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July 18, 2012

Johnnie Cole-Hamilton

Peter Dawson

Jim McArthur


MALCOLM BOOTH:  Thank you for joining us for The R&A's eve of the Championship press conference.  Just introduce the panel to you.  To my immediate right is Jim McArthur, the chairman of our Championship Committee; to his right, Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A; and to his right, Johnny Cole‑Hamilton, our executive director for championships.  Before we open up to questions, I think Jim would like to make a few remarks.
JIM McARTHUR:  I'd like to start this morning by thanking Bill Elliott and the Association of Golf Writers for the lovely dinner last night in the marquee, and also mention the two prize winners, Luke Donald and Pete Cowen, who received awards last night, and congratulations to them.
I think the excitement is building up quite nicely to The Open Championship here at Royal Lytham, and we're delighted to be back here, and like to thank the club for all the help and support so far.
Obviously the weather has caused us some problems, and perhaps some more to come.  The course is at the moment perfectly playable.  Thanks to the huge and time‑consuming efforts of the greenkeeping staff and the additional greenkeeping staff we have brought in to help us.
The greens are fine.  They're putting well.  The trueness and the smoothness are good.  They're a bit soft and a bit slower than we'd probably like at this stage of the Championship.  There are some bunkers which are causing us some concern because of the water table and the level of the groundwater, but we're confident that the rules of golf, which are available, will help us cope with any situations which develop there.
Based on the course conditions, we're not intending to play preferred lies of lift, clean and place.  We'll have some issues off the golf course with spectator walkways, which we're dealing with at the moment, and these are gradually improving.  And we're really hoping that the improving weather forecast which we've been promised will take some of the pressure off and in the problems we're having at the moment and problems off the golf course.  But we're in pretty good shape going forward.
The players seem to be enjoying what they're seeing out there, and we're looking forward to a top Championship.  We're happy to take any further questions.
MALCOLM BOOTH:  Thanks, Jim.  We'll open it up to questions.

Q.  If there is more rain, will you consider playing preferred lies in the Championship?
JIM McARTHUR:  It will be a last resort for us.  We'll need to look at the conditions and see how they develop.  But at the moment we're not anticipating having to go anywhere near there.

Q.  You were saying some of the bunkers are causing concern.  What percentage of the bunkers are likely to be taken out of play if it continues as it is?
JIM McARTHUR:  Well, we're not contending to take any bunkers out of play at the moment.  There are perhaps half a dozen bunkers where the water is pretty close to the surface there.  But we are working on them and will continue working on them up to the start of the Championship.  And we're hopeful we can cope with whatever the weather throws at us.

Q.  Have there been any representations from the players asking you to consider preferred lies?

Q.  You mentioned additional greenkeeping staff.  Where have you brought them from, and is that contingency you've had to use much in the past and what is it they're doing?
JIM McARTHUR:  You probably know, we provide greenkeepers for every match.  They provide the bunker rakers who go out with every match.  They arrived yesterday morning.
But we've also got some additional help from some of the local courses we used for local final qualifying, and they've been extremely helpful to supplement the existing.
And we're also‑‑ this year we have a scheme whereby we have taken one member of the greenkeeping staff from the other Open Championship courses on the rota, and they are here, too, at the moment helping.  So the whole thing has been pretty well coordinated, and we have pretty good numbers to deal with with what we're faced with.

Q.  Have you had to use that contingency much in the past?
JIM McARTHUR:  Not much in the past.
PETER DAWSON:  Just to add to that point, we have always had help from local courses as far as greenkeepers are concerned.  What is new this year is the single greenkeeper coming from each of the other Open venues, which has added a lot of expertise.  And is also a very good learning process for those greenkeepers going back to their courses, which are themselves Open venues.

Q.  Do you have more bunker rakers than usual?  If so, could you put a number on the bunker rakers, and also can you tell us where these bunkers are that are causing concern?
JIM McARTHUR:  Good questions.  Peter?
PETER DAWSON:  No, I don't think we have more bunker rakers than usual.  Each group has a bunker raker that walks with them, and that should be adequate for the purpose.  The bunkers that are causing concern at the moment are on the 16th and 17th holes in particular, and there is some concern also on the 14th and on the right of the 2nd green.
When I came here myself ten days ago, thereabout, on a Friday evening, it was much wetter then after the cloudburst than it is now.  And two days later of good, drying weather you would think the golf course was in normal summer condition.  It was very firm and there was no standing water anywhere.
So this course does dry extremely quickly I'm delighted to say, with the weather forecast we have, which is that whatever rain we're going to get overnight tonight will stop around 4:00 a.m., and then the weather forecast is dry for the rest of the Championship.
So the course I think we're going to see getting progressively back towards linksy conditions.  Although forecasts do have a habit of changing.  That's the current state of our information.

