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October 20, 1999

Ken Venturi


JEFF ADAMS: Welcome, everybody. This is Jeff Adams, Media Director for The Presidents Cup. I am with the PGA TOUR based in Ponte Vedra Beach. We thank you for joining us today for our Presidents Cup teleconference. We have joining us from Marco Island, Florida Ken Venturi, the U.S. Captain for The Presidents Cup. Also on the line is Mike Bodney, Senior Vice-president of International Affairs for the PGA TOUR and the person in charge of The Presidents Cup. He is also based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. A few background facts before we get started. This will be the fourth playing of The Presidents Cup. Dates October 17 to 22, year 2000. That is exactly 365 days from today. The first matches will be underway one year from today as we speak. The host site for The Presidents Cup will be RTJ, Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Lake Manassas, Virginia in the U.S.A. located just outside of Washington D.C. RTJ will be host for the third time. The U.S. team returns to the friendly confines of RTJ; that is where they won in 1994 and 1996, and the International Team is looking to win on foreign soil after succeeding Downunder at Royal Melbourne in Australia last December. We are already having some things take shape with new players challenging for team spots on both sides. So it is going to be interesting to watch the competition as spots unfold over the next year. We have two announcements to make this morning before we turn it over to Captain Venturi for questions. The first is regarding format. The decision has been made to change the format to four days from three days. This is in response to daylight hours available in the third week in October in the DC area. This in turn will have a very positive impact and benefit on The Presidents Cup, because it will greatly enhance the viewing experience for all TV spectators and people watching the competition in general. The new match schedule will be: Thursday, October 19, Foursomes in the afternoon. Friday, October 20, Four-Ball in the morning; Foursomes in the afternoon. Saturday, October 21, Four-Ball in the afternoon. Then on Sunday, October 22nd, Singles in the afternoon. The total number of points remains 32 - 32 points available for next year's Presidents Cup. We will be able to answer any questions on that in a moment. The second item of announcement: Tickets will go on sale today. Tickets are going on sale today for The Presidents Cup. Again, this is exactly one year in advance of the first round matches. Tickets will be limited to 22,000 weekly ticket for sale to the general public. It is the intent to ensure the best possible viewing experience for spectators at RTJ. We believe that this number will help accomplish that. The toll-free number for Presidents Cup tickets is 1-877-PREZ-TIX; numerically - and this is important because not all telephones have key pad variations for Z - the numeral number is 877-773-9849. I'd like to ask your support in helping get the word out to golf fans in the U.S. and abroad. This is a worldwide event with worldwide spectator appeal. In addition to the golf, it is going to be taking place at RTJ. There are a few nicer places in the U.S. to be than Washington D.C. in mid-October, so there are plenty of reasons to travel there for The Presidents Cup. Before we open it up to questions, I would like to introduce the Captain of the U.S. team for The Presidents Cup next year, Ken Venturi to make a couple of remarks; then we will turn it over to questions. Captain Venturi, welcome.

CAPTAIN VENTURI: Thank you, Jeff. I am very honored to be named the Captain of The Presidents Cup. Of course I did the three tournaments they had - the two they had at Robert Trent Jones Golf Course, up in Lake Manassas and I was down in Melbourne where the U.S. team lost. It is not only the honor to be the team Captain, but to be against a man that I admire very much with five British Open championships, Peter Thomson, who is a great traditionalist. When I think about going against a team we are both in the same alley right now about trying to restore tradition to the gallery and trying to put where golf belongs. When I think about the International Team - I did a tournament here in Marco Island for my late wife, and it was for abused women and children and the first guys that came up and said I will be there for you were Norman, Price, Els, Appleby, Frost, and we got a final count that we raised almost $2 million in one day where the home will be built. But it is not only going to team competition. We are going against friends and people that I admire on both sides of the team. And I think Captain Thomson, Peter Thomson feels the same way that I do, that I feel that we have a chance now to what we have seen in the past a little bit, is to bring tradition not only back to the game, but to the gallery and show that we are a sport apart from any other one in the world.

JEFF ADAMS: We appreciate that comment and sentiment, Captain Venturi. I would like to turn it over to the folks on the telephone here for questions. Don't be bashful, fire away. First one, please.

Q. Do you have any plans for team meetings and stuff like that coming up during the year that -- I know Ben Crenshaw did that with the Ryder Cup or made an attempt to get the guys together in advance and that sort of thing; do you plan to do that or do you feel that since they have seen the course that they know it already?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: There are some players that we will probably have on the team that have not seen the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course and we will -- definitely our first real meeting will be at THE PLAYERS Championship up in Ponte Vedra.

