February 26, 2006
JAMES CRAMER: Good morning everyone. My name is James Cramer. I'm the director of public relations to the PGA TOUR and the World Golf Championships. I'd like to thank you for joining us this morning for this important announcement.
To begin with, I'd like to introduce the dignitaries that are joining us on the stage. To my left, the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Tim Finchem. And Mr. James Murphy, chief marketing and communications officer for Accenture. Without further ado, I'd like to introduce Commissioner Finchem to make our announcement.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, James. Good morning everyone, thanks for being here. Apologize about my voice; I'm slightly under the weather the last couple of days.
I'd like to thank all of our friends in the media for the outstanding coverage they've provided. I'd also like to recognize Bill Green, the CEO of Accenture, who is here with us this morning. We're delighted to have him here this morning as well as Jim Murphy. And Richard Hill representing the World Tour is here. Thank you, Richard, for joining us.
The International Federation of PGA TOURs jointly sanction this event globally. And we're delighted that Richard is here this morning. I'd like to thank Accenture for their support of the World Golf Championships over the last eight years. They've been a fantastic partner.
We have two important announcements today. The first is that we are announcing that Accenture and the International Federation of PGA Tours have reached agreement whereby Accenture will continue to sponsor this event and the World Golf Championships through the year 2010. We're delighted with that development.
We've had a great partnership with Accenture. They've been a solid global partner here in the United States and around the globe. They have committed to the concept of continuing match play and professional golf, and as part of the World Golf Championships and through these first eight years in the World Golf Championships they've been with us every step of the way, and we're delighted for these next several years that we're going to be partnering together.
The Accenture Match Play Championship will move next year to The Gallery Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Tucson, Arizona, to be played. I would say parenthetically that LaCosta has been part of the PGA TOUR and its family since 1969, and we leave here with mixed feelings, but we note that the fans here in the San Diego area will continue to be able to see our top players play in an outstanding field at the Buick Invitational.
We're proud to bring the Accenture Match Play Championships next year to one of the country's emerging cities, and certainly an emerging city in the southwest. Tucson has a long and rich history of staging professional PGA TOUR events going back several decades, and we're thrilled that the sports fans in that region of the country will have an opportunity to see this world class competition. And we're excited about the opportunity to come to The Gallery Club at Dove Mountain to start our series of events in Tucson next year.
It's an outstanding club. We'd like to thank John MacMillan, the owner of the Gallery Golf Club, who could not be here today in person. We'd like to recognize some of our guests who are here today; Art Powell, the managing partner of The Gallery is with us; Wade Dunagan, the project manager at Dove Mountain; and David Mehl, the developer of Dove Mountain. Dave, thank you for being with us.
Russ Perlich also is here. Russ is, I think most of you know, representing the Conquistador Group in Tucson. The Conquistadors have been our host organization in Tucson for a number of years and will continue to be involved in the tournament. As well as our guests here today, we also have assembled in Tucson a parallel conference going on, which will follow our remarks here.
And we'd like to thank, by way of telecommunication, all of those assembled in Tucson, the media covering our tournament there, this week, as well as Jack Warfield, vice president of PGA Tour Championship Management; the mayor of Tucson, Mayor Walkup. Mayor Walkup, we're delighted to have you with us. Ed Honea, the mayor of Marana, thanks for being with us; and Tom Arnold, the president of the Conquistadors all are joining us from teleconference from Tucson.
To those of you in Tucson, I don't know who is going to win the tournament today, but certainly from Geoff Ogilvy's standpoint, he liked playing this week, based on his performance last year and this year, and hopefully your winner will be with us next year in Tucson.
Before I introduce Jim Murphy to make comments, let me just say that I'm sure some of your questions will revolve around why Tucson. As we evolve our new schedule and we looked to the future of the World Golf Championships, we looked to the way we could improve every event every week. And we have had a very, very solid history of playing this great championship, a unique championship in PGA golf, match play competition at LaCosta. We thought we could elevate this tournament even more and with the partnership with Accenture make it even better moving it to Tucson. And that's in a nutshell why we're moving it forward.
