M.R. ORENDER: Thank you, Governor, for those kind words and this honor. The governor is modest, his entire cabinet, they figured out real quick how important this was and they could not have been more supportive, and you can't have a great championship like that without your support, so thank you very much.
And speaking of hard work, the reason that Play Golf America is working well and one reason that golf in America is working well is because of PGA professionals. They are absolutely where the rubber meets the road. We have a number of programs that have been tremendous successes this year. One is our Free Lesson Month in May. It's a partnership between Golf Digest, Golf for Women, The Golf Channel and support from Nike. This year, we broke another record. We had 5,000 PGA professionals that gave their time, and during that month, they gave 92,000 free golf lessons. One example of our members.
Another example is right here in Wisconsin this week, we did two programs, part of our community outreach that centers around the PGA Championship. 40 PGA professionals took a day away from their family life and their jobs and donated their time and gave free lessons to over 200 juniors and another 150 adults in the afternoon, which is the first time we have ever done an adult clinic in conjunction with the PGA Championship.
One of the things that comes up often, the PGA is successful. We are successful and we are proud of that. We don't apologize for that. But it's more important what we do with the resources that we have. We started a grant program in 2001. This year we gave 97 grants for a grand total of 288 grants for $3.31 million that we have given in just three short years to people that are running outreach programs to teach and expand and grow the game of golf.
The PGA is providing this week 4,100 tickets to youths, and these are tickets for practice rounds and nearly 300 hospitality credentials to support 39 organizations locally. This past Monday as part of our Community Relations Program, the section provided, PGA members provided free lessons for hundreds of youths in a separate clinic through this program with the Parks & Rec Department. We have touched another 200 adults from 22 organizations.
I'd like to thank at this time, I believe he's here with us, the Wisconsin PGA president, Joel Weitz, and their executive director Joe Stadler for their hard work. At the end of the day, these programs would not be a success without PGA professionals. I can't tell you how proud I am of their efforts and the support of all PGA members across the country for Play Golf America.
I'd like to switch gears for a moment and tell you something that we think is very timely this week at Whistling Straits. The first book ever published and devoted to a major championship is entitled, "The PGA Championship, The Season's Final Major." It's the first illustrated history of the PGA Championship and was written by John Companiotte and Catherine Lewis. This book was filled with never before seen photographs and long forgotten stories, and I've had some excerpts of it, and the stories are phenomenal, the stories of historic figures and things that happen PGA Championships. From our first PGA Championship in Bronxville, New York, to our first televised event in 1958 at Llanerch Country Club in Havertown, Pennsylvania, to our most recent Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester.
In 1992 we established a scholarship program to promote the game of golf and journalism as a career. The PGA journalism scholarship award administered by the Golf Writers Association through a number of their board members who are in attendance here today provides $4,000 scholarships to six college juniors and three youths in their senior year. We are happy to have those students joins us here today, and I'd like to have them please stand when I call your name so that we can recognize you.
First, Fordham University, Nicklaus Birdsong.
From Temple University, Andrea Boston.
From University of Notre Dame, Kathleen Laird.
From University of Texas at Austin, Laura Lucas.
From Michigan State University, Melissa Sanchez.
And from San Jose State University, Andrew Torrez. Congratulations to all of you (applause).
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Marino Parascenzo of the Golf Writers Association of America for all of his help and support in administering this program.
Finally, I'd like to present our highest honor, the PGA Distinguished Service Award Winner, to architect Pete Dye in downtown Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Theatre. You are all invited for a spectacular evening in honoring a special man.
JULIUS MASON: Now, ladies and gentlemen, the CEO of the PGA of America, Mr. Jim Awtrey.
JIM AWTREY: Thank you, Julius. And again I'd like to say welcome to everyone to the 86th PGA Championship. Certainly this year, we have a unique championship coming back to a state that has not hosted the Championship since 1933 at Blue Mountain Country Club, the event that happened to be won by Gene Sarazen.
So, it is nice to be back. I want everyone to look around and see all of the jackets, and we're wearing sweaters, and all of those years of people saying why do you play where it's hot; this is their get even time.
But we are happy to return here to Whistling Straits, a unique golf venue. You know, we have talked about how this came about, but I think that it took a commitment from Herb Kohler, and it took a vision of Pete Dye to look at a relatively flat piece of land that was literally a runway and develop what many believe that looks like the coast of Ireland. And certainly, when you look at this great golf course, it is unique.