Q. Just a follow-up question to Kenny about that. Are you happy with this schedule change, Ken, or is it -- is that something that had your input as far as changing the schedule?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: I am very pleased with it. I think Thursday is a marvelous idea; we could have our lunch with the teams, and then we will play our Foursomes in the afternoon. The one thing I am pleased about The Presidents Cup is that the Ryder Cup andPresidents Cup both have 12 players, but The Presidents Cup plays 10. It is not that difficult to leave off two if you have the choice, but it is a very difficult choice to have to leave off four.

Q. There has been some comments lately about The Presidents Cup, especially so soon after the Ryder Cup about the intensity level. Davis Love and Justin Leonard, among others, have said that they are going to look forward to playing in 2000 because they look forward to playing for you. But when it goes down to South Africa in 2002 there is not going to be much interest in there. I was wondering if you had any thoughts about this issue of certain Americans, your Duval, Woods, et cetera, essentially playing in these team events year after year after year?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: Well, I am honored. Commissioner Finchem told me about the response of the players that would play for me, I am deeply honored because, as I said, when I had 22 of the world-class players come to my tournament here for my wife -- the thing is that -- the one drawback that you must face in reality is that the Europeans play in the Ryder Cup every other year; the International Team plays every other year. The American Team has to play every year. So you have got two years to build up enthusiasm for the other international Teams. We have to do it every year. So it is a chance, but I mainly think that if you want to be truthful and you want to go down the line of the teams, if you are a betting man, that the International Team is really a very, very strong team. I mean, they are stronger than the Ryder Cup and I have seen these guys play and you got -- you got Maruyama, Norman, Price, Els, Appleby, Frost; you got Elkington. I mean, you got a load of great players in there - Vijay Singh - I mean, you got a deep, strong team. So to get motivated, the thing -- the biggest motivation I could ever give these teams, Doug, is that when they announce you on the team representing the United States of America, if that doesn't get you charged up, nothing will.

Q. When you were talking about having a player's meeting at THE PLAYERS Championship, what do you plan to -- do you have something in mind already that you want to go over with them, or was that between you and them? How do you see that kind of a meeting?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: Well, the meeting is -- it is not like I am coming out of the blue. Most things that the players say that -- I am with them almost 20 weeks a year and I am on the practice tee and I am watching them play finishing holes; I am watching how they are playing; I know their strong points, their weak points because I am with them. If I wasn't doing the television and I was not into all of this week after week, I wouldn't be a very good Captain. You'd have to get somebody who has a hands-on. I definitely have a hands-on. And it is a perfect time for me in the year 2000 - my contract with CBS and everything else, to me, victory for the United States would be great; victory against some of my dearest friends and victory to start 2000 and end my career with that, would be one of the greatest honors I could ever have in my life.

Q. You mentioned earlier in the teleconference about restoring tradition to the gallery and bringing back some integrity to these type of events. I just wondered what kind of tangible things can be done in those areas in terms of maybe, for instance, limiting alcohol sales, something like that; what kind of ideas would you offer?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: My offering would be this: When we played, we had a clubhouse, but we didn't have 100 hospitality tents. When you have some idle time that kind of gets out of line there. But I think the main thing, the catalyst of all this is really in the players' hands and for the captains to both put it in the press as we do, what we would expect from our galleries. We are just outside of our nation's capitol. We have got everything going for us that this could set a trend for all matches to come. And I feel that if I can do it with anybody, I am really honored to be able to do it with Peter Thomson.

Q. You were just kind of talking a little bit about next year, what a big year it is for you with your retirement from CBS and also, of course, being the Captain here. I am just curious, has it been a whirlwind for you to get to this point in the last couple of years or have you really sat back and digested all that has gone on?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: Well, I think what happens when I do television is that I put myself out there as the player -- I get emotional with it just to look at it. I love the game so much, I am a traditionalist. I know they play for a lot of money today, but I wouldn't sell my experience of being friends with Bobby Jones and very, very close for 25, 26 years with Gene Sarazen; taught Byron Nelson; Hogan takes me under his wing, I mean, I have seen all eras and, for me, I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world. This is what I am going to have to pass down not only to our players, but we must respect those that have gone before us, those that have made the game the way it is supposed to be and honor them. It is not only us. We are honoring all those who have come before us and I would never think of hurting anyone who took the time with no money, but out of just love of the game, those men I respect and I will respect them all my life.

