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May 23, 2010

Ralf Hussman

George O'Grady


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much for your attendance this afternoon. As we reach the climax of what I'm sure you'll agree has been a truly spectacular BMW PGA Championship, it's a very special day for all of us here at The European Tour, indeed, for our friends and our partners at BMW.
To explain precisely why, it's my pleasure to introduce the two gentlemen here alongside me on the top table, European Tour Chief Executive, George O'Grady and Ralf Hussmann, who is General Manager of BMW Sport Marketing.
Before Ralf speaks on behalf of BMW, I would like to ask George to kick off today's proceedings with a few opening remarks. George, thank you.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Thank you, Scott and welcome everyone here today and thank you for your invitation to come and join you.
There's two sides to today's press conference. Firstly, together with Ralf, we have what we consider, certainly for The European Tour, an extremely significant announcement of the current time. And when we finish dealing with that specific announcement, we'll have our traditional end of BMW PGA Championship press conference where I'm prepared to take questions on anything relating to the Tour and the outlook in general.
Firstly, together we have agreed and we are announcing today a four-year continuation of the BMW PGA Championship here at Wentworth, and that will join their existing sponsorships in Munich and The Italian Open, and in other parts of the world; firstly in America, and secondly on things we look at through out the globe.
It's a very daunting press conference today because we are joined in the front row by some fairly heavy administrators. Alongside Ralf who is General Manager of Sport Marketing for BMW, we have the managing director of the BMW U.K., Tim Abbott, a tremendous supporter here of the Tour. I think those of you who have looked around the Tented Village and around the whole golf course, how we have enhanced the facilities for the public, how you watch and how you walk, how you park your cars, on top of all of the developments on the golf course itself. Joining Tim, Peter Dawson, Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews. Wonderful you've come down to join us today, Peter, and good luck for The Open Championship at St. Andrews.
The Open is always a special tournament, but when it's at St. Andrews, I think we have even greater anticipation. Somebody who knows a little bit about St. Andrews is Johann Rupert, the chairman of the South African PGA TOUR, also the chairman of Richemont and Dunhill itself.
We are privileged in the European Tour, because we can look forward to St. Andrews every year, the Open once every five years, or so it seems, but to go to St. Andrews at the end of September, October and to play those three great links courses, we fully appreciate that.
And I'm going to be measured on next phrase because he's sitting next to the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Tim Finchem, who has come and joined us from Sawgrass. You might have to close your ears just for a second, Tim, because in relating to Johan, the greatest Pro-Am in the world in my opinion; and I do appreciate the AT&T is exceptionally good, but I haven't been there and I haven't played in it; but I know the Dunhill, okay.
Okay, that's enough of that on our guests. Four years of the BMW Championship here, and a minimum prize fund of what we have today. We will look at it on a year-to-year basis on how we go forward.
From a European Tour point of view, we have just been delighted by is this week. It has answered our dreams. We know there's been the odd issue on the golf course and Richard Caring, I cannot take my hat off to him enough for what he's done, for what he's tried to do and for being a big enough man to say, I think there's a few things I might have got slightly wrong, and it was me, it wasn't Ernie Els.
So we have a really strong partnerships, BMW leading, ourselves making it happen and Richard Caring, our host for the next four years.
Ralf, would you like to add?
RALF HUSSMANN: Thank you, George, welcome, ladies and gentlemen, also, from my side to a great event, a great day. We are very delighted to continue this partnership which we have successfully started four years ago.
BMW is involved in the game of golf for more than 20 years now, and it has always been our philosophy that we don't only take, but we give. And of course we have invested quite a bit, but we don't only invest money, we invest a lot of time and a lot of philosophy. We want to bring to the game of golf and to the partnerships with The European Tour, but also with golf courses like Wentworth.
I think if you see the development of the BMW PGA Championship over the last four years, there's nothing much to say. The event speaks for itself. I think if you talk to the players or the partners, everybody appreciates what we jointly have achieved, and I think that is a great achievement that we have three parties on the table, The European Tour, the Wentworth Club and BMW who all share the same passion but also the same philosophy of giving back together to the sport where we all have benefitted a lot from, and that's the formula for success.
So we are looking forward to continuing the success. We have agreed to a four-year partnership, but George, we are in for the long term, so we hope to see many, many more tournaments, not only here at Wentworth, which is the flagship but also other regions. Thank you for your partnership.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Thank you.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much.

Q. On behalf of all the golf writers and myself, every broadcaster here and I think we'll all agree, thank you for the facilities, your hospitality, not only here at Wentworth this week but from Italy and Munich and hopefully one day again from Shanghai. But in terms of a question, can you explain what BMW gets out of golf, because these are troubled financial straits and here you are not only continuing involvement but extending it.
RALF HUSSMANN: Well, first of all, golf is a sport which is shared by a lot of our customers worldwide. We always as a global company try to discover what are relevant global programs for BMW. If you look at a lot of sports, there are a lot of sports relevant in Europe or the states or Asia or particular countries, and golf is one of the very few sports which really university it's the world, especially for our target group we are looking for.
So it's a perfect fit to where we find people who are passionate for our brand but also for the sport, it gives a perfect match to be in an emotional atmosphere. And the values golf stand for perfectly fit the values of our brand, so there's a double fit and that makes it a great sport to invest in.

Q. What does this say about The European Tour? Here we are, I think tomorrow, the government are going to be announcing 60 billion cuts all over the country. What does it say about the strength of golf and the Tour that you are able to clinch this deal?
GEORGE O'GRADY: Well, I think I would use one word: That's confidence and confidence in your product. In all of the speeches or writings I've given in the last few years, I've talked a lot about value for money. It's not about whether it's too much money or whatever. It's do you get your return.
I think in BMW, you have one of the most successful car brands in the world. They know precisely what they are doing on the cars they make. They know exactly how they market their cars, and they have decreed that golf answers those questions.
No one denies there's anything but a very austere economic environment we are now living in, not just the government of this country, but the government of European countries, the world leaders in Davos, and the people we meet when we travel to America; I think you can see by some of the sporting and business brains we have on the front row, we are able to tap into advice on a global basis.
A company like this is not just here; here, I think it is our Flagship Event and we have to keep it that way. They and Wentworth are making us do that. But that announcement alone gives you confidence, and confidence in our strategy of what we are doing.
I think we had -- those of us who I say word, were privileged to attend the Tour's dinner the other night, we had a speech from Johann Rupert; we had intended that night to make a special presentation to him. But he did round home the points for some time. So we decided to do it today with Ernie Els. We made him an Honorary Life Vice President of The European Tour today. Because if you have someone who is consistently giving advice to world leaders, certainly on an economic position, and he's stuck with golf; in the final brand, if you will, Dunhill, but he's influenced so many of his companies in his portfolio before; to do that, he must have taken a decision with his company that it works for his brand. So when you've got brands like Dunhill, BMW and others you see on the Tour, I think at this particular moment in the austere economic cycle, yes, from our side, it's a cause of celebration, but it gives us confidence.

Q. America have got a tournament in Asia towards the end of this year, and given that Asia is probably the most dynamic market in the world at the moment; is that going to turn into a battleground between yourselves and the American tour in the next five years?
GEORGE O'GRADY: I wouldn't have thought so. We are in a situation where the world is coming together. America have welcomed our leading players with open arms. I think as you can see, we are here and we obviously have been talking this morning about items of mutual interest and a part of that is working out your day calendar, working out which players can play where, who is prepared to travel. I take it as, if you like, a compliment that we might have been in there a little bit quicker.
Now, all business leaders ignore the developing markets at their peril in my opinion.

