|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
September 27, 2007
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We are here to announce that Royal Melbourne will again be the host of the Presidents Cup.
I would like to before making a few other comments about that, congratulate and thank the Royal Melbourne Club; Peter Sutherland, the captain of the Royal Melbourne Club is with us today and we look forward to his comments.
I'd also like to thank the leadership of both the Kingston Heath Club and the Metropolitan Club for their strong interest in hosting the Presidents Cup. You know, prior to making the announcement that we would go to Melbourne, as we focused on Australia, we had great conversations with people in Sydney and I would also like to thank and commend the leadership of Royal Sydney and Sydney for their interest and commitment and with respect to the Cup.
In 1998, we had the first time ever that the Presidents Cup was played internationally. It was certainly a fantastic experience. Prime Minister Howard was our chairman, Honorary Chairman that year. He added a lot to it and he commented to me that he had no idea that golf could generate the kind of excitement and enthusiasm that he saw in Melbourne the week of the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.
Peter Thompson, of course, captained a team that as Jack Nicklaus I think referenced yesterday, waxed the Americans pretty good in Royal Melbourne. So I assume the Americans may have mixed emotions about going back, I'm not sure about that. But Peter's leadership over three Cups and certainly in our visit to Australia I thought was also instrumental.
The people in Melbourne are great golf fans, they have great golf courses, some of the best golf courses in the world. This is really an affirmation of what Melbourne generally and Royal Melbourne in particular have meant to the history of the Cup and why we think it's an important step if we are going to go to Australia to go back to Royal Melbourne.
Over 12 Australians have represented their country in various Presidents Cup, including the Australians who are playing this week for the International Team, Stuart Appleby, Nick O'Hern, Geoff Ogilvy.
And Adam Scott. They have a great tradition already developed for their support and involvement in the Presidents Cup and I think that will be a nice adjunct to returning in 2011.
With that, I'll just reiterate our excitement and enthusiasm for going back to Australia in 2011, and I'll turn it back to you.
LAURA NEAL: Mr. Sutherland, would you like to make a few comments before we open to questions?
PETER SUTHERLAND: Thank you. On behalf of Royal Melbourne Golf Club, I'd like to thank Tim Finchem and his PGA TOUR officials who personally gave us the opportunity to bid for the Cup again in 2011 and for having the support of our own club and making that submission to the tour. We are obviously very thrilled and a little humbled by the thought that we have been selected as the only golf club outside of America to host this event twice.
It's now a bigger and better event than it was in 1998 and it's become a major event on the world golf calendar, and I know that my own members and my council and other golf clubs in Melbourne will be very much looking forward to hosting the event hopefully with the size and enthusiasm that Montréal has shown.
We are sure that the venue will be something that those of you that travel down there are proud of and look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in 2011. Thank you, Tim for your encouragement and support and we are very proud to have been the selected club.
LAURA NEAL: Mr. Sellenger, if you would like to speak about what this means to your tour, bringing the Presidents Cup back to Australia.
BEN SELLENGER: We are delighted the Presidents Cup is returning. 1998 was such a successful Presidents Cup staged at Royal Melbourne and for us to be able to utilize this tournament again as a platform to promote golf in our region is huge for us, and so we're delighted that it's coming back down there and to go to Royal Melbourne is great for golf in Victoria as well.
Q. You've talked about the schedule in the calendar where this would fall, roughly what time of year do you see this one being played, because we've got that FedEx issue now to deal with at this time frame in the season?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We have not announced the actual date yet but it will be somewhere in the middle of the dry season. (Laughter).
It will be golf season in Australia, around the late November, early December time frame, somewhere in that range. We've got to work on the calendar with the other tours but we don't want to get there too early. We were there last time, we had that great change that came through during the week. It went from 105 to 50 in ten minutes or something, absolutely amazing what happens there. So we'll pay attention to the weather but it will be in that time frame. Should be great.
Q. What kept Kingston Heath and Metropolitan from getting it? Was it just a matter of space, and secondly, if you could actually address this one first, have you given any thought to qualifying for the team; in other words, the last, I think just about every Presidents Cup, the qualification has ended with the PGA Championship in August. I think one of the issues that came up last time with South Africa is when you play it in November, the team is set like two months before they actually play the matches. Any consideration to moving that qualification later?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, let me ask you the second one first. Yes, we have begun to think about it and no, we haven't made any decisions on it. But I think there were, you know, in light of the shifting golf calendars around the world generally, the changes we made this year in the United States, changes that are happening with the European Tour, that general subject is something that is receiving more attention now anyway, not just because of this year.