I'd like Jim to come up and make come comments on behalf of Accenture.
JIM MURPHY: Thanks, all of you, for coming this morning. And thanks those of you listening from Tucson. We've been involved in global golf for a decade. We were sponsors of a predecessor series of tournaments that got our feet wet in this.
When the Tour brought us the idea of the World Golf Championships eight years ago, we thought we should bring it to life. We're very pleased with our sponsorship results, your clients like it, it reaches audiences and enhances our brand, and golf is a good fit for our competitive nature.
We're very pleased with the move, about the renewal; we're excited about Tucson. The governor's office and mayor's office have talked to us, we're excited about their support.
When the Tour brought us the idea, we thought this has been fine at LaCosta, but we're open to new challenges and ideas, and with their suggestion in front of us we said, okay, we'll renew for Tucson. We're pleased, and on behalf of Bill and 120 thousand employees and associates of Accenture around the world, we're excited about this. And thanks for being here today.
JAMES CRAMER: Thank you, Mr. Murphy, Commissioner Finchem. At this point we'd like to take questions from the media that are assembled here in Carlsbad, and after that we'll take questions from the media joining us from satellite in Tucson.
Q. Do you have any remorse at all about not having a tournament at a historic course like this?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Yes. What was the last part of the question?
Q. Do you have any remorse about no longer having the tournament at LaCosta, which is a pretty historic course?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Yes, we've been here a long time. Anytime we leave an area where we've been for a good period of time, we're not happy about that development. The volunteers here have been terrific. The folks that work here at LaCosta Resort have worked very, very hard each and every year to prepare the golf course and prepare the facilities in a way that works for the tournament. We're not happy about leaving.
In this business you have to make decisions that are in the best interests of the entire Tour, the entire number of Tours involved in the World Golf Federation and for our sponsor. And this decision was made from a variety of factors with looking at what is in the best long term interests of presenting this championship, and we think it's the right one. Having said that, obviously we'll miss being at LaCosta.
Q. Going further on that, you mentioned up there in your comments, mixed feelings about LaCosta. What are the mixed feelings?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: The mixed feelings are that we're excited about going to Tucson; we think it's going to be terrific. But obviously, as I just mentioned, the other side of the equation is we have to say good bye to a good body of supporters here and people that have contributed a lot to make the tournament work over the years. That was the mixed feelings.
Q. What were the factors that made you consider whether you're going to stay or leave LaCosta? What were the key factors?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: There were a variety of factors, but I think the two leading ones probably, one was weather, consistent weather. We had a lot of golf to play this week. Generally speaking the weather has cooperated. But we had, on balance, a little better weather conditions in Tucson. I think that's primary.
Secondly, in terms of, frankly, the best use of our premium championships in terms of where they're played, we just finally concluded that it didn't make sense to play two of them, a World Golf Championship, with all the best players in the world, and the invitational at Torrey Pines, which attracts also a stellar field, in the same market. At the end of the day it wasn't something we thought we should continue. So those are the two basic reasons.
Q. Why specifically The Gallery and what do you see the role of the Conquistadors being?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: The Conquistadors, if you're familiar with the Bridgestone World Golf Championships in Akron, the role of the Northern Ohio Golf Charities is very similar; they will assist in raising funds through selling certain portions of the inventory of the tournament and will assist in the distribution of charitable funds in the community. It will continue to have a very positive effect on the community there as prior tournaments have had in the past and at the same time assist us from a volunteer and sales perspective.
Q. The commitment to Tucson, how long is that for, is that through the sponsorship? 2010?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Virtually all our agreements are linked to our cycles, a sponsorship cycle and television cycle. All of our agreements dovetail; in this instance they dovetail in four years.
Q. The other part, do you think the World Golf Championships are meeting the stated aim of developing developed to enhance the competitive structure of World Golf worldwide?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Yes, I think the first and primary reason for the World Golf Championships was to create a vehicle whereby the fans could enjoy the opportunity to watch all of the best players in the world assembled, a more frequent number of times during the course of the year. Heretofore, that was primarily the major championships and THE PLAYERS Championship.
