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July 23, 2010
JACQUES BUNGERT: Welcome to everyone. We're gonna start up this press conference. As usual, we don't want to make long speeches. We would rather answer your questions.
Everybody knows Mike Whan. We are very happy to welcome Mike for the first time in Evian. Thank you for the rain, Mike. (Laughter.) He came in England, that's why.
But as Franck would say, it's always good for the water. This is the only place that when it rains, at least it makes business. Franck, thanks also for being with us. Mess up with the program.
I think as you all know, we started the tournament on an interesting basis. It seemed that the results yesterday were pretty good. We were also very happy to see this international field being really revealed in the top 20 with also some interesting scores from our friend in India, for instance. It's interesting to see how many countries are represented this year in Evian.
Not much to say. I think as you all know, we try to evolve every year. This year again we have tried to develop some new events on site with new events, also, and we'll talk about it later with David. The LPGA media award that is awarded tonight, this is really concerning you. It's a great new event with a No. 1 starting this year, and I hope it's gonna be a big legacy every year to the world of golf.
Can you hear us with the rain? It's okay? Okay. I would like also to thank you Jean-NoĆ«l Bioul, head of sponsoring for Rolex. You all know that Rolex is very important partner for us, not only because they're a sponsor but because they know golf, and they've known golf for decades. They help us a lot in understanding and improving every day what we do in the Evian Masters.
And IBM, because really what they've learned with the Augusta Master's is being served here. We are very, very recognizing for that.
Now maybe Mike you want to say a few words before I give the speech to Franck.
MICHAEL WHAN: Well first, thank you for having me. I've heard about this tournament for a lot of years, and I've heard about the town for probably just as many. It was exciting to drive in my first time. I'm thinking pretty tough day to be a caddie today. I'm thinking about how many things they must be carrying in their bag right now.
We're excited to be here. This morning I got to meet a couple of people form the International Olympic committee talking about Olympics in 2016, and the first thing I said is, You're gonna be excited to see what you see here. Not only is it a great tournament, but you're going to see countries represented around the world playing on this course.
So I always tell fans of golf, It's great that we're gonna be in the Olympics in 2016; the really good news you don't have to wait. Come to Evian this weekend and see 30 countries compete at the absolute highest level.
The other thing I wanted to say is that as a commissioner, there's nothing more exciting than sponsors that think big, dream big, and have a vision. And Franck and Evian and Rolex, they just think big, they have a vision, they have a dream.
It's our goal at the LPGA to not only partner with those kind of people, but to help foster those dreams and those visions. That's why I'm excited to be here. Because as my father would say, When you find somebody with passion and vision, stay close. Hopefully I can stay close to both of these gentlemen, because they share passion and vision. Hopefully they agree that the LPGA shares the same thing.
I mean, whether you're a 12-year old girl right now in China or Brazil or America or France or anywhere in the world, you can have passion and vision and believe you can play the greatest golf in the word.
I think for all of us who have been covering golf for a long time, 15, maybe 10 years ago, we couldn't have proven that. Today we proved that, and you can just walk outside this tent if you have some rain gear and see that. We have players from around the world, we have sponsors from around the world, we have media from around the world. We truly are a global sport where young women anywhere can not only dream it, but actually achieve it. That's what makes it an exciting time to be the commissioner of the LPGA.
JACQUES BUNGERT: Thank you, Mike.
FRANCK RIBOUD: So what I'm saying about the tour is I'm not the commissioner, but I'm totally convinced that if we want to develop ladies golf, we have to create a world tour. I don't know about the rules, and that's the reason why we real follow the Rolex ranking. We will always use the Rolex ranking. We are not in charge of the Rolex ranking, how it works, but we will follow.
We will use the Rolex ranking to select the ladies to play here. After that, the wildcard. How do we use the wildcard this year? We want to promote golf, and we have the vision. It's not exactly a question of passion. After that I would speak about the economics of the golf, especially in the difficult context where we are. In the U.S. I know little, but at least in western Europe.
So for the wildcard, was a right opportunity to open one the biggest, if it is the biggest with the U.S. Open, to ladies coming from emerging countries. Perhaps they are not yet the level we expect, except that the Indian lady showed us that it's not true.
But we want to open the tournament to the new countries. Because I'm sorry, but I don't think the growth and our future will be in the U.S., will be in France, in U.K., in Scotland. If we want to have a vision, we have to create what will be the future, and we have to preempt what will be the future.
The future is going to be a world tour, which will help us also to put some new rules to rebalance between countries to be sure that all the world will be represent. So that's the vision I have.
And on the economic side, I think we have to be careful. We can dream, but I heard a lot about this major issue. I'm sure you have a lot of question. There is nothing between the LPGA and the Evian Masters organization. We agree on everything. Everything.