You know, we will probably play '09 in San Francisco as well, A, because it flows better in the calendar and the weather is even a little better in San Francisco as we get into October or late September and into October. So those questions always conjure up the question of when shot eligibility cutoff be. So we've examined it but haven't made any final decisions yet.
On the first question, I wouldn't point to any one thing. I think in this kind of analysis we look at staging capability, the general quality of the golf course. We talk to a lot of players. We talk to people in the game who have been involved in the Presidents Cup and who are knowledgeable about the golf courses in the sand belt, which would include captains. We talked to a lot of people and got their input for a good period of time, and for a variety of reasons, it just kept coming back that Royal Melbourne was the best location overall.
I think we could have staged the Presidents Cup at either Kingston Heath or metropolitan if we were going to be at Royal Melbourne, it would have been fine. Just coming to grips with the overall factors, for a number of reasons, we felt that Royal Melbourne was the best opportunity.
Q. Speaking of raining season, is there a plan if play is rained out today?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It's not going to be rained out today.
There's always a B plan. My understanding of the weather forecast is that this is supposed to lift by one o'clock and we have a pretty good window this afternoon. So we'll see what happens.
You know, we have rain tonight apparently and tapering off tomorrow. So if, for example, we got started today and didn't finish, since we only have one round tomorrow, we would be able to add some more golf tomorrow and we'll see how it goes on into the weekend. It's just like any week, you know, once you get backed up, you've got to play when you can and you just have to take what Mother Nature gives us.
This golf course by everybody's estimation drains very well so based on how hard it's rained this morning, it gives us heart. The nice news is that it's going to be fantastic weather this weekend, so we're looking forward to that.
LAURA NEAL: On the heels of that, there's a delay to 1:45.
Q. For Peter, can you speak to what other tournaments or championships might be coming to Royal Melbourne in advance of the Presidents Cup? In other words, is the Open planned for Royal Melbourne?
PETER SUTHERLAND: At the moment, golf Australia's three-year plan for the Australian Open has been to go to Sydney and this year etc. Being held at the Australian golf club. Last year was royal Sydney and I don't think a decision has been made on next year as yet.
BEN SELLENGER: Not as yet.
PETER SUTHERLAND: The plans then are to review whether there is a three-year cycle in another city, and if so, it may be Melbourne. We would certainly be considered as one of the roster clubs for Australian Opens in the future, but our priority is certainly the Presidents Cup. Now that we've been awarded that event, any decisions we make as a council about future tournaments will be subjugated to the fact that the 2011 event will be in Melbourne in that November/December period.
Q. Golf is such a global game now, just wondering if there was interest or some bids interest other parts of the world for this next Presidents Cup, whether it was China or Korea or South America; were there some other places that were competing for this?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think the question was have there been other areas that have shown interest in the Presidents Cup; the answer is yes.
We've had a good number of requests for information about the Presidents Cup from different parts of the world and in the United States from a lot of different cities about markets or clubs in the last -- over the years, it's escalated a lot in the last three or four years as you would imagine since South Africa and Washington.
So we'll just work with those involved to sort that out but I do see us trending toward a scheduling of the Cup further out because it clearly, you know, it clearly gives us a better opportunity to stage the Presidents Cup the way it needs to be staged if we have the extra time; golf course preparation, logistical, working with government entities on decisions that need to be made that impact transportation, all kind of things.
If you have three or four or five years, you're much better off in terms -- especially if you're going to a place with this size of event that's not used to it. So it's very, very helpful. And not to mention the fact that I think it creates more interest that people know it's coming, and so we're trending in that direction, and I think we will continue that. So within the next two years, we'll probably be looking and making some decisions on '13 and '15, I would think in the next 24 months.
Q. What other countries expressed interest in hosting the Presidents Cup?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I think if you look at the International Team, with the exception probably of South Africa since they were the last port of call, I don't think they showed a lot of interest because I think they just knew that we probably weren't going to go back to the same place twice.
But every other area that's represented on the team clearly were areas that were interested, and then there were other areas. And as I say, it's been in escalation here for the last three to four years.
