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June 2, 2010
LAURA HILL: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to a special, as you can see, Presidents Cup announcement regarding Muirfield Village. It's my pleasure to introduce three people who probably don't need introductions, but we'll go ahead and get that out of the way.
We have commissioner of the PGA Tour, Tim Finchem. Jack Nicklaus, of course, the Memorial Tournament founder and host. And Jack Nicklaus II, general chairman of Memorial and chairman of Muirfield Village golf club.
Without further ado, I'd like to turn it over to commissioner Tim Finchem to make today's announcement.
TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, Laura. First of all, we're delighted to be here this year for the Memorial. It's one of the great weeks in golf. To make this announcement, we are announcing today that we will play the 2013 Presidents Cup here at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
I just would like to take a minute and explain the reasons why we are making this announcement and why we're so excited about it.
I think, first and foremost, after this first 16 years of the Presidents Cup, Jack Nicklaus has been instrumental in bringing it to the worldwide recognition that it enjoys today. He served as the captain first time in 1998 down in Melbourne, Australia, which was the only time the United States lost. (Laughter) That's not the reason we're making this announcement today.
Then he came back to captain three more times, and I think, when you fast forward 45 or 50 years and look back on the history of the Presidents Cup, you will be able to point to Jack's involvement early on as a real impetus to bringing to the world class attention that it gets today.
Most memorable perhaps was the ending in 2003, in the darkness, down in south Africa, where he and Gary Player agreed on a tie for The Cup, and one of the great steps in sportsmanship. It's added, not just to the lore of the Presidents Cup, but to the culture of what I think the PGA Tour is all about from a sportsmanship standpoint.
So given that, to be able to come and play at this place that Jack built and in doing so recognize his involvement and commitment and contribution is an opportunity that we wanted to take advantage of.
Secondly, the quality of the golf course. I think, you know, all the best players in the world play here every year at the Memorial in stroke play, metal play competition. And I actually ran into a couple international players this morning earlier who had heard the news and were so excited about it, to be able to play at this golf course for these matches is very, very special for the cup, for the players. I think it's just going to be tremendous.
Third, I think all of us at the PGA Tour have talked over the years about how the Memorial attracts fans from literally all over the Midwest. And we all recognize that the most intense part of the golf fan base and golf participation is in the upper Midwest and lower Canada, and to be able to situate The Cup in a way that those fans have access to it, we think, is very special.
We played on the west coast at Harding Park last year. We're going to be in Melbourne, Australia, next year. We've played in South Africa. We've been in Canada. We've been in Washington a number of years. But to play in the Midwest, we think, is really going to be special. Again, we're excited about it.
You know, just as not nearly as important perhaps, but important, is the fact that we're not all that far from Washington, D.C., and typically our current president is the honorary chair of the cup. President Obama was our honorary chair last year. And to be able to have the president maybe make it to the tournament would be very special as well.
But we couldn't be more excited. We're delighted. I want to thank Jack and his staff for the partnership that's already been developed in really staging this Cup at a world class level. I think most of you are aware that we have six different countries that are responding to the RFP for The Cup to be played internationally in 2015. There is an enormous amount of interest in it globally, and I think, again, to have Jack, who has built hundreds of golf courses all over this globe, is, again, a good message for The Cup to the rest of the world.
So with that, I'll just say that we are absolutely so excited about coming here, and we can't wait for the next couple of years and to use those years to properly prepare for staging in what may be the best cup yet. Thanks, Jack.
JACK NICKLAUS: Jack, why don't you follow up.
JACK NICKLAUS II: I'd just like to say that Muirfield Village Golf Club is incredibly excited about having the Presidents Cup. Obviously, for 35 years we've hosted the Memorial Tournament, among other international competitions. And the course will be prepared wonderfully.
I actually had the opportunity to co-captain the '98 Presidents Cup team with my dad, and I suppose I could take the onus of our loss there.
But anyway, we couldn't be more excited. I've been at several Presidents Cups. I think Columbus, Ohio, will be an incredible place to showcase some incredible golf.