So if there is an opportunity on our side, we will catch the opportunity. But the decision is under the responsibility of the LPGA, and they have to decide. It's their business. We will listen and we will follow. And if we can, we will do what they want because they are in charge of the golf. We don't know. Jacques and myself, we know nothing about your job; we know nothing about golf.
So we learn, but we learn very fast. (Laughter.) And we travel a lot and we benchmark and we look at what is the golf reality. We have something here which is unique, and you know we want to be unique. We are very are proud of that. So we will not change the uniqueness of the tournament.
Now, if we can improve -- and I have to speak about the economics -- if we can improve nicely, taking in account the economic context, we will do it. But we are businessmen. I have shareholder. I am very, very pleased with this tournament as it is. It will continue.
But if we can do better, and if becoming a major will bring us a better return and push us in the right direction in terms of quality, yes, we will catch it. But keeping the unify of this tournament, we build the tournament by ourself with the help of nobody in the world of golf, starting by Jacques. He knows nothing about golf.
And that's exactly what I want when we start to work together. I want to be impact positively by the golf world, but I want to keep the way we drive the tournament. Very honestly, I got a question about, Why do you come on Monday? Normally when you are in your position you come on Sunday just to give the prize.
But if I come on Monday, it's not because the tournament, it's because of the team of Yannick and Jean Yves. If they don't see me looking, checking what they are doing, they feel I don't care.
If I come here on Monday with the job I have beside, Jacques also, it's the direct translation of what you are doing is wonderful, and we are very proud of what you do. But I have to come to do that. So perhaps it's a special tournament, but we think, Jacques and myself, that if we are not doing this, that will go down.
And I will close on this, but we have to be careful that whatever we do, we do it in a sustainable way. The world this is to go up, and after that you can't continue. You have no more money and you go down and you go down and you go down. Honestly, I know a lot not only in golf, but I know a lot of sport events going very high, very high, and suddenly there is no more money, there is nobody behind, and you go down slowly.
We just want to continue to grow. So everybody which is going to help us to go up, we will follow. The rain is going to stop one day. I think tomorrow. Trust me.
So do you have questions? We can ask question in French or English.
Q. (Through translation.) The question is there no position between becoming a major and create this world tour?
JACQUES BUNGERT: No, I don't think any contradiction, because as I told you, I'm sure, I'm convinced all the tour, the Japanese one, the U.S. one, the LET, they have to converge. So it's just a question of how do we build it? I think the Evian Masters can play a role in this vision.
Being a major or not, it's like (in French.) You cannot two stars of the Michelin rankings, and being a very, very good restaurant. But I know also a lot of people having the certain style and finishing like this. But we have to be careful not to push everybody too high.
But for me, there is no contradiction. Look at what we did with the wildcard. We choose the No. 1 in China, the No. 1 in Brazil, in India, in Russia, the actual French No. 1, and so on.
Q. When will you decide to put the Evian Masters in the major?
MICHAEL WHAN: Well, it's definitely a process we'll work together. I think at the end of the day, just like Franck said, the desire is on both parts. The economic part of becoming a major is something that we're gonna decide -- (horn sounding.) Uh-oh. We're about to be joined by a lot of players, I think, as they run by.
FRANCK RIBOUD: They will wake up very early tomorrow morning.
MICHAEL WHAN: But that's something we'll do later this year. We'll sit down together and say, Does it make economic sense? Does it make tournament sense? Does it make sense for Evian the business and Evian the tournament?
At the end of the day, if it does, we're gonna do this together. If it doesn't, I don't think -- the last thing we want to do -- just like Franck talked about -- is create something that doesn't work for them.
Because in long term, you end up getting in a situation that somebody's got someplace and not happy. The most important thing for world golf as Franck talks about, is giving them a stage to play in front of media, in front of eyeballs worldwide on TV.
So I think the good news is -- like I said in the beginning, the good news is when you have a major sponsor and major tournament promoter saying, We're interested, and when you have a tour like the LPGA saying, We're interested, let's sit down and talk, that's how it begins, and we'll figure that out over the next five or six months.
And I think to the world tour, because I can't help myself, I think the good news right now is women's golf is more global than it's ever been? If you look at the Rolex Rankings Top 10, you'll see --I didn't look today, but I bet you'll see eight countries represented. If you look at the top 20, you'll probably see 11 or 12 countries represented.
Go back ten years, you won't find that. And so when we show up and we talk about the top 30 playing, like I said before, you really get a global event. You really get an Olympic-esque field, if you will. I'm excited every time I look at the top 10 Rolex Rankings, it just reminds me how different it was when I was a kid watching women's golf. When it didn't represent worldwide golf.
It's exciting to see tournaments like this not only celebrate that, but put it on display.
JACQUES BUNGERT: If I may add something from my perspective, having dealt now with LPGA for ten years with Franck, we have seen a major change in the way the LPGA is looking at the world. And I must say, having known you for now six months, that Mike Whan is probably the best news that ever happens to the LPGA in terms of vision on the international side.
I can see -- we don't speak French together or Russian together or Chinese, we speak English, but I can feel that there is this international culture and understanding that sometimes has been lacking in this organization. I think it's fantastic. Zayra Calderon from Costa Rica and America, he's speaking five or six languages, and I can tell you this is a major change. To me, it's really good news for the world of golf.
MICHAEL WHAN: One of the things that people don't -- it never gets written about in the media, but our rookies attend cultural training classes during the course of tournaments on a Tuesday or Wednesday. They're learning about signing autographs in Thailand verus signing autographs in Toledo, Ohio. They're learning about what it means when a media person asks you a question in Singapore, China versus what it means when they ask you a question in Mexico or Canada.
And I've sat in those classes before, and think back to when I was 25 at Proctor and Gamble and went through a lot of the same kind of classes. As I've said to the ladies on tour many times, We're going global. And like a lot of companies that go global, it's not always easy. Doesn't mean you can do it without mistakes. We're gonna definitely make our share of mistakes.
But our tour is global. Our brand is global. Our business is global. And the great news about going global is the other side of a tunnel is an exciting place. And when you walk into a tunnel, sometimes it gets a little dark. So the LPGA is making its share of mistakes as it goes global, but it clearly is going global.
If you don't believe me, walk into the players' group right now during the rain delay and listen to the amount of languages spoken. Watch the girls from different countries high fiving and hugging and talking about the tournament. It really is a special place.
My kids, when they come out to the tour, I always say, You got to spend some time in the players' and caddie arena, because you see the future not only of golf, but quite frankly of business.
Q. Two questions: Is it imaginable that we have five majors and not only four, or do you wait for another big sponsor to go away? When you talk about global golf, it would make sense then the next one would be in Asia and not Europe.
MICHAEL WHAN: Let's take both questions. Is it imaginable to have five majors or six majors? It's not a preference. I won't kid you. It's not a preference to have more than four, especially now. I think if we were at 40 tournaments on the schedule, is it more conceivable? Yes. But I don't think it's as conceivable now. Not personally a fan the multiple majors, but a lot of things in my lifetime and business change versus what you think with six months versus six years on the job.
As I've said to Jacques many times, when you've been commissioner for six months, there should still be an asterisk next to everything you say saying, Still a rookie. So I'm still a rookie and learning.
But I think the honest answer to your question the preference at this point would be four of. Reminded me the second part of your question. Sorry.
Q. When you talk about global, why the new one won't be in Asia because there is already one major in Europe?
MICHAEL WHAN: You know, I think the really good news about golf is the incredible focus on majors. And I think sometimes the really bad news about golf is the incredible focus on majors. What I mean by that is, if you went to our HSBC Women's Championship in Singapore, you's say, Wow, does this thing feel big; does this thing feel major; does this thing feel global.
When you drive in here, I don't know how up couldn't say, Wow, does this thing feel big; does this thing feel global; does this think feel major. At the same time, I can make that same comment about seven, eight, or nine tournaments. Go to the Canadian Open. You're gonna say, This thing feels big; it thing feels global; it thing feels major. So I think sometimes the moniker, the word "major," almost becomes, you know, too great a focus.
At the end of the day, that's great. It generates media and generates interest. But I don't think our major has to be in Asia to make Asia more relevant, because we're relevant in Asia right now. As I've said to the players, doesn't have to be in Canada and South America.
Majors come from three things: major vision, major sponsors, major venues. And where you find major vision, major sponsors, and major vision, you lock arms and you see if you can make it happen. Doesn't mean it always does happen.
The nice thing about here is the ingredients exist. Can we create those three major pieces coming together? I think we can. Does it mean we will? May or may not be the right time or the right place. The good news is if you were baking the cake, you have the ingredients on the table.
So if somebody were to ask me in Asia, do you think we should have a major, I would say, I think we need to play here. We need to play here in front of a lot of people. We need to play here in front of a lot of eyeballs. If we do play here, the rest of the world ought to watch.
And since we do that, I mean, next year I can tell we'll play in Singapore, Thailand -- I almost started going on -- I can't really announce the '11 schedule, but I'll tell you we'll play in more countries than we play in today in '11; I'm certain we'll play in more in '12 because there's interest; because our players come from around the world; and because now we're generating sponsors and fan bases from around the world.
So we don't have to wait long. Our kids will grow up with a different women's professional golf scenario then we grew up with, and that only exciting not only for golf, but I think for our kids.
Q. Mr. Whan, we heard that the Kraft Nabisco could disappear in the next few years. Do you have any information about that? And second question, could it be good news for the Evian Masters?
