|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
December 11, 2011
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
GORDON SIMPSON:Â Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for taking a very short respite from your coverage of the thrilling climax to The Race to Dubai as today's final round of the Dubai World Championship gets underway.Â Hopefully we won't keep you from the action for too long.
This has been another wonderful week of golf here at Jumeirah Golf Estates and The European Tour is delighted to be able to reflect on the season with you later in this press conference, but firstly I would like to introduce you to our top table this afternoon before the Tour's Chief Executive, George O'Grady, shares some important news with you.
On my immediate left is Mr.Mohammed Sharaf, who is the CEO of DP World.Â Next to him is George O'Grady, as I say, the Chief Executive of The European Tour.Â On George's left is Mr.Sanjay Manchanda, who is the CEO of Nakheel.Â Next to him is Mr.Saeed Harib, who is the MD of Nakheel Marine and Leisure.Â And on the far left, we have Keith Waters, who is the chief operating officer of The European Tour.
First, I would like to call on George O'Grady to make some introductory remarks and to let you know the reason for today's conference.
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â Thank you, Gordon.Â Thank you everyone for your support of The Race to Dubai.Â Over the last 12 months, it's been a long journey and we have come to what we think now is the best condition ever at Jumeirah Estates.Â The course has been in immaculate condition this week and totally praised by all our players.
A lot of that is because of the gentlemen on either side of me, the commitment they have shown to this championship over the last three years, and it's for us a tremendous announcement today.Â We are going to continue with the championship here for three more years and The Race to Dubai for three more years.
The title will change slightly, it will be the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.Â The prize money next year will be $8 million in the first year.Â It is a three‑year commitment, an outstanding commitment from DP World, and the backbone of Nakheel, what they have done to drive the support through over that time, really has made us feel very humble.
I think if I can now ask Mohammed just to give his view, Mohammed Sharaf, who is the CEO of DP World, to give his views of the success of the partnership and the future.
MOHAMMED SHARAF:Â Thank you, George and thank you ladies and gentlemen for your attendance here today again.Â We at DP World are proud and pleased to be a part of this exciting tournament and are delighted to be extending our commitment to it for a further three years.
With the global golfing fraternity's attention invited to the Jumeirah Golf Estates for four full days, the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai and The Race to Dubai are significant events for Dubai, reinforcing its position as an international sport and golfing destination.Â That is good for the UAE, Dubai; good for Dubai, and good for golf.
The Race to Dubai is all about racing to the top, the spirit that derives our vibrant cityÂ’s development and its rise and golfing destination of the world.Â Dubai is home to the largest number of world‑class golf courses in the Middle East, a history that began with Emirates Golf Club a quarter of a century ago.
Dubai has shown the world that championship golf, like the city itself, can flourish in the middle of the desert, if you have the right commitment, vision and seriousness of purpose.Â Thank you.
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â Thank you, Mohammed.Â And perhaps Sanjay, if you would give us your thoughts.
SANJAY MANCHANDA:Â Thank you, George.Â And thank you ladies and gentlemen for coming over and making it a resounding success for what has been created as an historic event in Dubai.
Our commitment and our partnership will continue, and I think we have just shown our solidarity over here, that no matter what happens, it's the commitment to bring global events to Dubai, and in a manner of speaking, also everyone who enjoys coming to Dubai; for Dubai's lifestyle, Dubai is multi‑cultural, and the commitment shown my His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, in presenting and providing the best in class to everyone.
We look forward for the next three years extending this partnership with The European Tour, and, of course, DP World.
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â Thank you, Sanjay.
Perhaps now if anyone has any questions that we will take on The Race to Dubai and the tournament before going on to the tour.
Q.Â The Race to Dubai, you said the prize money for Dubai World Championship would be $8million, but what happens to The Race to Dubai, and how is that going to pan out for the next three years?
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â We are keeping the similar conditions to the past.Â The championship will be 60 players.Â We might review it after the tournament, but at the moment, it's 60.
We have not announced the bonus pool of The Race to Dubai or its conditions.Â We will do it as a later date, but it's secure.
Q.Â Just a quick question about the course itself.Â We were told that Fire in the long term could also be a viable possibility.Â But will it be on Earth for all three years?
