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March 12, 2008
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: And morning and welcome to the 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard. This year the event celebrates its 38th year at Bay Hill Club and Lodge dating back to 1979, hosted by one of golf's legends and gentlemen, Arnold Palmer.
My name is Joel Schuchmann. I'm senior manager of communications with the PGA TOUR.
The tournament has a very special announcement this morning, and to get things started I would like to introduce the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Commissioner Tim Finchem.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you, and I apologize in advance for being very brief, but Bill Mathis, who is with us has a 9:40 tee time in the Pro-Am, and that's our priority this morning to get him over there to hit a few balls.
I think most of you know that we've had a terrific relationship and a broad relationship with MasterCard at the PGA TOUR level dating back to 1995. They are an official marketing partner. They have been involved in a number of tournaments. In recent years, they have sponsored our scoreboards and are currently sponsoring the new Mitsubishi-designed and manufactured LED boards which we think are adding a lot to the tournament experience.
So they have been a terrific partner, and they are known for their innovative marketing programs. Since 2004, they have been the sponsor here, and now the presenting sponsor of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and we are delighted today to announce that they have agreed to extend that partnership and the other partnership with the PGA TOUR through 2012.
I think that, you know, this step continues a great relationship between Arnold, everybody here who has made this tournament so special, and MasterCard, and from a PGA TOUR perspective, we could not be more pleased. And again, we are delighted to have, and I'll turn it over to Bill Mathis who is the executive vice president for business development in the United States. Bill?
BILL MATHIS: Thank you, Tim. Well, it's my pleasure to be here today to officially announce that MasterCard will continue as the presenting sponsor for the Arnold Palmer Invitational through 2012. And I also have the great pleasure to announce officially today that we are extending our partnership with the PGA TOUR, also, through 2012.
Now, we are very proud to extend our alliances with both of these world-class properties for the next four years, and in 2008 and beyond, MasterCard will use these partnerships to help bring golf enthusiasts closer to the game.
Now, here at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, MasterCard is offering exclusive access for its cardholders to a special fan venue called the MasterCard Club. And basically what you have to do is a MasterCard cardholder is spend $50, either on tournament merchandise, or tournament concessions or at the Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Lodge, and you receive two free admissions to the MasterCard club. And the MasterCard Club is located adjacent to the driving range between the ninth green and the practice green. It's an air-conditioned club that offers a bar service and a retrospective on Arnold Palmer, among other very, very engaging activities.
As most of you know, the foundation of MasterCard's commitment to golf in the U.S. is our relationship with the PGA TOUR and the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
Golf enthusiasts absolutely bring a passion and an affinity for golf that is truly unsurpassed. And MasterCard taps into that affinity by offering priceless experiences to golf fans in the U.S. and around the world through our various golf sponsorships, such as these, and so for MasterCard, bringing golf enthusiasts closer to the game is priceless. Thank you.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Mr. Palmer, if you could make a couple of comments about MasterCard's continued support.
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, needless to say, I am extremely happy with the association with MasterCard, and of course, as you people know, we've had them here for a number of years, and looking forward to the next five, counting today, and this week, through 2012.
Of course we are just very, very pleased with the field we have and MasterCard's participation. The MasterCard Club, I think Bill will probably find that he's going to have to raise the price on that card because we didn't build a big enough tent and I hope that's the case, Bill. (Laughter).
But this is a wonderful occasion for me, and I'm very excited about what's going to happen in the next four years, or five, if you want to count this week.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Before we go onto some comments from the Commissioner, as well as Mr. Palmer, if anybody has questions regarding the new sponsorship, go ahead and ask now.
Well, Mr. Mathis, we appreciate your time and good luck in the Pro-Am today.
ARNOLD PALMER: Thanks, Bill. We'll let you go. You've got to go play golf. Thank you.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Commissioner Finchem, I believe you wanted to make a few comments about the season thus far.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't have much to say. I'll just make a couple of comments that we're off to a good start this year. The first couple of months, we are seeing a continuation of a pattern where we have veteran players, Tiger, Phil, Ernie, back in the winner's circle winning, and then it's nice to see some players in their 20s winning with D.J. Trahan and J.B. Holmes and Sean O'Hair.
