May 28, 2006
VIRGINIA WATERS, ENGLAND
GORDON SIMPSON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and thanks for joining us, and I hope you enjoy a refreshing drink at the same time as we have this conference. We're reaching the end of another fantastic BMW Championship, and we are joined in the audience by representatives from BMW Germany, from Wentworth Club, from The European Tour, and on the stage on the platform here we have Jim O'Donnell who is the managing director of BMW U.K., and George O'Grady, Executive Director of The European Tour. And Jim, you might want to say a few words just to take us through the final day.
JIM O'DONNELL: Thank you, Gordon. What a nice way to start a Sunday. Normally in this time I would be in the back garden especially Bank Holiday Weekend, so for me it's a privilege to be here. It's also interesting looking at the press this morning, to see such positive feedback from the BMW Championship, no controversies apparently so far this year, the weather has been the real only talking point. I think we're past the worst of that, so we're looking forward to a strong finish. But I personally would like to thank all of the medias for their fantastic coverage we've had from the radio. The on course radio is just outstanding, television coverage this year has been excellent, and also the press from BMW's point of view we are delighted with it.
We have over 1,400 visitors to our BMW Drivers Lounge, and at the end of the day, it's all about making our drivers feel special and our customers feel special. And in addition to that we've had 350 guests every day through the hospitality center so it's been in BMW terms a wonderful success. And the thing that surprises me is the golf scoring have been so good. Ernie has made the course more difficult, but I guess the rain has helped soften the greens. So from our point of view, we're delighted and looking forward to having discussions afterwards to see what further we can do to enhance the tournament going into 2007.
GORDON SIMPSON: George, can you talk about the Tour's perspective on the BMW Championship.
GEORGE O'GRADY: I think it's really just for us, The European Tour, to welcome all sections of the media today. I thank you for your support. It's been a tremendous week for us. BMW have brought a lot of new things in terms of the service to the public, service certainly to our players. I suppose one could perhaps say a pop concert on the 18th fairway of the East Course at Wentworth is certainly a first in a major golf tournament, and here it does bring a different dimension to us and was done superbly while in the most torrential rain I think we've ever seen which goes without saying. The new owners of Wentworth, Richard Caring, have invested large sums of money firstly on the golf course, using one of the best greenkeepers in the country, and Ernie Els' vision. But also within the club itself so all aspects are moving this championship up to the 7 star level we want and we are delighted.
As always, we take questions on any aspect of the Tour, specifically this championship, and we hope you've had a good service this week. Thank you.
GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you very much, George.
Q. I just wonder if you're already settled on this being the right week for the tournament from next year with the U.S. Tour changes?
GEORGE O'GRADY: We think so. Certainly from the start we've had no intention of changing it. It fits quite well. The tournament we would worry about in the United States is the Memorial. I think for the foreseeable future it will play next week, and this is a pretty well established date on the English calendar, and all the leading players who are members of both tours who we talked to this week are comfortable with it being this week, all but one, all but one, has to balance his for the U.S. Open. So in the immediate future we are staying here.
Q. So two weeks after THE PLAYERS, is it, and two weeks before the U.S. Open?
GEORGE O'GRADY: That's right, yes. It means that the break from THE PLAYERS, you can't do THE PLAYERS and have every week going through to the U.S. Open, so we can't go back from that. We have our date. In an ideal world, THE PLAYERS Championship would have been a week earlier, for us, but we don't live in an ideal world.
Q. That one player would be Sergio Garcia, I think?
GEORGE O'GRADY: No. Sergio has his own problems, challenges, well chronicled. He certainly told me he wants to come back to Britain. He's dealing with his own issues. He's been a big friend to BMW over the years, as well. I think we see him sooner rather than later. We certainly got a goodwill message again from him this year and his manager.