JACQUES BUNGERT: You mean the golf tournament or the company? (Laughing.)
Q. The golf tournament.
MICHAEL WHAN: Save your Oreos.
JACQUES BUNGERT: I was looking for information. Perhaps a bit too much my biscuit business.
MICHAEL WHAN: The Kraft Nabisco Championship is a championship, to be perfectly honest with you, we will look to keep in Palm Springs as long as we possibly can. Kraft Nabisco has the opportunity to exit the tournament in 2014. They could exit tournament earlier for that matter. So I think to your question, if you're kind of putting pieces together, could that provide an opportunity for another major? Absolutely could.
Hasn't happened. There's nothing to announce on that front, but I think it could. I think regardless of what happens to that tournament, major, not major, the LPGA will look to play it in Palm Springs at Mission Hills Country Club as long as we can. As I said to Jacques this morning at breakfast, it's one of our walks on the LPGA, meaning 12 year old girls that are now 32 will tell you when they were 12 they remember women walking across the bridge at Mission Hills and jumping in the lake.
So as commissioner, it's a legacy I wouldn't want to lose. I don't know that it has to be major, doesn't necessarily have to be Kraft. But after 39 years of time with Kraft, as I've said to them many times, their decision is their decision. They've built something that will last a long time regardless of whether or not it's Kraft Nabisco.
And I think just like what Evian builds, they're building a legacy that will last for women's golf for a lot longer than I'm sitting at the table. I think that's what makes it kind of exciting.
Q. The girls, all the players, they say Evian is their favorite tournament, and it would work to be a major even. I think everybody agrees with that. But I would like your opinion about the course, if Evian course has the level of a major event?
MICHAEL WHAN: So your question was is the course today a major course?
Q. Yes, today. Is it at the level of a major event?
MICHAEL WHAN: Let's go back to we're talking about majors again. I talked about major sponsors, major passion, major players, and major venues. So those are the ingredients. I think when we stop ask talk to Franck and Jacques, we say, Hey, the only ingredient we'd want to work with you on is the actual course.
Is the course a great course? It is a great course. If we really put it in major status, would we want it to be an even greater challenge and even more dramatic play-every-club-in-the-bag course? Of course we would. That's just me being commissioner. Doesn't mean that's a requirement or I have an architect plan to lay out in front of you.
But I would like to see it as a more challenging course in the world of major. But at the end of the day, these things, just like these tournaments, don't happen overnight, not would the course changes happen overnight if we went down that path. And I think that's the great news. Long-term thinking creates great outcomes.
Clearly, as Franck talked about with Jacques, when they sat down without a lot of help and said, What do we see in ten or fifteen years, and didn't have a lot of people saying great idea, great idea, they were the ones building it, I think the same thing.
When we sit down as a threesome and say, Hey, what do we see at this place down the road? None of us feel like those are changes we put if place Thursday. Those are things that gradually. So I think it's certainly got all the capability. When he stand on these tees and greens and see the mountains and the lake on the other side and the fans lining the fairways, the ingredients exist.
Q. In case if Evian becomes a major, will you...
FRANCK RIBOUD: I will answer. The first question I will answer. Personally, I hope not that we are in a situation that the course is already perfect for a very simple reason: we want to improve. I know this course since I am I born, so I know how we can improve the quality of the golf course. And I know that we improved the quality of the golf course.
Second, we have a free consultant in the LPGA. Whatever they said, it's free. A lot of golf course are paying a lot of money to get all this advice. So I will be very clear. It's not a question of majorship. Whatever they said, we record. Even if we are not becoming a major championship, we will do things we can do. That's the only point.
That's the reason why you need that kind of consultant, because they come from somewhere else. They have a big, big expertise, and they explain to us you have to do this.
We grow here. We don't have the truth, so having an advice from somebody who can benchmark, it doesn't mean we are gonna do what they ask to becoming or we are not going to do what they ask to not becoming. You are journalists, so you have the right to have the question this way. But I love to answer very directly.
We accept anything from the LPGA as an advice becoming or not becoming a major, because we want to improve the quality of the golf course. So, saying that, we have ideas. Perhaps French ideas. Because at the end, we are in a difficult world. I am a businessmen. I am not -- if we need to spend $10 million to achieve something I will not do it, because my job is to deliver sustainable development for Danone, of the golf course, of the golf school, or whatever.
That's the reason why it's not a dream; it's not a passion. We have to be a realist. We are in the mountain. We are not in Florida. We want to be organic. We want to use as less as possible chemical. I can't cut a tree. I need an authorization. I can't move the river here.
Because in our country, and I love that, if you ask where is the limit between Publier and Evian, that's the river. If I have to move the river, that will take me ten years. But that's not the reason why I don't have to listen. Means both of us, we have to listen. But they can bring something.
