. I'm Somyung from UL Corporate Marketing. We wanted to do this global, you know. This is International Crown, so after two years in U.S. and third in Korea, first time outside of U.S., Asia, we thought this is right time to go to Europe, in U.K.
So we're very thrilled to go in U.K. in 2020.
CHRISTINA LANCE. Thank you, Somyung. This is Somyung Ryu with the UL marketing team.
Q. Are there any thoughts of expanding to a few more teams so you would have more options, like maybe you could play in Canada at some point or some other countries? Seems like you're pretty limited by countries that would qualify.
DENNIS BAGGETT: Yeah, I think a couple of things. There are always discussions about how we can improve on the event and do things differently. One of those would be including some countries outside of who may normally be qualified.
We haven't made any decisions specifically on that. We've talked about some things expanding into a host country that could have a team that may be qualified. We aren't there yet. One of the most important things is we maintain integrity of the golf and if we really want to crown the best golfing nation of the world.
I think people that have attended each of the events -- and Steve, you and have had this discussion specifically -- once you understand the format, which we've had a challenge in getting people to really understand -- but once you understand the format, it's a great format and a great event. We've produced great champions from the very beginning.
That being said, we want to continue to look at ways we can enhance, make the event bigger and better. Does that mean things like playing in Canada where they may not otherwise have a team that's qualified? That's definitely a possibility.
The most important thing for us is we need to maintain the integrity of the golf and the event in order to do that.
It's obviously being discussed.
CHRISTINA LANCE: Anything further?
Q. Dennis, can you speak to the growth of this event since it started in Baltimore and how the South Korean event last year impacted it?
DENNIS BAGGETT: Yeah, I think if you look at the growth of the event just after three renditions and you -- I don't like to compare this to other events, but we know what the Solheim Cup has become after being played for so many years. I think for those of you who were around and went to the third Solheim Cup, it didn't feel nearly as big as the third UL International Crown did.
I think that in going to a place like Centurion Club, working with IMG to promote this in a different part of the world, is the evolution to take it to the next level. We talked about what happened in Seoul, and you saw that.
The strength of the women's game and the LPGA in Korea was evident there. The fact that everything came together and Team Korea was able to come up with that victory left us with the great platform to build on.
I expect that -- listen, there are some incredible golf fans in England, and we have some incredible players out here on the LPGA that will be part of that team. I think we'll see a lot of the same thing.
One thing that really made an impression on me in Korea, just because I had been to events in Korea before, but the incredible support of the home country for their team I know will translate well into England. We'll see the same thing there.
I think that's an important factor to continue to grow the event, is the strong support of a home country, which I know we'll get there.
CHRISTINA LANCE: Anything else for our panel? Thank you so much, gentlemen. Scott, again, thank you very much for letting us borrow your club for a couple weeks. We look forward to 2020 and the UL International Crown at Centurion Club. Thank you.
DENNIS BAGGETT: Thank you.
SCOTT EVANS: Thank you.
ROSS HALLETT: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports