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November 8, 2009

Tim Finchem

Zhang Xiaoning


LAURA HILL: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us and taking a few minutes out of a very exciting final round for today's press conference.
But to take a minute to introduce the distinguished guests we have with us this afternoon to take some time to talk about the HSBC Champions and it's elevation to the World Golf Championships stage. Your left-to-right, Mr. Mark Steinberg, senior corporate vice president, IMG, managing director of golf; Mr. Giles Morgan, group head of sponsorship, HSBC; Mr. Tim Finchem, Commissioner, PGA TOUR; Mr. Zhang Xiaonang, executive vice president and secretary general, China Golf Association; and Mr. George O'Grady, Chief Executive, The European Tour. At this time I'd like to ask Mr. Finchem to make some opening remarks on behalf of the International Federation of PGA TOURs.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you. On behalf of the Federation, I want to say how delighted we are that the HSBC Champions has become a World Golf Championships event this year. As all of you are aware, the HSBC Champions was already a terrific event here in China due to the cooperation of primarily the CGA, The European Tour and the sponsorship and commitment of HSBC.
The concept that was put forward by these parties, along with IMG to start this tournament three years ago has led to one of the quality events on PGA TOUR-level golf around the world. So as such, the inclusion of this event as a World Golf Championships, which is the World Golf Championships are in their 11th here, now elevates the World Golf Championships even further in terms of a quality series of events that attracts all of the best players in the world.
Congratulations to everyone involved, and I would like to make a couple of comments about the growth of the game here in China and the support of the Federation and the PGA TOUR of that growth.
In the early 1990s when we played the World Cup at Mission Hills in Shenzhen, there were 40-some golf courses in China. Today there are over 500. In addition, the recent vote to add golf to the Olympic Games starting in 2016 tells us that the potential for growth of this game in this country is enormous. I think I speak for all of the members of the Federation, and certainly the PGA Tour when I say that we will do whatever is necessary and everything we can to help underpin that growth and increase the trajectory of growth in the years to come.
A couple of specifics. Over the last year we have been speaking to Mr. Zhang about the possibility of the PGA TOUR assisting the development of golf in China in three ways. We are discussing the possibility of a First Tee-type program in China that would help bring golf to children.
Secondly, we are discussing the possibility of our Tournament Players Clubs working with the CGA on the development of golf clubs around China. And third, since we run over 100 tournaments, working with the CGA to build expertise in the management, marketing and operations of tournament golf.
In addition, Mr. Zhang has inquired about the possibility of the PGA TOUR could sanctioning an event possibly in the future, and we have agreed to work with Mr. Zhang and the other members of the Federation on that possibility, but in addition, we agreed to look at, and over the next year and a half, do a feasibility on the pros built of The Presidents Cup being staged in China in perhaps ten years' time, which would become a goal of China to create players one year before the second playing of golf in the Olympics, who can play at that level. I'm not sure that's possible, but we are in discussions over the next year as to how it could work, and we'll have more to say about that at a later date.
We are prepared to finalize, to commit ourselves to provide anything we can in support to Mr. Zhang and the entities in China who wish to grow the game, and we look forward to doing so. Thank you very much.
LAURA HILL: Before we open the floor to questions, Mr. Zhang, would you like to make a few remarks about today's announcement.
ZHANG XIAONING: Well, good afternoon, everyone. I am very pleased to see this year's HSBC Champions become a WGC event, and I am very pleased to see it happen. It is absolutely a world-class event and it's a milestone for China golf.
Well, as we can see, the spectators here in Shanghai on weekdays has already exceeded all of the other days, all of the history before. I would like to take this chance to say thank you to all of these members that support this game. Without these members, this tournament would not be successful. First of all, the sponsor, IMG, European Tour, PGA TOUR, Asian Tour, and all of the rest of the other tours we have here co-sanction the event. We are making history here in China.
This is the perfect season to announce this great event, and with the Olympics coming over in 2016 and 2020, it will be a very exciting moment to share this happiness with everyone here. Well, I am very pleased with the discussion with the chairman of the PGA TOUR, Mr. Finchem, and also Mr. O'Grady, because we have a very deep discussion of the future of China's golf progress.
With the successful collaboration before with the R&A on the training of referees, and also the Australian PGA on the PGA coach training, we are very pleased to know that the American PGA TOUR is very helpful on the development in the future on not only the players and the tournaments, superintendents, and also young people development.
Well, I am very looking forward to see the First Tee Program will have a relationship with HSBC in the future for the development of youth golf in the future.
I'm also very pleased to see Mr. Finchem taking initiation to bring in more and more quality events over to China. And also, I would like to make special remarks on saying thank you to Mr. Finchem on trusting the CGA on having a proposal for The Presidents Cup in 2019 in China. We will welcome this tournament in China.
By 2019, it will be China's 70-year anniversary; on the first of October it will become our National Day, but if we can organise this event on the 5th of October, that would be a double-meaningful event.
I would like to say thank you to everyone participating in this press conference, including the media and everyone on the panel, including Mr. Finchem, Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Mr. George O'Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, Giles Morgan, group head of sponsorship HSBC and also Mr. Steinberg from IMG.
LAURA HILL: I would like to also take a moment and acknowledge Mr. Kyi Hla Han, Executive Chairman of the Asian Tour.