Now, just the green. I can speak about the green. I am totally ready to make some greens bigger if we need. The question is, what are the five one you want next year? What are the second three ones you want within two years? What are the last one you want within three years?
That's all. So we plan. It's a business plan. But we must know what exactly is the role. So it's even not a negotiation. With me it's quite difficult to negotiate. I want to stay free; I want to do what I want. It's a question of confidence more than negotiation. Tell me how do we achieve the target, what is the road, and I will see if we can do it or not economically speaking in a sustainable way. Because I don't want to deliver one-shot quality golf course. Because you just imagine that you have a high-quality golf course just for the tournament.
No, if you want the real high quality, you need six months of working before. How do we close the golf course before? Yes or no? Do we do it or not? We speak together about the date. I'm ready to move the date. Okay, between the end of June, end of July. Nothing else. We discuss about September, and we agree out of two minutes of discussion. I have customer. I will not close the hotel and the golf to become a major.
But if I do the major championship in September with the kind of golf customer we have in the hotel resort, we call them (in French) because they pay and they don't bitch or whatever. So for us, it's just impossible to give the right quality in September.
And we are in the mountain, so if we have to refurbish the course, or we close the course during one year, okay, forget it. Because the nature here is starting to wake up in April and going to bed in mid-August. So we have to be very quick.
But we have solution on that. On the same time, in golf you need the same quality on the green. So if we have to make the green bigger, we discuss with Yannick. Tell us very quickly, very quickly, because we carrot the green. We make hole and we take the -- but with this, we can build a 1000 square meter somewhere, and after we did -- I speak in French because it's easier for me (in French.)
MICHAEL WHAN: You lost me at take a carrot.
FRANCK RIBOUD: You improve your French.
MICHAEL WHAN: See, we're having global expansion right here.
FRANCK RIBOUD: Next time we will speak in Spanish.
Q. (Question in French.)
FRANCK RIBOUD: I will not change my planning. I am very, very happy with this tournament. It's just a question of ambition and vision, and do we have the return. On top of that, I think that it will be wonderful for a country like France, which is definitely not a golf country historically, to get the first major male or female on the European continent in France.
Especially when you are supposed to compete for the Ryder Cup in 2018. I think the best, best, best, best thing that can happen for this country is that the Evian Masters become a major, because the world of golf will look at us. Us meaning not us, meaning the French nation and the ability to organize that kind of event. So also on this side we have a responsibility.
Now, as I said, the agenda Jacques and I are discussing -- and I prefer to say discussing not negotiating, because it's very easy. I know exactly what I can do. But the decision must stay within, Okay, we can do this. Being this, could we achieve what you expect to let us becoming a major?
But, please, if we can't, tell us. It's a discussion. I don't understand why people are always trying to put themselves against themselves. There is not reason. We start -- I always said, the only thing I learned from the golf world is timing, history. We have to build history and passion.
I love that you speak about the Kraft. How about also the British Open? I will be totally disappointed if the British was no more there or whatever. Because the British is part of the history of golf, whatever the quality of the course. (Laughter.)
But if you have to start something new, again, you have to put your feet in their shoes. For us -- I am saying that very frankly, huh -- for us to decide that there will be -- perhaps you can't understand -- but for them to decide that there will be a major in France, I really understand it's a very, very not difficult, but it's a very, very important thing new.
They will take the responsibility of that. So we can't disappoint of them. The best way not to be disappointing both side is to agree on, okay, this we can do it, and we can do it for the next ten years.
Look at the question you ask to them about Kraft, the question about five or six or seven majors. I don't want to become a major if you have 100 majors. I totally agree. Five, we can discuss. (Laughing.) But the best one will be to stay with four.
You know, I think we have to respect the tradition. I'm always saying that. We don't have to be just thinking about tradition, moving nothing or changing nothing. That's the wrong way. A lot of people in the world golf are looking to tradition to protect themself, to move something, or to change or not to become modern or whatever.
For me, tradition is something on which we can build. But you don't have to change a tradition, because a tradition will give to you the solidity of what you build. It's like your house, but you don't have to stay with our old house. You have to use the basement of the house, what I call tradition, and you build on that. To become a major in France, I think, or in continental Europe, I think it's a good way to become modern.
But we can speak also about the ladies, what are their (from translation) how are their dress. We have to move on that. As I said in a French newspaper, I am becoming totally crazy when I am going with my kid in a club where nine years old you can't play with T-shirt. It's totally stupid. Stupid for the business, first of all, because you can create a new fashion for kids so you will develop a business.
That's for me the wrong tradition. For me, the good tradition is to bring more and more and more young people on golf course to teach them, to learn them, to explain to them how to respect the rules. But the rules of the game, not because you are coming from here or from here. The kids now, they are carrying T-shirt. When they become older, we can stay with the tradition.
