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April 23, 2008

Randy Engstrom

Tim Finchem

Ron Rittenmeyer


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Good afternoon. We'd like to welcome members of the media and special guests to the 2008 EDS Byron Nelson Championship. My name is Joel Schuchmann with the PGA TOUR, and at this time I would like to introduce three gentlemen on the podium with us today, Mr. Ron Rittenmeyer, who is the chairman, president and chief executive officer of EDS; on his right, Tim Finchem, the PGA TOUR commissioner; and on his left, Randy Engstrom, who is the Salesmanship Club of Dallas president. Mr. Rittenmeyer is going to start with some opening comments.
RON RITTENMEYER: Thank you. EDS has been a proud sponsor of the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. This is our sixth year. We are the title sponsors for two more years. Today I'm here to announce that through the hard work of Tim Finchem and his staff and Randy and the Salesmanship Club, the Four Seasons Hotel, we are announcing a four-year extension through the year 2014. EDS will continue in its title sponsorship through 2014.
This is our hometown event. We're very excited about it. We're proud to continue Byron Nelson's legacy. We're proud to be part of Byron Nelson's legacy, and we're proud to have these two guys as our partners and their teams.
The PGA TOUR stepped up and really helped us make this happen. D.A. Weibring clearly has created a course that is nothing short of spectacular. And of course, the Salesmanship Club in its continual effort to drive such a great charity, makes this something we're proud to be part of. I'll pass it off to Tim.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you, Ron. Let me just thank, first of all, Ron and his executive team for this decision. I think that as we all know, with the deterioration of the greens here, there were challenges facing the tournament. There was a lot of work to be done. Ron's perseverance and commitment has helped get us to this point.
But the importance and magnitude of EDS at this juncture saying that they are with us well into the next decade is very special, I think, for everybody involved. And let me just quickly comment that when we look at what's important, one of the important elements of any of our PGA TOUR events, and you look now at the future of the EDS Byron Nelson Championship, you see, first of all, continuity of a global sponsor and a committed sponsor, a great golf course that's getting rave reviews from our players, a format that's very popular with our players in terms of them being able to concentrate on this great golf course.
In addition to that, of course, is the long history of Byron's involvement in the tournament and his legacy, and the number one charitable performance on a Tour that is dedicated to charity. Those are terrific elements. And from a PGA TOUR perspective on behalf of the players, we are absolutely delighted to be here as part of this today to look forward to many years of continued growth and success for the EDS Byron Nelson Championship.
RANDY ENGSTROM: And on behalf of the Salesmanship Club, we are absolutely thrilled with this extension and truly appreciative of the opportunity to continue the relationship with the best title sponsor on the TOUR, EDS. You all know that our main goal here is to raise money for our charity, and this extension allows us to continue to do that and ensures our continued success for at least another six years. Ron, we thank you and EDS for that, and Tim, you and all the folks at the TOUR. Thank you very much.
RON RITTENMEYER: Let's never forget why we're here. We're here for charity, we're here to support a charity, and we're here to support Byron's legacy. As I said at the beginning, we couldn't have done it without either one of these organizations, without the hotel, without D.A. It took a team effort, and I think in the end, what you see outside is what was delivered. So we're proud to be here.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: At this time we can take some questions, please.

Q. Ron, you said that the PGA TOUR really stepped up. Can you be specific, and what really turned the decision for you?
RON RITTENMEYER: I think it's always hard to be specific about those conversations. I would say that I think Tim and I had a meeting of the minds and understood, and he's been incredibly supportive of this event and has eliminated reasonably what are our concerns, and we'll talk more about that as time goes on.
I don't want to get very specific about things because the dates are the dates and we'll work through that. But it has to be a convergence of more than one thing, and it was a convergence of everything.

Q. Tim, just on getting EDS, is this the first sponsor that you've gotten through past the TV contract?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No, it's not the first, but it's the first one this year (laughter). I think I know everybody is excited now about the future of the EDS Byron Nelson Championship, but I can tell you from a PGA TOUR perspective, for Ron and his team, looking at it from EDS's perspective, to make this kind of commitment in this kind of economic environment I think speaks volumes about the value of the PGA TOUR as a platform, about the value of being aligned with charitable causes, and the future of the sport. So we couldn't be more pleased in terms of the message that this sends that it will be very, very positive for the TOUR as a whole.
RON RITTENMEYER: Let me add to that that I think Tim's comments are exactly right. Economic times, the one thing you don't want to walk away from is what's good for your employees, what's good for your clients and what's good for your community. Charitable giving, many times, people perceive that as discretionary. It's really not discretionary; it's part of the fabric of the community you live in. This is part of the fabric of the community we live in.
Byron created a great tournament for a great cause, and this is good for our employees. We have over 300 employees from 25 states, I think it is roughly in probably 11 countries, that are here of their own time to support this thing, so it's not just a Dallas -- well, it primarily sounds like a Dallas event but it really has a global reach.
We have probably the largest client turnout we've had, which gives us an opportunity to meet with our clients in a setting that allows us to talk about the things they need us to do for them, and at the same time in the end we're really looking towards one effort, and that's the charitable cause.
I've got to plug the Caddie for the caddie at the same time, because as you know, we have always done something unique at this tournament. We did a motorcycle, which I know Peggy struggled with (laughter). The motorcycle got a lot of play. It was a lot of fun. Scott Verplank has not admitted to me how fast he's gone on it yet. This year we are going to do the Caddie for a caddie, which kind of aligns with our theory of being a business ally. We are a business ally. We operate behind the scenes of more companies than you'll ever imagine. You'll see some of our advertising in that area. But on top of that, the caddie is the ally behind the players, so we think it's pretty exciting to create that kind of buzz and have some fun with these kind of things in addition to the charitable part. It makes the PGA TOUR more than just a Tour; it makes it an event, it makes it a destination, it makes it something that continues to stand for the right kind of wholesome qualities which I think is something we want our name tied to.
So Tim is right about charity, and during economic times it just makes you reinforce what's important to your company. It's not all about -- we're here to make a profit, but beyond that we're here to be a good community member.