Q. You are a global circuit now but is it of any concern to you that this is the only tournament in England this year? I say that, because I spoke to Paul Casey who said the inspiration for him to take up the sport was actually being at tournaments watching star players.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Well, I think these things go in cycles and it's only a few years ago when we announced, I think it was The English Open and we got slated in the papers for having too many tournaments in England and that was one tomorrow.
Last year we had the European Open at The London Club, about 45 minutes to an hour's travel from here and it was staged pretty well, promoted excellently. They had a couple of days on effectively free entrance and they had enormous crowds.
Now, whether we are benefitting from that here, that people have come to this tournament because you can't go to anywhere else in England, Celtic Manor is only just across the bridge. I think we have got the Scottish Open, Dunhill, The Open itself, Gleneagles, that's pretty strong in Scotland.
I can see a time when it comes back, you I think we have used the word austere economic market, with top management groups assisting us in trying to get the World Match Play to move forward and the British Masters, and the person who was looking after the British Masters was one of the richest men in Ireland but he probably isn't today. It has been a very tough market for the last year, and I think it will go in a cycle. There will be other events coming back into England.

Q. Is that a concern or do you just want tournaments anywhere?
GEORGE O'GRADY: Well, you're concerned about everything as it goes on, but I don't think there's a God-given right to have loads in England. We have got the Spanish government and authorities come in pretty strongly. I can go on, if you like, to the state of the nation on the Olympics and what the decision to go into the Olympics is doing for us in terms of other countries coming together.
We go on value for money. The Portuguese government working with us on their tourism business is very, very strong. Everybody thinks it's just England. But Morocco is back on strength; the different regions in Spain want to develop their business and we will go in a cycle. We have to keep emphasising to companies and regions the value for money that we are and that we can bring to it.
England doesn't have a tourist board that sees the value of golf tourism; they should do, but they don't, but a lot of other countries do. Ireland -- it's a concern to me we only have one in Ireland, and if we didn't get concerned about that, we wouldn't have any in Ireland. So this is not a straightforward market.

Q. Given the mistrust that's clearly apparent amongst the players about the state of the word's leading player's drug status, 24 per cent think he's on performance enhancing drugs and now that's lobby lot of suspicion; do you think the current tests are sufficiently stringent enough given that they don't test for some very significant drugs?
GEORGE O'GRADY: We are very happy with the drug testing programme that we had, how it takes part. I think exactly the same thing has happened on the PGA TOUR and the major championships, and I have no discussion on any other items or any other single player. We are very comfortable at the moment.

Q. You mentioned The World Match Play briefly in one of your previous answers. What is the current position with that for this year?
GEORGE O'GRADY: There will not be a World Match Play in 2010. Plans are well advanced to bring it back on to the schedule in 2011 but the dates are impossible to work out to the satisfaction of the promoter with the date they originally had.

Q. Will there be a chance of bringing that back to England?
GEORGE O'GRADY: I don't see it in the immediate future. The particular sponsor they have got came out of an agreement that the Tour had in Spain. That particular sponsor wouldn't do it; somebody else might do with a pro mow tore such as IMG, but not in the immediate future.
I think if you take it separately on how we are in this position and you look at the factors that give you -- to use that word that you asked before, confidence for the future, I think the performances of European Tour players now, around the world, largely in America, but the young ones who come through so far over here, is extremely heartening. I, and I know the board of The European Tour are delighted that so many have come back this week to play. We have got an Open to look forward to, we have The Ryder Cup to look forward to at the end of the year.
The thing that all of our marketing and business section of the Tour -- and people, to use a great word, strategise; I think the one thing which is said everywhere, the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus I think, it was: Nothing is permanent but change, and we have to look at the change and address it and address it full-on, but we don't spend our life looking backwards.
On behalf of everybody, join us for a celebratory glass of champagne, because to us, one, this week, the Tour cannot thank BMW and Wentworth Club enough for what they have done, and this real four-year agreement is really a cause for celebration. BMW demand that everything we do on Tour tournament is 7-star, not 5-star, but 7-star. We would like to think we have made that work this week. Please share a glass of champagne with us and toast the future.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much.

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