June 5, 2002
HARRISON, NEW YORK
BOB COMBS: Thank you for joining us.
I'd like to say that we are honored here this morning by the presence of Mayor Giuliani, who is honorary chairman of this event and who spent a very enjoyable morning out on the course today following his son, Andrew, who played with Phil Mickelson, Joe Torre and others.
We also have former Deputy Mayor Rudy Washington, who had a nice morning himself, and thank you for being here as well.
Representing the Player Directors of the Policy Board, Hal Sutton. Hal, thank you very much for being with us here today.
Before we get to the announcements, I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that earlier today, city officials and Joe Louis Barrow of The First Tee staff joined together for the exciting dedication of The First Tee facility of Metropolitan New York at Mosholu Golf Course in the Bronx. That is a project that Mayor Giuliani remembers well because he provided the impetus to and support to get The First Tee launched here in New York five years ago. So this is a very special day for the Mayor and the many people who will benefit from the facility.
Mayor Bloomberg has issued a proclamation today making this First Tee Day here in New York, and we appreciate that very much.
We are also delighted to have some other very special guests here at the tournament with us. Events like the Buick Classic always succeed best when there is a strong community and host club partnership, and we certainly have that with us here. We have with us Joe Pepe, the Club President. Andrew Spano, the Westchester County Executive, Larry Schwartz, the Deputy Executive for the county, and Steve Malfitano, the Mayor of Harrison.
Without further ado, I'd like to introduce a man who is chief operating officer of the PGA TOUR, Henry Hughes, senior vice president with our organization, and he is going to give you an update on a number of important things, and a particular important announcement about this event.
HENRY HUGHES: We have a very exciting announcement with our partners here, the Buick Motor Division. I'd like to turn to Roger Adams, who is the general manager of the Buick Division and you see Roger here on the video screens.
ROGER ADAMS: Thanks, Henry.
I wish I could be with all of you there today at the beautiful Westchester Country Club. I understand the forecast for the weekend is great and with the outstanding field assembled, I'm sure you are in for another fantastic Buick Classic this year.
I'd like to take a look towards the future. I am pleased announce that Buick has renewed its sponsorship agreement for the next four years as the longest-running corporate sponsor of the PGA TOUR. We look to continuing our relationship with the TOUR and its players. Under this agreement, Buick will continue as the official car of the PGA TOUR, and as title sponsor of three of the TOUR's top events, the Buick Classic, the Buick Invitational and the Buick Open.
In addition, earlier this year, we renewed contracts with three PGA TOUR players, J.J. Henry, Matt Gogel, David Berganio, Jr., and we have a continuing contract with the world's No. 1 player, Tiger Woods.
In addition, I'm very pleased to announce that Buick will continue to sponsor a PGA TOUR event right here in the New York market. As all of you there know, New York is a great city, with great sports fans and personalities, including some of today's Pro-Am participants: Joe Torre, Tiki Barber, O.J. Anderson and Mayor Giuliani's son, Andrew. The Buick Classic is an outstanding tournament and we look forward to four more years at this premiere event.
Finally, I'm proud to announce that we have been able to raise more than $23 million for local charities for our PGA TOUR events, including more than $12 million for the Buick Classic charities. At Buick we are well aware of how important it is to support the local causes in our tournament cities. As Buick builds on its premium position in the market, we are very pleased to be able to continue our relationship with the PGA TOUR.
Professional golf is a premium, growing sport with a lot of opportunity for fan involvement and local charitable activities. It is an ideal way for us at Buick to gain visibility for our products.
With the TOUR's increasing popularity, our marketing partnership with Tiger Woods and the ongoing support of everyone at the PGA TOUR, I look forward to solidifying Buick as the official car of golf for many years to come.
Henry, back to you.
HENRY HUGHES: Thank you. Sorry you could you not be with us today, but we appreciate that exciting announcement.
As Buick mentioned, it is our longest-standing sponsor with over 40 years of involvement with the PGA TOUR, and they have served as the official car of our organization since 1984.
Roger, thank you. Everyone at Buick, thank you, for that continued support of our events.