Q. Just from a business standpoint, how big is it to start getting sponsors into that next TV contract locked in and sending a message to other events that need to re-up for that stage themselves?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It's actually huge, because at the tournament level, and now you have the partners in place for a good period of time, they can go to work on making a better tournament. That pays real dividends. From the standpoint of the overall marketplace, it has the stability impact that sends a great message to our television partners.
It's impactful, and I think that we're going to see a huge impact here in Dallas but also a very nice impact on the PGA TOUR as a whole.

Q. We're talking about charity. I was wondering about your thoughts and opinions on the work the TOUR players do for charity outside of the TOUR, like Pro-Ams in their hometowns and things they do on their own to raise charity dollars.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We did -- last year the PGA TOUR events, the EDS Byron Nelson has raised over $100 million for charity over the years. But last year I think all the tournaments raised $123 million. Players on their own, I think two years ago we measured that, and it was between $25 and $30 million that they raised literally on their own at Pro-Ams and fundraising events. A player comes out of college, he learns about the relationship between charity and golf, and the next thing you know, he's back home in his hometown raising money for a local children's hospital or some cause. And that's duplicated numerous times around the TOUR and has a very significant impact.

Q. I just was curious, Tim, have you gotten to see much of what D.A. has done here?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Ron and I toured right after it was grassed.
RON RITTENMEYER: And some dirt.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: And some dirt, and it already looked good. We had a great experience with D.A. at the John Deere in Illinois and just a phenomenal golf course. Here you have a guy who lives in this area, who's part of the Salesmanship Club, he's a great ambassador to players. He went out and got J.J. Henry and Harrison Frazar involved, who have put a lot into this themselves and are out talking it up, talking it up with players. So it was a great combination of skills and talents.
But I think if you go out on this golf course today, it just feels right. It feels like it belongs there. Just about every aspect of it is significantly improved. You know, it's just too bad we didn't do it two years sooner, but we didn't, and there's no point in worrying about that now. We're looking forward, and we couldn't be more delighted with the product.
I think as I said earlier, from Ron's perspective, he had a decision to make. It's only been twice that I can remember in my job, and I've been in this job for 15 years, or almost 15 years, and five years as chief operating officer before that, I can only remember one other time seeing greens on television that looked like the greens here did, because they got hit by a perfect storm. Ron and EDS could have said, you know what, we don't need the aggravation. But they didn't; they said we want to make this work. That's been the objective and the theme of what he's said to us from day one, and I think that had an awful lot to do with pulling this off from the time it was done. It's an exceptional golf course.
I think if you had to point to one thing that's important for players, it's the golf course. It's really going to pay big dividends going forward.
RON RITTENMEYER: Also having an event from our standpoint, we host a lot of events around the world, having an event that has the quality of property, the hotel, and the service and the quality of the service, the quality of the hotel, just -- I mean, this is a first-class hotel operation, now with a first-class course. You think about our access to the airport, our access to other venues in town for sports, for the evening, other activities we can do, it truly makes this a real destination. So from my standpoint, hosting something like this in this environment, it just is a perfect -- it's just perfect. And then having the name of Byron Nelson behind it, I mean, I think we are blessed in many ways by being able to do this.

Q. Ron, was it nice to see and hear some of the comments from players about the course? Did that kind of help?
RON RITTENMEYER: Yeah, I saw several of them last evening at a reception we held after the Pro-Am -- before the Pro-Am, during the draw, and I've got to tell you, to a person, they just had wonderful things to say about the course, about the environment, about the attitudes, about everything. So again, when I talk about the property and I talk about D.A. and what he's done and the personal passion that he put into this, and then the support from the PGA TOUR and the support from the Salesmanship Club, the players see all that, they know it and they feel that.
You don't have -- a lot of tournaments that I've attended, and I attended one last weekend, and it's a great tournament and it's a wonderful area and I have a home there, I think it's wonderful. But having said that, it's not this tournament. So maybe I'm biased, but the players, I think, saw this as really a class operation, and it's a great deal.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts

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