Q.  You had three withdraws to get down to a field of 157, which is unusually large.  Are you comfortable with the qualifying or exempt process, and have you considered any changes?
PETER DAWSON:  Well, obviously if our process throws up too large a field it's something we will revisit, which we will do after the Championship.  It became clear we were going to have more players than normal before our local final qualifying events, but we didn't think it was right to reduce the potential number of places from those events.
We always get, always, usually get scratchings from the Championship, unfortunately, between the field being declared and the first tee time, and that has to an extent happened this time but only down to a figure of 157.
So we will be playing two twoballs at the start of play, on Thursday, tomorrow, unless there is another scratching by a reasonable time today to allow notice of a change of the draw.
But we are expected to play at 157.  With two twoballs going off early, we don't expect the overall duration of play, the pace of the field.  The last group will get in at normal time.  And the two twoballs going out in the middle of the field on Friday have been positioned straight after the largest starter's gap we have.  So that will minimise the holdups for them.  So it should work reasonably well.

Q.  Tiger Woods described parts of the heavy rough as unplayable.  And other players have complained that it's brutal.  Do you have any sympathy with players who stray off the fairway?
PETER DAWSON:  Well, I think Tiger may have been taken somewhat out of context, given my discussions with him.  Certainly if you stray a long way off these fairways, the rough is brutal, as it is on every links course in the British Isles at the moment, with the summer weather, if you can call it summer weather, that we've had.
The champion on Sunday I doubt will have won from the rough.  I think he'll be winning from the short grass, so there's a premium on hitting fairways this week, obviously.  But if you stray a long way off the fairways, and the fairways are reasonably generous.  If you stray a long way off, then you're going to be penalized.
JIM McARTHUR:  I think we also recognise that normally this time of the year we just have the wispy rough.  But we have got two or three inches of thick stuff at the bottom, and I think that's the difficulty is getting the ball through the wispy stuff before you actually get to the deeper stuff there.  But you have to be, I think, quite a long way off for it to be that difficult.
PETER DAWSON:  This rough has the habit of shooting up in the last very few weeks before the Championship, which it's done all over the country.  So as we always say with the rough, we leave it to nature, and nature this year has given us the thick stuff.

Q.  I know you sent some representatives to see the recent Irish Open at Royal Portrush.  Can you give us your thoughts on what they thought of the venue, and what the chances are of Royal Portrush becoming one of the venues on the rota?
PETER DAWSON:  It's a favourite of mine.  Wonderful golf course, wonderful challenge.  And it's great to see how successful the Irish Open was and particularly the enthusiasm from the spectators in that part of the world.  If you were at the Irish Open and compare it with what we're doing here, we're talking 20,000 grandstand seats, and here I doubt they had 2,000 at the Irish Open.  You're talking about a tented village here I would estimate ten or more times the size it was at the Irish Open.  And the crowd size at the Irish Open, whilst it was very good, was only as good as perhaps the lowest crowd we expect at an Open venue, i.e., Turnberry.
Where would you have the 72nd hole?  Where would you put the big grandstand complex?  The practice ground would need a lot of work at Portrush in my own estimation.  And as I say, we don't have a finishing hole that would have the grandstands around it.  So we're not really‑‑ there would be much work to do for an Open to go to Portrush.
But we have been there before.  It's always been to an extent on our radar.  And our Championship Committee will, I'm sure, continue to evaluate it.  But don't expect anything imminent, that's for sure.

Q.  Have you and Lytham thought of a special recognition of Seve Ballesteros for what he's done in his two victories here, his impact on the game and particularly here at Lytham?
PETER DAWSON:  Well, I remain in touch with Seve's family from time to time, and we did talk about this.  And I think we felt at the R&A that we did our Seve tribute last year at Royal St.George's.  At the closing ceremony there was a long spell of applause and appreciation of Seve's life.  And we think that, although we remember him with great fondness and especially here at Royal Lytham, we think we did the remembrance last year.

