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July 25, 2007

Carolyn Bivens

Jacques Bungert

Franck Riboud


JACQUES BUNGERT: I think you pretty much know what this whole week is about. I know our media center has been working hard, so you've got all the information, and I think it's interesting if we go directly to the questions. There is no specific message. Unless one thing is to welcome Carolyn Bivens with us today, and it's really a pleasure to welcome you here.
CAROLYN BIVENS: Good to be here.
JACQUES BUNGERT: We felt it would be nice if she answers your questions as well, since you know how much we praise the LPGA. So, okay. Your questions?

Q. This year there is a big change as far as we have qualifying about 70 players, 72, 73, whatever, but you have kept the same as last year, meaning that we have a starting sheet for tomorrow morning all day, and I've been told for the second round you'll go according to the results. But we have a cut, so that means that possibly ladies playing early in the morning will, again, play early in the morning on Friday. Do you think it's fair?
CAROLYN BIVENS: Yes. This was decided at the outset. First of all, there being more women is a very good thing, and it's through the generosity of Evian and sponsors that there are more women who get to play. The number of women who may be cut are still playing at the British Open, and if you'll look outside, it's not a bad place to spend a few days even if you do get cut from the field.
In terms of the way that they play, it's not really viewed as a disadvantage. Most of the women have been here for a couple of days, and some prefer to play in the morning, some in the afternoon.
It's different than most of the tournaments we play, but not all of the tournaments we play in the States. Again, everybody knew the rules and the way that it would unfold coming in, so I don't believe it's unfair.
FRANCK RIBOUD: I think you heard this morning most of the player talk about it, I mean, talk about the new format and the cut and they feel it's a real good thing, that's point No. 1.
Second point is, there is no question about, you know, playing early or not playing early as being an advantage or disadvantage. Basically it's been the case without a cut before, and I really think it's --

Q. I'm not arguing about the cut, it's okay for everyone. I'm just arguing about the fact that because there is a cut, this time we should entitle the ladies to play -- that start very early in the morning to have the chance to start later in the afternoon, like in about every single tournament in the world, four rounds, we have a cut. It has happened at the Masters, for instance, they have tried to do what you are doing on Friday, but they stopped because it didn't really work for the players. So what I'm saying, Morgan Pressel playing at 8:20 in the morning should be able to play at twelve or one or two in the afternoon so she can enjoy another weather. Equalling the chances for everyone.
FRANCK RIBOUD: You know, Phillip, we are always listening to the remarks, and if Morgan Pressel come to us and says -- so far, to be honest, until your question it has been a no-brainer.
CAROLYN BIVENS: It really has not been a question or an issue whatsoever. I will also say this season has been a tough one for the women. For any of you who have followed, you know we have had bad weather at least one day in each of the tournaments. At the U.S. Open, for instance, it was really terrible. We had women playing at eight in the evening and coming back and playing at six in the morning. We've pretty much been in training, but there have been no complaints.

Q. Talk about improving the tournament, anything you would do?
FRANCK RIBOUD: I think we would continue to improving the quality of the course, the tee off, which makes it play differently, if you play golf, because now you have a good spot, to really play the dogleg, on 16. And I think we will continue to refurbish all the tees around the course. After that we think we can also -- which number is it? The one just after when you cross the road to come back down, you have a back tee which is not aligned with the hole, so we are going to create the same tee-off as 16, the back tee, and put it in line with the center of the hole.
That will be, I think, a major change on the course next year. On the field, things like that, I think nothing will change, because I think it's a good idea to have a cut, but I think it's also a good idea to keep it difficult to get the access to play the Masters. After the cut I think it's a good compromise between pure selection and, let's say, local selections through spot result after two rounds, so I think we will not change this.