Q. Next season with it being your last year on CBS and having the duties of The Presidents Cup Captain, how will you budget your time any differently than say a normal year?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: My time is -- I am very fortunate with having so many tournaments to do, to be at The Masters and watch them at the PGA; then I have got four tournaments on the coast. I have got Phoenix. I have got Pebble Beach, San Diego, Los Angeles. I am with these guys for a full month and watching them and in the tower, I mean, I am not only just going to a show, I am up there a couple of hours before watching them play, punching in the computers; seeing what they are doing; everything about it. So my time won't change much from what I have been doing. It is just that I will be doing some more statistics on what the players are doing, but I know -- I could take the ten guys that play and I can tell you pretty much every strong, weak, best thing about them, because I have seen them for years.

Q. Do you think that actually makes you in a way more familiar than somebody who might not be watching every player? The differences when you are playing you are watching your -- the group you are playing with and you are not watching the field and when -- where you are where you are watching the field; you do see everybody, you know what I mean, the focus is different, do you think that is an actual serious advantage versus maybe a Captain who was on the SENIOR TOUR playing and was never around anyplace where the players are?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: I think that is true. I think they have seen that and they have voiced that. They have said that, but I think that -- I think I get a lot of respect because I give respect in return. I admire these young men. They are longer, stronger, bigger, better. I am not even in their class. I learned that very much from one man that said the same thing. and that is where I took it when they said about Ben Hogan, you think you can beat these guys. He said, no, they are too good for me; I will never be as good as they are. I think as Vince Lombardi once said, the greatest strength a man can show is humility.

Q. Mike, is this change going to be permanent or is this something just for this Presidents Cup?

MIKE BODNEY: Jerry, we made the change based on the time. We have got limited daylight. We wanted to make sure that you all had a story everyday and that the players had the appropriate amount of time to practice and get prepared in the mornings before they teed off and also if we did run into a weather situation in October, that we had the time during the week to get the event in. As far as whether or not it is a permanent change, obviously we will review it after the end of the event. We did go to the captains. We went to a lot of the players for input; went to the board for input on it. We are trying to do something here to make sure that all the various entities involved are looked after. The answer to your question is, no, it doesn't necessarily mean this is a permanent change. It is something that we did to address the late October date and we will take a look at it in the future.

Q. You have limited the field. Are there any other things that you are thinking about doing to assure that the crowd will be under control and not be a factor in the competition?

MIKE BODNEY: We are looking at a lot of different things TOUR-wide that the Commissioner and the board are addressing currently. We will stay right in line with all of the different permutations that come out of those discussions. Obviously we want to maximize the experience for all the spectators that are going to come to RTJ and enjoy the competition. We will do what we need to do, whatever that is, is yet to be identified. But we are very cognizant of making sure that everybody has a good time and that there is the appropriate security, et cetera, that goes along with that.

Q. Did you guys limit sales at RTJ in 1996? Is this the first time that you are limiting tickets to 22,000 and is this in response to what happened at up at Brookline?

MIKE BODNEY: No. We did limit ticket sales in Australia, Doug. It was the exact same number. It was 22,000. We had quite a different venue than what we have here at RTJ. 22,000 was a pretty good size crowd in Melbourne, whereas at RTJ I think we can handle it very easily. Melbourne was the first time we had limited ticket sales. At RTJ in both 1994 an 1996 we did not.

Q. Secondly, do you have a rough idea of the times on these Foursome/Four-Ball matches Thursday through Saturday?

MIKE BODNEY: Thursday -- rough. I'd sure hate to commit to these exactly, so these are all TBD, but we are looking at about a 12:30 or so start on Thursday and Saturday both.

Q. So noonish, roughly?


Q. Did television have any input on the format change?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: No, not particularly. I mean, obviously we took a look at it and the way that we separated them out, we provided the Saturday afternoon Four-Ball for NBC which I think is the one that they would have preferred to have had. But, honestly, we did this based on conversations with players and captains and our rules officials and the tournament committee, et cetera and just tried to figure out the best way to get through this.

CAPTAIN VENTURI: I will say this, I have not heard one negative remark about this from anybody that I have talked to.

MIKE BODNEY: I haven't either, Ken.

