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November 16, 2011

Tom Marra

Mo Martin

Jane Rah

Mike Whan


THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much for spending part of your afternoon in our new look media center. This is obviously a terrific week for the LPGA Tour, and our season-ending event, the CME Group Titleholders. Year-end awards are up for grabs, as well, at the end of the week, so there is much to play for and much to be proud about for every player in the field this week, no cuts, and a lot of fantastic players.
This week to be here and a part of this event would be the goal for each and every LPGA player. I think everybody would agree to that. You want to play in the year-end Tour Championship, if you will. But first you have to become a player on this Tour, and therein lies the reason we're sitting up here on the stage today. To that end, today, a very big day for the LPGA. More specifically a very big day for the road to the LPGA as we like to call it.
Today's announcement is all about our developmental tour and taking it to new heights. I would like to introduce a few people on the stage today, one of whom I will not give the name just yet but will get to him in just a second. Obviously you know the commissioner of the LPGA Mike Whan; to my immediate right is Mo Martin, a graduate of this year on the Futures Tour; and to the far end down there is Jane Rah, another Futures Tour graduate excited to play on the LPGA next year.
We also have a special VIP sitting right next to Jane who we'll hear from in just a moment and who is the reason that we are here today along with the commissioner Mike Whan.
MIKE WHAN: I think most of you have gotten to know me over the last couple years, and I hope if there's one thing that you've taken away from the time we've talked together it's the term partnership. At the LPGA these things just simply don't happen without quality business partners, and CME Group Titleholders is a great example of partnership. We wanted to have a season-ending event that literally celebrated all the people that put us in business, so when you walk from the 17 green to the 18 tee and walk through all the different tournaments and all the different players who made it here through the tournaments, I hope at least a couple of times in your articles you've used the term partnership because quite frankly we considered that the most important thing we do at the LPGA.
I think also most people know that I didn't spend a lot of time on the LPGA Futures Tour my first year. I admitted that. I was kind of focused on other things. 2011 was quite a bit different, and we spent a lot of time making sure we built a road to the LPGA that's just as strong as the LPGA. I think if you do your homework, you'll do the stats of the players that come off the Futures Tour and how well they do on our Tour and have done for years and years. To make the Futures Tour better, to take us new level, to have another vision, we needed a business partner. We needed somebody that was going to partner with us, have the same kind of aspirations, the same kind of goals and quite frankly have the same kind of desire for us to create a road to the LPGA that feels like the LPGA, that creates the kind of quality players that can get through to the LPGA, and can treat the players like the quality professionals that they are and are certainly becoming.
And to do that, we spent some time in 2011 talking to a lot of different business partners about what would it be like if we got together, and I'm proud to tell you that when we met Tom Marra, who's sitting to my right, your left, we knew we not only had a business opportunity but more importantly, we had a professional and personal partnership opportunity that was too good to pass up.
And so I want to introduce you to the CEO of Symetra Tom Marra, and then second after Tom introduces himself to you, we want to introduce you to the future of the LPGA Futures Tour.
TOM MARRA: Thank you, Mike. We're thrilled to be here. We're thrilled to be part of this. A lot of you are probably saying, Symetra? And I want to introduce the company. We're a financial services company. We have about 2 million customers. We're in the benefits, retirement and life businesses. We operate throughout the United States with independent producers, so it's very important that we have a way to create experiences with those producers. We were fortunate this year to sponsor the Futures Tour event in San Antonio. It was a phenomenal success for us, and as we heard about this opportunity, we thought it would be a natural, because like these young ladies, my company is on the rise. Symetra is a moving company. We aspire to even greater things. We're doing well, but we want to do even better, and we think we just line up extremely well with this.
On a personal note, we lived in Hartford for many years and actually housed young ladies like these two during the Futures Tour stop in Hartford, Connecticut. We're thrilled to be here. We're based out of Seattle, Washington, and we have about 2,000 employees, and we just think being part of this is just going to be a phenomenal thing for us.
MIKE WHAN: Next year when we tee it up, and we will, we'll be teeing it up as the Symetra Tour, the official road to the LPGA.
THE MODERATOR: It's a pretty nice logo, and obviously some very big things ahead. Your thoughts on the design of the logo and where this Tour is headed specifically.
TOM MARRA: Well, actually it's interesting because this is the first day for our new logo. It's a swift. A swift is a bird obviously. It's one of the fastest fliers in the animal kingdom. We thought it would be great to unveil this new logo as part of this very special day for us, so we're excited.
MIKE WHAN: It also works with me because I'm the fastest talking human on the animal planet.