Q. If you need to add distance to the course, can you do it in Evian?
FRANCK RIBOUD: I don't think we need -- first of all, it's not the same game as the men. I think we can continue to improve the difficulties of the course, and it depends where we can add bank, play with the rough, we can add back tees we were not using, and I don't think we have to transform the -- it's an old golf course. It's one of the most older golf courses in Europe. We have to respect this. I don't want to transform this; it's Evian, and you play this.
All the ladies are playing the same course, so perhaps you can win with minus-20, or if it is awful weather, you would be nothing below 5, I don't know. We are in a mountain region so honestly, you can have a beautiful weather during one month before, and your ball is going to roll, roll, roll after the drive.
This year I think that will take two or three days before you will see balls roll on the fairway. I think -- from my point of view, we have more to improve, more and more the quality of the greens even if, as you know, we don't want to use chemical -- how do you say -- chemical products, because it's also part of our vision about golf, so it's all natural.
The quality of the fairways is all natural. So the green, the tee off, and perhaps the nature of the golf course, meaning the rocks, woods, and flowers, we want to make this one of the most beautiful during these days, because I think it's part of the golf spirit to do this.
JACQUES BUNGERT: The only thing we going to continue to try to improve, I would say, is what we call now the preview of the Evian Masters, which is what we started this year with the LPGA and it's a great project, which is the Junior Cup.
As you can see, this year, United States, Spain, and Japan, it was a fantastic thing, and I think it's part of the spirit of the tournament of what we are trying to build for golf in general, and this is something we will continue doing.
FRANCK RIBOUD: The thing you have to understand is we are not here just because there is a golf tournament; it's a global project. You have the Masters, you have the Evian Masters training center, and now you have the kids before, and don't forget ladies are playing golf during the tournament, and they are ladies, I don't know, 16, 17 years old, I think Michelle is 17 and perhaps, I don't know, we can't say.
But as you can see, they are coming with parents, with husband's, with their children, so I think to add this Junior Cup before is part of the concept, and you believe me or you don't believe me, but I am willing to bet with you that within maximum of five years this Junior Cup will be one of the best of the world.
Perhaps you were not there for the two days of the tournament, but when you see the things between the young people speaking not even the same language, it is funny to look at the Japanese with the beautiful Spanish girl talking together -- talking -- I don't know how they talk, how they speak, but that was really a great, emotional moment for us.
And don't forget that we have that kind of experience with the National Cup in soccer, and we have more than 30,000 coming to Leone to watch kids playing soccer, and I'm sure we can do it same, because we have the ladies, we have the mother after, if I can put it this way.
JACQUES BUNGERT: We have done this --
FRANCK RIBOUD: You know me and building and doing. It works, it works, and everybody applause; it does not work, everybody is saying it's bullshit. I do it. I just don't care what people think, I do. That's my job; it's my debt to that job, and I apply the same rules when I'm doing a golf tournament than what I am buying a baby food company or whatever. It's exactly the same.
We build, we build, we build. Don't forget this tournament is just 14 years old, which is nothing in the golf world, and look at the results. We will continue, we will continue and nobody can stop us, except if we feel no more comfortable, we switch, we will do something else. Up to now, I think, everything is doing well.
We have a new agreement with the LPGA for a three-year run. When you have three years in front of you to run, no difficulty, just a question of could we do this, could we do that, compromise. I will tell you something later. So, no, I'm very proud of what the team and Jacques are doing here now, but I will be proud if we have a successful Junior Cup.

Q. (Question in French.)
FRANCK RIBOUD: There was a reaching out between the pros and the kids. You look at the small example, that was absolutely not planned, for example, Paula and Julie joined us for the awards, and I played with Paula Creamer, and at the tee, the tee No. 1 of the tournament, all the U.S. team was there with the trainer, and Paula asked me, "Can I introduce you to the trainer of the U.S. team?" And all the kids were there.
So I got the same feeling, okay, we will find, we will find, but I got the same feeling. The kids are happy, they are not just playing golf. They come here -- tomorrow they are doing drafting, yesterday they went to the CIO Museum. It has to be part of the education, not only golf. They are just 14, so if we can explain to them that golf is a game, not only money, perhaps, that will be something good this tournament will do.
When you explain that to the ladies, they are happy. They are happy. Should take care of kids. Nobody will tell you it's wrong. After that we have to be sure that we are not disturbing the organization, blah, blah, blah, but the kids, they are not asking for anything.