So we would like to see that continue, as well, because as we all enjoy and the fans enjoy watching the established stars win and compete, you know, we've got to look to the future. So having these young guys win and learning how to win I think is really important, too. And so if we see a nice blend of that the rest of the year, we're very pleased.
Obviously a number of you have asked me in recent weeks about the economy. As my wife likes to say, you know, why do you worry about something you can't do anything about. But so far the economic slowdown has not really affected the TOUR. Our sales, charity dollars, tournament revenues seem to be performing quite well. Obviously we hope things don't worsen on the economic front, but thus far, at least, things are working quite well.
Our television performance this year is up a little bit over last year. I think HD television is having even a bigger impact than we thought as more and more households are getting equipped with HD television and being able to watch our sport on HD, it's having a nice effect on viewing habits and we would like to see that continue as we ramp up to 90 percent of households having HD in the next five years.
That's all I would like to say. As far as this week goes, Arnold, it's always a pleasure to be here with you and be part of this week. Arnold, as I can tell you from working with Arnold over the years, his commitment to what this tournament is all about is always first on his list, and from the perspective of the PGA TOUR, that's a good thing. Knowing that he's personally involved and making things happen here, gives a lot of comfort to us, but also generates a tremendous enthusiasm amongst sponsors.
So that plays into what we have as a very special week on the PGA TOUR, and Arnold, on behalf of everyone involved with the TOUR, thanks for what you have done over the years and for what you are doing.
And Joel, with that, I'll just wait to see if there's any questions a little bit later.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you very much. Mr. Palmer, if you would like to comment about the State of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
ARNOLD PALMER: Thank you, and thank you, Tim. Of course, Bill and MasterCard, you know, we are very pleased with that association as I said earlier.
As far as my tournament is concerned, we are very pleased with the field we have, one of the top fields of the year, and the golf course is going to be excellent of the it's going to be tough. The roughs are tough. And all this conversation about the greens, the greens are very good and they will be good for the tournament.
Generally, I would say that as the State of the union or the State of the tournament, it's in very good shape. I'm looking forward to watching it this week and seeing what happens. I think we have the makings of a great golf tournament coming up.
And with that, I think I'm through, unless we have some questions.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. There was a lot of focus, Arnold, on the greens a couple of weeks ago. What was kind of the progress that was made over the last few weeks?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I learned -- I've been in the golf business all my life, and I've treated a lot of situations, and this was probably one that worried me as much as any. The PGA TOUR sent all their experts here. We had Ph.D's from all over the southeast and even going national and seeking some help or information on how to treat the nematode situation, which was basically the problem.
I found out things that I didn't know about grasses and golf and the horticulture of the greens. There are 40 different species of nematodes, and I looked at microscopic shots of them crawling up the roots of the grasses and the whole thing.
We did some turf transferring into the greens. We did just about everything that the Ph.D's of the world would tell us to do to conquer the problem.
Right now, I feel that we are in good shape. The greens are not, let's say the top, top of the board, but they are very puttable, very good, and they will be on Thursday morning, they will be a speed of somewhere around 10 to 12, and they will be very smooth. So they will be very playable, and I don't see a problem.
The rest of the golf course is in very good shape. The roughs are probably even tougher than they were last year, the same length, four inches, but thicker. And of course the fairways and the remainder of the golf course is in very good shape.
And before you ask me, I'll tell you, what are we going to do for next year. We are making our strategy and planning our strategy, and of course on Monday we'll start thinking about and doing some of the things that will protect us for years to come.
Q. For next year, with Bay Hill anchoring the Florida Swing, how do you think the flow is going to matter? How is it going to change?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't know exactly how to predict that, but you know, at this point I see no reason to predict it would be significantly different tournament to tournament in what's happening during this particular phase.