Q.  You mentioned that the fairways are generous.  Some of the players have noted that the course is narrower than last time and some of the landing areas are under 20 yards.  Why has it been narrowed, and does it concern you if we get some of the high winds forecast that it will be too narrow?
PETER DAWSON:  I don't believe it's factual that it's been narrowed since last time, I just don't think that's the case.  I don't know where that comes from.  We have not narrowed any fairways here that I can think of in the setup of the golf course.

Q.  What procedures do you have in place this week to guard against slow play, and do you have a set time that you're looking for groups to get round it?
JIM McARTHUR:  I can answer that.  We have a pace‑of‑play policy, which we intend to apply stringently.  This year The R&A Championship Committee are putting slow play as priority.  And at the Amateur Championship we applied the policy very stringently, and we will do the same at the Boys Championship.  And at the rules briefing this morning, we briefed the rovers and the walking rules officials along the same lines.
As far as the time to play is concerned, we have allowed on the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday in threeballs four hours and 30 minutes.  And for the twoballs on Saturday and Sunday three hours and 45 minutes.

Q.  Question for Peter:  How many GS4 staff have you got employed here?  Have they all turned up, and how happy are you with their service?
PETER DAWSON:  Yes.  It's not an unexpected question, Charlie, thank you (laughter), and original to the last.  Johnny Cole‑Hamilton on my right that deals directly with G4S is better capable of answering that than I.  Johnny?
JOHNNIE COLE‑HAMILTON:  All the managers, the supervisors, the guys in charge who we've been using for many, many years are back with us.  The numbers that myself and my team asked for are all here.  We have no issue whatsoever with the group force coverage of the golf course.  As I understand it, it's a separate part of the business, and it's the event's item.  We have no issue at all with the coverage that we've got, and everybody is present and correct.

Q.  How many are there?
JOHNNIE COLE‑HAMILTON:  Off the top of my head it's certainly around the 150 mark.

Q.  Peter, can you update us about the status of the Olympic golf course in Rio for 2016?  Has the question of who actually owns the land been sorted out once and for all?
PETER DAWSON:  Well, disputes in Rio about land ownership apparently are very common, and we're assured by Rio 2016 and the mayor's office that they can legally proceed with the building of the golf course.  And we continue on track to break ground on the course in October and November this year, which will put us well into the timetable we need to run a test event prior to the Olympic Games probably in 2015.
So actually better progress to report from Rio than we had last time we met, and I'm confident that we're going forward.  But we're obviously keeping a close eye on it.  It is Rio 2016's responsibility to provide the venue, not the International Golf Federation's.  But obviously we're involved, and we have to sign off that the course is technically adequate for the professionals, the top players to play on, which we will be doing, and then Gil Hanse, the architect we chose, we remain extremely confident.

Q.  You mentioned the slow play policy and how you're focusing on it this year, I guess, more.  Can you please explain the procedures and also the last time that you've given a slow play penalty in this Championship?
JIM McARTHUR:  I think what we're actually‑‑ we set out quite clearly how we are going to monitor each of the groups.  We give each group a time schedule for each hole, and we monitor that very stringently.  And if a group is out of position with the game in front or over the time schedule, we initially start with words of encouragement to communicate with them and tell them that they are over the schedule or out of position.
Thereafter if they don't respond to that, we then put them on to the clock and deal with them that way.  I don't remember last time we actually penalised anybody in The Open Championship.

Q.  The entrance and exits, the yellow car park is almost unplayable.  Given there might be some more rain tonight, do you have concerns and contingencies for public car parking?
JOHNNIE COLE‑HAMILTON:  Yes.  Obviously we've been watching what's been going on in other sporting events, and we have worked very hard with the local authorities and the police and the AA and others to identify car parks.  We certainly have enough capacity based on 2001 figures for car parking.  We've even looked at Opens such as Royal Liverpool where capacities were slightly higher, and we do have those in place.
In terms of entries, we have contingency trackway, which we would put in place.
The one great thing about the vast majority of our car parks is they are on sandy ground.  We have car parking we haven't even touched yet on sandy ground which has about 2,000 spaces.  We have a park‑and‑ride that we've been working on very hard which we've been saving, we haven't used yet, which has a big capacity.  And the vast majority of our car parks are holding up very well today.
As Peter has said, if the met office and the forecasting that we're getting is correct, they will dry very quickly.