As Tim mentioned, our fan base here is incredible. I know that our golf course will be presented in great fashion. We've actually discussed just recently, my father and our staff, about some possible improvements to the golf course to unveil for the Presidents Cup. So we're very, very excited to be part of that. Thanks, Tim, for allowing us to host your event.
JACK NICKLAUS: Let me add to that. First of all, it's a great privilege to be part of the Presidents Cup as captain on four occasions. To captain this four times and to have the opportunity to work with the young men from the U.S. -- on the U.S. team and then work also, really work actually with the international team too because really the whole thing is all about good will. It's all about sportsmanship. All about bringing the golfing world together.
The Presidents Cup is a larger reach than any other event, in my opinion. The Ryder Cup is a great event, no question about that. We have hosted the Ryder Cup here. We have hosted the Solheim Cup here. But the Presidents Cup is the United States versus the rest of the world, other than Europe.
So the number of players that come here from around the world, the places that -- the viewing audience from around the world. And by the time 2013 rolls around, it's only three years away, but still the growth of the game in a lot of countries is growing very rapidly. With golf being an Olympic sport now, the interest is becoming greater in golf. The development in some of those countries where we've never had development from before. We may have some of those players on the team that haven't been here before.
And the opportunity for central Ohio to showcase its community, to show us what central Ohio is all about. It's a great opportunity for the city. The opportunity -- I said to Tim. Tim, you know, before I get too old, hopefully, I'll be 73 in 2013. Hopefully, I'll be ticking pretty well then still. I'd like to stay that I'd like to have the Presidents Cup come here. I want that.
Tim said, Jack, you've given so much to the company, I think that's one thing the Tour, if we can work it out, will honor. He has done that, and I appreciate that very much, Tim. Thank you for doing that and working to get that for us.
I think it's something that's important for us here. Jackie's talked about the fan base. The fan base will support the event tremendously. I remember back in 1987, if you go back and look at the Ryder Cup when it was here -- we're not in the same situation then. But the Ryder Cup had never made ten cents prior to 1987. We went to the PGA Tour of America and said, guys, let us have the Ryder Cup, and we'll show you how you can make money with the Ryder Cup.
The Ryder Cup, we went a little too far. We gave The Cup away. I was also the first losing captain on U.S. soil. Got a lot of firsts in here that I'm not too wild about.
But anyway, I think it really propelled the Ryder Cup, and the Ryder Cup has been a tremendous event ever since. The Presidents Cup is -- what Tim was talking about in South Africa was probably absolutely the most spectacular sporting event I've ever been involved in. Coming down to the end of that event, and Gary Player and I, neither one of us were really happy about going into a playoff of two fellas with Ernie and Tiger were in a playoff. And neither one of us thought their team should be the losing team, with one person from each team represented to be the player. That is what the rules were.
We both were looking to say we'd rather have it stop right then. However, it went on, I think, for the first hole of the play, I think Ernie holed a really good putt. And they got down to the second hole -- I can't remember. We did play three holes, didn't we? They played whatever the hole was. I think they played 18 and then 1 and 2 or something like that. By the time we got to the third hole, it was almost dark. And Tiger didn't hit a very good shot on the front of the green, and Ernie hit one a little bit closer to the hole but still a long way from the hole. Tiger putted it 20 feet by the hole, and Ernie putted it 8 feet away. Here it is pitch dark, and Tiger holes this putt from breaking left right down into the hole. It went into the hole.
Now all of a sudden, you know, I'm sitting there feeling bad for Ernie, having Ernie not to bring it back for The Cup. It was too dark to play anymore. I remember I called Tim. I said, Tim, we don't want to go any further. We want to come back tomorrow. We want to call it a tie. Tim said, well, U.S. retains The Cup. That's the rules.
Player says, no, no, no, we're not having any of that. And so I got the American team together, and I said, guys, I think it's the right thing to do that we call it a tie. I think it's the best thing for golf. So we agreed to it. Tim agreed to it. We called it a tie. And it's the way the Presidents Cup rules have been changed too. We think it's just made a great event.