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â It's on Earth for next year, and we just review it all the time.
So right now, we have got Earth the way the players like it.Â We can play with the length.Â We can play with the setup on the greens, the length of the rough.Â I think we have been so pleased with it this year, we are going to stay at least one more year.
Q.Â Just going back to the bonus pool, you said it's secure, so there will be a bonus pool?Â And if you can't announce it today, why not?
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â Because we are talking to many different partners, and it's a second part of the agreement.Â It's not completely finalised, yet.Â We have two other partners we are thinking of bringing on board, and so when we have it the way we want it, we are going to announce it.Â We are not there yet.
Q.Â Sorry to press this, but will it be more or less than it is now?
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â We haven't made our mind up yet.Â We are not sure yet.
Q.Â And so the first year was 8 million, and the next two years, do you have a dollar figure on that?
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â No.Â We are announcing it as we feel comfortable.Â We will be 8 million next year; we might be 8 million all the way through.Â We will just look at the economic situation of the world and wherever.
But I think everybody is well aware of the world situation.Â I think holding onto an 8 million dollar purse next year with a bonus pool yet to be announced, I think is quite frankly a tremendous achievement.
Q.Â A lot of the players this week have expressed their views that they would be more than happy in view of the global recession that is still going on, they would be happy to play for quite considerably reduced prize money.Â Is it necessary to have‑‑ to play for $8 million is fantastic, but is it necessary to have a prize fund of such an amount, and would The Race to Dubai bonus fund need to be that high?
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â I think if you speak to most of the players, as I certainly have done this week, 58, to be precise, and they are all exactly the same, unanimous, on one thing:Â They want the season‑ending championship of The European Tour to remain in Dubai.
The commitment shown over the last three difficult years has been tremendous here.Â The golf course is now in great condition. Â We have been made tremendously welcome at the Atlantis Hotel where all of the players have been staying.Â The climate at this time of the year for golf, the warm sun, the dry heat and the wind has been ideal.Â Many players have said, what they really wanted was, are we going to compete with it, and they haven't been that bothered on the prize fund.
But one has to be competitive in this world.Â We can see what's going on in all different parts of the world who are interested in "The Race" to somewhere.Â But this, in the center of the world, as we have said many times, the welcome we have had here, the conditions we have on all sides, means that we can stay committed to people who have been committed to us, that's where we would be.
We don't see prize money as the be‑all and end‑all of this.Â It's the conditions and the welcome, but we feel delighted to be $8 million, and we'll have the bonus pool on what we all jointly, the men at this table and myself, and the Tour, feel is correct.
Q.Â My question is to Mr.Sharaf and Mr.Manchanda.Â This is fantastic, fantastic news for each of us who stay in Dubai and for the golf fans.Â But I just wanted to ask you, what's your plan for Jumeirah Golf Estates as such over the next three years, the infrastructure, like the road coming in and things like that.Â Can you just give us an insight into that, what you are planning for the next three years?Â And also, it's a great sponsorship; how are you going to exploit it over the next three years with The European Tour all across the world?
SANJAY MANCHANDA:Â I think that has been playing on everybody's mind.Â But if you have seen coming into the development, we have a number of people who are now actually at the site, and it is our commitment that the infrastructure which has been awarded and has been carried out is completed according to the plan which we have.
And over the years, we believe a considerable amount of progress will be achieved.Â You probably have seen some of the progress.Â George has been talking about what great shape the course has been in, and I think around the course you have seen a marked improvement.
It is our resolve and our commitment to all of our customers including the golfing community here that we will continue to improve from where we are today.
MOHAMMED SHARAF:Â As far as we are concerned on exploiting the opportunities, first and foremost is the brand Dubai for us.Â This is for Dubai and I believe that we are talking about 29 countries, globally.Â We are talking about more than 300 million people watching this event across the globe, in a 12‑month period.
So as far as we are directly concerned for DP World, we engage with our customers, engage with our stakeholders across the globe again.Â We have our presence at 60 terminals in 29 countries.Â Like they are going to be going around 29 countries, we are in 29 countries, and wherever we can, we share this part of our contribution with our customers globally.
Q.Â Did you turn down the alternative venues for a season‑ending tournament and 'Race to' options, and if so, could you enlighten us where?