As you can see, I have many ideas of golf.
MICHAEL WHAN: What was the question, Franck? (Laughter.)
Q. Mike, you know journalists are so stubborn, so I will ask the same question. When can we expect news for Evian Masters becoming a major or not?
MICHAEL WHAN: I'd love to give you the same kind of direct answer to say, On November 1st we'll know.
Q. Well, not November, but six months? One year?
MICHAEL WHAN: Oh, no. We're gonna work this out over the next few months. This is not something that I think neither side wants to be talking about this for 12 years. As Franck said, we want to...
FRANCK RIBOUD: I will put some pressure on Jacques and Mike. I need to know before the end of the year. Not the end of the year, I think the course will give you the answer.
MICHAEL WHAN: Probably will. That's right.
FRANCK RIBOUD: I think October, maximum October.
MICHAEL WHAN: That's the headline tomorrow. Maximum October. I think he's exactly right, though.
FRANCK RIBOUD: Because if we have to do something, we don't have a lot of time to do it in this part of France. We have to start in September, October, and be sure we already bring something new next year. Which is not the date.
Q. (No microphone.)
MICHAEL WHAN: You've got to ask to Franck.
FRANCK RIBOUD: Ask to me. Exactly. You have to chose the right guy to answer.
Q. Forgive me Franck, but I don't quite understand why the deadline. If you don't really care whether you're a major or not, why the deadline?
FRANCK RIBOUD: I care. I care. I'm sure it's because of my English, but I want to become a major. There is no discussion on that. I start with this idea, because as a manager I need a target. And all the stupid management book explain to you that you must have a target you can achieve or you will not motivate your people.
It's totally stupid, and I am doing this in Danone, huh? We must have a crazy target. Accept that. After 17 years, for the first time, because of the LPGA evolution, because of what we discuss with the LPGA, it seems that there is a 60%, 70%, 80% chance we can become a major. Why? Because we bring something. We demonstrate our capability because of the crisis.
The question about Kraft or whatever, everybody knows that there are some difficulties in the economic world by the time being. Okay. It's a question we have to take care also. So for us, it seems that there is an opportunity. If there is an opportunity, you can be confident that Jacques and myself will jump on the opportunity, but not being totally crazy.
If we can't because the rules, if they are rules, because I love the creation about major, what is the course, I don't know. Honestly, I'm still running after the answer. But I don't want to know, because, again, a majorship is not due to the golf course. It's alchemy. The relation you have, the confidence you have, the quality the course, the quality of the field, what are the feeling of the player, what are the feeling of the golf authority.
It's very difficult to answer all your question, because it seemed that it's not you cross this, you cross this. You have 100 points, you are major now. I know that and I respect that. I don't want to change that kind of rules.
But to answer your question, yes, we want to become a major. If we succeed, we can do in campaign together. If we don't succeed, that will not be because we are fighting with the LPGA. It will be because, okay, both side will recognize that it's too early, it's too expensive, we are not, as you said, perhaps Asia become the priority.
But we will not die because of that. This tournament will continue with the same quality. The first priority we have is to develop ladies golf. It's our responsibility to -- that's the reason why we are always talking about the LPGA, but we are still supporting the LET, the European Tour, from the beginning. That's the reason why we also give wildcard to ladies coming from countries which are just at the beginning of the development.
But the question is, yes, we want, and yes, we can. But I have less fashionable mouth, so we have to be careful. (Laughing.)
Q. As you said, it's a very organic process becoming a major, plus in a way it's a very artificial designation. Because why four majors? Somebody decided because of the impregnable --
FRANCK RIBOUD: Nobody decide. As you said, and the classic answer is yes. But in the men tournament there is four. Why ladies golf must be like men? I think it's a mistake. It's less and less fashionable. But it's like this. We can continue the name Evian Masters. Somebody explained to me that if we become major, you say we can't because there is an agreement with Augusta about the "Master" name. We are not going to block on this.
If we can become major, it's a good example, because change the name is very hard. We build a lot of equity on the Evian Masters name. The most important name for me is the Evian name. I'm confident that if the name become, for example, the Evian Championship, you will call it the Evian.
That's the history of golf. That will take time. But we are not doing that for next year. So if within ten years everybody all over the world is saying the Evian, I'm fine.
JACQUES BUNGERT: And the mayor of Evian will be happy.
FRANCK RIBOUD: Which is very important. So as you can see, we are let's say 99% agreed. After that, honestly it's just a question of how long do we have to bring the right answer? How much that will cost? Could we do it in a sustainable way? We are from Lyon, so we are very, very close to our money. Not because of the money. It's a question of return. It's not my money. It's not my girl friend. It's the money of my shareholder.