We walked out of there with President Mbeki, when we started the event, he was pretty cool. He didn't have any idea what was going on, but by the time we left, we were his best buddy, and he thought South Africa had just absolutely gained tremendous world attention and absolutely thought it was the best thing that ever happened to his country.
Hopefully in central Ohio, that will be one of the things that happens here, too. I hope you all -- the Columbus partnership gentlemen are here today. Hopefully they feel that what happens in central Ohio through the Presidents Cup will be something very, very special. We think it will be.
Probably be my last involvement in anything significant in the game of golf. So I'm looking forward to it, and I hope that you all think it's something that's really going to be very, very special.
So thank you for coming today.
Thank you. And I guess we're going to get two days of releases on it.
LAURA HILL: We'll open the floor for questions.
Q. Jack, you said that you had hoped to have it here while you were still kicking pretty well. Will you be kicking well enough to captain maybe or not?
JACK NICKLAUS: That hasn't been decided, but I would suspect that I should not.
Q. Would you like to?
JACK NICKLAUS: That, Tim, is something I don't -- Bob, I don't think I should answer. First of all, you know, I'm sure that Tim will discuss it with me at the appropriate time, but also I think that I start to look at names of the players that are out there today, and I don't even know half of them.
Personally, I think the captain needs to relate to the players. I related to all the players through my other teams I captained, everybody on my teams I played with. And I don't think it would be right for the team to have a captain that doesn't relate to his players.
Q. Jack, isn't it football season? Are they going to accommodate you at Ohio State and move the game to out of town?
JACK NICKLAUS: We've had some conversations about Ohio State University, and I think Ohio State University, and President Gordon Gee is right back there, and we talked about it this morning. I know Gene Smith has been talking with us about it. And I think that Ohio State University has been very willing and ready to cooperate and help us with whatever we can do.
I think that would be a correct statement, wouldn't it, Gordon?
GORDON GEE: Absolutely. The event is already moved. It just happened.
JACK NICKLAUS: What we're hoping for -- it depends. The dates haven't been exactly selected yet. The TV schedule hasn't come out. My guess is, if the dates are the first week in October, which it may be or may not be, hopefully be a night game, which would allow a situation for everybody to come here and watch the golf tournament and still go to the football game.
Q. Just a quick follow on that for him. If that's the case and it's a night game, Saturday is usually the busy day of morning and afternoon matches. Could you easily adjust that to have the twin bill on a Friday? Or call it a tie. I guess you can do anything you want.
JACK NICKLAUS II: Football is big here, Tim.
TIM FINCHEM: All I can say is the president said to me, whatever you want to do. So I'm sure we'll work it out.
Q. Jack, the characteristics of the course, how is it different here early fall compared with late spring?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, late spring, this time of year, as you know, weather is sort of a crap shoot in many ways. We always have fronts coming through, and we always have some thunderstorms coming through, and sometimes we have dry weather, sometimes we get wet.
Usually in the fall, the golf course is dry. It's a dry time of year. When we played the Ryder Cup here, the golf course was so fast, the guys didn't even recognize the golf course, as being a different golf course.
That is generally the conditions we get in the fall. So I think they'll really enjoy the fall conditions here. Fall conditions on this course is really fun. As it is in the spring.
Q. Jack, you would be the in first place to host a Solheim, Ryder, and Presidents Cup. Just wondering what your thoughts are.
JACK NICKLAUS: It's a great honor, particularly as young a club as we are. What are we, 35, 36 years old. We are that old, but that's still very, very young in the world of golf and the world of clubs that go around.
We're very honored to hold these international events, and the Presidents Cup is just the icing on the cake for us.
Q. Jack, you said yesterday that the only issue you had with the golf course was the little change at 3. You said there was a little piece of rubber or whatever that you fixed.
JACK NICKLAUS II: On the bridge.
Q. So now if the course is where you want it to be, what changes are you anticipating for Presidents Cup?
JACK NICKLAUS: We won't really change anything on the golf course. This summer, we're going to rebuild the 16th hole. I'm going to build a whole new hole. And we've been talking about it for about three years. I didn't think that the economy was right to be spending money on the golf course out here for a golf tournament, and I think that the economy is recovering. I think we're moving more in the right direction.