Q. Is there a solution to his sort of tax implications?
GEORGE O'GRADY: I don't work for the British government. (Laughter)
Q. But it must be a concern to you, obviously.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Well, it's a concern. Anything that concerns any one of our members concerns us. And so we have a lot of good advisors, we have a lot of government contacts who we talk to. And we've done that on foreign members of the Tour, on non British members of the Tour, on the residency qualifications and the rest, and we have people in our office who are well versed for that and we have a lot of different government advisors. So it all concerns us.
Q. Have you made progress?
GEORGE O'GRADY: Not specifically on Sergio Garcia, because it's a wider issue involving all different kind of sportsmen, but it's one that I think the government will and are looking at because it will affect a lot of people and we have to think of the Olympics coming in a few years time which we want to have reasonable tax laws.
Q. As things stand at the minute after the ruling on the Agassi case a few weeks ago, would you have concerns that that ruling would deter some well known golfers from coming to play events in the U.K.?
GEORGE O'GRADY: Well, it's not affecting us if we just look at this on a one championship basis with the exception of one player. But if you look across the country, from the Open Championship through all the other events we have in this country, we have to be we'd be silly not to be concerned.
I don't actually fully understand the tax law totally myself. Actually you do need to be quite bright to do that and I'm certainly not bright enough.
Q. The changes to the course, was that led by you or by the club? Did you say to the club: We need this could be toughened up, this course; or did they come to you and say, this is what we want to do, do you back that?
GEORGE O'GRADY: I think with the new owner, Richard Caring, you have a man with great vision, not to mention resource. We certainly had a few lunches over the year when we discussed how we could improve this golf club and this championship, and he wanted to reach for the ultimate. He wants to be as good as you possibly can be. And we discussed what made some of the best American tournaments, what makes the Florida Swing so attractive visually.
And he took the view that he got someone who he particularly liked, Ernie Els, who has a love affair with Wentworth, to work on the resign, and would we agree with that. I said we certainly would. That was on a Friday night, and I think by Monday morning at ten o'clock, Ernie was at work. So that's how fast he goes with things when he wants to do it.
I mean, we are in a run now with Richard Caring buying Wentworth and Sean Quinn buying The Belfry I think most guys I'm looking at around the room were at The Belfry. Well, that's the beginning in Sean Quinn's mind. He got The Belfry; he said to us, if we see anything wrong with the golf course or things that could be improved or changed, let him know and he will strongly consider it with a view to get it moving. He obviously intends to really go to work on the hotel, paid an awful lot of money for it and he wants to move if from where it is to somewhere we can only imagine. He doesn't hang around, either. He's a very successful man.
Q. Were you happy with the changes that have been made, you as a Tour?
GEORGE O'GRADY: Well, I think when we had the media day, I mentioned several times, I personally am actually delighted. I don't tell our members how to play golf. But they have got one of the best players in the world to do it. And, he's had to get every change through the grizzled Scottish green keeper to convince Chris Kennedy it's worth doing and it's worthy. I think you'll have little ones, I'm sure, and great players will have different views.
But just watch the drives off the first tee alone. Instead of everybody just thumping it down the first and making sure it doesn't go down the dip, now you have to hit a certain kind of shot left to right, up the side, with the other slice you go in the bunker on the right. You can't hit the draw shot anymore because you're in the bunker on the left, unless you're in a howling gale that we had the other day, and you have think your whole way around the course. That's why Luke Donald and David Howell are in the lead. He is a thinker and a master strategist. We didn't set the course up too early on Wednesday.
It rained ferociously on Tuesday night. The tees had to be moved up to get it over the really wet areas. And I couldn't believe, we actually start playing only an hour delay on Thursday morning. It was a phenomenal effort by the Wentworth staff this week. The Tour absolutely 150 percent praises Wentworth's vision of what they have done, but we equally praise the hard work this week on getting the tournament through efficiently.
Q. Can you bring us up to date with the preparations for the Ryder Cup, you put a release this morning confirming that it will start at four balls, perfect your perspective, can you bring us up to date with how the arrangements are going?
