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July 3, 2007

Tim Finchem


Q. In '09, is Avenel most likely going to be the site of this tournament?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I wouldn't say that. I think that we will work with the Foundation on a variety of options. Really the struggle with Avenel in 2009 is that it is just starting construction this year. Considering that we might be comfortable making a decision on Avenal, but depending how construction goes, so we definitely have a number of options.

Q. Where does RTJ fit into that?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It would certainly be an option.

Q. Moving it to another market for the years you're having a major, the U.S. Amateur and having the two so close together --
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I wouldn't rule it out. I certainly wouldn't rule it out. But I do think the Foundation and we agree that Washington is where we want to be.
You know, if moving to another market for a year is part of the best thing for all factors, you know, possibly. But I think you have to recognize that the Amateur is going to be here and the Open is going to be here, that puts a lot of pressure -- it's possible.
But Tiger certainly is committed to Washington, and wanting to be in the nation's capital and try to play here as much as possible. And of course that would be a big help if Congressional saw its way free to have us here frequently over the years as part of a rotation or whatever. It's something we'll have to sort out.

Q. Given the military presence in this tournament, would it be realistic to think there might be a military-based course in this area like Andrews that could stage an event like this?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, there are some military courses and I think that it could be staged there. The reality is that an awful lot of -- probably a lot of work would have to be done to get the golf course in shape and position to be able to challenge the players. That's usually an expensive undertaking at a facility that's not used to being kept -- well, designed in such a way to challenge the players and kept at a quality level from a speed standpoint.
It's not to say we wouldn't have to have it there to take advantage of what you're talking about, because it would be a good fit. But I think that would be the challenge. As we develop a list of options, I'm sure if the Foundation is amenable to doing that, but it would be speculative to suggest a place if such-and-such happened. But I think all options we would consider.

Q. Is it possible you might have a rotation for this tournament?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It's possible. It's possible. I honestly at this point, I don't think we nor the Foundation have any particular game plan. I think that right now all the energy has been put into getting this thing staged for this year, and conversations about post-2008 will now start as we get into the fall and most likely into the first six months of next year.

Q. Did I understand you right that you said there's a possibility that you would take this on the road somewhere out of Washington for a year?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No. The question was: Is there a scenario where maybe it would leave for a year, given the fact that there's a major championship coming here. And I said, I don't want to never say never. I think the focus is Washington, D.C. for the long term, but we've got to be practical and see what develops in terms of what can happen.
If that were to happen, I assume it would be a one-off. But here again, I think I'm being speculative.

Q. Is this something you would like to see become like the Byron Nelson and the Memorial, things like that, something that is going to be a fixture?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Absolutely. I think the whole premise here was that you only have a few players that -- maybe one per generation, that carry with them the import and impact of a Palmer or Nicklaus. And we think that's the situation here, given what Tiger has achieved in his first 11 years out here.
And we assume that, you know, 30 years from now, we'll be seeing Tiger and his 30-year-old daughter and maybe some other kids still very involved in the tournament, just like Jack and his family are involved, and just like Arnold and his family are involved.
So I would see that pattern being what happens here. We certainly hope so. That's the thought process.

Q. Is that a fine line to walk with somebody who is a current player?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: You know, I got that question a couple of months ago from somebody, I think it was somebody from the New York Times. But I mean, Jack Nicklaus was 35 when he began hosting the Memorial, and he won his last major at 46.
During those years when he was -- and then he kept playing Memorial as he kept playing golf. So it was never a problem. It was never a problem. I don't anticipate it being a problem here.

Q. Do you see it staying at a limited field like this and what is your reaction to the players that feel it's unfair where some of these guys that are out grinding and trying to get their FedExCup points and whatnot, can't get in here during tournament week?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It's always a balance. I do think it will continue for the foreseeable future that the Invitationals that are hosted by Palmer, Nicklaus and Woods would have the kind of field structure that they have. We've had some conversations with Jack about field structures that would be similar to what Arnold is now and what Tiger is now.
But I see that continuing. It is a recognition, if you will, of a unique kind of tournament structure.
I think if I were a player, I wouldn't want to see any fields that I could otherwise get in be of that size. That just goes without saying; it's human nature.
We have to look at the big picture, total playing opportunities, total number of events and we feel good what we've done over the last ten years in that regard. We've added a number of events. Our total playing opportunities are up. But in certain weeks we want to do things a certain way that sends a certain message to the fans and the media and the television audience and people in golf about what these tournaments are, and that's what we've done here.
So, it's a balance, and you're never going to make everybody happy. But I do think the players in discussing this have now focused more on the fact that the real world in terms of playing opportunities today versus 15 years ago; that's a positive story.