Today we have, with the World Golf Championships, another group of tournaments where all the best players in the world play. There are others, as well, but as a constant flow with Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup competition included in that. And that was the primary mission.
The secondary mission was to continue to grow interest in the game by focusing on the International and global aspects of the game. And that's why we've had such a great relationship with a company like Accenture, because they have a global focus. And I think that secondary mission is being met, as well.
Q. I think 39 of the 64 players in this week's field come from overseas. Can you part one of my question, can you explain why so many of these championships are played in the United States? And part two is don't you think that you have a responsibility to take these tournaments elsewhere in the world and to grow interest in the game elsewhere in the world?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Where the players come from is frankly not of too much import. Our system is such that from the start of the system
Q. I'm trying to point out that it's a global game, golf is a global game.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I understand that. I'm remarking that I had questions during the course of the week, and they're disturbed that over half of the field is not from the United States.
Q. That was not my question.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I understand that. To the second part of your question, yes and no. We would like to see World Golf Championships played around the world, and we have seen that the first eight years. I think we've played on five different continents. Today the World Cup continues to be played this past year in Portugal, and this coming year in Barbados as part of the World Golf Championships. We may add another World Golf Championship. That is a nice thing to do.
I think the fundamental, however, is not that. The fundamental is to bring to the world via incredible television capability, to 145 countries, all the best players in the world playing. The reality is that frankly Sergio Garcia is seen who is not here, is seen when he's played in a World Golf Championship by more people than typically any other event he plays, regardless of where it is, whether in Europe or Asia or anywhere else. Ernie Els gets more global television exposure when he plays here this week than he does when he plays in China or Hong Kong. So it sounds good to say if you played more places you'd reach more people, but the reality is that that's not always the case.
The second part of that is that these championships are staged at an elite level. They're staged at a level that can pay for worldwide television. They're staged at a level that can pay significant prize money. And they're staged at a level that certain things are done onsite for the fans that are very special. That costs money.
The American marketplace is best suited to generate those kind of resources. I think that's why historically three of the four major championships are in the United States, as well.
But I think the important thing is not that, it's that who are we reaching through World Golf Championships, are we reaching just as many people, and we think the answer is absolutely. Not to say we won't continue to work with having tournaments around the world. We are proud of the fact that we play on five different continents, and we will continue to play somewhere around the world, as well.
Q. As a follow up to that, was Tucson the only venue looked at, or were others in the frame for consideration?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: A good number of others were looked at.
Q. Are they worth mentioning or not?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I wouldn't say they aren't worthy of mention, but I think that at this time of year, it's obvious to point out that the Accenture Match Play worked very well this time of year. It works well from the standpoint of the flow of the schedule, where the international players, global players are, how it fits in and everything else, in the framework of the game. It works from the standpoint of Accenture's need. It also needs to work from a weather standpoint at a place we can really stage it in a first class way. There aren't that many places where you can accomplish both, and we think Tucson is the place.
Q. Without singling out the other names, were any of them from outside the U.S.?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Yes.
Q. Mr. Murphy, was Australia that much of a failure for you when it was played down there? If you were to continue your relationship with this World Golf Championship, would there be any scenario in which you'd be willing for one year to take this tournament abroad?
JIM MURPHY: The Australian tournament in many ways was a huge success for us, because we relaunched our new brand from that place. And Australia happened to be the major continent in the world where our brand was new, because in the time zones that's how it worked out. We changed our name from an older name to what we have now on midnight that day, and we played that week.
From a timing point of view, it worked out great. We were somewhat disappointed in the field; some of the top players didn't come. The television coverage was great, we had great client entertainment there, and we saw it as a plus.
Would we do it again? Well, we'd consider it. Certainly we'd talk to the PGA TOUR about it. The PGA TOUR and other Tours drive this process, and we're sort of in a reactionary mode. We can influence what happens, but they're the experts on golf, and we're experts in managing and selling technology services. We recognize our roles.