But it's too early. We always start talking to players the second half of the season about what their schedule is next year. The European Tour schedule shifts every year a little bit, so you know, the real variable is I think the members of the European Tour in terms of how they are going to fit playing here and playing there. There are some possible changes in the regulation, so we'll just have to see what develops.
But fundamentally, I don't see a huge difference. If you were to compare a tournament last year to tournament this year, I don't see a sea change, if you will, because of the adjustment of the schedule.
Q. Just in case nobody told you, some kid passed you on the career victory list a couple weeks ago; did he have anything to say to you, or did he have anything to say to you yet about it?
ARNOLD PALMER: Oh, we've had a couple of text messages back and forth. (Laughter).
But you know, this may be a surprise to all of you. It's no surprise to me. I anticipated that he would pass that record and I can't see him doing anything but continuing to pass other people's records in the future.
You've all heard what I've had to say about Tiger in the past, and I don't see any change in what he's doing or how he's doing it. I think he is just in a position to continue to do the things that he's done very well up to this point.
Q. As a follow-up on that, the rumors are started about he's won two, can he win everything, and is this -- nobody has ever won the Grand Slam, you got halfway there once, is that possible or are there just too many good players for somebody to do it?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I got halfway there. I felt like I got a little further than halfway. But either way, I can see Tiger doing it. Since I created it about 1960, we really haven't had many people come close, except Tiger.
Jack did a pretty good job of it and Gary and some of the other players, but Tiger is by far the most advanced into that situation. I think a lot of that depends on just how determined he is to win the four events in one year. And of course, I think that it's pretty damn exciting myself. I think it's something that should stimulate the golf world and certainly should stimulate Tiger because he's the guy that's on the hot spot right now.
Q. Tiger won the four in a row a few years ago, and in the last fewer years, he has not really contended; do you have any thoughts on why that be, outside of you maybe growing the rough up and trying to make guys play out of the fairway?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, we haven't regulated our tournament to do anything as far as Tiger is concerned. What we're doing with this golf course and what we will do in the future is only to make it better for the PGA TOUR and for our interests with MasterCard and the future of this tournament.
You know, I don't know how many years I will be around here doing this, but I hope that when I'm not here any longer, it will continue to be a great tournament, and I'm just trying to get everybody educated to that effect.
Q. In regards to the Grand Slam, you just talked about Tiger's chances, but just curious from your own standpoint, he's been open about saying -- he doesn't shy away from talking about going after it this year. Did you think during your prime going into every year that you could win all four? Was that your goal starting out, or did you not think ahead like that?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, of course, I've sort of had a thought about that many years ago, and again, I think it's an exciting thing. We still talk about Jones and the Grand Slam. Well, that's what kind of gave me the idea in 1960 to bring that on. He's the only man that ever did it, and probably the only one that ever will; whether it be two Amateurs and two Opens or the PGA, Masters and the two Opens.
So if it happens, it will be a legacy that will hang in with the PGA and PGA TOUR forever as the Jones situation has. And as I mentioned earlier, it's exciting. It's something that -- hit home runs, go for 400 games as a quarterback and win them all, or whatever it is, in golf, this is something that will be noted for many, many years, if it ever happens.
Q. On the years that you did not win the Masters, were you more disappointed that you didn't win the Masters, or disappointed that any hope of a Grand Slam that year was gone?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, certainly the first thing is that if you don't win the Masters, you can't win the Grand Slam, so it's all over.
Does that affect you? I don't think it affects your ability to play or your desire to win championships. I think I went into them with the same desire that I had when I won or when I didn't win the Masters.
Q. What edge do you think Tiger has over the rest of the guys right now? Is it purely his shot-making or is it something -- is it the mental edge just as much if not more?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, we don't have time for me to tell you what I think about Tiger and his golf, because I think that right now, he has got it by the neck and he's choking it and he should. When you play that well, and as he has, and his game is obviously responding to his commands, and I think that's what it's going to take to do the things that we're talking about.
You know, what has he won, only the last four or five tournaments he's played in, and really hasn't lost.