If I don't have the return, I will not do it. That's all. That's the reason why I'm talking about discussion, not talking about negotiation. We want to be but, we are not crazy. We accept that perhaps we don't have the money. Everybody want to drive a Ferrari, but if you can't pay, you don't buy a Ferrari, especially if you think how much it will cost you to maintain the Ferrari. That's the point.
Q. And Franck, will you drive your Ferrari to...
FRANCK RIBOUD: I don't driver Ferrari.
Q. You talk about sustainability and being ecologically friendly and that's very close to your heart and so on. So I just wondered why the fireworks still the other night? If you really are looking for an ecologically unfriendly thing and a complete waste of money, you're looking at fireworks.
FRANCK RIBOUD: Because you look at money in terms of waste, and I am looking to the amount of return. I invite people, and they love firework. So they need the -- I have the return. I am not wasting money. Trust me. It's very rare I would waste money.
On the same time, something you don't know but I repeat every year, why this tournament and the firework would continue? If I need the money of the firework to do something on the golf course, I will stop the firework. Can be sure. By the way, you will have a second one on Saturday. (Laughing.)
But the question, first of all, it's not very expensive. And second -- but it's a good question, because I'm talking about the firework -- but I ask to Jacques just to prepare, not a negotiation, but if we have a good news -- and as I told you even if we are not becoming a major, we will do things the LPGA explained to us. I need money to do that.
So I ask Jacques, and we will have this meeting in September together, just both of us -- perhaps Yannick because he's spending the money we give to him -- to look at how we can save money from the P&L of the tournament. Where can we make savings? This savings we will reinvest in the golf course. We put a lot of money in the attractivity of the tournament, the flowers, and I think it's okay.
Now we have to think to the golf course. Because as you know, we refurbish the Hermitage hotel. We will do the same for the Royal hotel I think end of next year, something like this, or this year. September we have a tough negotiation, a real negotiation with Yannick.
But the golf course is part of the resort, so for us, we want to announce not a new golf course but a refurbished golf course. I don't know how to say that in English. If I have to cut the two firework to do that, I will cut them. But until now, I have the return on top.
You don't know, but we have this agreement with the city. The Evian brand belongs to us, but the Evian town is just here. To play with the Evian name, we have a (in French.) We must organize things for the city, and this golf tournament is part of the contract we have with the city. That's the reason why it's a sustainable one.
Except that if I want to do something for kids I can switch. It's just a message. But, you know, after 17 years, if we are happy, there is no risk. If I am happy, we have no risk.
Q. Question for Mike. I have a little concern. So going global, having all these beautiful things, and seeing all these young player coming, I heard they don't have time to study. They have to be homeschooled because it's very demanding because there's a lot of travel. And in, I don't know, 20 years, we will have a lot of young player because they will still be young, without education. Is it in your schedule to do something about this, offering online classes, I don't know, something? They will finish with a lot of experience and without a degree, and that's sad a little bit.
MICHAEL WHAN: Well, I think your question has two different parts. There's no doubt that making it at the professional level of golf is demanding and challenging. At the same time, for every person who tells you that they had to be homeschooled and had to give up an education, I'll show you just as many players out here that either are going to or went to college.
If you take Michelle Wie who's been in the spotlight since she's 12 and been playing around the world since she was 13 is a student at Stanford. I wish I could have gotten to Stanford. That's what kind of quality education she's getting. Does she have to work hard to be a student at Stanford and play around the world or even play period? Absolutely. But can you be a top 20 player in the world and graduate from Stanford? Absolutely.
So with regards to what we do on the tour, I mean, we certainly look for ways to not only encourage, but make opportunities to -- I can tell you there are a large number of players through our Rosetta Stone agreement taking language courses probably during the rain delay because they want to learn more and continue their education.
I think any professional athlete in any sport will tell you about the demanding choice they had to make in terms of how they got their education and how they lived their life. But that choice is not mutually exclusive. If you and I walked out and I introduced you to ten players, I can promise you that six of them will tell you about how they finished their schooling. And maybe the four that didn't. That's a choice they could make. I can show you great examples of still getting great degrees and working on a pro career as well.
Even though for you and I, certainly for me anyway, it would have been difficult to think about how I could've got through college and been a professional athlete. But knowing now a couple hundred professional athletes on a pretty close level, they have a focused determination that unfortunately was beyond my level when I was 25 that enables them to do so much more.
FRANCK RIBOUD: I will give you -- I will answer your question about ourself. Perhaps you don't know, but we are supporting here in Evian a soccer club with a lot of kids. We are dealing by the time being with the French education to create -- they can go to school and chose to become a soccer pro, and we are going to extend the golf because it's not really existing.