Q. What are your thoughts about this tournament described as a "Major" tournament?
CAROLYN BIVENS: Did you plant that one? (Chuckles.) This tournament is one of the most important tournaments that we play. By virtue of the selection criteria, by virtue of the course, by virtue of everything that happens the entire week and the purse. It's extremely important. Of everyone, me coming from outside of the golf world, I certainly know that there is a tradition that is not easily changed in the world of golf.
So I would say that what has happened with several golf tournaments, this one being at the very top, is for all intents and purposes, they are treated and played by the women as a Major.

Q. Is it on an approval --
CAROLYN BIVENS: That's a hypothetical --
FRANCK RIBOUD: I think I have to answer to that question. Because, as I told you, I just do what I want. So I'm not considering I am on the waiting list. I really respect the world of golf. As you know, my father start this tournament, and we can't dance faster than the music, as we say in the French world. We are 14 years old, the British or the Open, I don't know. If you want to build something slowly and consistently, you have to respect the timing.
You would have the same people in this if you were in the first year. Trust me, we learn, we learn, so, okay, we make the right choice by the prize money, by the -- I think the term was -- when we switched to the LPGA, at the same time we respect the fact that we are protecting the LET, and we have to protect that not to be swallowed by the LPGA, and I'm sure that tomorrow, LET and LPGA will be altogether, so I am not in charge of the strategy of the different tours, but if I were -- I would quickly build some big tournament, not only in the U.S. but also in Europe.
So my wish is, okay, you have one in continental Europe called the Evian Masters, because in continental Europe it would be difficult to capture a tournament like Evian. In another world I would wish that there would be two or three or four or five or six like this in Europe because, again, it's for the ladies.
Perhaps all the ladies in the U.S. are very happy. I'm not so sure that the European players playing in Europe are really happy with the money they are making. Again, we have to speak about money, not my money but the money the players are making. That's their life. That is the only way they have to live with. And I read something in a French newspaper, when you look at the men you make the cut and it's okay. When you are ladies playing on the European Tour, if you are not top-ten, top-five, it's difficult to get a return on what you spend in one week.
So we have to be careful in that. It's our role also to do that. So becoming a major, as I told you every year what I want to become is something unique. Major is not unique. We have already five or four -- sorry, four. If somebody told, okay, now Evian is blah, blah, blah, and it would be nice to be a Major, and I am not going to worry every year can I be a Major, can I be a Major. For me it's a journalist issue.

Q. Do the players refer to this tournament as a "Major"?
FRANCK RIBOUD: It's best when you discuss with the players. We are not allowed to say it's the fifth Major, but I know a lot of ladies playing in the top golf saying, yeah, for us it's our fifth Major. Which is, perhaps, for us, after that, as Carolyn said, we have to respect the history of world golf.

Q. Are you doing things for next year sponsorwise that will be different?
FRANCK RIBOUD: It's flexible. If I get a new sponsor it will go in the prize, so it's a no-limit, because we are not here to make money, it's not our business. As you know, we are making money with yogurt and baby food and water, and I'm happy to see Kraft sponsoring the players for the first year, I'm happy. And Jacques, he is in charge of budget; I have total confidence in him.
He is not part of our company, but an outside company. He has no money to win more if we increase or decrease or whatever. It's fixed. So if tomorrow we get a new sponsor, and I'm sure we will one day have one, we will put everything in the prize money. We are not there to make money.

Q. Are you looking into changing the date of the tournament next year?
FRANCK RIBOUD: I think we start to be used to the date. Trust me, if you look at the weather all across Europe, until last Monday, until yesterday, we are quite happy to choose these dates. Now at the hotel, the only issue is the hotels. August is impossible, because end of August is not already not winter but the season -- the right season in France is two months. You can have snow on the mountain just above Evian after mid-August. So, July, August, are the best place.
We are flexible to look at the ladies to be the week before the British, I think is a good idea, because if you look at the things they are doing all year, it's nice to come for this tournament and then the British after. So I think for the time being we are now pleased with the dates, which was not so easy for us to -- we have a big discussion at the beginning, but I think it's something people are used to, and I don't know what kind of weather you got on the British last week. I have somebody close to me there and it seems that the weather is better there than in Evian.

Q. At the end of last year there was an argument about getting credentials. Can you tell us what was your final decision?

