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November 10, 2000

Tim Finchem

Juan Gomez

Ken Schofield

Emma Villacieros


TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, and welcome, everyone. Let me first say briefly how delighted we are to be back at Valderrama. And I'd like to thank our host, the president of the club here, and a great friend of golf around the world, Jaime Patino. Thank you so much, Jaime. I'd also like to thank the Spanish Golf Federation for everything they have done and are doing to grow the game of golf in Spain. I'd like to recognize our good friend Emma Villacieros, and everything she does. We're delighted with the World Golf Championships being here in Spain, and we're particularly pleased -- I should mention our relationship with American Express and their sponsorship this week that is so vital to our ability to stage this event at this level. The World Golf Championships are focused on raising funds for charity and particularly raising money for The First Tee Program. The First Tee Program, simply put, is an effort to generate golf facilities and golf programs that will allow more and more kids to have access to the game of golf so that we can grow the game of golf for future generations. It is primarily, at this point, a program of the United States. We're delighted that we have facilities underway in Canada and Puerto Rico and strong discussions through the International Federation of PGA Tours with the other Tours and many of the golf federations around the world about beginning The First Tee Program in various countries outside of the United States. That brings us to why we're here today. We're delighted that with the relationship of Valderrama, La Canada, the golf club here in Sotogrande has a wonderful array of junior golf programs. It has been designated now as a First Tee facility, and has been raising funds to help build a second nine holes so as to better be able to accommodate the kids of Sotogrande and help grow the game in Spain. I'm delighted on behalf of the International Federation of PGA Tours, American Express, the players who are playing this week, to be able to give a contribution today to President Juan Gomez of La Canada for assistance in building that First Tee facility, and we have a check in the amount of $250,000 for President Gomez, which I will present at this time. (Applause.) If I could just say one final word. Obviously, with the interest in the game around the world being at an all-time high and driven even further by today's great players, headed by our No. 1 player in the world, Tiger Woods, if we can take advantage of that interest and translate it into facilities that can make golf available and accessible to the next generation, golf's growth will really become a mass sport in many areas of the world through the next generation, the next 20 or 30 years. That's our goal. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

KEN SCHOFIELD: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you on behalf of the International Federation of PGA Tours for supporting the World Golf Championship program, and in particular, this, the second American Express Championship. Tim, as always, very eloquently put today's presentation on the table. And I think the site of the second donation from The First Tee Program here to put La Canada, which I know was also Jaime Patino's own personal -- I wouldn't say "baby," but we see two of his golfing children here this morning. All of us know here the amount of effort that has been put in to get this, perhaps the first example in Europe, of what can be done for junior golf, and what clearly is needed for junior golf in our territory; and indeed, across the international golfing calendar. I would like also on behalf of the Federation and, indeed, with particular regard to everyone here, to pay tribute to Emma Villacieros, whose efforts for golf in Spain, throughout Europe, and the world of golf have been immense and remain immense. You can see by the look of Emma's face this morning what this means. The children who play here and other projects hopefully will do in a few years what Sergio Garcia did on our Tour, which is go from a junior match in Oakhill in 1995, to the Ryder Cup match four years later, last year. That, just as Tim has said with Tiger, is a wonderful opportunity and a wonderful trail that has been blazed. We hope that many will have the opportunity to follow with this morning's presentation. Tim, to you and the might of your sponsors and our sponsors, American Express, and now this program becoming international, we express our appreciation. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. (Applause. )

JUAN GOMEZ: Good morning to everybody. Today, we are receiving from the Tour Federations, from American Express, and from The First Tee Foundation quite a big amount of money that is going to help a lot. It's going to help us to build up the other nine holes in the clubhouse at La Canada. The First Tee Foundation was bought just to help golf at the very beginning, and to make golf available to the children. It has been operated in the USA. But thanks to the American Express Championship for being here at Valderrama. That's why The First Tee Foundation got very close to La Canada, and that's why we are receiving this money today. We have made a huge commitment to make the golf world popular in this country, especially in this part of Spain, and that's what we are doing now through our golf school for the children. The First Tee Foundation has also made a big compromise with us in order to help us to develop golf in this part of Spain. We think that everybody who loves the game of golf should be able to practice it. Thank you very much to the PGA Tours, to American Express, and to The First Tee Foundation. Thank you very much to people like Alex Medina, Fernando Palma Castillo, who have been helping so much. And thank you very much to Jaime Patino, for his great love and passion for this game of golf has been the reason we are all here today. (Applause.)