GEORGE O'GRADY: Well, I think they are completely as well as we would want. Indeed the Irish Open had another one of our regular meetings with Taoiseach, the Prime Minister of Ireland, and he personally assured me that it's got his concentration. John O'Donoghue, who is the minister for Art, Sport and Tourism came as guest of honour at the Tour dinner on Tuesday night. The work on security, the work on the road are preceding in place.
It will be a bit like the Ascot Stadium; right on the day. Ascot are confident they will have the grandstand finished; we are confident the roads will be finished. And the match is sold out. Hospitality sales are high. We have clamouring for tickets. We can only get 40,000 people on to the site. It's not a huge number if you think in terms of football matches and the rest that you have.
So you know, all sides, playing side, I think you've spoken to the captain this week. He stated, I read in today's papers, that he's very happy with the way the team is shaping up. Anybody who qualifies in the ten qualifying places by definition will have to be playing really well at the time. I have seen the advice the captain has given us re: starting times on the first two things, and I think you can be reassured that we will reintroduce a bit more common sense.
Q. We read this week that there's a possibility of industrial action affecting greenskeepers at The K Club which could hit on the eve of the tournament. Have you got any input into that or any insight into that at this stage?
GEORGE O'GRADY: We've certainly discussed it with the owners of the club, Sir Michael Smurfit, and, in fact, the people we hold our contract with, which is the Smurfit Kappa Group, same thing but slightly different.
I think this is Ireland. Common sense solution will be found well before the match.
Q. Luke's comments about the course setup, I mean, I think he was making a general point, is there any substance to it?
GEORGE O'GRADY: It's not something we consciously try to make the courses easy. We are restrained by the kind of courses we play on from time to time.
Wentworth, if you look at the setup of Wentworth now, it's a unique case because we are trying to get that as tough and as championship quality as we could. It hasn't played particularly easy when the whole place has been saturated all week, and it is target golf as opposed to complete precision golf which you would need if the conditions were firmer. But if you go back to some of the last few weeks, certainly no intention of setting up The Belfry easily, but one or two of the other courses we've played have been easier.
But the gesture we want to in time move ourselves on to the best courses we can play. We are constrained again by commercial reality. But if you tell me that Carton House was set up easily I would say, I'm green; some say it's far too tough. And the weather, you have to be mindful of the weather conditions we have, the wind and the rest of the stuff.
But no, we are well aware of it. We are well aware of the technology debate. We are in it with the R&A and the USGA at the major championships. We had a meeting at the Accenture tournament this year, 27 of our players in the tournament, 24 came to a long supper, lasted two and a half of questioning what we do. Technology was one issue and to a man would support the action of the Tour in closely examining and supporting the governing bodies if they were taking some action on the club and the ball.
Q. Do you want to actually name the one leading player who isn't comfortable with the date of this tournament?
GEORGE O'GRADY: Not really, because he's working out his other things. He just has a general principle and he doesn't want to play four weeks up to the Open, in a run up to an Open. He doesn't like having to make the decision between this tournament and the Memorial and whether he plays us and not them, and he's a close friend of Jack Nicklaus. So you have to I think whether it happens in a year's time, I don't know.
Q. And what reaction have you had from players since the announcement that Michelle Wie is playing in Switzerland?
GEORGE O'GRADY: The Michelle Wie announcement is one thing we should probably state for reasons we agreed to that request was brought to our Tournament Committee at The Belfry and was confirmed unanimously by everybody in the room, unanimously, Jean Van de Velde is no longer on that committee. But there's many different issues. The European Masters, formerly the Swiss Open, has got a 60 year history and it's run under the auspices of the Swiss Golf Federation, as you all know, Christian Barras, and the rest. So it's the Swiss Federation firstly asking us in the interest of developing the game in Switzerland on all levels. Omega supported that in asking us as sponsor.
We are well aware in a year's time we are coming into a dates clash with the FedEx Series at the end of the year, and the European Masters are right in the middle of that at a very tough date. We are sitting on a request for releases from five of our leading players to go and play in Singapore on the Asian Tour; these players have earned the right to be given releases because they are good supporters of the Tour.