Q. Curious about how financials of something like this work, I know the Ryder Cup over in Europe, they command a pretty hefty fee from clubs because of the attention that it brought to The K Club or whatever it is, is Royal Melbourne paying the TOUR a fee or does the TOUR pay Royal Melbourne a fee or how does that work?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It works a little different in Australia. I think we are receiving governmental support I think primarily. The Presidents Cup is not at a financial level that the Ryder Cup is at this point by any stretch. There's reasons for that. But I think that, you know, our focus continues to be to stage the Cup at a level -- I don't know how to say this. I don't know that -- we want to stage it in a way, I guess is the best way to say it, in a way that's commensurate with the feel and the atmosphere of the Cup that's been developed over the last ten years.
And by that, I mean, the number of people that are on the property; the ability to watch golf. There's just certain things about it, the way -- what things players do during the week. We just like that flow. And the Ryder Cup has a somewhat different feel. It's a great feel, by the way. I think Ryder Cup has a fantastic impact on what golf is in the world. We are not trying to trace the steps of the Ryder Cup from a presentation or staging or marketing standpoint.
Having said that, we do want to maximize the ability of players to provide charitable contributions to charities they are interested in. They have become quite focused on that so we want to continue to grow the financial base, and we want to continue to stage it in a better and better way for the fans. So that's been our focus.
But it's apples to oranges at this point in terms of what you're talking about, in terms of clubs spending fairly significant sums to attract it. It's a little different situation.
Q. For Peter, would you like to see given that its played at Royal Melbourne in '11, see Greg Norman serve as captain and what would that mean for matches down under?
PETER THOMPSON: That's a bunch of questions. First of all I'm a has-been and I'm very happy to be that, instead of a could have been.
No, I had good innings and I think the captaincy should rotate I suppose. Players in the modern era should be involved and consequently I think that's my best advice about that.
Greg Norman, I hope that one day he will be captain. He was a giant figure in the game for so long, I think it's appropriate that if he wants to be, he should be captain of this team.
What was the other one you were asking? Your memory is as bad as mine.
Q. I wanted to ask you your thoughts on the evolution of this tournament and how you've seen it change since you were captain, and if you anticipated what this event has turned into.
PETER THOMPSON: Well, I've been I suppose sentimentally involved in this match since the beginning. I didn't attend the first one. From the second one on I've been emotionally involved I suppose because there was a long period when like I suppose other members of this team, it rankled a bit that we were excluded from the Ryder Cup for no good reason that I could see.
But I think this particular match has a giant impact in the worldwide of golf, and so I'm very happy to see that it is growing and every year seems to be bigger than the previous one, and I think -- well, naturally I'm very thrilled that it came back to Melbourne which is my hometown, but Melbourne is a very strong sporting city. We've had world championships of just about everything except darts, and they have all been successful and I think that -- we think of the success of this last one, even with the little digs that we get about the secret army that we had standing by -- as President Bush said yesterday about our flies, we train them especially to attack visitors and not the home people. Anyway, they will be there I think in 2011, even if they don't buy a ticket.
No, I've seen this event grow in stature and importance, and I'm thrilled to see it.
Q. While you're on a roll, the issue was raised earlier this week on what this would have meant for golf or how this could have come about in the 1960s or 40 years earlier than it is now. There was a lot of attention on Norman and Price not being able to play in a Ryder Cup. What kind of team do you think an international squad could have fielded, and would it have been, do you think, superior to what Britain offered in the Ryder Cup, for Bobby Locke and Charles and on and on.
PETER THOMPSON: To be honest, I don't think this could have happened back in the 1960s. There were several good players from the international arena, but we didn't have 12 of them. It's really come along at the right time. Golf is grand, we have very high-class players -- well, we always had them from Argentina, but from Korea now with Choi coming into the picture. We had a pretty limited choice of team back in the 1960s I would say, so this is widening.
And with the advent of China and the Middle East now, we are bound in another decade I suppose to have players in the team from that area which makes it really more worldwide than it is now. There may not be any Australians in the 2030 team.
Here, I'm taking over this thing, what's going on here.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: You're doing great.
Q. I can't remember what the broadcast particulars were for Australia last time, was it tape-delay or live at a weird hour? Do you recall and how do you massage that one?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It has to be tape-delay, 14 hours difference, so it will be tape delay again. But the audience was great here, and international distribution was terrific, and the international distribution has gotten really strong over the last three Cups.
So I suspect when we go back to Australia, it will be -- Australia, there's been a number of turning points in this 13 years for the Cup. I think Australia was a turning point because it demonstrated that these two teams playing had great support outside of the United States, and then of course South Africa was a great turning point as was Washington.
Television distribution will be significantly enhanced when we go back than it was in '98.
LAURA NEAL: Thank you for joining us.
End of FastScripts