The PGA's philosophy has been to go to new courses periodically. Certainly, location is a key and when you look at this, I want to call it an ocean, you know that you're in a special place.
I don't think there's anything like this in America. I think it will be one of most watched and talked about events of all time in golf. The golf course that Pete Dye designed will play at 7,500 yards. It will be the longest golf course in major championship history. As I told people a few months ago on our Media Day, I've been doing this for a long time, I've been involved for over 18 years, and I've never seen the attention and hype and as many people looking forward to a championship as they have here.
Certainly, the one consistent thing that we have is the championship has always been the strongest field in golf, and this championship is no exception. This year we have 95 of the world ranked players, including 61 international players representing 21 countries. That places this championship in the top five of all time strength of field when based on the ranking points.
Certainly a part of that field will be representing the PGA of America, our club professional champion, Bob Sowards, who recently in our club professional championship won with a 12 under par 276 total, edging out nearby University of Illinois's golf coach, Mike Small. So representing the PGA of America is one of our players in the field, our club professional champion, and we are very proud to have him as a part of that field.
The PGA Championship will be a major championship on television. It commands a global audience. We are once again going to see millions of U.S. viewers, but we are also going to see 27 hours of championship coverage on CBS Sports and TNT with millions of viewers in more than 160 countries around the world with a household reach of more than 446 million.
So, Governor, when they are watching television and they see this course, I think your phone is going to ring and you're going to have more visitors to your great state and to this wonderful golf course.
We are excited about the community, governor and all of the support that you've given us. Certainly Herb Kohler is to be commended but so is the state for your contributions to the tremendous job that M.G. has done in working with you in growing golf, and certainly when you look at kids, 300 kids, and that great privilege of attending FCA breakfast, they had 30 teams of high school players, had over 300 kids in the audience. So when you do it, you do it right.
We are talking about the championship. We are ending this week with several of our major awards are going to come down to the final putt. Certainly you've got in your materials the PGA Player of the Year and the Vardon Trophy race, very close, comes down to the very end, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els all in contention for those awards, as well as identifying our final player in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf that will be played later on in Hawaii.
Certainly, a major part of this event and the conclusion of it will be identifying the final members of the U.S. Ryder Cup Team. The PGA Champion will receive 300 points, and then Hal Sutton will make the final two captain's choices and picks on Monday at the Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee at 9:00 am.
It's a busy week, it's an exciting week. We are going to have 70 degree temperatures, 75 on Saturday. It is an all time record and it is exciting.
JULIUS MASON: Thanks, Jim, very much. The floor is yours. We are happy to entertain any questions you might have.
Q. When Tiger was sitting there yesterday, he said if he were an 18 handicapper he with not want to play this golf course, and I guess my question is about the future of the game because as professionals get better and better, as their equipment improves and organizations like the PGA are charged with setting up golf courses that can test those skills, is it a fine line or is it a risk that you have golf courses that are maybe unrecognizable to the 18 handicap golfer? Is that a concern among your membership when they look at this golf course on TV and say, it's beautiful but I could never play it?
M.R. ORENDER: Absolutely. Brian Whitcomb is a golf course owner and I'm a golf course owner. When you build golf courses, you are building them for your market. I have golf courses that are earmarked and built for seniors. Our clientele is primarily seniors. I can assure you we don't set those up at 7,514 yards.
Even this golf course is set up for the best players in the world. Prior to setting up for this championship, I believe there were about 40 acres of fairways and now there's 22 acres, approximately so, there's a significant difference even with this golf course the way it's playing for this week for a major championship versus how this golf course will be when this tournament is over. I'm sure they are going to recapture a number of acres of landing area and short grass out there. But you can take a golf course that you or I would love to play, if you were an 18 handicapper and we could narrow the fairways down and slick the greens up; you could get it ready for a tougher challenge.
This golf course obviously was made with the flexibility of challenging the greatest players in the world or coming out here for a resort vacation and having a great time once we get past the championship and it's retooled.
But to answer your question, yes, it's a concern to see golf courses being built when everyone thinks that the players are hitting the ball 280 yards because then, in fact, the average player doesn't get enough clubhead speed to get the great benefit out of the technology. There's clubs that are easier to hit today than they were before, but they are not hitting it appreciably longer, and people love the game and want to have fun.