But let me say one thing more. As you win more, the pressure gets greater. And as good as he is and as mentally sharp as he is, that isn't going to disappear. It's not going to go away. It's going to be there.
I suppose the fact that back in his mind and the mind of everyone out here playing golf, is that he has the ability to just win at random. And of course, there were times when I was playing that I felt like I could do that. I felt like I could win the tournament when I really had to win. Doesn't make it any easier. It means that you have to really work hard to do it, and Tiger is not going to be any different than anyone else. He is going to have to work and suffer some to do the things that he wants to do, and that everybody is expecting him to do.
Q. This course has some of the toughest finishing holes in the game, Tiger had his problems on Sunday last year, Vijay said he hates 18, just want to get your thoughts on challenging these guys on TOUR.
ARNOLD PALMER: I didn't get that.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Joel, you want to repeat that?
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Just some comments about the toughest finishing holes on the PGA TOUR, 16, 17, 18.
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, of course, you know, we're trying to make this golf tournament as exciting as we can. And the finishing holes are pretty key to who is going to win this golf tournament, and as you know, we have untold number of incidents coming down the stretch whether it be Robert Gamez holing his second shot to win the tournament; someone 3-putting or 4-putting the 17th green to let someone else win this championship, and it goes on and on.
Those finishing holes are key. This year and in the years upcoming, we will not change those holes with the exception of maybe 16. I have been watching 16 and studying the things that happen there over the years on that particular hole, and listening to the players and their comments, either good or bad. 16 is a potential for change in the years to come. It won't get any easier, and it's probably, as a par 4, won't get any more difficult than it already is.
So 16, 17 and 18 are, I think, part of the key to making it an exciting championship.
Q. Back in Arnie's days, players smoking cigarettes on the course was commonplace. What are your thoughts today; should smoking still be allowed on the TOUR or any thoughts of banning it?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I would refer that question to the Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: He asked me.
ARNOLD PALMER: Oh, I thought -- (laughter).
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: So I got it.
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, do you have an answer?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Yeah, I think that smoking -- I think that smoking should be banned retroactively and anybody that smoked 25 years ago, any tournament they won when they smoked it, should be stricken from the record (laughter).
ARNOLD PALMER: (Turning to Commissioner, looking indignant). I'm going to interrupt you now (laughter).
You know, I quit smoking on the golf course in 1962, and that's more than 25 years ago (laughter).
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: But there's no plans to do that.
You know, we don't -- I don't think we have a problem with smokers. We have some. We don't have many. And like the rest of society, smoking is dissipating and certainly at this athletic level, it's almost disappeared. So I don't think it's worth spending any energy on it.
On the other hand, I don't like to see it, but thankfully it doesn't happen very often.
Q. You had mentioned previously about the pressure perhaps building on Tiger as he might try and progress through a Grand Slam season. I'm wondering if you might also perhaps agree with the premise that the pressure grows on everybody else, too, to try to stop him.
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, there's no question about that. The guy that wins any major championship is it. He takes the possibility of the four or the major slam gone, there's no chance to it. So every player that's playing is putting a little extra emphasis on major championships and stopping Tiger from doing that.
The players, I don't think they care as far as what the results would be to them, but I think that any one of them would want to be the guy that stops it. And there's certainly some pressure to do that.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the new tee at No. 3, what kind of feedback have you been getting from the players on that?
ARNOLD PALMER: You know, I've talked to a number of players about the new tee at 3. There's not anyone that's really complained. A couple of the guys said it made the hole play a little better for them because they knew exactly what they had to do.
The guys, there are a couple players who probably can still hit it beyond the corner, which I was trying to eliminate. I'm trying to keep them down the narrow part of the fairway, which is wide, it's not narrow, and have them go into the green there.
But on a hole like 3, if they now choose to go with a shorter club, of course then they have got a much longer shot into a green that's pretty well protected on the left-hand side.
But overall, flat-out, I'm very happy with that tee, and I just hope that I can convince Tim's guys to use it.