Q. If Tucson had not continued on as they have, playing as an encumbered event, would they have been in position to land this tournament?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I understand your question. The answer would be yes. We were obviously there was a factor in evaluating Tucson with respect to the degree of fan support that this championship would enjoy in Tucson, and when we look at the turnout and the gallery out in Tucson with respect to the tournaments we've played there the last few years, it's very impressive. The job that has been done there by the Conquistadors, the volunteers and others, the way the fans respond to PGA TOUR golf is impressive, and certainly we know, we're very, very confident that the gallery support we'll have in Tucson is going to be significant and something that we're very pleased with. So that was a factor. Was it the determining factor? I wouldn't say so. But it certainly is a positive factor.
Q. In talking to some of the players this week, they were more or less on the fence in terms of the tradition of this tournament did we lose any tradition switching from the traditional style tournament in Tucson to the match play?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I'm not so sure what you mean by losing tradition. We look at it the opposite way. The reason for match play is to continue and resurrect a tradition of what was championship golf for a good part of this century or the last century, and it's important not to lose what match play means and the fabric and texture of golf at the elite level. It's that tradition that we're trying to preserve and I think are preserving with the Accenture Match Play Championships. In that sense I think we're preserving tradition.
Q. Based upon your knowledge of The Gallery, what were your impressions of the course specifically, and anything you feel The Gallery needs to do to be fully prepared for that event next year?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: We've been engaged for months, and our team has, with everyone related to The Gallery, many of whom are here today. We have a good, solid working relationship on the short term and long term planning that will relate to the conduct of the Accenture Match Play in Tucson. There are, obviously, in any instances like this, a lot of things that need to be done. We're very, very comfortable with the working relationship we have.
A lot of thought is going into how to make this a great experience for the fans and how to make it the best possible competitive challenge for the best players in the world, and we're very comfortable with where this will come out, both for 2007 and then beyond.
Q. What's your feel for the State of golf worldwide at this time, is it growing or is it receding, both in terms of the PGA and in terms of
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I gather the question is what is my perception of the state of the game in terms of its growth globally; is that correct? Well, that's an interesting question, because it's an interesting question, the answer of which has been perhaps many times in the media misanalyzed to some extent.
And by that I mean here in the United States, for example, there is a focus on the total number of rounds played as it relates to golf courses. And in today's society the regular golfer is playing a few rounds less than perhaps he played he or she played five or ten years ago.
On the other hand, there's been each and every year an increase in the number of participants in the game. So from a total participant standpoint we've seen regular growth here in the United States.
If you look globally, there's no question there is solid growth. Especially as you look at the emerging markets, the development of golf in Asia, some development in Africa and the Balkin states, in Russia, golf is clearly in a growth mode at the participation level, there's no question about it. And it's actually, in some aspects, quite compelling.
On the interest side of the game, on the professional side of the game, the fan base for our support here in the United States is at an all time high of 110 million Americans follow some golf during the course of the year on the PGA TOUR, and based on everything we've seen on the data assembled regarding our international television distribution, that is clearly the case, as well.
Now, the fan base is broader than the participation base, there's no question about that. At a typical PGA TOUR event, 25 percent of the gallery does not play the game, but they enjoy watching the game and that translates into the television audience, as well. So we see solid growth on the participation side, solid growth on the fan base side of the sport, and we're very, very confident and very positive about the future going forward.
Q. I realize it's not done yet, Commissioner, on the FedEx Cup points, but where do you see the World Golf Championships positioned with that series going on next year?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: It would be premature for me to say. We're evaluating different processes. It will be a process that goes to June. But whether or not it's a process that relates to strength of field or a process that relates to purse or a process that relates to stature of events, under any of those scenarios World Golf Championships will fare well, and fare well in that configuration.
JAMES CRAMER: Thank you, everyone, for coming out, and we look forward to seeing everybody at the 2007 Accenture Match Play Championship at The Gallery at Dove Mountain.
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