Our members focus on setting their golf course up for their target market or whatever that might be and trying to make the game fun.
If Pete Dye were in here, he's known for building difficult courses, he also builds golf courses that are very playable, and as an architect, I think the architects have some sensibility to that, as well.
JIM AWTREY: I think as M.G. said very well, the golf courses have multiple tees. This golf course, we talk about how hard and difficult and why would somebody play it, is virtually sold out a year in advance. It's played by all levels of players, and the key is playing the right tees.
I think the most important thing about golf is we can't all play the same level as they do, but if we can go have fun and we can enjoy playing that golf course, seeing those views, picking it up when we've had enough, not trying to shoot a score and see if you compare to them, then the game of golf really is growing and in the end, it's fun.
So if the people were not enjoying playing Whistling Straits, they would not be sold out in advance. I think that there will be more players wanting to play. I do think the challenge in America is getting people to play from the proper tees and recognizing their talent. If you can hit the ball only 220 yards, you need to be in a place where that 220 yards will allow you to hit a shot into the green the same as these players do. If you do, you have a chance to experience that, and if you need to be better, there's 28,000 men and women PGA members that can certainly help teach you better.
Q. Can you just review briefly the process you went through with Herb Kohler in selecting Whistling Straits to host the PGA Championship? I know he gave you a telephone call or Pete Dye did and invited you up here to see the property before there was even grass on the fairways or anything. Can you walk us through the process, and also, just give us a little insight into some of the criteria you used to determine that it was a major championship venue?
JIM AWTREY: Sure. I think the first thing is recognizing what goes into the selection of a major championship course. Certainly, you have to have a golf course that you believe will test the best players in the world. You have to have a commitment from the local state, county, city, to a major championship. You have over 3,000 volunteers, you have a great infrastructure need, so you look at that, and all of the infrastructure required for the championship.
And we have said, we wanted to look at new golf courses in the U.S. We think that somebody has to pick out the next generation of great golf courses as they evolve, and we have committed to doing that periodically while at the same time going to great golf courses.
This began in 1997 after Winged Foot. Pete Dye actually made a call and wanted to know if we would come in and look at the golf course. I actually told Pete, no, I had been here, I had seen Blackwolf Run, and he said, no, I'm building a new one. I really didn't know anything about it, and I said, that's not the procedure, Pete. We have a normal procedure to do, and Pete can be very persuasive. I said, "I'll do it under one condition, just tell Mr. Kohler, it's a favor to you," so it doesn't break the normal routine.
We left New York. Many of you remember it happened to be warm in New York that year, it was in the 90s and the humidity was up. I got off the plane here and had to get a jacket. So it went from 92 degrees to putting on a jacket before I ever saw the golf course, and I thought, that's unique, go anywhere in August and you have that type of weather, that's of interest.
I actually saw only one nine holes that was roughed in. I think it was the back nine that was roughed in at elevation. Obviously, the location, the site, its proximity to the water and the commitment that Herb had made and what Pete was designing, I said, we're interested in continuing discussions and we'd like to come back.
We eventually held a club professional championship, which led to the PGA Championship coming here. There were a lot of you that talked about during those times, how can you go to a brand new golf course when you're trying to get back on the old traditional golf courses. But I think this has proven to be one of the unique venues in the United States, and in my opinion, will be hosting golf tournaments for many, many years from now.
So I think to answer your question, how do we come here? You have a unique piece of land, you have a strong commitment from Herb Kohler to allow Pete to take this piece of land and create something very special that today looks like it's been here for many, many years.
Q. M.G., could you address this, there was a stretch of six years, '97 to 2002, where four players won multiple majors, Tiger, Ernie, Vijay and O'Meara, and since Tiger won Bethpage in 2002, there have been nine majors and nine winners. Do you have any particular theories as to how it's gotten more balanced than it was in that time?
M.R. ORENDER: Well, I think I probably have the same theory most people do in looking at it. You set up these great golf venues, the best player that week is going to win. The depth of great players on the Tour and in world competition, and particularly in world competition, just keeps getting better. You don't have a top 10 or top 20 that just are going to dominate. You can go down to the exempt players on the PGA TOUR, and when you go to international players, there are players coming out of Korea and China now that before you didn't have players coming out of there of that caliber.