Now, if your five players are going there, some players are going to America, I mean, we're in the real world. I've said before in these meetings, we're looking after The European Tour, we're not looking after the U.S. Tour. And now that we've secured the European Masters for five years with a big sponsor, and a brilliant young girl of 16 is going to play once, it's my view the interest in gendered, especially after she's made one cut in Asia, doesn't take a spot away from anybody on the Tour. I've explained, these eight sponsor's invitations are in the sponsor and promoter's remit to help promote the game, either that tournament or in their country as they see fit, if they can convince us it's a good idea. In this case I was convinced, and when explained that way, our committee was convinced. So that's one week on, and now we'll look after the other weeks that clash with the FedEx Series.
Q. Last year at Valderrama, you told us you thought it was a gimmick.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Yes, I used the word gimmick, and I'm not going to sit here and try and retract it. I used it and I said; it's been done, we don't need to do it.
But I've said from the beginning we're not totally against ladies playing by invitation. If I think Lewine Mair asked me from the floor, could I come up with an example of where we would, and I think I said if a brilliant young 15 year old in the Canary Islands wanted to play in their tournament, like Michelle Wie played in Hawaii, we'd listen to it. But I said we would listen to it on a case by case basis. If the Swedes want Annika to play and she wants to play and they really think it's going to grow the game in Sweden, we'd do it. Michelle is not going to play anywhere else on this tour. She's going to play once and that's by agreement. It will have interest. It's a stylish tournament, Crans; been around for a long time. And they have also said that the playing position at Crans where length isn't everything, she might have a reasonable chance.
And although we're not into the women versus men, it's not a women versus men argument, there are one or two players who told me on the general principle they don't think it's a great idea, but they are looking forward to having it. They don't have anything against it except for reasons; and more people have said, well, it's going to be a bit of fun, let's go for it. It's just after Ryder Cup qualification in Crans.
The BMW International Open is the last qualifying event for Ryder Cup qualification, so it has an impetus on its own, and we are in negotiations to maintain this company's full support.
Q. Is it still a gimmick, though?
GEORGE O'GRADY: I'm not even going to answer that.
Q. Ian Woosnam said he was slightly unhappy with his playing partners and was going to speak to the Tour. Has he, in fact, spoken to the Tour about that.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Well, I really think you should ask Ian Woosnam rather than me. I did see him and he looked very happy everything. I think he said something about Padraig Harrington, if you don't have a more dedicated Ryder Cup player than that, I understand he's now playing the French Open. Ian Poulter, who is playing both sides, and he's playing the French Open as well, 4 million Euro prize fund, I think they are very welcoming. And I think the French Open the French Open, that's what's really good about The European Tour. A year ago, the last two years, some people were concerned the field was not quite as strong as we might have hoped for a big money tournament. Well, it's got a really good field this year. And last year it finished about nine o'clock at night on Sunday after thunderstorms all day, two Frenchmen contested it, record crowds at nine o'clock at night.
This year in Italy, Francesco Molinari, won the thing, never seen so many Italian golfers on the weekend. Now, that course is an easier course on the Tour. It's an Arnold Palmer golf course and scoring 17 , 18 under par. I guess if we're talking the difficulty of golf course, that is a good argument that there are tougher courses in Italy. Probably not as many better tournament courses in the sense of where it is, geographical location, it's growing the game in Milan, it's a fashion tournament, they want to make is it stylish. Every tournament we're trying to work on has its unique appeal. The Italians are unique and have a stylish way of doing it. BMW International Open is the last qualifying event for Ryder Cup. Crans has got their thing, and this year they have Michelle Wie and in return, we have it secured for five years, as well.
Q. As you know, we in Ireland are all God fearing people. But the Irish Open last week, one of your members upon finding his ball in a very bad lie in the rough on day two, turned to his partner who actually found the ball and said something very impolitely, like "you can f off." Is that kind of thing condoned by the Tour?
GEORGE O'GRADY: I think you're talking about Ian Poulter. It's not condoned. It's not condoned by the Tour, and the most heartening thing is it's not condoned by the individual players if they fall from the lofty ideals we set.