Q. Secondly, what is your opinion on the future of the Ladies European Tour?
CAROLYN BIVENS: The first question has to do with Getty, and that was two years ago when the LPGA changed your rules for credentialing. The rules are still changed, and I think it's been worked out so that it works for everyone; however, this is the first year we did award a Getty as a photographer, and for the first time in history the LPGA is being paid for our photographs, and we are in line for commercial revenue. It's made a huge difference to the financial health of the LPGA. That's number one.
The help of the LET is, I think, wonderful. The players have done a good job of supporting it, and a lot of those people play on the LPGA and we do have a rule for international players where they are allowed to at least two of them, the first two that ask can go back and play their home tour, or conflicting events. We plan to continue that. We do have a committee that is looking at -- we would actually like to go to one single tour qualification for the players from around the world, including the U.S. I'm not sure we're going to get there this year, Annika is actually the head of that committee.

Q. Up to now the ladies who won the Evian Masters were in the order of merit up to last week, you know? She was having so much money that there is no balance between what you can win in Spain and Italy and here. So there is a big hole.
CAROLYN BIVENS: There is. There are not as many European sponsors putting money into Europe or in the world. The women's game has lagged behind the men. We have to get more aggressive, and thanks to this tournament, to the U.S. Women's Open, they are the two highest purses that the women play for anywhere in the world.
There are other tournament sponsors talking about moving toward this, but this tournament and the Women's Open have set the bar for women's purses.

Q. Are there any members of the French government who will be here?
FRANCK RIBOUD: The minister has been I invited but she does not have time.

Q. Mrs. Bivens, does the contract you have now prevent any photographer on any LPGA event to take his own picture and use them and send them to any newspaper he is dealing with or work for?
CAROLYN BIVENS: I don't know if -- and I don't know where Pam is. Did they sign the credential sheet this tournament or is it different here? Right now, generally the credentialing is that photographers can take pictures but use them for the purpose that they got into the tournament to cover them and not take pictures and turn around and sell them commercially.

Q. I'm talking regular press media stuff.
CAROLYN BIVENS: Correct, and it was exactly --

Q. Totally free?
CAROLYN BIVENS: Within the confines of the credential language.

Q. There have been lots of innovations this year opening up the field of players. What innovations have you got in store for us for next year?
JACQUES BUNGERT: That's a surprise. I think as you mentioned, we had a lot of qualification, a lot of new impact on organization and everything, took a long time, we worked a lot with the LPGA to set that up. I think we need to digest it a little bit. I think now will come a time where this year, as far as either way, year one, we're going to see how it moves, and we are going to try to improve and adjust in '08.
For the moment we are trying to gather the best possible addition for '07, and we will discuss that later on. But there is no major modification expected for '08 at this point of time.
FRANCK RIBOUD: As far as this year's innovation, there is coverage by television, which is not a small thing, because if you look at the European tournaments, I think the quality of the television production is really improving also in Evian, and I think thanks to those putting money behind it, we have to notice.
JACQUES BUNGERT: Actually, yes, and to go on with that, I think it's the way we work with our partners, being the brands or the Tour, and the LPGA. We have worked a lot to improve the TV coverage. There will be 100 countries covering the Evian Masters, which never happened in the past. Obviously that dictates some strong and heavy guidelines in terms of quality.
We've been working with the LPGA on that and actually this year we have changed our system of production, mixing French teams and English teams, and I think hopefully it's going to help us improve as well. This is not seen by the public, so to speak, on site, but it's key for us, because as you know, TV is key to the development of a tournament. Now we have 100 countries.