So we have, around the world, a level of abilities and capabilities to play, and it just keeps getting better, which also lends itself why the Ryder Cup, even though we don't know a lot of those players on the other side, that's why the Ryder Cup has been so competitive. Those guys in Europe can flat play, too, even though we don't see them as often on the PGA TOUR. One man's opinion, but I think it's just the depth of great players.
JIM AWTREY: Well, I agree with M.G.
I'll make one interesting comment that I observe. Years ago, you used to look at a major championship, and you were concerned, you always wanted the best player in the world to win your championship because it was the feeling that it gave credibility to the championship. It made a difference in the perception of media and others. I think what we've seen is in the last few years, we've been blessed with some great drama coming down the stretch.
I think one thing that I've observed from you in listening to fans is no longer is that something that we judge the tournament if these young players with all of the talent that they have are able to stand toe to toe with the very best players in the world and come down the stretch and win. We're thrilled and we recognize what they have done: Tiger Woods/Bob May a few years ago; you look at Shaun last year; and Rich Beem going head to head with Tiger coming down the stretch with Tiger birdieing the last four holes. And certainly last year with the golf course playing very difficult where Chad Campbell and Shaun came down the stretch and Shaun was able to hit that tremendous shot.
So I think that's something that's changed in the game and we are all looking at that and saying, wow, you earned it. From the PGA's perspective, if you earn the championship, that's what we prefer. You go by doing something extraordinary down the stretch, making birdies, win the tournament.
Q. You said that you didn't expect it to be another 71 years before you brought a tournament back in Wisconsin. Could you address whether the likelihood is there might be another PGA, or what are this course's chances of a potential Ryder Cup?
M.R. ORENDER: I think Jim's comment was appropriate. This is a great venue and will attract other major championships and we would certainly be interested in looking at this venue, but as far as any dates, I couldn't give you anything beyond that.
I know you'd like to have a date so you could put it in the paper tomorrow, but sorry, no dates.
Q. Club professionals have always been an important part of this championship, and as a PGA golf member who has attempted to qualify, I've heard rumors you are going to limit that number. Are those rumors fact?
M.R. ORENDER: The PGA Championship is obviously one of the four majors. It's our most important annual event and we are always looking at this event, not only from Jim's perspective and the staff status of the venue, but we look at who is in the field, the quality of the field, how do you get more players in the field, how do you get more international players. That is one of the pieces that's reviewed annually, so it is always under review.
Q. There's been talk about a second year of Play Golf Wisconsin. The numbers are 10,000 right now for kids playing from this year's success. What are the plans for next year and do you have goals that go beyond 10,000?
GOVERNOR DOYLE: We do. I consider what we did this year to be a start and we want to see it grow and expand. We have developed some great partnerships with the PGA of America and we really look forward to being part of Play Golf America. We are really proud that Milwaukee was one of the ten cities specifically selected by Play Golf America.
We built a great partnership with the club pros and other pros here in Wisconsin who gave of their time incredibly generously, so we want to keep building on that. One of my personal goals, I had a chance to play when I was little, doesn't show with my game, is a lot of kids who in the past thought maybe golf was for rich people out there someplace, but we are really working on in Wisconsin to show everybody that this is a game for everybody, whether you're a shepherd in Scotland where it all started or a kid living in a small town or large city Wisconsin. This is a game for everybody, and we really are going to build on Golf Wisconsin and make it continue to expand in good partnership with the PGA.
Q. Could you maybe address the Ryder Cup from the standpoint of how the preparations are going in regards to what kind of crowds are we going to have, a little bit about security, and has the alcohol sales situation been reviewed any further, and in general what kind of Ryder Cup are we expecting?
JIM AWTREY: Well, I'll try to make sure I remember all of those bullets here.
The preparation is going very well. The Ryder Cup is the premier event in golf, and it's going to be a highly successful event. Certainly, security is a serious consideration in today's time. It always has been. It's been accelerated the last few years and we'll take proper precautions with security this year. That's ongoing.
As far as the number of people, there is going to be a full house. So when you look at all of the people working, they are going to see 35,000 plus people there. You have a large number of volunteers and other people involved in the championship.
What other question did you have?
Q. The alcohol sales.
JIM AWTREY: Alcohol sales, certainly, we think the Europeans did a very nice job of managing that. We likewise are doing that. We'll be looking at where you have alcohol and paying very close attention to that.