Q. You say you've watched the results on 16 very closely. What are your own thoughts on the effect of that hole as a par 4? Have you been satisfied?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, it's just a good par 4, from the back tee now, most of the guys are hitting drive and down to 7-iron and up to the longer clubs. They are using a lot of hybrid, long iron-type shots. But there's not a man in this field that from the back tee can't hit it from the back tee with a drive and an iron.
What complaints I have heard are modest. They are not severe, but that is that for that type of hole, the green is a little bit radical; and it is, it's undulated. Maybe a little more. But when you look at the average score there, it doesn't reflect that.
Q. Do you still play it as a par 5?
ARNOLD PALMER: Play it as a par 4.
Q. But when you play out here, do you play it as a par 5 or a par 4?
ARNOLD PALMER: I play it as a par 6 (laughter). Hell, he can't ask me questions about my game. (Laughter).
No, we play it as a par 5.
Q. Gary Player is going to play in his 51st Masters. He's been determined I think to break your record. I was wondering about your thoughts on that and his contribution to the game internationally over the last 50, 60 years.
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, Gary obviously has been one of the originals as far as bringing international golf on the scene. I remember when he started, and of course he has made a fantastic contribution to the game of golf personally and for the international golf world.
As far as the Masters is concerned, and his playing 51 times, doesn't mean a damn thing to me. Good; I wish him luck. Of course, I kid him a little bit about it, and we enjoy that. It's not a big deal.
But playing in 50 Masters is a big deal or 51 Masters is a big deal, because that makes you pretty damn old. (Laughter).
Q. It's been touched on a little bit earlier that Tiger has got this streak, and he has not lost yet this year. I was curious, what was the most number of wins that you ever had to start a season, and did you ever think that maybe you could go through the first several months of the season without losing?
ARNOLD PALMER: Without losing? Well, that usually happened pretty early. And I didn't have the same problem Tiger has, and I would have liked it.
When I won the Masters and the Open, that was a big deal. And of course, I remember starting at the PGA in Akron, Ohio, and opened with 67. Unfortunately that didn't prevail very long. But it's a big thing, and it's something that the player who is doing it or who has the chance to do it is very aware of, and I can tell you that it's not a passing thing that just goes away. It doesn't go away.
You think about Nicklaus; he had won the Masters six times, so each time he was having a shot at doing the Grand Slam that year, and his thoughts were not about playing in the Motor City Open or something like that.
Q. Do you have anything special planned this year? It's the 50th anniversary since your first win.
ARNOLD PALMER: No. Except that I will be there and I will play the tee shot to open the Masters this year. Other than that, I'll probably have a couple Ketels in the afternoon to celebrate.
Q. Just in your own words, how do you define the strength of your relationship with that place? Is it just the fact that you've won more, or is there more than that?
ARNOLD PALMER: I think there's more than that to it. I certainly enjoyed the Masters, and from the day in 1955 when I drove down Magnolia Lane to tee up in the Masters in my first year on TOUR, I got excited, and that excitement hasn't gone away.
I think my relationship with Cliff Roberts and Bobby Jones had a lot to do with how much I think of Augusta and how much I enjoyed playing there, and the things that I've had to do to kind of enjoy, and the conversations. Whether it be with playing with the President of the United States when I won in '58, or whether my relationship with Cliff Roberts, who I had many long conversations with about the Masters and the things that happened there, they are things that I value greatly in my life.
Q. Tiger brings a lot of casual fans into golf that otherwise don't care about it, much like you did. Can you talk a little about how people were fascinated by you in your heyday and the way they are with him now?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I can't testify to how they are with Tiger, but I would think there would be a lot of similarities as to the relationships that you create when you're playing the TOUR.
One of the things I get a big kick out of is some of the things that are happening this week. People that are remembering tournaments way back and writing letters, and it refers to everything from grandchildren to great-grandfathers and what has happened over the years and how they remember tournaments that I played in, whether it be Opens or Masters or British Opens, you name it, and there's as many from Europe as there are from the United States. We found that people wanted to renew relationships that are old, and by letters or by people who have passed through the years have thought that the things that were going on were very good.