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â We have received approaches.Â We haven't turned down alternatives, because when you are working with your current partners and your partners have a desire to go forward on terms that we find acceptable, we don't walk away until they want to walk away.
So although we were approached by several different countries, and I don't think it's right to go into which those countries are, the negotiations didn't go beyond general inquiries.
Q.Â Does the Tour think that the other 51 legs of The Race to Dubai do enough to promote the Dubai World Championship, and Dubai itself, or is there anything further that can be done in that direction?
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â I think we have been quite heartened that so many tournaments have seen the positive benefits of The Race to Dubai.
We go to a lot of different countries and we talk to a lot of different tourist boards and governments, a lot of whom are marketing or using golf to make people aware of their particular attributes of where we have been.Â So there's a slight competitive edge there, but they see the bonus pool and the season‑ending championship as a great asset.
All of the players, bar two who are injured, are playing this week.Â We have had that wonderful situation on Thursday where the world No. 1 and 2 are seeing off in the last match here in Dubai; that gives everybody an enormous amount of confidence.
I think reading a lot of your articles last year, you said 2010 was the most successful year in the history of The European Tour.Â Well, now, 2011 trumps it in a playing sense, because we still have The Ryder Cup.Â And to have the picture here; we can't have the Masters green jacket by the first tee, but we have the U.S. Open trophy and the Claret Jug from The Open Championship.Â This gives a tremendous feeling of confidence through the players.Â
I think the last few tournaments here have had stronger fields.Â It's very competitive at the year‑end both with America and with sort of slightly unofficial events in different parts of the world that are not aligned to the tours.Â These are things which have been talked about.
But they see the benefit of The Race to Dubai, we have support from DP World in Hong Kong, another great port of the world.Â I think it has been greeted with as good of a welcome as we could have expected.
Q.Â Given the situation in Europe and the Euro Zone crisis and the lack of sponsorship that you are getting over here, can you just give us the significance of this association and partnership and this tournament that has just been announced?
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â With the gentlemen on my side, this gives a feeling, a reality, of immense confidence in the European Tour.
I think it is confidence that goes with the quality of play of all our Members, not just our leading Members, but all of them.Â I think the magnitude of this announcement today that Dubai is staying with the Championship see its benefits, and with DP World and Dubai itself saying, this works for us.
We can see how the city has changed, how the Emirate has changed, in the time we have been here, and we know what will happen in the next few years.Â I think our players and our other promoters and our other tournaments, I would like to feel, will regard this with great acclaim.
Q.Â This is just a small point.Â You were saying you were looking before you decide on the size of the bonus pool for The Race to Dubai in the future; that you would talk to other different partners, as well as those up there at the table.Â Do I gather from that that there's room in The Race to Dubai logo or branding for another sponsor's name?
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â If the sponsor suits with the people on either side of me; if it is compatible, the kind of company, and you don't have to be Einstein to work out the kind of where we are.
If you see the other sponsors in this tournament, Rolex have been with us since the beginning, tremendous backers of this championship, and of the Tour and of The Ryder Cup.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Emirates, the local airline, I think that most people have probably flown here on Emirates, a really outstanding supporter; we have all our different hotel chains here in Dubai.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â BMW, is it any surprise that BMW are backing this Championship and they are the Official Car of The European Tour, The Ryder Cup and our other flagship tournament at Wentworth; not to mention the local media partners down here, as well.
So you can see the kind of companies we are going to be talking to, but that company, if there's room for another company, it will be with the agreement of our partners.
Q.Â But you are already looking down that road obviously?
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â I think you can work that out, yeah.Â (Laughter).
Q.Â When it started, it was billed as the richest golf tournament in the world, $20million prize fund.Â We are down to $8 million, which is a 60 per cent cut.Â How can you present that as anything other than a setback?
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â I think you've done your math slightly incorrectly.Â The $20 million was ten for the bonus pool, ten for the Championship.Â The Championship cut down to ‑‑
Q.Â The headline figure was 20 million, now the headline figure is 8 million, George, so I haven't done my maths incorrectly.
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â It's not a 60 per cent drop.Â We are $8 million for the championship, and we are going to announce a bonus pool in due course.