Roger's announcement comes at a very opportune time for us. Over the past several weeks, we have announced other tournaments and other renewals. Our schedule is virtually renewed, up-to-date through the events we are playing. Most recently we announced an extension and renewal with our friends at Compaq in New Orleans, with the Kemper Insurance Company in the D.C. area, WorldCom at Hilton Head, a brand new sponsor in the form of EDS at the Byron Nelson Classic, Bank of America joining us at Colonial, and our newest event, the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte.
It is a very exciting time for us. We are finding a tremendous number of people looking to be involved with the PGA TOUR and our sponsorships are very strong. We have just a handful of tournaments remaining to complete our sponsorship slate. We have active conversations going on at all of those tournaments, and we expect to make an announcement of our full schedule very shortly.
As we've said several times, obviously, we will be fully sponsored and have a full complement of tournaments through the next cycle of 2003 through 2006.
While we are announcing our sponsorships, we also have renewed several of our marketing relationships recently, the two most recent: Our relationship with Anheuser-Busch and with the Canon Corporation. So in a very difficult economic time, we are continuing to strive to bring new sponsors in, and also renew sponsors like Buick that we have been dealing with for a long time.
With that, I would just like to answer any questions about our sponsorships, our marketing renewals or the Buick relationship.
Q. Has it been difficult with the economy to maintain sponsors, and are you confident, as you said you will be fully sponsored from 2003 to 2006, but has it been difficult to maintain those relationships in this economy?
HENRY HUGHES: Sure. Like everyone else in the business world, we recognize and we have experienced difficult times, given the economic situations. Our resistance really has not been whether people are going to make the decision, but it has been the process and the timing of the decision.
In the past when times were better, when economic strengths were higher, our sponsors would renew in a very quick fashion. Like everyone else in their business and in their homes, everyone is evaluating the way they spend their dollars and making sure that the value comes through. We are very fortunate that we deliver a very significant amount of value, as compared to other sports. We find that the acceptance rate is very high.
The process is a little slower, which I guess would be more difficult, but we are happy the results are coming out the way we would like.
Q. Roger Adams said four years in the New York Metropolitan area, but no mention of a golf course. Is it coming back to Westchester or is it going somewhere else?
HENRY HUGHES: We do have an announcement here, as well. Our championship management staff is working here with Westchester Country Club and is happy to announce that it will be back here in 2003 and 2004. We will continue the Buick Classic just the way you see it now here at the Westchester Country Club, and we are thrilled to be here.
Q. Anything about a new sponsor at Hartford?
HENRY HUGHES: Hartford is one of the tournaments that we are not completely completed with our sponsorship negotiation. We have ongoing conversations. We met as recently as last week, and we have several prospects attending the tournament this year. We are very confident that Hartford will continue as part of the PGA TOUR, and we look forward to giving you some more exciting announcements in the next few weeks.
Q. You mentioned four years in New York, but you only mentioned two years at the Westchester Country Club. Does that mean at the end of the two-year contract you are actively going to look at another site?
HENRY HUGHES: No. It just means we are in continuing conversations where we are thrilled to renew the contract through 2004 and we will continue to talk to Westchester Country Club and do everything possible to have the best site for the tournament.
Q. There were three Buick tournaments mentioned for next year, but there's four this year. Is the Buick Challenge losing its sponsorship?
HENRY HUGHES: Yes, that is the one they have dropped. They have increased their involvement with the three remaining events, and along with the official car, stay on as our largest sponsor.
Q. Why is the tournament staying here? What do you like about this course?
HENRY HUGHES: Well, I'm not a very good player, so I'm not sure that I like an awful lot about it. But our players love this golf course. They think it is a very good challenge. We have a long-standing tradition here and we try and play on the best possible facilities each week. The relationship here at the Westchester Country Club has been great and we have a relationship that we want to try to continue. It is well thought of by our players, very challenging, yet a fair golf course.
Q. The first part of Mr. Adams' words were not fully understandable. I understand that you are dropping the Buick challenge, but extending the contract with the other three, which would mean the Buick Open, Classic and Invitational. Is that correct that the Buick Open is being contended for four more years, and will it continue to be at Warwick Hills?