Ian Poulter approached me on Wednesday to discuss the incident and basically to apologize to me as the Tour and to know what he would do. I tend to feel there's much, much more good in Ian Poulter than one particular loss of temper in very tough conditions. I see him when he coaches the Juniors at Woburn, when he does all the things we ask him to do. Ian Poulter has apologized to the Tour. He is in the process, may even have arrived by now, apologized to the chief marshal in Ireland, to all the Irish marshals saying how much he enjoys playing and regretting his swear words, whatever it was, and his attitude. And he's been fined substantially by the Tour, and a fine that he suggested, I must say.
Q. What was the amount?
GEORGE O'GRADY: He knows the thing and I said it was a view he should make a substantial fine to the tour, and if he got it was substantial enough, as long as he went through the apologize to the people concerned. Still many people make mistakes in life and been big enough to say sorry afterwards. He's done that apology and it's gone in the post, and he suggested a figure which I found acceptable.
Q. Does that happen a lot?
GEORGE O'GRADY: It does when I do it, yeah. I take the responsibility, I use that line. What would Arnold Palmer do if he were in that situation, and funny enough, it makes people think. I said I see more good in Poulter than bad than one loss of temper, and I'd rather look after that; I think a lot of the actions he does he's great at bringing young people into the game. I have no concern on where he stands with his dress, he's always immaculate. I just know if we have kids who want to do something, I ask Ian Poulter would he go down and deal with it; nothing is too much trouble. When we won the Ryder Cup and he walked into the central circle at Arsenal carrying the Ryder Cup, it's good for us. He's a good role model most of the time. One incident has been dealt with now and that's the thing. Well, that's it, it's just a blip.
Q. Do fines get put in general confidence or a certain purpose?
GEORGE O'GRADY: We've enhanced all the players facilities across the tour. They go into basically it goes into the budget which we call the players services budget. We've enhanced everything this week, the players facility, and Peter Alliss was almost stunned when he saw the level, and even this wonderful new media center that together with the BMW, the player facility, the caddie facility they are all enhanced, and it's good to get a contribution towards it.
Q. More enhanced
GEORGE O'GRADY: I think the biggest thing for me and for the Tour, the biggest thing for us is that Ian knows he was suffering from stress in very tough weather conditions. There's no excuse for it and he accepts there's no excuse. So Charlie's question is that, no, we don't condone it, but what is even better for us is the individual players don't condone it. That gives us greater heart for the future.
Q. As you sit here now, would you tell me how you rate yourself and the Tour at stopping the U.S. Tour from taking the over the world?
GEORGE O'GRADY: How I rate?
Q. Yeah, how are you getting on in stopping the U.S. Tour from buggering up most
GORDON SIMPSON: Strike that from the record.
GEORGE O'GRADY: There have been quite a few discussions at Sawgrass, the Accenture tournament and Augusta.
It will become readily apparent when we refine our 2007 dates where we're trying to focus ourselves. We spent a lot of effort with various players to find the right period to put tournaments in. We are examining where we were with the PGA Tour, which is a crossroads because they bring a welter of marketing muscle and money to grow the game, develop the game with kids and the rest. I think you'll find a greater cooperation on amateur and professional golf between ourselves and R&A. At the moment we have good relationships with R&A and now we have very strong relations in different parts of the world. No, I couldn't give you a straight answer to where we are but it's ongoing.
Q. Will we see these changes when next year's schedule is outlined, is that what you're saying?
GEORGE O'GRADY: You will see some. It will be a gradual process. I think the last time we had a meeting on this was in Dubai, I may make reference to an idea of Ernie Els about putting all the Gulf tournaments at the end of the year. Seemed like a very straightforward thing to do. Actually very difficult to make it happen. So you won't see that in 2007 initially. We'll be opening the season the same as this year, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Dubai. But down the line we're looking at the idea of that and there's other stuff. They are not things that can just be done at the click of a finger, each tournament is too big now.
