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August 1, 2001
CASTLE ROCK, COLORADO
JACK VICKERS: I'd like to open with thanking Joe and quest for their great sponsorship of the tournament. And we're into it now, and Joe had a little taste of it. He's out there birdieing holes there today in that Pro-Am. I just said he's been working on that a little bit. That makes you feel good. Get a feel of those birdies at one of these competitions, so good going.
JOE NACCHIO: Thank you.
JACK VICKERS: But just a little pleasure to have Qwest, being local here, headquartered locally, I should say, with a worldwide operation, and having them as our prime and only sponsor for this tournament is a key thing for this tournament, and it's very important, I think, that we are home-based here. It's a good feeling to have you aboard, Joe.
JOE NACCHIO: I say the same thing. We're a big company but we are headquartered in Colorado. This is an opportunity for us to give something back. I remember last year, how many people were here on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and a lot on Thursday also, seemed to have really enjoyed it. We love working with the youth. We see sports as part of the education process. Whatever we can do in terms of contributions to the community, we'd like to put into education; that is a manifestation of it. Not being a native of Colorado, you've just got to love this venue. It's just a magnificent place. I hear that from all of my customers today who were playing.
JACK VICKERS: Well, Qwest has done a wonderful job. I think we are going to good tournament. We have a great field here. I look forward to four good days. I hope the rain leaves us alone. I know it won't, but I'm hoping that way, anyway.
Q. Jack, how close is this tournament to what you envisions inned in the early 80s?
JACK VICKERS: Well, it has taken on a lot of little curves along the road, but I think coming up, with short of having a National Open here or something like that, as far as the Tour is concerned, I think it is unique in that we are doing something a little different than the rest of them are doing with this format. We got an exclusive on that from the start. There were a lot of ifs about it when we started into it, but I think when we finally got through tweaking it -- and even from the very start it was popular because it had everybody's fancy and curiosity. Not evenly here, but across America on the TV sets. So I think it turned out to be very competitive, and we've had our controversies, and that's what has made it really great, because the press and fans and everybody talk about it because it is controversial, or was. Now it's more of a fixture, and I think the players have grown to like it. I think if you went out and asked the players one-on-one what they think of it, they will tell you that this is one of their two or three favorite tournaments on the whole tour. So I feel real good about it. Good for the community good for us, and good as far as our objectives of setting forth to accomplish something and have it well accepted, I think has been accomplished, and we did it in probably a tenth of the time it would have taken doing it the same as everybody else; namely, another 72 hole medal-play event, which we probably have our fill of those. So, it is different and I think that is kind of what sets us apart.
Q. Jack, a couple of the players have said that the changes specifically on 8 and 14 might actually make them play more conservatively on those holes. I'm sure that's probably not what you had in mind, but do you think it's going to play out that way?
JACK VICKERS: Well, we are going to be interested in seeing how they do play them. I would say that as far as any personal feelings about it, I don't have them one way or the other. I think they are good changes, but I'm kind of curious, myself, as to just how they will play them. I think 14, you are going to see the better players. They are going to go for it within reason. I think it depends on what day it is and where they sit in terms of the rest of the field, and if they are contending and in there, I think they are going to be going for it. It's an interesting thing out there, but everybody -- you get back there looking at that second shot in there, and, boy, it looks narrow like a bowling alley going down there, but the truth is that fairway is as wide as it ever was on the other side of that ditch, but it sure doesn't look as wide because of that water. No free bail-outs now to the left. So it's going to be make it challenging, and I think quite interesting. I'll probably have more concern about No. 8, I was just talking with the players and on. We'll see how it goes, but we might want to realign that a little bit and we might even want to go back to where we were. There's a feeling that there will be more 6s and higher scores from the prior tees than we were playing before than with the new one, because the new one is going to probably force a lay-up on a third shot coming into the green. When we built that, we were of the opinion that I don't say better, but the longer hitters, would still be able to hit it on there and I still think that will be true, but it's hard to tell right now because of these rains. Got that big rain yesterday, didn't last long but it came down hard. As far as we have say soft fairway, they are probably going to have a tough time getting up there in two. I was talking to a couple of the fairly long hitters today, and they were 30 yards short of the hump there in the fairway, which could have put it back there where it was unreachable. We'll just have to see, see how that works.
JACK VICKERS: No, they haven't. They are kind of feeling the players out, too. We've got several things in mind. Just kind of see how it plays and if it isn't what we thought it was going to be, we can always make an adjustment in it.
JOE NACCHIO: As an amateur, I think I could make a couple improvements. Two years in a row I've had to lift because of snakes. They told me it was the blue snake today and it was only four feet, but I said it doesn't matter. I'll just lift and take a penalty. I don't mean to rush, but way off to the side. You need somebody out from the tournament beating them out of there. I lose so many balls, if I can see the ball, I've got to pick it up. (Laughter.)
JACK VICKERS: You might ask Joe.