HENRY HUGHES: The answer is yes to both of those questions. The Buick Open will continue in the next period, which is the contract period 2003 through 2006. We will continue to play at Warwick Hills, currently contracted through 2003. We don't intend any changes at this point.
Q. You mentioned an increased involvement with the other three tournaments, particularly with the Buick Invitational. What do you mean by that and how will you increase your involvement?
HENRY HUGHES: Like everything else in life I guess, but especially in sports, all of our events continue to try to be the best they can to be and grow themselves in the community and affect the reach within the community. We are thrilled to have a partner like Buick who will help us do that. The firepower of the Buick brand as we go into the various markets allows us to expand that reach and allow it to grow additional dollars for charity and the community.
So Buick has committed to continue to grow that effort with us so that we are able to enhance all of the communities that are reached by these tournaments.
BOB COMBS: Thank you, Henry.
And especially Roger, thank you for your presence and your very exciting announcement. We appreciate you taking time out of your prior commitments.
We are now going to move on to another portion of the press conference. As I mentioned, we are honored by the presence of Mayor Giuliani. Henry is going to come up in a minute and give a little background on an important presentation that we'd like to encourage Mayor Giuliani to join us for and Hal Sutton.
HENRY HUGHES: In addition to our sponsorship and our business growth, obviously one of the things that is very key to the PGA TOUR is the way we impact charity around the country and around the world. No one knows better than the citizens in New York, the tragedy that happened on September 11.
I just think it is important for you to know that at PGA TOUR headquarters, we immediately began putting into place a project and a program that allowed us to gather dollars to be provided for those in need from the tragedy of 9/11. The organization, the New York Police and Fire Widows and Children's Benefit Fund was established in the mid-80s by former baseball player, Rusty Staub, and provides funds and comfort to the people who have families who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
The PGA TOUR, in conjunction with our three tournaments in the New York area, are proud to announce the contribution of $500,000 which is going to go to that fund. The first portion we are going to make a three-staged announcement to allow all of our tournaments to be aware, but last week at the NFL Classic, the first payment of that $500,000 was made on behalf of the SENIOR TOUR. Today we are going to make the second payment towards that total of $500,000. And then in about a month's time at the Lightpath Senior Classic on Long Island, we will complete that pledge.
It is very important to us. It has impacted so many people. But our players were very vocal and very involved in wanting to make sure that we provided a way that we as a charitable organization could make a donation, but also provide a way for them as players or individual tournaments and our sponsors to contribute to those dollars. That fund has now reached a total of $3 million, and we are happy to be starting to distribute that.
Here today, we have Paul Bohan, the director of the fund, and I know he's going to put these dollars to good work.
I'd like to thank Hal Sutton, one of our great players and a member of our Policy Board to come up and make the presentation to Mayor Giuliani.
HAL SUTTON: Mayor Giuliani, on behalf of the PGA TOUR and the Policy Board -- and I'm sorry to say Commissioner Finchem could not be here today because he's ill, and I'm not quite as eloquent as he is, but on behalf of the PGA TOUR, here is the check.
MAYOR GIULIANI: Just so I don't spend it all, Paul.
PAUL BOHAN: Thank you very much.
MAYOR GIULIANI: Thank you very much, Hal. You may not be as eloquent, but you're a lot better golfer than he is and you're very, very generous. (Laughter.)
I'm very, very moved by the fact that you raised all of this money, that the players and all of the people associated with the TOUR thought about our police officers and our firefighters and rescue workers and the people we've lost.
The fund to which you've donated money is a fund that preexisted September 11. It is a fund that I have a great deal of experience with. Every time I lost a firefighter or a police officer when I was Mayor, I remember each one of them before September 11. It was Rusty Staub and his fund that came forward and made sure that the families didn't feel alone. They would immediately send the money, reach out to them, give them help, give them assistance. It has a tremendous practical benefit, obviously, because it says to somebody who has just lost the breadwinner in the family that financially, they are going to be secure.
But it does something else, too. It says they are going to be embraced. The sacrifice made by their loved ones is respected and honored.