We have it negotiate with the French education, which is a real negotiation. But we are going to use our tax advantage and things like this to create -- to have links with locals and to be sure that these kids can continue to play golf. School stops at 3:00, go to the golf training center and go back to school.
On the same time, I'm French, but I'm very impressed by what happened in the U.S. Because in the U.S., to enter into your university, you accept not only the mathematics, but also to have a talent in sport or in art, which is something we have to benchmark for France, I think.
It's a personal story for me. My kid is now in NYU, and being a player soccer. I find nothing in France when he wants to go back to school. So I think it's something we have it create, and because I'm not a politician I can't do that at the right level.
They're always saying the same: We can't do; we can't do. Yes we can. We can start at our level. So we will find a way to do it at the Evian level. As I said at the beginning in French, this tournament is just 10% of what we want to do. We have the golf school. It's free for the kids here to come.
If some of them are becoming very good, we want to see how they can continuing to go to school before university. Because the issue is not when you are at the age to go to university. The issue is before, because the parents are really afraid about stopping school. If they are not afraid, they are stupid. Okay?
So we have to bring to them the solution to take the decision as late as possible. Because to stop school now at 13,14, I think it's very dangerous. And going to be more dangerous in our economy context. Because you don't know. You can play very well soccer or skiing or whatever or golf when you are eight or nine, and when you are 15 you are nowhere.
So we must bring to these kids the capability to go to school and to do their passion, which could be playing golf. So we will try to do that. But if you have some American one to learn French, perhaps we can also build something on that. Why not?
Q. (Through translation.) The question is are we disappointed not to announce something?
FRANCK RIBOUD: No, we are in a discussion process. As I said, this discussion must achieve something autumn this year. Not because we have to be disappointed or not, just a question of timing if we want to be ready at the right time, at the right year. That's all.
MICHAEL WHAN: I think it's hard to be here and use the term "disappointed." I don't know what the French word was, but I think it's hard to drive in here, see the players that are here, see the experience that goes on in this city, see the media that covers it, and use the term "disappointed."
I understand your question. I mean, I get it. But as I've said to these guys and to most of the people I've talked to and the media for the few days I've been here already, it's just difficult not to appreciate. I think that's the word we should use. Not to appreciate what's going on here for women's golf for sure. That's what I come from and it's close to my heart.
This is a celebration. It's a celebration no matter what term goes with it. To Franck's point, if we put a bigger term with it, it's because it was the right business decision.
To ever use the word "disappointment" and the "Evian Masters" in the same sentence just seems -- and I'm not critiquing your question. I'm just saying my reaction is it's just hard to use the term, because appreciate is what comes to my mind.
FRANCK RIBOUD: Anyway, if I was disappointed, you know me, you will know it. I'm not disappointed.
Q. You talked about education. There is also loneliness. A player died this year. Did you change something as far as the social life you're trying to improve?
MICHAEL WHAN: You know, that's a good question. Even as you ask it it hurts. I'm just being honest with you. It is a lonely -- it can be a lonely life. You know, I'm packing up and moving with 'em most of these weeks, so I experience it. I've had many players both current and former talk to the current players about their own experiences.
I mean, we have a former major champion who works for the LPGA now who talked about winning her fifth event in one year and crying at the hotel that night because she was so lonely missing her family. Because you realize when you win a tournament, all of your playing peers have left. They missed the cut. They didn't win. They got on planes. You stuck around for media and you get back to the hotel and it's you and a trophy.
It's kind of funny, because she said, Who do you complain to when you're crying next to your trophy, especially your fifth one of the year. So I think the whole Erica Blasberg experience has helped realize what we already knew, which happens a lot of times in difficult family death. You realize what's really important.
As a group, we've gotten back to realizing how important family is on the LPGA Tour and really being there for each other. In a strange way -- and I've said this, and I know this will sound strange because it sometimes doesn't get translated right in the media -- but in a strange way a really difficult situation has made us better.
You'll even hear when I talk at the some point at the end of the year about the 2011 schedule, it's even going to affect some of our scheduling and some of the new tournaments that we're trying to build that are really a memory of the people that really made this thing fantastic.
JACQUES BUNGERT: If I may, level of the tournament, we've been discussing and sharing with the LPGA in the past, this is exactly why Franck, at the beginning of this tournament, and we have tried so far, have been very adamant about talking also about the way we welcome players.
It's not by chance players are coming here with their family. We try to make sure that they have the best conditions of staying here with their family.
It's not by chance, and I know sometimes among you people are surprised about it, if we give a wildcard to a player that has been pregnant and having a new baby. It's because family, spouse, are part of the sports life. We know that if they want to play their best golf and to do the job, they need also to be very happy in their life.
If we can bring a little something to it, we'll do it.
FRANCK RIBOUD: Thank you all. That was a personal story.
End of FastScripts