Q. Going back to the fine, you said that Ian Poulter nominated his own, do you fine them according to their means or how does it go?
GEORGE O'GRADY: Well, we don't have to do this very often. That's the good thing. I think this was such an unusual situation for various different reasons. And I come back, we do not condone that kind of language, especially if it's in any way directed to the volunteers at tournament. The volunteers support of The European Tour, all tours, is absolutely the bedrock, so we don't have it.
I found that's a far better way of dealing, and certainly this case, with Ian, than actually saying, here I am the big headmaster with the stick, you are fined X. Much more important I work for him, so he had to tell me what to fine himself. Just as with every Tour member, away from the pressure of actually playing under the gun, they were foul conditions in Ireland for the players, but there's still no excuse. But when he's calmly takes it in, he knows something should be done. He suggested what I would call a pretty big fine, and I said, all fair, that will do for me, done.
Q. Can you reveal the exact amount?
GEORGE O'GRADY: Well, we don't it do it every week with every other else. So Ian Poulter can reveal it to you if he wants to.
Q. Why not, George? It's in the public interest to know, especially, is when the player nominated his fine.
GEORGE O'GRADY: David, do we make this public?
DAVID GARLAND: No.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Generally speaking, no. I think substantial. I think if Ian Poulter wants to tell you, he can tell you, but it would be as high as we've given to anyone.
Q. Did Ian Poulter bring it to your attention, when it became public, when it was written about?
GEORGE O'GRADY: I think the tournament I think the public brought it to my attention, certain e mails written through our press office and the rest of the stuff that comes through. Equally as well, people wrote e mail saying pay no attention, look to the good work that Ian does, coaching that, bedrock of the Junior section and all that stuff. It's an equal measure.
But you can have all the good things that a chap does, but you can you know, like you could say Tiger Woods. He's sworn once on live television, but that's swearing at himself on the tee on Pebble Beach and he's got a camera on him wherever he plays all the time and he has frustrations.
Ian I think knew he stepped out of line, and he probably knew someone was going to be on him anyway because it was a stressful week for our field staff in Ireland. He chose, which is his exact right to speak, speak to me.
Well, I've encouraged our top players to feel they have a direct line to me at any time, at any business meeting I'm at, if any must be of the Tour wants to speak to me, the meeting stops. We're working in this, I don't want to lose it in the last couple weeks, I'm worried the last few weeks with the tough conditions we've had that our standards of behavior might have slipped slightly and certain players have come to see me to say that. We have a program going that separates us from just about every other sport. Their standards of behavior are so high under pressure. Weather like that brings it out.
I think personally, yes, Ian Poulter has done wrong with his language and his treatment of people. We've all done that in our own life and regretted it afterwards. If you ever do your own standards slip and swear at, the only way out of it is to apologize immediately. Ian Poulter goes off to the Memorial, flying first thing in the morning and his record book is now clear, it's dealt with, apologized, fined, move on. Not malice aforethought.
Q. When you say as high as anybody, do you include slow play fines?
GEORGE O'GRADY: Oh, slow play, he's probably guilty of slow play now. (Laughter.)
Q. Slow play at 16,000 pounds?
GEORGE O'GRADY: No, we're not don't trap me on this one because that is a penalty, as opposed to a fine. I know it's money but you get it because you do this, that and the other, this is a value judgment. I really don't think it's a 16,000 pound fine. It's exactly the right amount in my opinion together with a proper apology. I mean he's convinced me, he apologized and I think he's such a force for good and off we do go.
Q. Given the relative ferocity and snappiness of the remark and the relative ease of player of resources to pay a fine, did he make any attempt to apologize to this person himself?
GEORGE O'GRADY: I wasn't there. I haven't been told. I'm told that to do it himself, he did not want to make a formal complaint. He wasn't prepared to make a formal complaint. Well, that's almost irrelevant to us. There's enough other people who have seen it. As I say, there's a genuine apology, he was under the gun, he was very angry, he shouldn't have done what he's done, he apologized for what he said, he's been, whatever, he's a grown, hard professional sportsman in a tough game. These things are going to happen from time to time. We're in the real word. It's been dealt with, it's over.
