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June 28, 2006

Henry Hughes


TODD BUDNICK: I know a few guys asked to see if Henry Hughes could stop by. He has joined us today. Let's jump into questions now that you've had a chance to watch the video from New York, and Henry will be available for your questions.

Q. Are you as excited about this as the commissioner is, as far as basically turning the page and bringing the PGA Tour now further into the 21st Century?

HENRY HUGHES: You know, there is a huge excitement factor for all of us on the staff that have worked on this. As the Commissioner mentioned, this has been going on for two and a half years or so with FedEx and working with the tournament sponsors and the players our television partners, so there is a great feeling of fulfillment that it's done, it's announced.

But I think the more important thing and the more exciting thing is 2007, as we launch into that. It's going to be a new perspective. Our tag line is: A new era in golf. You're going to look at it differently.

Q. Prior to NASCAR going to a similar type of format, were you guys thinking about that already and how successful that was, or did you take what they've done and kind of mirror what they've done given its success?

HENRY HUGHES: Any time you embark upon a new program you want to take a look at existing programs, how successful or unsuccessful, wherever they may fall, and learn from that. Certainly we looked at NASCAR.

But we have several significant differences, the most important being that they have the same field every week. The same cars and same drivers race every week. So our sport is significantly different than that, given the fact that the teams, if you will, compared to different sports are different. We have a different makeup every year. Sure, we looked at that and took a lot of time to evaluate the program and tried to take the best and tried to improve on things that weren't working as well.

Q. Difficult decision in devising the point distribution?

HENRY HUGHES: Well, I'm not sure that difficult is the right word, but I think the most challenging thing was finding a reluctant to change. Human nature is one where you would like things to stay the way they are. They're going along nicely and you could easily argue that our Tour has prospered, our television ratings have significantly increased over the years. But all sports are taking a little bit of a leveling out now, so we thought it was important that we take a look at our product.

Whatever business you might be in, you always have to have a better product. Baseball is building million dollar stadiums, football is playing international games. We thought it important to take our product and refine it.

Probably the reluctance to change, when we talked to our athletes and when we talked to our fans and say it's going to be totally different next year, there's always a reaction like, is that good or bad. We hope it means good.

Q. The BMW Western Open has always been associated with Chicago, but in the new format it's going to be in St. Louis and Cincinnati. What were the reasons for moving it around?

HENRY HUGHES: Well, there were two significant reasons. Actually, I'll correct you a little bit. The Western Open, historically, way back, did most around the Midwest, so we thought it would be important to go back to that.

We have wonderful golf fans throughout the country, including right here in Hartford. But to have an event like one of our playoffs limited to one town, even though it's a very large town, we thought it was important we take it to different venues and move to St. Louis and move to Crooked Stick and different areas.

The other factor, which our players were very concerned about and interested in and now feel good about, is that we don't play one golf course for the events of these significance, we try to move them around, which caters to different levels of ability, long, short, tight, wide, whatever it may be.

Q. Have there been any negative reaction at all? How about events that were dropped off the schedule? Do you get any feedback from those people that they're sorry they're sorry they're not in the mix anymore?

HENRY HUGHES: I think everyone wants to be associated with success. And we're thrilled that the soon to be Travelers Championship, the Buick Championship, is going to be part of the FedEx season. We went through difficult times to get to that point, but we're thrilled they are part of this program.

To answer and say an event who hoped to be part of the FedEx program, who didn't ultimately become part of it, I'm sure there is some disappointment. In the same respect, we're going to play six or seven times in the fall series, following the FedEx Cup, and those are events that will be successful. They be a little smaller in nature, but they will attract a very strong field. Top players will play there. It will be official money and it will continue to be part of the PGA Tour.

Q. The guys who made a push to this who find themselves or worked themselves up to the top of the FedEx standings, will they play much more or are they going to be play the same schedule regardless

HENRY HUGHES: I know you just got the information today and haven't had a chance to digest it. If you go through the point differentials, when you get to the playoffs, remember it's 37 weeks to compete in the playoffs. The highest separation is 1,000 points and it gets down to 250 points. We've talked to many players about this. Top players will concede very quickly that it's key to be seeded high because you're going to be playing for a lot of points in the playoffs. The volatility could be significant.

It also could be a situation where you're the not going to be able to take time off. If you have a 1,000, 2000, 5,000 point lead and the winner one of the playoffs earns 9,000 points in that one week, you can easily be passed by.

The feedback we've had, nothing is proven because we haven't done it, but the feedback from our players is that they're going to keep a closer look at the points, they're very focused on the seeding after the 37th week going into the playoffs, and it's going to be who is going to be playing a little bit more.

Q. You mentioned the BMW Championship moving around the Midwest. Is there a chance that the two northeastern playoff spots will be moved to the same course, the Buick Championship, in the playoff?

HENRY HUGHES: Two parts. Ideally we would like to see some rotation, such as the Deutsche Bank events and the Barclays Classic, but we wouldn't play an event here if we have an event here. We wouldn't play two events at the same site.

Q. With respect to the Western Open, Butler National was taken off because of the issues that had to be resolved. Any chance that has changed at all, or is Butler still off to the side?

HENRY HUGHES: For those who don't know what he's referenced, Butler National had a restricted membership policy and we're not allowed to play, by our charter, at any clubs that don't have full access to all people who care to be a member. To the best of my knowledge, that has not changed. We will not be going back there in the short term.

Q. How soon will we know when the fall series will be finalized?

HENRY HUGHES: I'd like to tell you right now. We're hoping for six or seven events. We are in the process of contracting with five of those events. We have a sixth one very, very close. I'm hoping it's within 30 days. We need to get that resolved. We feel confident we'll have a full complement of tournaments. We have two or three events kind of vying for that last spot. We don't want to announce it piecemeal, so again, hopefully within 30 days.

End of FastScripts.

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