Q. Do you think that Michelle Wie deserves a place in the tournament? Secondly, do you think that in France there is room for two major tournaments, the Evian Masters and the French Open? And the third is do you think that a clinic would be a good idea?
JACQUES BUNGERT: I'm going to start with the most interesting question, which is the clinic. I think a tournament like this deserves a clinic, and I think, actually there will be a clinic. If you look at the program there is a clinic, and it's part of the excitement and the experience we want to convey with this tournament.
Talking about Evian Masters and the French Open, I think there is a no-brainer about it. The more golf you talk, the more golf you see in France, the greatest tournaments you have in France and Europe is good for golf. You know, there is a place and room for everyone. I think for the sake of golf, and women's golf especially, it's great.
Now you know that we are considering more and more ourselves as an international tournament, so we don't look at what's happening in France, Switzerland, Italy, or wherever on continental Europe, but we do believe that any tournament that is started around us is a great thing.
Now about Michelle Wie, to be honest, I don't understand the question. Michelle Wie is a great player, among other players of the LPGA, and obviously she is more than welcome here in Evian where she's been very loyal. And we are dedicated to the players that have been very loyal to us, and obviously it's a great news to have Michelle Wie as well as Paula Creamer as well as Morgan Pressel as well as Annika Sorenstam, you name it. I have 90 names for you.

Q. (By interpreter) There was a player playing with Paula Creamer today, does this mean that you're getting --
JACQUES BUNGERT: You didn't get all of the question. The question was -- there is an important group in France building trains and subways all over the world, and they are a sponsor of the men's Open in France called the French Open, and they became this year the sponsor of the Junior Cup.
So the French question was is it a way to divert the money from the men's French Open to -- (speaking in French.)

Q. (Speaking in French.)
JACQUES BUNGERT: (Speaking in French.)
THE INTERPRETER: Some of the translation is that -- the question was a typical French -- showed a typical French attitude, and that this person is a friend of his, and he explained that he was going to create the Junior Cup, but they didn't necessarily need his help, but it would be a good idea to show that they could do a great deal to bring things to children.
Each Wednesday we have children that can come and play at the Evian Masters training center for free. Regarding the question of whether it would divert the money from elsewhere is not really the issue here. That was the gist --
FRANCK RIBOUD: Also the sponsor of the Evian Masters and also the sponsor of the kids. He is not one of my competitors, because it's an auto chain. And I am also on the board.

Q. (Question in French.)
FRANCK RIBOUD: I think we could increase the number of sponsors in Evian. I think only one at the top level, like Rolex, like Evian and others, and I would like it to be a unique one, and after that on the ranking there is no limit. You have to understand that we are -- we control everything, so we don't have to deal with anybody.
Hilton created a relationship with Evian, so we have good rooms. We control the golf course; so if we want to close it we can close it, if we want more panels we put more panels -- just to respect the quality and the ambience of the tournament more than to have certain sponsors. After that it's a question of quality and sustainability and honestly. The group is a big group, and we spend money in advertising.
We are not running after sponsors with $100,000 Euros, because that will damage the global ambience. I don't want to become a tournament where you have 25 around the green of the 18. We are not a supermarket. We can proceed by, let's say, capital increase, asking to our sponsor to follow us, and it's exactly what they did.
Every time we renegotiate the contract -- because we have argument to this, better exposure in time of television, quality of the field and quality of the tournament -- we can ask more money, because if you benchmark what is, let's say, the average top sponsor of the Evian Masters -- and I will not give you the figure, because you will ask me, so I will not answer to you -- but it's benchmark.
He can really ask for more. It's not difficult for us to benchmark, because there are a lot of people asking us to sponsor the event because of our brand. So we know exactly what kind of money is asking to sponsor a soccer team, a golf tournament, a tennis tournament, or a player or whatever, we can benchmark. The reality is there is a gap, a big gap between what we are asking and the reality of the British Open and whatever.
Are we going to push up this? No. Because as a manager, I don't think that in a tournament in Europe you get a return if you ask for more money than what we ask today. Perhaps we can push up a little, but not a lot. That's why I would like to find a new big sponsor at the top of the tournament.
JACQUES BUNGERT: Last question.

Q. Has Dannon planned to sponsor one of the world's --
FRANCK RIBOUD: I think locally, yes, and when I am saying "locally" I mean with the local brand, but perhaps that was too expensive for a local brand. Not that the world -- you know it's a decentralized country, and the locals are doing what they have to do country by country. So if after that you have money for doing that, I think it's the difference between reaching the gap between what the champion of the ladies will ask and the money they are willing to put.
More or less we are creating and building our event, except perhaps with Evian, as a sub-ranking sponsorship. In the tennis US Open and the Australian, and perhaps another one one day; not in France.
THE INTERPRETER: Thank you very much.

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