EMMA VILLACIEROS: Ladies and gentlemen, this Real Spanish Golf Federation: To us it is a great honor and a great satisfaction to be here today, and the Andalucian Golf Federation are delighted and very happy that this is happening here today through the American Express Championship and The First Tee Foundation. We want to thank the International Federation of PGA Tours for giving such an important amount of money to La Canada in order to finish their 18 holes. The policy of The First Tee Foundation, it is an example that everybody should be following throughout Europe. I think many of the golf professionals should give back to the game of golf what they have achieved through the game of golf. The First Tee is a big hope not only here, but to be the same in the whole of Europe. Golf has been growing in the whole of Europe, mainly in Spain, and we would like it to continue that way. The Real Spanish Golf Federation and the Andalucian Golf Federation, of course, will obviously try to help as much as we can. We cannot only help in places like this; we have to do it throughout the whole of the Spanish country. We cannot give a $250,000 check to anybody, but nearly, nearly. Our goal is to make this sport very, very popular. I'm not saying public, I'm saying popular. Let's make that very, very clear. We want to make golf a very popular sport in Spain. We want to thank La Canada for all that they have been doing throughout these years, for all the junior teams that they bring in to play all over the country. I'm want to especially thank Jaime Patino. He has done so much for golf in the area. He has not just been organizing great tournaments like this, but he has been showing everybody that he knows how to present a great golf course, how to set it up. Sometimes he has upset his neighbors, I must say. And also I want to thank Tim Finchem and Ken Schofield for bringing here such a big tournament like the American Express Championship. That's why we're all here, to celebrate this in La Canada. (Applause.)

ALCALDE FERNANDO PALMA CASTILLO: Good morning, everybody. Jaime Patino, everybody has been saying thank you to you. Obviously, I want to say it, too. President, dear guests, ladies and gentlemen representing The First Tee, American Express, La Canada, and all my colleagues: To me, it is a great honor and a great satisfaction to be the witness of such a big bid for the future in San Roque. First Tee has been bidding for the children, for the kids in San Roque, in order that they can play golf. We are very proud of that. With this great amount of money for the children's school of golf in La Canada, first Tee is sitting for the future of golf in La Canada. They are sitting on a piece of land that is already ready for that, because of the great facilities that the lands of San Roque have. The generosity of The First Tee Foundation with our children to make them available to play golf, it is great and very important to us. Me, as the Mayor of San Roque, I'm quite happy with that, and I must give you my most sincere thank you. I want to tell you, as well, that we are going to commit ourselves, and we want to commit ourselves to develop La Canada, and we are going to use the money that you are giving to the children's school in San Roque. I'm sure it's going to help all the children from San Roque and the area to learn everything golf has to show to them. And maybe in the future they will be golf professionals. It is great satisfaction to us, and I'm sure it's also yours. We are very pleased if, in a few years, one of these children from San Roque that are learning now to play golf will be able to play here, one of the World Golf Championships, and why not maybe win it. Thank you very much. Our bid for the children in this place has been highly rewarded today. Thank you to everybody. (Applause.)

Q. Mr. Finchem, a question from CNN Sports. You mention the importance of the world's No. 1 player being here. How do you assess generally his value to the Tours, particularly the US Tour?

TIM FINCHEM: Well, I think what I said was that the interest of the game is at an all-time high because it has grown for the last 20 years, and it's accentuated now because of our current players, headed by the No. 1 player of the world. The challenge is to take that interest and to translate it into long-term growth of the game.

Q. How do you react to Tiger's comments this week, claiming exploitation over the marketing issue?

TIM FINCHEM: I'm not going to comment on that at this press conference.

MARIA ACACIA: The idea of this press conference is to comment about La Canada.

Q. How many children do they have right now at the children's school at La Canada?

JUAN GOMEZ: They have 120 now. They cannot have any more because of the limited facilities right now. Most of them come from Guadiaro, but also from the whole area of Campo de Gibraltar.

End of FastScripts….

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