The Matches, both captains are going to have a highly competitive match. You've got Hal later today in a press conference. But our job is to make sure that the conduct of The Matches is according to the highest standards of golf, and we'll do everything we can to make sure that's done, and that includes alcohol and the general attitude of the fans. They recognize they root hard for their teams but recognize what golf stands for, and that's our goal.
Q. I was just wondering what you think of the crowds so far, and what you are expecting the crowds to be for the rest of the week? And also, how you think this compares to other majors?
M.R. ORENDER: I'll just comment that in the last eight PGA Championships, and I go every year to the U.S. Open and the British Open and Augusta. First of all, the number of people out here on practice rounds has been wonderful. It's been gratifying to see the great fans here, and we did expect large crowds, but they probably have exceeded our expectations as well.
Based on ticket sales, you could see 40,000 people a day here through the weekend, and I don't expect to see any less, assuming the weather has cleared up as we can hear. And it's just going to keep getting better.
One of the things that's really been nice is walking through the crowds with people and listening to them; they are having a good time. I mean, they are really having a good time. The Pete Dye Plaza that's been built with the entertainment last night, the other officers and myself went down for a few minutes, and as Roger Warren says, it looked like Michigan Avenue on Christmas Eve, there was so many people out there.
We are very happy with the people that are here, not only the numbers but the wonderful people here, but with the way they conduct themselves, and we expect to see crowds like that through the weekend.
Frankly, the British Open, no one I don't think ever knows how many people are there on a given day. They just sort of are all out there, and that's very much what I see here, the scenery Gary Smits, when I saw him earlier, I said, "Welcome to the PGA." He says, "Geez, I thought I was at my first British Open between the crowds and the scenery out there."
We are very pleased with both the crowd and the size, their conduct, and we expect the same for the weekend.
JIM AWTREY: One thing I noticed, having an opportunity to go around with the crowds on Monday, which were over 30,000, is people would come up and say thank you to the PGA for bringing this event here. You don't always walk around a golf course and have that. And it was warm on Monday. You had one of those nice, warm days.
People are struggling, trying to find where they are going, they are looking for vantage points to watch, and they are saying thank you for bringing the Championship. I think that's pretty indicative of the people and the crowds here.
Q. This being a first time major championship venue, did you have logistical concerns before you opened the gates, and which things about the running of this tournament so far have surprised you?
M.R. ORENDER: Well, being a first time major venue, the surprise is how incredibly smooth, but that's a combination of, we're fortunate. Jim and Kerry Haigh, Kerry runs our tournaments, I think is absolutely the best in the business, they addressed a lot of the logistical issues when we were negotiating with Mr. Kohler. Mr. Kohler made commitments that he has honored fully to create knowing not only the parking venues but other ancillary roads and so forth. Between that and the support not only from the state but even the local county, county sheriff, fire department, sanitation, all of the services you need to basically support this little mini city for this week, have all been very much in place.
We have been pleasantly surprised with the way that everything has gone, and again because, as you mentioned, it's a first time major venue, sometimes you run into those problems that were well thought out between our staff, local folks here from the government and of course the folks from the Kohler company.
So again, if you have not gotten down to Pete Dye Plaza, it looks like it's been there for five years and will stay after we leave. It's an incredible complex.
Q. We've heard feedback from the players throughout the week about the golf course. What feedback have you received from them about the way the tournament has been operated, about where it's located and those sort of things?
M.R. ORENDER: Well, the comments I've heard are very similar to the ones that Tiger said yesterday here in the press conference. It was just high praise for the PGA of America, and in particular, Kerry Haigh for being very fair.
The golf course is tough. These guys don't mind a tough test. They want a fair test, and that's what I'm hearing from most. You'll hear one or two comments here or there, someone who doesn't particularly like one hole or another, but overall the players have been incredibly positive about the golf course as a whole, in particular, the setup.
Some of them I think were a little worried on Monday when they got to 18 that they could not get it there with a driver, 3 wood, and then they figured out there was another set of tees we had set up and what Kerry was doing, which is exactly why he's such a great tournament operator. He was measuring different wind directions so that he knew what to do with the tees; in the event that the wind stays in your face on 18, you move the tee up. He did that at Hazeltine and the players know that.
I would reference Tiger's remarks up here and I would think we've generally been hearing that from the other players as well. Very positive.
JULIUS MASON: Questions? Questions twice?
Thanks very much for joining us.
End of FastScripts.