Q. I think the players will probably like it. The worse thing is going Monday through Thursday of practice rounds and you are --

MIKE BODNEY: The interesting part of it is, when you do talk to the players -- there is one common thread throughout and that is the physical part of the three days and the grind that that puts onto you. They all believe that that has an impact on the event. Now, some believe it is positive. Some believe it is negative. But I mean, that is a grueling three days. If you are playing every single match, you have played 90 holes in three days. That is a lot of golf.

Q. Going back to gallery behavior. Is it more likely that you won't get that kind of boorish actions that we saw at the country club because of the nature of the players? Instead of Europeans that we see only once every other year, we are seeing guys like Norman and Ernie and people that we see day-to-day, week-to-week?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: Well, I think when we get talking with this and it starts getting out in the press and they see what we are trying to accomplish, I really believe that going up into the Nation's Capitol and going to the Robert Trent Jones golf course and the tradition that is up there and what we have in our country, I think we are going into an excellent place to set an example. I think I couldn't pick a better place to try to put this together than where we are going this next year.

Q. I was curious, I know your feeling about the importance of walking in golf, but I was wondering if you could comment on the accomplishments of Casey Martin this year who is on the verge of getting his Tour card?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: I did. I was in court on that. My statements have been publicly stated in court on that and they can seen. This is something that we must go by the rules; where do you draw the line; how bad is bad, and how good is good; where do you draw the line. This is what we have to look at and it is not for me now. It is in the hands of the Court. I made my statement and it is now in the Court. I have no decision to make anymore.

Q. I was curious, though, do you find yourself at all rooting for Casey, not so much the cart issue, but just looking at the leg problem he has got and accomplishing what he has?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: I root for anybody who has a handicap. I wish there weren't any with handicaps. I work with the handicapped. I work with the blind. I work with retarded children. I work with a lot of people like that. I wish it could never be like that. But, no, I root for them all. I wish there wasn't a way with that because -- why is it them? I don't know. But for me, all those people are always in my prayers.

Q. I have a question about whether or not you have spoken with any former or current presidents; anything like that about participation at that level, has anyone gotten down the road in that direction yet?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: I have talked with President Bush. In fact, my assistant is his teacher, is President Bush's teacher and it is -- we have talked about it again. But their time is so limited. I have invited some other people to come and be there. They are traditionalists. I have got another special thing up there. I think I will be able to do a job as -- because I won the U.S. Open in the Nation's Capitol and I think when I talk up there and I have in the past, I get them to listen. I think I have got people that will really go along with me and I am very proud of that.

MIKE BODNEY: Just for your information, that process of invitations to the presidents, et cetera, obviously any input Ken wants to have into it is more than welcomed, and greatly appreciated. But we will be going through that process and inviting all the dignitaries through the White House and also through our connections overseas, et cetera. So we will have the same scenario where we will have representatives from all countries where all the players are from at The Presidents Cup.

Q. Will you let us know who is accepting invitations? Obviously you are going to invite more people who are, because of time and international, whatever is going on, able to come, so it would be nice to know that?

MIKE BODNEY: Sure, absolutely.

CAPTAIN VENTURI: Let me say this: I did not invite President Bush as president. I invited him as a very dear friend because I will tell you right now, one of the great ladies of all time is Mrs. Bush because when my wife passed away I have never received a better, sweeter letter and I love her dearly.

Q. A lot of people do. Paul Marchand is really fond of Mrs. Bush.

CAPTAIN VENTURI: Well, she was -- every time I see her she gives me the biggest hug and I think she is one of the greatest First Ladies that has ever, ever lived.

Q. You mentioned President Bush's teacher is your assistant. Who is that?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: Paul Marchand. I have had Paul for a long time and I am just bringing it now because -- I didn't want to announce it and Paul knew this for a very, very long time. He is good friends with Jim Nantz. I have gone over this many, many times and I have had a lot of names and I still keep coming up with Paul's name.

Q. He is your assistant for The Presidents Cup?


Q. How nice of him.

CAPTAIN VENTURI: He is just grand. And I think he is just going to -- I couldn't pick a finer young man in my life.

Q. No, you couldn't.

CAPTAIN VENTURI: He is very close with Freddie Couples. He is just a very, very classy man. He is going to be just great, and we are going to be spending some time there in getting things done. I couldn't have been more pleased.