And I wanted to get it done while I was still around. And the 16th hole right now is -- I think 14 is really exciting, one of the best par 4s in the country. I think 15 follows it up with a situation of the ability to have the excitement of an eagle or a birdie that really moves you right into the tournament. 16 is a nice way to get to the 17th tee.
You know, when I did the -- there's nothing wrong. 16 is a very nice hole. I just don't think it has the excitement in it. 17 is an exciting hole. 18 is an exciting hole. They're both very, very strong. 17, we changed it, and it became the most difficult hole on the golf course.
But the 16th hole, first of all, there's -- when you play in the Presidents Cup, most of your matches are going to end around the 15th, 16th hole. So the bulk of your gallery is going to be out there. We need to expand our gallery situation in that area. So to do that, we're talking about playing the lake down on the left side of the hole, and the water course that comes through, we need to fix the drainage through that area anyway. So we wanted to do that. The green didn't hold like I want it to hold. So we're just starting to put a lake in.
Then we kept talking about the adjustments we need to make to the green. We need to change the length and make the hole a little shorter if we're going to put water. So we decided to -- it would probably be a better move to move the green to the right, change the angle a little bit. Change the key to the left, create gallery more along the right side of 16 as well as the tee shot at 17. It will create much bigger amphitheater and create more space for people coming to 15 and 16. So it will be a win-win for the thing.
Yes, we're going to spend some money in there, but I think no longer will it be a way to get from 15 green to 17 tee. It will be a really good golf hole, and the gallery situation will be unbelievable.
Q. Just to follow up, if you didn't have the Presidents Cup, would you still do it at this time?
JACK NICKLAUS: We have been planning to do it for several years, and I just felt like we wanted to wait until the -- until we were not doing something, I think, in the face of the economy. As you know, we have not raised the purse here for a couple of years, and the only reason not to do that, I think it's -- I didn't want to push something in the face of people that are struggling. Still having a good tournament.
And I didn't think for us to come in and start doing a large change on the golf course in the wrong economy was a good message. So hopefully, we're in an economy now that we're starting to move more in the other direction. This year, thus far, our ticket sales are up, and from over last year. And our other indications are up. So we think that we are moving back in a better direction.
Q. This may be like asking you which of your five kids you like the best, but is Muirfield your favorite as far as your designs? I know that's totally subjective.
JACK NICKLAUS: I can't answer that, you know that. I have over 300 people that would be really mad at me.
I love Muirfield. Let's just say that I've obviously spent more time here, more effort, and worked harder on this golf course to get it more the way I want it probably than any other golf course. The simple reason is we've done more things here than any other golf course. And obviously, it's where my passion was when I grew up. This is where I grew up. This is where I wanted to bring golf back to. This is where I wanted to say thanks to the community who had supported me for all the years that I played. That's part of the game.
Q. Tim, what's your favorite Nicklaus course to play?
TIM FINCHEM: Is that relevant?
Q. Tim, can you talk about what the impetus was to bring the tournament here? Was it Jack approaching you? Did you approach Jack? How did that work out?
TIM FINCHEM: I don't recall who approached who. We talked about it during, I guess, Montreal a little bit.
And then when we talked about the future after Montreal -- Jack is, as you would suspect, is a resource of information globally about golf courses, since he builds tons of them everywhere. So we often have those conversations. So I don't know exactly who said what to who, but the idea developed.
You know, at a point when we weren't at all certain what we were going to do in '13, we were intrigued with going back to the West Coast, but we also felt that, having left Washington on a regular basis, it was probably time to look around the country and make The Cup available to fans in different parts of the country.
So, you know, it's one of those situations where you just don't have to worry about the golf course or the player enthusiasm for the golf course. That makes it easier. Most places you go, you've got to be concerned about that. You want a place where the players are going to be excited about playing.