Q. For Mr. Zhang, what do you think about the upgrading of the HSBC to a WGC event this year?
ZHANG XIAONING: This is for sure, because this will increase the popularity of golf in China, and also it is absolutely demonstrates that this is a world-class events, because the players, and also with the arrangement and everything. And also, the quality of the players is absolutely top in the world.
And also, this will let the golfers and everyone in China know more about golf, and also what is going on in the rest of the world, because this is an absolutely world-class event. This is also part of the market, because we are delighted to see we are selling out all of the tickets of this event, and also the sponsor has received very good comments from the public.
Well, I have been looking around the golf course and the golf club today and I have seen more than a dozen of overseas club managers and also overseas golf association members over in China that would like to see what's going on in this part of the world.
With the Olympic Games including golf, we will have more and more pressure on golf development because we want to train more professionals, and not only for the players, but operators, as well. This is a great demonstration and a great example to show everyone that we can organise such a world-class event in China, and also we are looking forward to seeing more and more such class events in China in the future. Thank you.

Q. Could you please explain to me your vision of the word co-sanction when the U.S. Tour is not recognising this as a TOUR win?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Co-sanction means we support the event, we help stage it, we promote it, we put it on our television. In this case at this point in time, the event is primarily built around prize money and official World Rankings, which is significant, and the status of playing in a World Golf Championships event. That may evolve, as I've said in the past, over the next two or three years, we will see. But right now for this year we are comfortable with the way it is. We think it it's been a big success and I think the fans would agree and certainly the television reaction we are getting is he have very strong.
However this is one of those things about tournaments, whether WGC's or anything else that we consult with our partners on and we will continue to talk to the Federation, certainly HSBC, IMG, and the CGA.

Q. As we can see, the HSBC Champions has a five-year history and is planning to have another three years going on, and why is that The Presidents Cup will take so long to become an event in 2019? Is there any obstacle or any difficulties on planning this event?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, it's a combination of things. We have, first of all, a lot of countries that want The Presidents Cup. We haven't decided on -- of course it will be in the United States in 2013 and 2017. We haven't decided on 2015.
As I've said to Mr. Zhang, I think we should leave, in addition to the logistics of staging the event, 2019 strikes us as a time -- and by the way, we haven't made that decision yet -- but it strikes us that it would increase the chances that there would be enough Chinese players playing by that time at this level that it would increase the chances that a Chinese player would either make the team, or a captain would select a Chinese player for the team, which would benefit the quality of the event if it's staged here in China.
Those are one the things that we will look at over the next year as we are talking about the possibility.

Q. In your discussions with the collaboration between the PGA, the China Golf Association and The European Tour, regarding development of golf here in China and in Asia, I've got a couple of questions. One is how does the Asian Tour fit into this collaboration, and two, with the development or the introduction of the OneAsia Tour, how will all of the different tours in Asia kind of like work together towards developing golf in this part of the world?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It is complicated, and golf in Asia is growing. We all have very strong relationships with the Asian Tour, and with the CGA and other parties.
I don't have a specific answer to your question, but I do know that everybody involved is primarily focused on doing things to help grow the game throughout Asia and in China. And to that end, as we look at tournament opportunities, we will not only focus on growing the game, but also doing things that make sense to the rest of the people in the game because we are all in the same situation. And based on that, I'm sure we can work out differences of opinion, but we will see how things evolve over the next couple of years.

Q. As we can see, we have more and more world-class events like the HSBC Champions and the World Cup organising in China. We have more international events but we have less China Tour events in China. Can you explain about this?
ZHANG XIAONING: This is a very good question. As we can see, we have to train more and more professional players to participate in local Tour events. Actually by 2009, we have increased and accumulated the number of professional from 32 to 100 already. And also, big tournaments, professional tournaments in any scale, including big tournaments and small tournaments, also very important to us for the growth of China golf development.
This is important to have international events in China because this is a great help to develop our golf and sports development in China.
I can promise you, we are going to see more and more professional tournaments organised in China, no matter in which kind of level, international scale or local scale. Thank you.

Q. The PGA TOUR from America is a world-class standard. How do you rate the local professional events in China?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, in the United States we have professional golfing events at the PGA TOUR level and we have the Nationwide Tour and we have smaller tours. You know, all of these tournaments work to bring along players' skill level. And as Mr. Zhang has indicated, it is a work-in-progress to build to the point where you can have the number of elite events that we have. It takes time. It wasn't always that way in the United States.
So our objective is to help move that along, and I think here the CGA is working hard to talk to ourselves and the other members of the Federation about increasing expertise to build more quality tournaments, which in turn create more interest for players. But at the same time, you have to create players, as Mr. Zhang indicated, because the more players there are, the more elite players develop. That's certainly been the case in Sweden and Korea and Japan and other countries that have taken up golf just in the last 50 years.
So there's a lot of parts to it, but I think the CGA is moving in the right direction.

Q. As we know, golf is going to be part of the Olympics, and will there be more funding invested into the golf training in China, and what sort of plans do we have? And also, what sort of targets are we looking forward, and also, when will we see China Woods coming up?
ZHANG XIAONING: Well, CGA will motivate all possible government federations, including CGA sports federations and all possible government bodies to make this development come true. But more important is with the golf included in the Olympic Games, it will increase the popularity of golf in China, and also, this will become a more popular game for everyone, instead of a game for the privileged few. But no matter, the government's policy will change the perspective in China, we will see in the future. Well, it's very challenging to see another China Woods in the near future because we were going to have a very difficult time on resources and training and everything.
What we are focusing now, is we are going to bring up the standard of local athletes, golfing athletes, up to the level and the ranking and other standards to reach the Olympic level. But I 100% believe that we will see that they will come, because there is always a place for Chinese golfing athletes in the world in the future, and also with the assistance of everyone on the panel today, I am sure we will see that day very soon.
But we are very likely to see a lady China Woods in the future faster than a male player. Thank you very much.
LAURA HILL: Thank you to all of our speakers. Enjoy the conclusion of an exciting event. Thank you.

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