THE MODERATOR: And you need to make a lot of birdies on that Tour if you want to get to the LPGA, as well. You're going to hear a whole lot about the road to the LPGA. That'll be a big part of the brand along with the Symetra Tour as we move forward, and obviously the goal is to make this Tour something really special. Ten graduates this year moving to the LPGA, and hopefully that number will continue to rise and see great success.
A lot of stars on the LPGA Tour have come from this Tour, and hopefully it gets bigger and brighter as the years go on. With that I want to ask some questions of our two graduates, and Mike, you can pass the mic to Mo Martin, and I'll start with you, Mo. The importance of the Symetra Tour, I'm now going to call it the Symetra Tour for everybody out there, the Symetra Tour to you and what you learned that can help you on the LPGA.
MO MARTIN: The Futures Tour, which it's been in the past, when I got started it was the Duramed Tour. I played on it for six years, so it was the Duramed Tour, and then it was the LPGA Futures Tour, so it's been a huge part of my progress, my learning curve. There are steps in every profession, and I think the Futures Tour, now the Symetra Tour, is a very crucial step. I learned so much every year, and I learned how to play my best golf there and I learned how to be a professional and what that really means and the impact that we really have in golf and as professionals, as role models. So it's been a fantastic part of my journey and I'm happy to be here and have reached the apex through the Symetra Tour now.
THE MODERATOR: I think one of the big things with the Tour is opportunity, and everybody needs one to try to get to the stage they'd like to get to. This stage isn't a bad one to be sitting on for you, Jane. Talk about what the Tour has meant to you personally and what you think you'll be able to take from it going into next year.
JANE RAH: The Tour has just been a very small step into my ultimate goal, which is to play on the LPGA, and I've just learned life on the road, travel and pro-ams, and there's so much more to being a professional golfer than just playing. You've got to interact with the sponsors and the fans and the volunteers, so every little bit in each event I've learned so much, and it's only going to help me for the next year.
THE MODERATOR: One of the goals each year obviously with this Tour is to try to make it as exactly or as close to the LPGA experience as a player would get. What have you noticed out there, and certainly we're going to try to take it to the next level as the Symetra Tour to really try to grow this even more?
JANE RAH: It's definitely gotten a lot closer. I've spent two years out there, and there's been a lot of improvements. Just getting the opportunity to have the same routine as out here, get to the event and you register and practice rounds, pro-ams and the tournament.
THE MODERATOR: Good time to be a part of professional sports from a business perspective means what to your company and your brand?
TOM MARRA: Well, to link up with something as good for the human spirit as this, we think it embodies what we try to be. We try to be honest and forthright and hard-working and diligent and customer friendly, and we think it's natural.
THE MODERATOR: Mo, final comments from you. If you were going to give advice to those who are going to play on the Symetra Tour next year, what's the biggest thing they can take from the experience?
MO MARTIN: I think as a foundation, from everything I've learned so far on the LPGA, it's very much a solid learning ground, and what we do Monday through Sunday, our interactions with the sponsors are very much the same. Take it seriously, learn everything you can about yourself, about being a professional and really understand your impact in sports life as a professional.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, final comments from you?
MIKE WHAN: Just first, Tom, on above behalf of all of us all the ladies that played today and will play in the future, thanks for making our Tour better. There's a lot of ways in business, and I've been on your side of the table more than I've been on this side. I know there's a lot of ways to spend corporate money and there's a lot of different alternatives, and quite frankly now more than ever there's a lot of discounted ways, and for you guys to choose the LPGA, it not only means a lot to us, but I think it's going to mean a lot to 13-, 14-, 15-year-old girls today, saying, hey when I get to that level is there a place for me to go. And I think you've created an opportunity for the future of the women's game, so thank you.
I think on behalf of the LPGA to the media that's here, because I think I won't see a lot of you until maybe next spring, thanks for being supportive of us all year. I'm looking around the room, and there's a lot of you that have traveled and have got as many miles this year as I have, but we appreciate you covering us. We hope you're paying attention. CME is a new sponsor; R.R. Donnelley was a new sponsor; Manulife was a new sponsor; Handa was a new sponsor; we're bringing Toledo back. I think you'll hear about a couple more things in the not-too-distant future.
I wouldn't say that the LPGA is the rocketship of sports, but I'd also say that it's a different day in 2011 and 2012 than it might have been a just a couple years ago, and we're excited about joining with partners like Tom, who not only want to do this for their business, but as he said, they want to do this for the right reasons and the value spent. I think when you hit the values, everything else in business finds a way.
I hope you'll help us share this message not only for our business and our sport but also for the young women around the world that are looking to this as an opportunity to really make it to the final frontier, which is the LPGA Tour.
THE MODERATOR: 15 plus events next year on the schedule, one brand new big and very important partner. Tom, thank you very much for being here. Jane, Mo, congratulations. We look forward to seeing you next year on the LPGA, much because of the Symetra experience that you all had.

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