Q. You sort of almost have to take a deep breath and amaze yourself at how quickly an event of this magnitude got thrown together?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, it's happened before. I was just talking to Tim on the way in, I think the Presidents Cup was announced in April and was staged here in Washington and September, and a little bit longer period of time than this one.
But if you have -- if you have the people in the community excited about doing something, and when you have a vision that captivates people, you can do just about anything.
Greg McLaughlin and the Foundation have done a really good job here. We've been very pleased to help out around the edges, but they have taken leadership and done the work. But the people in the community, the members here at Congressional, many people that volunteered at the tournaments here in the past have stepped up and gotten involved: The Armed Forces got involved; the community's got involved; that's a lot of energy coming together and that's why we're off to a good start.

Q. Did club officials here know that Tiger was going to be involved when you approached them?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No. They had agreed to recommend it to the membership. The only question they asked was, did we believe that if it moved forward that it would be a quality event, and would it attract a quality field.
We were in discussions at that point with the Woods Foundation who went in and finished things up, and we had not completed our discussions with AT&T. But no, the club actually agreed to move forward and take it to the members without knowing that Tiger was directly involved. That was announced after that but before it went to the members.

Q. Did the TOUR then put the three principle parts together, the club, the sponsor, the Woods Foundation?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We got the three principle parts talking to each other, but that's normally what we do with tournaments.

Q. How long was it before the Woods Foundation or Tiger said: "I'd like to do a golf tournament on TOUR and I'd like to do it on the East Coast?"
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I think this might not have been printed up here, I mentioned this to not Lenny but somebody from the Post that the other day. But a number of years ago, I asked Tiger at some point in his career, was he going to be interested in doing something like Jack or Arnold, I would say maybe four or five years ago. And the answer was, "Maybe but not now."
Two years ago, the Woods Foundation contacted me and Tiger indicated that when the opportunity presented itself, they would be interested; if it worked for the TOUR and it could be structured in the appropriate way, they would be interested. Now, at that time we had were just going into or coming out of television negotiations and we had a full schedule through 2012.

Q. So it didn't look like it was going to happen for a while.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I was very interested, but I didn't see it happening for a period of time.

Q. Was there always, "We would like to be involved but we want to do it on the East Coast?"
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: There was never a discussion about -- I think in my preliminary conversation with Tiger, maybe there was some discussion about Florida or the southeast, but it never got that far. There just wasn't really any talk about it because we didn't have any schedule flexibility.
And even then when we got the -- with The INTERNATIONAL, and we waited until the 11th hour trying to marry them to a sponsor, we still looked at two other alternatives because we were not certain that all of the stars would line up here in terms of a place to play, a great title sponsor. Because if you're going to do an event with Tiger Woods, and he's going to land his persona and his energy, it's going to be a pretty special event.
And so that's the way we felt, that's the way the Foundation felt. So it had to all come together and so we were looking at two other markets with two other sponsors for a period of three weeks.

Q. But it would not have involved Tiger.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It would not have involved Tiger.

Q. When did you focus on the combination that you got after the end of The INTERNATIONAL; immediately?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I'd have to see -- yeah, we went right to -- we went right to work. We had three options within ten days coming together. We quickly prioritized Washington because, A, we had a huge negative out pouring when we left. I mean, the people here really wanted PGA TOUR golf; that was clear.
Two, it was the biggest in three markets.
Three, the Congress being here, we had a lot of members of Congress that expressed an interest in us coming back as soon as possible.
Four, if, on the Tiger Foundation option, clearly the nation's capital was the best fit to provide a forum to tell a story of the Tiger Woods Foundation.
So all of those things argued for Washington. There were some good options, but that became the No. 1 option details with the sponsor -- that went very quickly. That whole thing was done in the space of two weeks.

Q. What were your other two cities?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think I had publically said this in the past, but we looked at Portland, Oregon and the Twin Cities.

Q. Is the modified Stableford scoring system just going to die a slow death, or do you have an emotional attachment to having that on the TOUR?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It has died a death. I mean, it's not on the TOUR right now. So it would be would have to be resuscitated to come back to answer your question. I suppose it could be. It seemed like that concept, at first -- the first few years, it was a bit of a struggle for the fans to get their arms around it. Then it generated some interest for a few years, and then it kind of lost its appeal. I don't know exactly why that was.
The INTERNATIONAL was hit with the perfect storm. There were three or four different factors to led to us finally concluding that we should move forward; it wasn't just any one thing, but a number of things.

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