It's a little bit nostalgic, and it's fun for me to be able to read and see what is happening in the world of golf, and the fact that the relationships haven't gone away.
Q. Jack has said that he's going to play in the Par-3 Contest this year. Is there any interest by you in playing in the Par-3 Contest or maybe playing a practice round or part of a practice round out there?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I have no intentions of playing a practice round on the golf course at this point. I don't want to embarrass myself or the people that I'm playing with in a practice round.
But I am considering and have given considerable thought, and as a matter of fact, have had the starter at the Par 3 register me to start. I don't know whether I will or not.
Q. Did you tee it up at Augusta in '58 thinking you were ready to win there?
ARNOLD PALMER: Did I what?
Q. Did you tee it up in 1958 thinking you were ready to win at Augusta?
ARNOLD PALMER: Did I think I was ready to win, is that what you're asking me?
Q. Did you have a good feeling that you could win that year?
ARNOLD PALMER: I did. I felt like I could, like I was playing well enough to win or good enough to win.
Did I know or have the confidence to say I was going to, no. I was going at it as best I could. I remembered a couple of years earlier when (Jimmy) Demaret was leading, and I came to the 10th tee and I needed to shoot 34 on the back nine to tie or win the championship, and I promptly made 6 at 10. So that took care of that.
But that was a thought that I had, and I knew that if I played pretty well, I had a chance to win.
All of the years, in my early years at Augusta, the experts, so to speak, some of the older players and some of the people who classed themselves as knowledgeable about what it took to win the Masters, I remember it running in my ears constantly was the fact that I didn't hit the golf ball the way you have to hit it to win at Augusta. Now, there's some reporters in this room that may remember that.
But I was a low ball. I always hit the ball low and on the line. Very rarely did I ever hit it up in the air like Jack does or some of the players that were successful at Augusta. And that made my determination to win Augusta even more, because I figured that if there is a way to get to where you have to get to on all of the holes at Augusta, hitting a low ball still made it possible to win, and it worked for me.
Q. We talk about 50 years, does it feel like 50 years? I know you pretty vividly recall the round.
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, of course, 50 years is a long time, but it doesn't seem very long right now. The only time it really seems like a long time is when I walk out on the first tee and hit a drive; then I know it's 50 years (laughter).
Q. I've got one for you. You look at other professional sports and there's maybe a handful of players who are maybe of the iconic status or really a lot of charisma but in golf, the list kind of never ends, Jack, Arnie, Tiger, Gary, Fuzzy; what is it about golf that seems to lends itself to producing athletes that have that kind of impact or relationship with fans, both on TV and in person? Is it the fact that it's a close, personal relationship on the course?
ARNOLD PALMER: You got it. You hit it right there. I think the fact that golf and the players are physically closer to the fans on the golf course, and from time to time they are privileged to talk to the fans, they have more of a relationship just through casualness, whether it's after the golf or actually I don't think there's a lot of conversation on the golf course today, much the same as there was years ago.
But the fact is that golfers are closer to the public. They are closer to the people that admire them and want to talk to them. The autographing isn't something that you stand in line and do much the same as other sports where there's, again, the contact is very little. In golf, an autograph is more personal I think. It's something that actually happens and like I'm looking at you and talking and you're asking for an autograph, that's the way it's done, and that makes the relationship closer.
Q. Has that kind of fed off itself starting with guys in Arnie's generation and keeps kind of building?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I think there's this other dynamic to it, which is longevity. Here you guys are talking to Arnie 50 years after he won the Masters, why are you talking to him; because he's stayed involved in the game, he's given back to the game, he's played the game. Our players, if they win in their 30s and achieve notoriety, they are still playing 25 years later and they are still accessible to the public.
And in the case of Arnold and Jack and Gary, they are building golf courses and they are running golf tournaments and they are out there still signing autographs, and this man is the all-time king when it comes to not just the game but signing autographs. He signs everything for everybody without hesitation. His office, I think I'm correct, but there's a stack of stuff like this every day of the year (indicating several feet) that goes out of Arnold's office that connects him with people.