I think the world has changed in that time.Â I think it's showed, I personally feel, as the person who suggested it when we suggested our cut in prize fund, the prize fund was not cut by the men on my side.Â I suggested to them, we would offer to cut by 25 per cent in recognition of the economic situation around the world.
I discussed it with our leading players at the time and they recommended and agreed with me, we should make that offer to show sympathy to how all parts of the world were suffering in the global recession.
That, if people vaguely understand the culture of the country we are in, was greeted, well, with great appreciation.Â We know that everyone in the world suffered in the recession, including in Dubai, and so that was our gesture.
This now is about more than just money.Â The money is big.Â I don't think we have to apologise for $8 million, and certainly the players have known this announcement was coming today; I've told them, and they are delighted.
They are aware of our discussions on the bonus pool, and they have their views on that, as well.Â They like what we are doing.Â When we are comfortable, we'll announce.
Q.Â We don't have the second half of the Tour schedule announced yet.Â So do we know the dates for this, and are there holes to be filled in the schedule?
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â Have we published the dates on this, Keith?
KEITH WATERS:Â Yes.
GORDON SIMPSON:Â There's a press release that will be available when you leave the room.
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â We'll address the schedule at a different press conference after this one is finished.
Q.Â The PGA TOUR obviously made great strides even in the absence of Tiger Woods with a ten‑year television deal.Â Do you think The European Tour could be taking even greater financial advantage of the fact that you have both The Ryder Cup and the top four players in the world?
GEORGE O'GRADY:Â I don't think we specifically have anything to apologise for, but any sports commissioner would want more, would want more in all different regions of prize funds.
The Americans, I take my hat off to them.Â It's a very, very good TV deal they have done.Â They are slightly, in a slightly different position to us; three networks in one language for such a huge population; two dedicated sports channels and one dedicated golf channel.
We have in Britain, we have a terrestrial broadcaster with a bit of interest in the game.Â We have a dedicated subscription channel.Â And then we have to go country‑by‑country in all different languages.Â We can't just do one blanket deal for the Tour.Â Our TV negotiations are going on at the moment in every country around the world.
I would see advances in prize funds and certainly advances in tournaments, and we respond to each country that we go to.Â I admire what the PGA TOUR have done in a business sense, and we certainly have constant discussions with Tim Finchem and his team about dates and possible collaboration at the year end.
Q.Â I wasn't quite clear of the significance of your answer to my colleague, Joy's, question.Â Perhaps I can put it in rather more blunt terms.Â We have been coming here for three years, I have been coming here for three years, and I have not seen the clubhouse finished and I have not seen many houses finished.Â Will we see houses finished?Â Will we see electricity and water and gas here next year?
SANJAY MANCHANDA:Â The problem is, to provide water, electricity by next year; as you know in any contracting environment, there can be a few slips and contracts delays.Â It's our resolve as Dubai, our resolve as a developer, that we must improve and continue to provide these amenities.
For the past three years when you are here, there was no activity because the contractors only re‑mobilised very recently.Â We are hoping that we will get to the end, as we say, of the tunnel, and get you better facilities.
Q.Â Just following on from that, how many properties are here, and what are the sales figures?
SANJAY MANCHANDA:Â This is something very confidential which I cannot disclose in the public domain.
Whatever properties we have undertaken to develop are properties which have been sold, will be constructed and are being constructed and so on for our customer base.Â We are in constant touch with them giving them updates to where we are and how we think we are progressing on that matrix.
Q.Â Just wondered if everything else standing from the first year, which had widely reported problems has been taken care of before the new deal just announced has been finalised, because certain partners and reportedly even players in various other bills were not even fully paid by all parties.
SANJAY MANCHANDA:Â I don't know the intent of your question as to what you want toask.
Q.Â Just for example, to give you one hypothetical, the publishing group, ITP, were a media partner in the first year and were not paid, one or two of the players have told various people, that they did not get their money in full.Â I just wondered whether from anyone around the table that takes care of that, if everything outstanding from 2009 was covered before a new deal has been announced.
SANJAY MANCHANDA:Â We are abiding by all our contractual arrangements and agreements.Â There may be some delay, but they will be all honoured.
GORDON SIMPSON:Â Thank you very much, gentlemen.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports