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July 22, 2009

Tim Finchem


DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem in for a few minutes. Tim, you traveled here. Just want to make a few opening comments and then we'll throw it out for a few questions.
TIM FINCHEM: Sure. Good morning, and thanks for being here. I would like to make a couple of comments on three or four things that relate to this week.
The first thing is, and I think most important is, I don't recall a time in my tenure where we've had a better overall working relationship between ourselves, the title sponsor and RBC, and the RCGA. I mean it really is working very, very well. The leadership of the RCGA, I think Scott has done a tremendous job. The executive leadership at RBC is absolutely committed to the event, in creating value out of this investment, and the combination has resulted in a number of things.
The two things I would point to in particular are that the staging and the presentation and the quality of the week is terrific. I mean the addition of the Monday Mike Weir Pro-Am for charity and things we see from a communications standpoint are very solid. The thinking about the golf course is very solid, and so I think the overall quality of the event is first rate.
And then the second thing that I see, and I spent some time with Gordon Nixon this morning, is that RBC is really focused on generating value from all of the potentials that there are in this relationship. And that means the business-to-business aspect, the branding aspect, the advertising aspect and relating to the charity side of the equation. And in my experience, when companies do that effectively, there's a lot of continuity going forward, so that's encouraging.
The second thing I'll mention is that I think it's important to note the economic impact of this week will be very solid. I know that there was a study done last year by your Sport Canada Group here that evaluated economic impact at 31 million dollars. So it's a very solid impact at a time when we need positive economic impact.
And then on the charity side, all of us involved in the PGA TOUR who are so committed to charity, we're very pleased that the RCGA and RBC are repositioning the charitable focus by setting the goal of five million dollars for five years to help kids. That equates to numbers that, for example, if they are successful this year, and I know we don't get these numbers until after the tournament, but if the tournament is successful in meeting these goals this year would be a significant increase in the charitable impact this year over last year, and in a time where we have a number of tournaments that are off in the United States says a very positive thing. And I think it sends a good message for the future.
I think having the Mike Weir event Monday is good because it reinforces from a messaging standpoint that 100 percent of the net proceeds of this tournament are for charity, are going to help kids, and that's very positive. And I think, just like any other community where we play, it reinforces why the community should support what the tournament's doing.
So we're very pleased. Gordon Nixon went out this morning. I think we spoke to 26 players, everybody in the morning flight of the Pro-Am. The players are very pleased with the golf course, the condition of the golf course. They recognize the uptake in the quality of the tournament and getting the tournament back to where maybe it was a while back. And so that's healthy as well and something to build on for the future.
So those are my comments. Those are my take-aways from watching the tournament develop over the last couple of years and meeting with the leadership of the RCGA and RBC this morning, but I'd be happy to try and answer questions that you might have.

Q. I was just wondering how much discussion has been held so far about the possible change of date.
TIM FINCHEM: Well, we talk about dates all the time with every tournament, so a fair amount. You know, I think as I believe I said publicly, one of the things we're looking at in the mid term, which would be after our television agreements are renewed, which are currently through '12, so starting in '13, is going to perhaps more of a flex schedule where we actually move some tournaments around to two or three dates so that they can take advantage of reaching more players.
And I think that would be particularly beneficial, potentially, for this week because we've got a tournament that it would be good for this tournament to be able to reach more players with what's going on this week, and why this is a tournament staged at the level it currently is.
I can't swear we're going to go to that. There are a lot of issues with it. There are some down sides to some weeks, but it's something we're looking very carefully at. We've had some very preliminary discussion with the RCGA and the RBC. We'll be talking about that more over the next 6 months. But that is certainly something we'll look at going forward as a possibility.

Q. In your opening remarks you made reference to the tournament getting back to where it once was perhaps, and I wonder from your perspective what more things need to happen for that to continue moving in that direction.
TIM FINCHEM: I think in the case with most tournaments, golf courses is one of the three or four key ingredients. I certainly think the way the RCGA is thinking about golf courses, and it's a thinking that's supported by RBC, is very positive, of trying to play the very best golf courses in Canada going forward.
You know, I think we played I remember the Canadian Senior Open at Royal St. George 10 to 12 years ago. Players absolutely loved it. I know that in '11 we're scheduled to go to Shaughnessy, and players love that when they play. So creating this backdrop for the tournament that's only played at great golf courses I think is a very positive thing.
I don't think there's any question that a quality title sponsor impacts the equation as well. When I say quality, not just doing the right things, but interfacing with players. I noticed the response that Gordon Nixon got this morning from talking to a lot of the players. They appreciate what's happened here. And they respect that. They respect charitable commitment. They respect the title sponsor that gets involved and pushes things along, and I think that's a very positive thing.
There are other considerations, but I put those near the top of the list. And then after the basics are in place, which they're coming together very nicely, it's a question of some history and some word of mouth and getting more players interfaced with it. But I certainly think we're on the right track here.

Q. Two-part question. First part, what do you think of seeing John Daly back on Tour and playing well, and secondly, what do you make of the pants? Are we ever going to find a pair of those in your closet?
TIM FINCHEM: Let me answer the second part of that first. Probably not. But it would be fun.
You know, I'm a John Daly fan. We all are. He's a fascinating, complicated individual who plays great golf, and he's been a fixture on the PGA TOUR since he won the PGA Championship in 1990. So the fans gravitate to John, and so having him come out, playing seriously, being focused is something we're delighted with. So we welcome him back.

Q. Chez Reavie said he thinks the notion of sort of mandating a certain number of tournaments that the players visit each tournament over a period of years is gaining some attraction among a lot of the younger players on the PGA TOUR. Given, for example, you talked to the flex dates, Tiger said he will not play a date following a major championship, and that's where we are here. Do you think there's any interest among the membership of the PGA TOUR in putting some sort of mandatory four-year or five-year rotation where they have to play in a PGA tournament?
TIM FINCHEM: You know, that one's easy to say. It's more complicated in its execution. But I do think in a flex schedule system, it's easier to execute.

Q. (Inaudible).
TIM FINCHEM: They could. They could. Now, whether we end up going to that for '13 or not is something we'll be talking about. I'm not so sure a flex schedule properly executed doesn't take care of the problem in and of itself, but you know, it's just more difficult in a world where you have a dominant player.
We've had these difficulties when Jack Nicklaus was dominating. We went for a number of years without those difficulties, and when one player is as dominant as Tiger has been, we have those difficulties again.
So I think before we sort of lax onto something that sounds good or feels good, we gotta make sure it works. But it is something we'll look at. Chez makes good comments there and something we'll be talking about over the next couple years.

Q. On an unrelated matter, Nicklaus said that he watched a full 18 holes on Sunday of a tournament for the first time in his life, the Open obviously. And I'm curious if you've ever when you've not been at a tournament watched a full 18 holes on Sunday, and if you did on Sunday watch Watson in the position he was.
TIM FINCHEM: I have watched 18 holes, because I think it's probably -- if you're arguably the best player in the history of the game, maybe it doesn't excite you so much to watch. But if you're a kid who grew up at 8 and whose best handicap has been 4 or 5, you like to watch. So I have watched 18.
But I sent Tom Watson an email Monday morning, and I said to him that -- I don't recall -- I started watching golf at about 8. I don't recall ever watching when I was absolutely on the edge of my seat with every shot.
I mean it's like you were just pulling for him, and it was so close and so many guys coming at him that it was just an amazing thing. I mean up and down, up and down, right to the end, and he couldn't pull it off. So it was fascinating stuff.
And I think it sort of resets the bar and raises all kinds of questions about longevity in the sport. Certainly is a boom to -- I think it sort of maybe finally gets home to people how good Champions Tour players are out there who are in their 50s and they're playing. Tour players find out when they turn 50 and they go over there that these guys are really playing good. But what a magical thing.
And I sat at the media dinner on Tuesday night, I sat with a fellow who had covered the dual in the sun of Nicklaus and Watson. He was a Scottish writer, and we talked a lot about that, and then the next day started seeing Watson back in it 32 years later is just -- you can't write a script better than that. It was fascinating stuff.

Q. (Inaudible).
TIM FINCHEM: Well, I can have it both ways, because I was excited about Tom, but Stewart Cink is just a wonderful guy, and it's time for him to get the attention, I think, that he deserves and the quality of player, the quality of person he is. So there's no down side to him winning, and I thought the sportsmanship on the 18th green was really something, and I think we may do something with that on television this week.

Q. Sorry to keep going back to your flex schedule, but how many tournaments would you see that affecting? I mean obviously you're limited by geography and weather to the number that's moved to certain dates, but how many would you factor could be involved?
TIM FINCHEM: It's not totally a new concept. We have had over the years different pieces of our schedule where we may have flipped a tournament back and forth, given a particular date, the number of years. But you know, yes, you take tournaments within -- and part of this, by the way, is impacted by other factors, availability of facilities, attitude of television people. So it's a process.
But certainly within those elements of the season, whether it be the West Coast or the Florida swing or what I call the post U.S. Open Labor Day period, there are opportunities to do that. And you know, you don't have to impact on a ton of events. You have to impact tournaments that have been at a date where they, because of the date, they don't have the luxury of attracting players who would otherwise play. In today's world, if you just go down our schedule, virtually every tournament is a good tournament, good golf course, good conditions, good operations, nice purse.
So but at the end of the day where certain players aren't going to play that week and you don't have an opportunity to share with your fans those players and you don't have the opportunity to show off to your players the kind of tournament you have, maybe there's a way to address that. That's what we'd be looking at. And it could take on a number of forms.
I don't want to get too much into detail because we got a long way to go on that process.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. Well, Commissioner, thanks for spending time with us.
TIM FINCHEM: Thank you very much.

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