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June 7, 2007

Carolyn Bivens


PAM WARNER: I'd like to welcome Commissioner Carolyn Bivens into the interview room. She's just going to start by making an opening statement.
CAROLYN BIVENS: I'm going to make a fairly brief opening statement and I will take a few questions, and I'll outline some of the things that we can and can't talk about.
I want to go back to last Thursday and the round in Charleston at River Town. Thursday morning, actually, beginning with the fifth hole that Michelle played, which was the 14th, there began to circulate all kind of rumors, innuendos and questions about a potential ruling, or lack thereof. There was a lot of things swirling around the media center. There were also questions that needed to be answered about interpretations of rules and regulations for Michelle's playing partners, and also for Michelle's camp.
We worked on that for several hours. We worked on rulings that had to do with the outside advice rule. We went so far as to make sure that we were right in the ruling and the interpretation that we were making. We called the USGA. That was the focus for about the first two, two and a half hours of the round in Charleston last week.
The 88 rule only came in to effect by the time that Michelle had finished what would have been her 10th or 11th hole and shot the 10.
The Wie camp asked questions about the rules and the regulations, and we did as we do every week, and as we had done earlier that day for her playing partners and for others out in the field; we answered the questions regarding the rules and the regulations. At no time did anyone from the LPGA make any suggestion that Michelle should come off of the course.
Let me then go to some conversations and some comments this week. Let me first address there have been a number of LPGA members that have gone public, beginning with Annika, regarding Michelle and her coming here and practicing after pulling out last week.
This is a membership organization. The LPGA is owned by the members. We are also very different from many other associations in that our founders, six of them at least, are still alive, and we are very cognizant of where this organization has come from and why it is where it is today.
Last Tuesday day night, we kicked off the opening of the Ginn Tribute hosted by ANNIKA by honoring the founders. That was the selection of Annika and of a committee made up of a cross-section of people from the industry. The founders were there and being saluted. That's not so unusual, other than the fact that we shared with the rest of the world, there certainly are responsibilities and privileges that come along with playing on the LPGA.
Every person who tees it up on the LPGA signs a registration form that says they are bound by the rules and regulations of the LPGA. It implies uniformly and it applies across the board. Clearly Annika's comments reflect those of some of the membership where they feel that the privileges that very few women get the opportunity to earn a living playing on the LPGA; it is a privilege and it is not a right; and when it is treated as less than with the weight that members who have poured their hearts and souls and have abided by the rules and given to the organization; when they feel those are broken, they have every right to comment.
I will confirm that Mr. Wie, Greg Nared and I did meet; it was at my request on Tuesday. The contents of the conversation will remain confidential, just as they would with any other member that I would speak to and do on a regular basis.
I will tell you that I was traveling all day on Monday. The conversations had nothing to do with this week. Though there's been lots of speculation and there has been lots that has been written. When I came in here on Tuesday morning, I already had the meeting set and new nothing about anything that had happened here on Monday. So the conversations did not have to do with the Pro-Am as has been speculated in the press. So that's really the statement that I have to make.
The one thing that I will not go into is any of the conversation that took place with Mr. Wie, Greg Nared and myself.

Q. How do you think the conversation went without getting into details? Did he accept what you had to say; not what was said but just the tone of it.
CAROLYN BIVENS: I'm not going to -- I'm not going to discuss it.

Q. Could you comment on Annika, she was very strong in her comments in terms of showing a lack of respect and a lack of class. I'm wondering, you as a Commissioner, do you feel the same thing? Was there a lack of respect and should it have been handled differently, the withdrawal, the whole incident at the Ginn Tribute?
CAROLYN BIVENS: I think that when -- let me go back and I'm going to say last week was an inaugural tournament. But I'll also say it was separated from a lot of other tournaments because it was the Tribute and the tribute was to the founders.
Annika and the Ginn organization extended -- extended an invitation. It was under that invitation, that exemption that Michelle was playing.
I think that leaving the tournament and coming to practice when one had pulled out with a wrist was not very respectful, and that's what Annika and what some of the other members are responding to.

Q. Do you think that there needs to be any changes in the rules nor non-members as far as coming early personally to practice and different rules and regulations for members?
CAROLYN BIVENS: Did everybody hear the question? Do there need to be changes to the rules and regulations for non-members.
Every time we go through one of these situations, we really do go back and do our own Monday morning quarterbacking. I can't say with everything that's happened we would do better. I will say that we are in very early conversations about what we might do to look at the rules and regulations that govern non-members. There are definitely are, shall I say, some holes and improvements I think we can make.