Q. I'd like to ask Joe how he played No. 8. He played on a winning team today?
JOE NACCHIO: You keep talking about 8. I remember No. 9. Oh, no, that one I never made it to the green, to be fair. If you'd asked me about 17, I would have told you about my natural birdie there.
Q. Jack, you mentioned something about being short of a National Open of some sort. Is that still something that you guys would pursue, trying to hold a major?
JACK VICKERS: I don't think so, under the circumstances that we have now. I would love to have one, but I think, you know, we're settled on this and we've got longer-term contracts, and we've built this thing into a real following now. I think to take it off on another street right now would be not prudent.
Q. Mr. Vickers, Mr. Nacchio, I am from India, and I would like to ask you a question -- well, this is just a statement. On behalf of all of the golf fans in India, I would like to thank you two for giving the opportunity to one of our players playing over here, and I would really like to thank you both for that.
JACK VICKERS: Pleasure to have you here.
JOE NACCHIO: Thank you.
Q. Jack, now that you've finally gotten your dates back in the upcoming years the way you wanted it, can you tell us how all that came about? How did the negotiation with the tour finally get you back in the slot where you wanted to be, happen?
JACK VICKERS: I think as Larry, who is present right now, we both agreed. To sum it up in one word, just sweat. We worked hard to get that back, and we were consistent. I think it should not have been moved in the first place is my opinion, but it was, and so we worked hard to get it back and we've got it back. I think it's going to make a big difference, as you know, with certain players, and certainly, will help us with the foreign players, with the tournaments we are talking about, the sequence there.
Q. Do you think it will play out any different the week before the PGA, as opposed to where you had it the week after the PGA, as far as your type of field?
JACK VICKERS: I think it depends on what NEC agrees to do. I think if we work together, there are some things I think we can do to accomplish more. That's going to take some more negotiation and talking and trying to see what we can work out. If those three tournaments all stick together and have major purses, we can cut a real slot, particularly for that time of the year. There isn't anything like that during that time of the year and that is really going to be the highlight and the finale of the pro tour for the year.
Q. As long as you've been around, there's been a lot of talk about course distances, and you have had an advantage here; you have enough room to expand some holes, but at some point, you are going to run out of room. Do you see something happening with limiting the distance of the ball? Or would you like to see that?
JACK VICKERS: Oh, would I love to see it. I'm going in inverse order there, but I think the USGA is going to have to do something about the ball. Otherwise, they are going to render a lot of great golf courses and properties and values negative, if they keep going in the direction they are going. We've already -- we've already rendered a lot of top-drawer golf courses -- I could name a bunch of them pretty quick -- that are not what we were, because of the ball. Granted, you can say they are stronger and clubs are better and all that. Well, I'm sure the technology on clubs is definitely improved and the conditioning and so on of the players may be better as a whole than it was at one time. But I want to tell you something. I was around when Nicklaus was in his prime, and if there were any stronger guys than Nicklaus, I'd like to see them step up, because he was a horse and strong as a bull. So I think it's the ball, is what I'm trying to say. I think there's a lot of agreement on that, and there are a lot of clubs that are concerned about it and I think the USGA ought to be concerned about it. I've had a number of talks with different people involved, and I think that there is a concern out there.
Q. To follow-up on that, talking with some players this week, they miss the playoffs and they miss some of the -- you mentioned the word "tweaking" earlier. Do you think the tweaking is over after 16 years, or is it possible that you are still figuring out some things that you can do to make it even better?
JACK VICKERS: Well, you all want it to improve, I think. Personally, I love the playoffs and I know all the fans love it, but the consensus among the players was to eliminate it and so we did. I've had a lot of players come back and say we wish we had it back again. But I really haven't had it mentioned to me that much, and, you know, the old theory, if it ain't broke, don't try and fix it. So we are going along pretty good, and I think leave well enough alone, even though I would like to see the playoffs back in play.
Q. Can you do anything about the sign -- (Laughter.)
JOE NACCHIO: You are not talking about the sign, are you? We are trying to get it named a historical monument so there will be less debate about it.
Q. Can you at least change the color?
JOE NACCHIO: We thought a compromise would be putting a blinking circuit in; so it would be half as much time, but it was really very expensive and not practical.
Q. I talked to one of your executives and he said there's another name for that sign and now I'm writing a column about it.
JOE NACCHIO: You know, I was at Pepsi Center the other night and I thought it was great, because we have scaled back on a lot of our marketing and signage. But you look at a Pepsi Center and I don't care what you've visited and seen, you walk out of the new field, you notice our sign. I think there's some sign envy. Yeah, I think there's some sign envy going on.
JACK VICKERS: I again thank you gentlemen for all of your support. We have to have that to do a good tournament. You always do a wonderful job and I hope that this year is the same, and we always try and continue to improve. We are all ears. If you have anything thoughts, we'd love to hear any of them. We are all pulling on the same team here, so let's have a good tournament and have fun this week.
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