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August 30, 2007

Tim Finchem


Q. Are you outraged that Verplank is not here this week?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: You know, Scott, I know he has diabetes. I don't know whether that was an issue for him, but he felt like he needed a rest. You know, that's got to be his call. I'm comfortable with it.

Q. You're okay if there's a couple guys missing each tournament?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, when you have this many guys playing and you have -- like we have any week on the TOUR at any tournament, PLAYERS Championship, major championships, you've always got a guy that doesn't feel like he's ready to go, gets to the tournament week and pulls back, so you'll have some of that. Candidly I thought we might have a little bit more of it than we did, so no, I think we're pretty pleased on that front.

Q. This year with this tournament setup are the FedEx Playoffs going to be a little bit more about seeing what is and then figuring it out and then making it a little bit better and making it better and seeing what has to be changed?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I think internally in terms of those of us who worry about those things, that's not the big thing. I think the big thing this year is to get it out there and to have the competition. I mean, for me personally having spent time on it for several years, seeing the numbers Sunday evening after Stricker won the tournament was pretty exciting, to see the board, the leaderboard and the way it shaped up after the first Playoff; the No. 1 seed doesn't play, he falls to No. 4, other guys are more in position. That sets up the next three weeks great.
Now, if it keeps on that pace to be compelling the next three weeks, it's great for the fans. All this stuff about the ideas people have to make it better, I think that's great, too, because that means people are thinking about it, they're looking at different aspects of it, they're coming up with ideas to make it better. I think that's a healthy process.
But the actual process of dealing with, well, does this suggestion make sense or that suggestion make sense is something that would be later.
Right now I've just got my fingers crossed that we have good exciting tournament finishes and they contribute to a good exciting leaderboard for the FedExCup over the next three weeks.

Q. Do you have any idea how to make it better, something really struck you early on?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: There's little things. Like I said the other day in New York, I think it's probably best to not get into those discussions right now, except to say that, look, we welcome fans that have been sending emails and blogging about little things. I had a player say this morning say maybe if you finish in the Top 10 you should advance because isn't so-and-so's performance compelling.
I mean, all that stuff, I just encourage it. I encourage it from the fans, the players, you people. You people cover our sport upside down all year-round and you have ideas. We want people and the media, and not just television people making comments, but people that think about this stuff to tell us what you think. You don't have to tell us but write it and we'll see it. It's healthy. I'd rather have it that way than nobody is paying attention.
I think we've had some good ideas, but we'll sort them out afterwards. I don't want to get the fans distracted right now by commenting on that stuff, I'd rather have the competition play out.

Q. In contrast what was your reaction when you saw Monday morning what the ratings were from Sunday?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I wasn't surprised. We had an increase over historical Barclays tournaments, which have had good champions in Vijay and Harrington and Furyk over the years, and yet it was up off of that. I think it was close to being a really good, solid rating. I know it was up some. It could have been up even more had we either gone to a playoff or had Phil and Ernie made a stronger run in the afternoon than they happened to do.
Listen, I thought it was off to a good start. I'm not displeased by the numbers, but I'm looking for our numbers to go up here in the next couple weeks.

Q. What can you tell us about the conference you had on Monday with the PAC as it relates to drug testing? Is there an update?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It was just a continuation of our discussions that have been going on now for two years about getting to a point with all the other golf organizations on a comprehensive drug policy. We are in hopes of completing that work this calendar year. We're in hopes of executing on the elements of the policy by '08 or certainly during '08. It's a complex thing.
So any time I talk to the Player Advisory Council or the board, which I also talked to earlier in the week, I give them an update as to where that process was going. There wasn't any real news out of it, it was just a continuation of the process that I hope to get concluded here in the next couple months.

Q. The story said drug testing would start next year.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It could. I mean, the way I described it to the PAC was that we believe now that we'll complete work on a policy this year, and the elements of the policy could very well be executed during '08. Now, what do I mean by elements of the policy? Everybody always wants to talk about testing. That's all they want to talk about. But testing is just one piece of it.
Therapeutic use exemptions where you have a doctor tell you that you have to use one of these substances, you need to come and get permission and how does that process work, that's another aspect of it; penalties and disciplinary process, how does that process work, what are the penalties.
Those are the kind of things that could be executed on as early as '08. I'll have more to say about that early in the year, but only after we've had a completion of the rule which says you can't use certain substances and an adequate period of time to fully inform players as to how those things get in your body.
So there's work to be done. I'll have a more comprehensive statement about this toward the end of the year.

Q. TOUR Championship?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No, not at the TOUR Championship. It'll be after that.

Q. Are you at least at the stage where you've looked into who might administer a test?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We're well down the road, done a lot of work on testing, testing protocols, but it's premature for me to talk about specifics at this point.

Q. Would you be testing just for performance enhancing drugs, or have you talked about substance abuse drugs like the NFL's policy?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: There will be a combination of substances on the agreed-upon list when we finish our work. You know, that gets into some complexity, and I'd rather not do it in the context of a 30-second answer. But it'll be a combination of things that are banned, and then the extent to which we execute on the policy will cover all the substances that are banned. So I'll have more definitive information for you later.

Q. With what's going on in baseball and what's going on in the NFL, how important is it for you as commissioner of a sport to keep sports clean and above board in all facets now? There seems to be a new focus on it.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: You know, there in some sports seems to have been a systematic violation of certainly performance enhancing drug requirements, so I'd say that's why there's more focus on it. But you know, I don't know the extent to which any commissioner can take responsibility for eradicating the problem, but you have to take responsibility for taking your best efforts to either deal with the problem or try to eradicate it. Those kind of things instill confidence in your sport by the fans.
I think what everybody is troubled about today is the extent to which -- we're back to the drug issue, is that athletes generally, across multiple sports, take substances that they think will help them.
Now, in our sport we don't ban those substances, so this business about somebody took something and maybe they're cheating is nonsense because they're not banned. So the first step in our sport if we're going to do anything is to ban substances. That's our first step.
And then once you ban them, what's the disciplinary process related to violations? Are you going to test and how are you going to test and those kinds of things.
But I think we're at a point where to maintain confidence in the public and the fans, we have to take this step, even though there's great speculation about the extent to which substances can help you in this game, and we have to demonstrate I think longer term that -- whether we like it or not or whether we think 98 percent of the public of our fan base has confidence in our players, we still have to take steps. I applaud the steps that commissioners in other sports are taking in not just the drug area but other conduct areas. Fortunately we have a pretty good record on the conduct side, and we want to maintain the image we have. We have the best image in professional sports. Our athletes enjoy the best image, and it's probably maybe more important to our sport than other sports because it affects the marketing of our sport, and we need to make sure that we're using due diligence to make sure that continues.

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