Q. Do you ever thoughts on the 88 rule and whether that still need to be in existence?
CAROLYN BIVENS: I really don't. Someone here and I don't remember who it was, did a very good job in going back as to how the 88 rule ever even came to being when there have been a number of amateurs, teaching club professionals were competing.
I'm not the expert on the rules. It's something that our executive committee will look at. What we generally do is at the end of the year we take two or three days in what's called think tank and the members of the executive committee, of which Annika is a member, get into some of the meatier issues that we really can't deal with during the playing year. And we figure out what needs to be changed, what needs to improve, what needs to be added for the following year.

Q. Michelle came in here as you well know and said, basically, I don't think I have anything to apologize for. Do you as a Commissioner, would you recommend that perhaps she does have something to apologize for, and would that help diffuse the situation?
CAROLYN BIVENS: Len, Michelle is a 17-year-old girl. Though it was a lot of years ago, I once was 17; I can't imagine being 16 and 17 in the spotlight that she's in right now.
I think that those who are advising her, I have to hope are keeping her best interests and her long-term interests in mind.

Q. How comfortable or confident do you feel that the people around her do have her best interests in the long-term interests at heart given the things that happened recently?
CAROLYN BIVENS: I'm not close enough. I don't think unless you're inside that circle and unless you're standing in those shoes that you really know. I can't comment. I just don't know enough to comment on it.

Q. Do you feel concern for her personally just that she is 17 and being put in that kind of spotlight where it seems the pressure is exacerbated?
CAROLYN BIVENS: You know, every time we go back and look at the rule that says that one has to be 18 to be a member at the LPGA, we tend to come back to the same conclusion; that it's really not -- it's not a bad rule for a lot of different reasons.
We said all along, we want Morgan -- that was part of the conversation, Paula, the whole group, we want them to come out and play on the LPGA as Juli Inkster and Beth Daniel and some of the others have done. We want them to be here 30 years from now. We don't want them to come out for a year or two and feeling like they don't want to have anything to do with it and burning out early.
That's always a concern when someone comes under the heading of a child prodigy at 12, 13, 14.

Q. Without revealing state secrets, have there been any indications from them as to whether Michelle is going to petition for membership any time soon or have you gotten that far yet?
CAROLYN BIVENS: Nothing that I would consider serious inquiries.

Q. Bud Selig has the power to, in the best interests of baseball, to do whatever he wants. If Michelle were to repeat last week today, and let's say be 10- or 12-over par and WD again, withdraw, would you -- have you considered using your power to possibly spend her for an amount of time for the rest of the year?
CAROLYN BIVENS: Steve, that's a hypothetical and we're not going to go there.

Q. When Beth-Anne was asking about some of the things you look at, non-member rules, can you be anymore specific about exactly what you might be looking at? In other words, the only thing that we're thinking of I think is being able, as a non-member, to come to a course ahead of time, which members can do. Is there anything else that we're not aware of that you might be looking at?
CAROLYN BIVENS: The executive committee, Doug, will be looking at all kind of things as they relate to non-members. And frankly there are already some things that we make a note to self this we want to look at for members.
That's one of the things that's wonderful about this organization is that we recognize it's organic. We're in a very different place, a very different membership this year than we were even five years ago.
So we really do try to take a fresh look every year.

Q. And as a lot of these storylines focus around various aspects of conduct with a 17-year-old, is there anything that you noticed at all leading into last week that raised any red flags; that got your attention that "I need to kind of pay attention to this?"
CAROLYN BIVENS: The question was, was there any indication before leading into last week that maybe was a red flag or something that needed to be paid attention to.
Doug, there really hasn't been. There really hasn't been.

Q. Can you give us an idea how many Tour players maybe complained to you or approached you in the past couple of days and give us an idea how concerned you are when you hear from veteran players that they were upset?
CAROLYN BIVENS: I'm sorry. I didn't hear the first part.

Q. Did you hear from many veteran players who were concerned about what happened last week?
CAROLYN BIVENS: I really have not heard from a lot of them. But also understand, this week sort of took off quickly, if you will, on Tuesday, which was my first time here at the course.
So the feedback that I've gotten from members is that they are pretty pleased at the direction things are headed, and everybody is very excited to be here this week. And we've got some remarkable golf that's already being played out there.
PAM WARNER: Thank you very much, Carolyn.

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