Q. The other thing I am curious about is have you spoken with Peter Thomson about the galleries at the Ryder Cup and will you get together with him to devise sort of a strategy to restore tradition?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: He will be at THE PLAYERS Championship and we will start then. In fact, the only reason - as to Marchand -- to get back to it, Cathy, -- I had invitations to go up to the Ryder Cup and I had long talks with Ben Crenshaw. In fact I talked with Ben yesterday about things I wanted to do. I invited Ben to be my guest because Ben can do it easier than I could do it up there because being Captain of The Presidents Cup and Ben makes a decision, the press would say, you think this is RIGHT; would you have done this. And so I didn't go because it was his time in the sun and he should enjoy it. But when he comes with me, they can't say the same thing because he says he never entered in mine; I don't enter in his. I am just here to watch. I think it is great. I am probably one of Ben Crenshaw's greatest fans of all time.

Q. So you haven't talked to Thomson yet then?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: No, I -- we have corresponded and we have gone back and forth. I can tell you right now from talking with all the members of the PGA TOUR and everything else, we are on the same track. We are going right down the same line.

JEFF ADAMS: While tentative, I think Kenny just alluded to this, it appears that Captain Thomson and Captain Venturi will be with us during THE PLAYERS Championship week here at Ponte Vedra at Sawgrass so we will have a real nice opportunity to get together for the first time with both Captains in a media setting that. That will be in late March at THE PLAYERS Championship if all things pan out as we expect them.

Q. Does anybody know, was he at Brookline, Peter Thomson?

MIKE BODNEY: No, he wasn't there.

CAPTAIN VENTURI: I don't believe he would have gone either.

Q. Mike, you said tickets were limited to 22,000. Can you tell me what the total attendance was four years ago at RTJ?

MIKE BODNEY: I think we were right at about 20 to 21 total including corporates.

Q. Following up, I know it has been awhile since we talked about this in this conference, but the fact that you talked about doing things TOUR-wide as far as the rowdiness of spectators and I know -- the people in Phoenix have made some steps, but I was just curious is a lot of that the result of what we saw at Brookline a couple of weeks ago?

MIKE BODNEY: No, I don't think that it was a result of Brookline. I think this is something that has been under review - I know it has been something that has been under review at the PGA TOUR for quite a bit longer than that. There has been some concern about it and some different issues that have arisen. The situation that happened with Tiger in Phoenix was probably the one that really kind of sticks out in my mind the most as the impetus for the start of the discussions. So, no, the Ryder Cup was obviously a situation that was uncomfortable for a lot of people and didn't come across very well and-- I mean, it helped raise the level of awareness of this.

JEFF ADAMS: The other issue was with cell phones, too, Mike, isn't that one other thing? That is a big problem out on the PGA TOUR that falls in line with all this stuff.

MIKE BODNEY: A lot of different things that are being discussed. But if you wanted to get into that from an in-depth conversation standpoint, Henry Hughes would be the person to talk to who runs the PGA TOUR as Chief Operating Officer for the PGA TOUR. You could have a real good conversation with him.

Q. A question about Paul Marchand, Kenny, is this the announcement of that or did everybody else know but me?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: Nobody knew. I will tell you what, I got some guys that can keep some secrets because when I got to be Captain of the Presidents Cup, I knew almost two months before and no one could realize that no one knew it and Commissioner Finchem couldn't believe that when we announced it, my closest friend Byron Nelson was sitting next to me when he announced it. He said: He didn't even tell me. So I told Paul. But this is the announcement that it would be and he knows it and he has known it for a long time. But I didn't -- again, I didn't want to detract from Crenshaw or the Ryder Cup and that is past now and now we are looking towards The Presidents Cup.

Q. How many assistants will you have?

CAPTAIN VENTURI: Just Paul. I have got a lot of letters that they'd like to do it. So I will have a lot of assistants but they will be behind the ropes.

Q. If you talk to him before I do, give him my congratulations.

CAPTAIN VENTURI: I just talked to him yesterday and I told him I was going to announce it today. I appreciate the questions. Again, I will say that it is an honor and a privilege to be the Captain of The Presidents Cup.

JEFF ADAMS: Just a couple of closing comments. I wanted to remind folks that a release will be issued via broadcast fax momentarily. The transcript is available on pgatour.com this afternoon. A ticket reminder, if you can help us with this, we would sure appreciate it, 1-877-PrezCup, which is one 877-773-9849. Thank you, Mike. Thank you Captain Venturi. We will see everybody in 365 days at RTJ.

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