So he is the premiere guy in that area, but the other players as they have achieved stardom, follow that path to some degree. And so 25 years later, they are still loved and stars and they have presence. I don't think you see that much in other sports where careers are shorter, they fade away a little bit. There are not vehicles where they can stay engaged with the fans the way they are, and of course, for our sport, it's fantastic because of what's happened. I mean, just look around and see what's happened, it's terrific for golf.
ARNOLD PALMER: I'll add a little to what Tim just said. You guys know Doc Giffin, and Doc was the press secretary on the PGA TOUR in the early 60s, and he has been in my office for 42 years. He was one of you guys, he came up that way, and of course it's a little tougher for him now, but he's still hanging around, and that's another reason (laughter).
Q. Commissioner, speaking of bringing in a segment of fans, nobody does it quite like John Daly, and we all know his history, and last week at the PODS Championship, there was another episode where in the rain delay, he came out and Jon Gruden, the Tamps Bay Bucs coach, was his caddie; and the next day he missed the cut and spent a lot of time partying, and that seems to make him more endearing to a lot of fans. But on the other hand, Butch Harmon dropped him as a client because of that behavior. Curious in general how you feel about the Daly dynamic out there, and specifically the behavior last week; does that cause you concern? When does the TOUR step in?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: If you would indulge me, I would like to not discuss anything about a specific incident.
With respect to John, over the years, you're well-versed in the issues that have plagued him and his life and how he's dealt with them, and most cases, not dealt with them, and other cases. I think you're exactly right; it is on the one hand something that makes him very endearing to fans, because he is perhaps the ultimate come-from-behind, blue-collar, upstart kind of situation with all of these challenges.
On the other hand, you know, we have certain conduct things that we have to maintain, and we'll continue to try to do that. With respect to him, we've worked with John in the past and we'll continue to be available to work with him in the future regarding his issues, but we have to maintain certain standards of conduct and we will in every case.
Now with respect to the specific incident that you raise, I am not fully briefed on the details, and we have not engaged John on that at this point in time, and we don't discuss it when we do. But we are available to work with him. We hope that he can deal with his issues in a way that allows him to continue to play golf.
Q. Do you think the average fan appreciates that there are limits to this? Because every time he does something like that, a lot of fans feel it makes him more human, and they understand there are rules of etiquette on the golf course that you do or don't do.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think most fans recognize that, because over the years, there's been a fair amount written here and there about, you know, actions that have been taken. But with our players, the good news is that we don't suffer the issues that other sports have, and the issues that we do have, we try to deal with aggressively and we'll continue to do that.
I think that if you look at what people think about the players on the PGA TOUR, it's extraordinarily positive. And even though from time to time we may have situations that take away from that, I think it's important that you keep our eye on the basics in terms of the quality of the PGA TOUR player where if we have situations where a player is not measuring up to that quality from time to time, we have to step in and take action and we will continue to do that.
Q. Do you remember the first time anyone asked you for your autograph, do you have any recollection of when that was or how old you were?
ARNOLD PALMER: I was in school and my teacher wanted the signature on the bop of a report I was doing. (Laughter).
I don't remember specifically, no.
Q. In other sports, there's sort of a moment where an athlete knows that his time is up, like Brett Farve last week, and they have a press conference and sometimes it's very emotional like it was for him. Golf is different. You sort of almost fade away because you can play longer. Was there a moment for you, an epiphany where you woke up or something happened on a course and you said, "This is it"? And how hard is it to be able to play into your 40s and 50s competitively and then realize that you've got to step away?
ARNOLD PALMER: I suppose that an answer to that was at Oakmont in the Open. That was my sort of swansong to know that I wasn't going to be a factor ever again. Sometimes you just keep in your mind and you put that off; you don't want to recognize the fact that you're through, literally through.
