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June 20, 2007

Tim Finchem


TIM FINCHEM: We are excited about the commitment Travelers has made. We knew when we made the announcement that there would be a new title sponsor that they were energized. But I think we all are delighted with the progress that's been made here in terms of the staging of the tournament, the marketing and communication of the tournament. We like our field quality here. In that context, we just couldn't be more pleased with the Travelers partnership.
The second thing is, we're really pleased with the quality of the golf course this week. It's in excellent condition and I think we've had three home runs in a row for tournament players starting at Sawgrass and then in Memphis, where players were very pleased, and I've talked with number of them and they're very pleased with the conditions this week. That's great.
Looking forward, we're excited about the new practice facility. It's going to add another dimension to the quality of what the tournament is all about here. I think I've talked to a lot of players and they're really impressed with the scale of the facility and the quality of the facility, which will be important to the texture of the tournament. In addition, to be able to have a First Tee facility right here for the kids is very special.
The First Tee program has really grown around the country and here in Connecticut, so that's a good addition as well. We couldn't be more pleased with where we are and the growth of the tournament this year, reengaging with the community the way it is, and we're looking forward to the future. With that said, I'll try to answer your questions.

Q. The tournament officials are talking about making this one of the upper echelon tournaments before the majors. Are they going about it in the right way?
TIM FINCHEM: I think they are because any golf tournament, whether it's at Augusta or at Sawgrass or Pebble Beach or Phoenix, or whatever it is, is a sum of a lot of pieces. The better tournaments around the world are tournaments where the individuals involved know what they're doing and they're committed to making every little piece as good as it can be. And there are hundreds of pieces. And that's what we're seeing here. The focus on a lot of little things and communicating what's happening here, building for the future is happening, and I think the goal of having a premiere event is definitely attainable when you have this kind of energy and focus.

Q. Which piece did you personally want to improve the most?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, let me just answer that, I think the general thing is that, that's important in this is that when you have a general reaction of enthusiasm and excitement about what's happening at a tournament, that's the result, and I think that's clearly happening. I think, as I look at it right now, and what I'm impressed with is the outreach of communication about what the tournament is all about, how good the golf course is, the history of the tournament. What's great about coming to Hartford, it's been very effective, and I think the staging out here on the golf course is superior.
Now, going forward, I think the practice facility is going to be an excellent addition, and I think the foundation has been laid for a very solid sales and marketing effort for the future. So I think that's what we'll see going forward. But I think right now the communication and staging has been superb, and Travelers has an awful lot to do with that.

Q. You said you were impressed with the field quality here, do you tie that in with the FedExCup and the way things are going and have you seen improved field quality than in some of the earlier events?
TIM FINCHEM: Field quality has moved around a little this year. As I said, I talked to some players yesterday and some of the folks here now, we're getting reaction from players in the FedExCup context about schedule. But I think that you always start with the golf course, and this has always been a very good golf course. It's been improved. It's better, and I think that word has gotten out. I think the whole idea that the tournament is being repositioned has impacted the field. I think the players respect that.
The Senior executive at Travelers, Jay Fishman, the CEO, and Andy Bisset and others, have really personalized their efforts with the players. I think that has a big impact. As I say, it's a long list of little things that add up to quality in a tournament.
The FedExCup itself, we're just real pleased with the way it's come along. The real impact this first year will occur in the playoff event, and that will set the base for next year. But it's shaping up to be an excellent playoff schedule, and hopefully if it meets our expectations it will have a greater impact on what players enter next year.

Q. You said that there has been some kind of shift in the way that players are playing, but what effect....
TIM FINCHEM: Well, I say shifts. I think the players are sort of feeling their way, and the closer we get to the playoffs, they're more focused on what the seeding means for the playoffs. They're paying a little bit more attention to that. But here again, in many ways players are like the public, when we get through the playoffs I think that's when the total engagement will be in really setting the base for next year.
We're seeing some changes -- you know, there are a number of players here this week who hadn't been here in a while. That was an important thing to happen to -- the biggest thing coming out of this week for the future is word of mouth. A lot of people call it buzz or whatever, about quality, what's happening here, the quality of the experience for the players and the quality of the tournament. To get the field moving in the right direction even before that buzz started getting going, that's a good development. So we're real pleased.
Again, Travelers did some extra things to help out. They helped players get out from the Open, made it convenient for them. They've done a lot of things this week to make it very convenient for players and caddies, and those things are noticed.
I must say, I'm very pleased with what's happened. The decision to come to this date and the commitment of Travelers has really elevated what can happen here.

Q. Could I ask a question about performance-enhacing drug testing? Have you altered your view at all in light of the LPGA?
TIM FINCHEM: What do you think my view is when you say that?

Q. That the game has integrity...
TIM FINCHEM: No, I certainly haven't altered my view in that regard. I feel strongly about that. I feel equally strongly that golf in this area needs to move together on a global basis, hopefully. And we are -- if that's going to happen, we have to recognize it in Europe, in particular, and certain other areas of the world, the idea of testing in athletics is just a reality. It's because it's government required. But we need to continue and complete our work on what the rule would be, and what substances will be banned, if you will. We don't have a rule on performance-enhancing drugs, we never have had. We're getting close on that. I suspect we'll be done with that certainly this year. We'll probably have more to say about that later this summer.
Having done that, we are then and also at the same time working closely with the other golf organizations to see if we can't move forward together with respect to what a rule is, and then beyond that in terms of the execution of the rule, which in all likelihood will require -- for those organizations that can afford it, it's expensive, a testing program on some basis so that we have a legitimacy to the rule. It's unfortunate that these realities are with us, but they are and we have to deal with them and I think it's important that golf deal with them collectively. When I say that I mean the other Tours, the USGA, the R&A, the golf organizations that are involved with major championships, et cetera, I think we all have to move forward together. And I think we will. But it's a complicated subject so it's taken a little bit of time. We've put a lot of energy in it and we have for the last two years, and I think when we're completed I think fans will be able to look at it and be comfortable with the direction that we're going. Thank you guys for being here. Appreciate it.

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