Then when you get to September 11, and there are so many. There are over 400 firefighters and police officers who died on September 11, New York City and the Port Authority. That was one of the great concerns that I had, because we always went out of our way whenever we lost a police officer or a firefighter to make their families felt very special, to make them feel cared for, to make sure we raised a lot of money for them to give them a lot of attention. I was very worried that we would not be able to do that for hundreds and hundreds of families. But because people like you have reached out and raised so much money for them, that has helped.
I should assure you, I know there are stories written about how much money is raised for the police officers and the firefighters and the rescue workers. When you divide the amount of money that's been raised for them into the number of children that have to be cared for for the rest of their lives, and you recognize the expenses that it takes to educate a young person and to give them the financial security that the person they lost would have given them, we are not even there yet. So this is beautiful and it's a wonderful thing.
And we can never forget their sacrifice. If it was not for the way the New York firefighter, the New York police officers and the Port Authority police officers and the other rescue workers who ran into that fire, ran into hell, if it was not for the way they acted, if it was not for the brave response they gave, the response of America would not nearly have been as strong. They gave us a lot of the strength to fight back because they fought back immediately.
So remembering them is very, very important. It's nice to see Andrew Spano here. I'm very pleased that you are here and you gave us a great deal of help and assistance as a neighbor. I know you suffered great losses in your community, as well. Many of the people that we lost at the World Trade Center were from Westchester, some of them from New Jersey, all of the surrounding areas and from 83 different countries. This was an attack that affected the world.
I also want to thank the PGA TOUR and Buick for sticking with New York. I think it's very exciting that you have announced four more years here. In my business, four years is a long time. In fact, you want them to chance that, "Four more years, four more years."
Announcing four more years here in this market, in this community, this is a great golf community. I really urge people to come out and see the Buick and see this wonderful tournament and get turned onto golf.
The reason I watch Andrew play golf in this tournament, first of all, he's a lot better than I am. And second, he's the reason I play golf. For the first 52 or 53 years of my life I would not play golf. I thought it took too long, was too difficult. And then my son started me playing golf and I've become addicted to it. It's a great game. It's a wonderful game. When people ask me what do I regret in life, one of the things I regret in life was not starting to play when I was his age, 12 or 13 or 14.
You can get started in this game any time. It's a great game to watch. It's a great game to play and it's wonderful for the economy of the City, the region for Westchester to have Buick here and to have the PGA TOUR here.
I thank you for sticking with us through good times, bad times and even now, sticking with us through this terrible attack.
Thank you and God bless you. (Applause).
BOB COMBS: Thank you, Mayor, for your eloquent comments, and obviously for your leadership.
Thank you, Hal, for your comments.
Q. You mentioned Hartford and continuing conversations with Hartford. What does that mean? It's not a Buick event; where would Buick fit in with the Hartford tournament in the future?
HENRY HUGHES: That should not be confused. I think the question was asked separately about the Canon Greater Hartford Open. It has been announced that Canon will not continue beyond this year. This is their 18th year of sponsorship in Hartford and their business has moved in another direction. We are pursuing two or three other potential sponsors for Canon, but not to be confused with Buick. It's not Buick.
Q. Do you have an estimate of how many tournaments will have to have new sponsors 2003, and who will sponsor the former Buick Challenge?
HENRY HUGHES: That's difficult to answer that question. We do this about every four years, we renew all of our sponsors, and the last time we did this, I believe we had seven sponsors change. So it would not be unusual to have that number be approximately the same; six to eight tournaments that might have a new sponsor. We will be fully sponsored and have a full slate of tournaments.
As far as the Buick Challenge, that is an event that is seeking sponsorship right now. If they were to maintain a new sponsorship then we would put them on the schedule, and if not, we would have to find another site.
Q. Hal, what are your feelings about keeping the Buick Classic in Westchester County, and specifically, your feelings about this golf course?
HAL SUTTON: Well, I think that Westchester is a great golf course. We don't have the opportunity to play many older, traditional great golf courses anymore. And I'm looking up at Henry as I say that. (Laughter.)
But we are always excited to play a traditional golf course. It's in great shape this week, now that the weather has passed us, I think. We are looking forward to a great championship. I'm excited see it coming back here for the next few years.
BOB COMBS: Thanks very much for your time and attention.
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