Brett Farve did it. Maybe he did it to protect his own best interests in life by coming out a hero and finishing that way. Some golfers did it. Nelson did it. And others sort of drug it on, and I did. But I didn't mind it. I enjoyed it. But at Oakmont it became a knowledge that I wasn't going to be a competitor that was going to win anymore in that vein.
Q. How hard was that?
ARNOLD PALMER: Very difficult. It was obvious by the emotion and by the things that happened there that day. Those are very vivid and very much remembered.
Q. On the '58 Masters again, you had the unusual situation on the 12th hole during the final round. After that, do you recall feeling that you had to play more aggressively because you were not sure what was going to happen? How were you able to remain focused without that insecurity of not knowing how that ruling was going to play out?
ARNOLD PALMER: Your question is understood, and of course except that you say that there was some thought about not knowing. I felt like I knew. I was very positive as to what the result would be that I got on the 15th fairway.
There was never a question in my mind that I wasn't right about the 12th hole. From the very second that it started until John Winters came out on the middle of the 15th fairway and said, "Arnold, you are absolutely right." I was very confident that I was right, and I played with that confidence.
Q. I wanted to ask you about your relationship with younger players. Have you noticed it change at all from the last 25 years? A younger player at one time being Davis Love, who is now not a younger player; a younger player like Sean O'Hair, how that's changed over the years, or has it?
ARNOLD PALMER: How has it changed as far as my relationship?
Q. Yeah, your outlook toward them, and also the way that you perceive that they look at you.
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I don't suppose that I have given a lot of thought to how they think about me, but I certainly spent some time thinking about them, watching them, and show an interest personally in what they are doing.
An example would be Sean O'Hair, who I have followed since he started playing the TOUR and try to understand his predicament without getting into it beyond that. I've talked to him more maybe in the last week than I have at any other time, and I'm very impressed by him. I think he is a very nice young man. I don't know him that personally but he appears to have handled the situation very well last week. He could have had some problems coming in, but he didn't. He won, and he won handily in the last nine holes of that tournament.
I watch all these guys. I watch them I would say with some interest to see just what their character is, how they treat the fans, how they live a little bit with their families, and the things that are pretty much common interests as far as the fans are concerned.
Q. What influence do you hope to have on them, whoever it may be?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, it's like we talk a lot about autographing. I have a grandson that's 20 years old now, and I have played with him a number of times as you can imagine, and I've seen him give autographs, and I watch him sign autographs. Three years ago, and I looked at that autograph and I couldn't read it. I didn't know what the hell it said. And I said on him, and now when he gives an autograph, you can read it.
I don't know where a player comes off, a young player particularly, that is being asked to give an autograph and he scribbles something down there that you can't read. Well, who in the hell knows what it is? Why take the time to do it? Why not make it legible? Jack Nicklaus, you can read, you never have a question about Jack Nicklaus's autograph or Gary Player's autograph but then all of a sudden you run into something that this looks like a scribble; I don't understand.
So if I can influence him, if you're going to give an autograph, make it legible so that people know what the hell they have in their hand (laughter). That's one.
Personalities and how they treat their fans, if I can have an influence on them, to be cordial. You don't have to stop and talk all day with someone, be cordial to them and then get on with what you're doing. If I can influence them in that way, I think that would be very good. Most of my feelings are how you act.
You know, if you walk up here to this clubhouse and you go in the dining room, on the door in front of the dining room there's a sign. It says: "Gentlemen, please remove your hats." That's no big deal, but I've had arguments with these guys about wearing their hats when they are eating with ladies at the table or their children at the table. If I can influence them that way, I am going to do it, I can promise you that. And I will personally walk in and ask them to take their hats off when that arises.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't know if you ask them (laughter).
ARNOLD PALMER: I won't comment. (Smiling).
Q. Do you think at the end of the day, your legacy is more about how you carried yourself or 62 wins and seven majors?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, you know, I'm pleased that I was able to do what I did from a golfing standpoint. I would like to think that I left them more than just that.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you very much, gentlemen.
End of FastScripts