Q. With the greatest respect, this tournament has been moved on, this chapter has moved on since your company took over, how big do you want to make it? The comparison to the U.S. Tour, how big do you as a company wish to make this tournament in a global sense, and also, do you get any substantive evidence that this is doing for you what you hoped it would when you took up the sponsorship?
JIM O'DONNELL: We don't have substantive evidence for us that it's doing anything for us the U.K. in terms of our brand positioning, but it's been one year and that's understandable.
What I do believe is that by incorporating things like courses, etc., we want to make this it's like going to Ascot in the summer, going to Henley, we want to make this part of the season of the British entertainment. We want to make it one of right up there with Ascot, Henley, Wimbledon, etc. We still think there's a lot to do to move this tournament forward. Certainly from a European's perspective expect this to be the best tournament that BMW puts on in Europe or, indeed in Asia.
And the reason I say that is I think because the U.K. is the home of golf. I think that we have a right to expect that we are going to do something in the U.K., we do it properly. Also in the U.K. relative to our European markets we have the strongest position of BMW anywhere in Europe and we want to maintain that position as well.
So I think there's a lot more we can do to make this a more welcome tournament, a more exciting tournament and make sure, that the challenges from the U.S. Tour in terms of people coming here to play are met, as well. So.
I'm very confident that we have only seen the beginning of what we can do to in the tune with Wentworth club to move this tournament forward. It is the second biggest tournament in Europe and we are determined it will get closer. It will never rival the Open, but will raise the bar.
Q. Would you like then to see it as a level as the U.S. PGA?
JIM O'DONNELL: Well, unfortunately, I've never been to a U.S. PGA Tour event, so perhaps if George invited me on one, I'll then give you a comparison. (Laughter).
It's interesting, we've been getting calls from BMW USA over here this week looking at what the tournament does for BMW in the U.K., what it does for BMW in Europe and considering whether they should become involved in it, because the managing director from BMW USA who is also a Scot was here last year and he was very impressed by it. It's very difficult when you have a personal interest in golf to make sure that you are pushing it not for personal reasons but for the right reasons. So he sent his team across this year. I think they left with a very, very positive feeling, but, who knows, we'll watch the space.
Q. Question to George. Would you like to see this PGA ranked alongside the U.S. PGA?
GEORGE O'GRADY: Well, I probably would but there are four major golf championships in the world, and I don't really see it changing in my lifetime. I think before we have such overt commercial sponsorship it can't become a major championship as such. It seems to be the majors have their sponsorship more in the background.
We have nothing wrong with BMW's branding of it thing. We need their money to take it forwards. We need a company who shares our vision to push it forward. We are not arrogant to think that this is going to be a major championship. We are the Tour's major championship, we are the Tour's major championship and we'll continue to have it positioned there and it will lead where the European Tour goes. Whether that's Wentworth or whether we go to play somewhere else in Europe or in Scotland, that's what we'll do. But we'll keep it in that positioning and BMW both in the United Kingdom and Munich share the wish to have that showing every sign of a good championship. That's what we want to be.
Q. Would you consider having the PGA mark re inserted? I know the reasons why it's not there, but I think as far as its status, PGA?
GEORGE O'GRADY: I think we want it up there. This tournament has 64 World Ranking points because it is the PGA Championship. If we lose the fact that it's the PGA, we can just go back to being 32 or 20 World Ranking points. That's one for us and BMW to keep in a marketing brief.
I tell you one thing, playing for a 1 million pound prize fund won't do it for us. We're playing a 3 million prize fund and we're going upwards as well, and all the investment we have here. So every aspect of tournament is run as well as we can make it. It is the PGA Championship and we'll keep it that way because we are at 52 years I think now.
I hear what you're saying. These things have to be worked out in boardrooms.
GORDON SIMPSON: I think we can close now. George, Jim, thank you very much.
End of FastScripts.