So a lot of it had to do with obviously the -- I honestly believe, again, as you go back, Jack's personal involvement has meant an awful lot to The Cup.
And my view -- and we all have our take on this. In my personal view, I think he's had an enormous impact on the ability of the American team to compete internationally. I think his philosophy of captaincy in getting the players to relax and play their game is a very different philosophy than some captains have used in team competition, and it's worked.
I think you saw Fred Couples use that philosophy very much in Harding Park. And this team under Jack and then Freddie has performed magnificently against phenomenal competition and competition that played very well.
So the players have responded to Jack. I just, for all those reasons, I think it was just a natural fit. Now that we're at this point, I sense the excitement here. I sense the excitement with players, and we're obviously excited. So we're really looking forward to it.
Q. Tim, the Ryder Cup 20-odd years ago was not a real popular -- not a lot of people followed it because it was so overwhelmingly in favor of the American team for so long. Americans are leading in this series 6-1-1. Have you had any ideas to try to equalize the --
TIM FINCHEM: To lose? Get the American team to lose?
It's interesting, as Jack referenced, if you go to Asia and talk about competitions, the Presidents Cup is at the top of the list in terms of what people over there want to talk about. The international team didn't win at Harding Park, but they played great. They didn't win in South Africa, but it was a tie. It came down to the last putt on the last hole in Washington in five.
It's been very competitive the last couple of putts. I think golf fans are looking for that. I always say with the Ryder Cup, it's not really important who wins, it's that it's a good competition. It's close. It's interesting. Anything can happen. The pressure builds on the players as they get into the individual matches and singles matches. We've had a lot of that on the Presidents Cup.
So I think that that and the quality of the players who are emerging internationally pretty much take care of it. We don't need to be concerned about that.
JACK NICKLAUS: Let me just say one thing here. I'll offer it up to get my own criticism of myself.
I love the format of the Presidents Cup better than the Ryder Cup. I'll tell you why. We have 12 players on the team on each event.
In the Ryder Cup, your pairings are one captain makes the pairings. He has four teams, four players are left out. And they make the pairings, and they put it into a -- down on a list, and then they match you together.
In the Presidents Cup, all 12 play every day. You're not taking -- you don't sit anybody out. Nobody feels like they're a second class citizen. When I was captain of the Ryder Cup here in '87, I ended up sitting four guys out every day, and I ended up one match going back, and I changed my mind. I had two guys warming up, and I went out and told them they weren't going to be playing in the afternoon. I didn't like doing that.
And the Presidents Cup, everybody plays, and the captains every night sit down, and they have a matching draw. It says, okay, I'm going to put out Vijay. I'm going to match him with Phil, or whatever it might be. Then I would put out Tiger, and they may match him with whomever.
Gary and I had the opportunity to talk and say, you know, Ernie wants to play Tiger, and Tiger wants to play Ernie in South Africa. We went to Canada. Mike wanted to play Tiger, and Tiger wanted to play Mike. I mean, it was best for The Cup to have the interest to have those matches. And the captains can do that.
I mean, we'd probably do that if we thought that winning was the most important thing? No. We thought that the game of golf was the most important thing. And we felt like that was the right thing to do to get good pairings, to have good interest, good fan interest. The Presidents Cup formula, I think, has done more to grow the game and grow it internationally. I think it's fantastic.
I just love being involved in the Presidents Cup. It's something that just -- I remember after Washington, Barbara said, that's enough. She says, no more. And Tim said, Jack, will you caddie at my -- oh, caddie. I do that too. Can you captain at Montreal? Barbara said, you're not going to accept. I said, of course I'm going to accept. She said, it was so perfect in Washington. I said, Barbara, it will be just as perfect in Montreal, and it was. It was great in Montreal.
So I've had great experiences. It's been great fun. I love the format of it. Everybody plays. You never have any unhappy players because everybody plays every day. And I think it's just a great format.
LAURA HILL: Gentlemen, thank you. I'd like to also thank those with the Columbus Partnership and Gary Herzfeld with the Columbus Partnership. We appreciate your support in being here. Thank you, gentlemen.
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