Q.  Peter, regarding a decision on Royal Portrush, I realise that you plan many years in advance.  Could you give me some idea of your time scale when you say don't expect any imminent decision on this?
PETER DAWSON:  No.  I don't know, seriously.  The Championship Committee looks at many, many factors in determining the course choice for The Open Championship.  And we'll just have to see how we go.
There is a great deal and a huge amount of money would need to be spent, in my estimation, to make Royal Portrush a sensible choice.  That's not a criticism of Royal Portrush; it's a wonderful golf course.  But the commercial aspects of it are quite onerous.  And obviously The R&A would need to be sorting those things out as well as just simply the logistics of the whole affair.
It's going to take some time to come to a view, and the view may be no.  We'll just have to wait and see.  I can't give you a time scale.
JIM McARTHUR:  Not before 2016.

Q.  Peter, if I could follow‑up on Portrush stuff.  You mentioned earlier about all those aspects that would need to obviously be improved.  Does The R&A at some point try to work on those things, or is it up to them to come to you to show you how those goals can be met?
PETER DAWSON:  Well, now, we always work closely with Open venues in partnership rather than one side pushing against another.  And obviously in Northern Ireland it would be a tripartite thing with the R &A, the club and possibly the government and local authorities there if they really want it to happen.  But it's a very big and very involved subject.
We don't feel short of Open venues now, let me say.  We're not rushing to look for more; we don't feel that pressure.  But what did impress hugely about the Irish Open was the logistics worked well, the traffic flows and all of that.  But above all, I thought the enthusiasm of the spectators was something not to be forgotten, and that's a very strong point.

Q.  Is there consideration to give an Open exemption for the Asian Amateur champion, and do you not feel the fact that this year's event clashes directly with the HSBC Champions in China rather detracts from it?
PETER DAWSON:  I think the reason at this point that there isn't an exemption for the Asian Amateur champion, and as you know, we have exemptions for the Amateur champion, the European Amateur champion and the U.S.  Amateur champion, is that the Asian Amateur Championship is currently a closed event.  It is not an open event; it is only open to golfers from Asia.  Whereas the other championships for which we do give exemptions are open to all, and that's an important distinction.
Also the Asian Amateur Championship is a relatively new event, and before granting exemptions to The Open Championship, one would want to wait is see how it settles down.  And we do grant exemptions into international final qualifying for the winner and runner‑up.  But unlike the Masters, we don't offer a place in the actual Championship itself.
The clash of dates this year of the HSBC is unfortunate.  It won't affect the field, I believe, significantly in the Asian Amateur, but it could have an effect on the publicity the event could receive.  I quite accept that.  But the arrangements with the venue are such that they couldn't be changed.

Q.  Have you had any discussions with the environment agency regarding the problem of the saturated bunkers and asked for assistance?
PETER DAWSON:  Actually we have.  And I'm not an expert on this, but there's a major pumping installation on the far side of Lytham that was not actually switched on earlier in our visit here about two weeks ago but now is, and it tends to moderate the water table level in the whole area.  And that's pumping away furiously into the sea at the moment.  I don't know, to be honest, if that's going to come right back up here to help us, but it certainly won't do any harm.
This course is not very high above sea level, if at all.  And the water table is never terribly low here, but it's abnormally high now.  It's slightly above normal winter levels.
JIM McARTHUR:  I think we have to say, though, when the pump was switched on that there did see to be an improvement in the ground water level.
PETER DAWSON:  It's very interesting that the ditches out on the golf course are not full, which is the hope.  Nowhere near full, actually.

Q.  You say you haven't had occasion to use a slow play penalty in the past that you can recall.  Are you prepared to do so this year, should the occasion arise?  And also, I understand how you deal with individual players and individual groups, but if the time goes beyond 4:30 to five and beyond as has been in the past, how do you respond then?
JIM McARTHUR:  We've obviously got to take into account the weather conditions and other mitigating circumstances.  But we would have no hesitation if we felt the players were over time to take the appropriate action and to tell not only a group of players, but as we have allowed for in the policy to time individual players if we felt that was appropriate.

Q.  And if it goes to five hours or beyond, at this point you increase the pressure the next day?
JIM McARTHUR:  Well, I think we would obviously take account of groups that we felt were perhaps not as quick as we would like and have a word with them after the round was completed.  We would take whatever action is appropriate.
I have to say to you, we are intent on doing what we can to improve the pace of play in golf.  I mean, I think we feel that particularly maybe not so much at professional golf but certainly amateur golf that slow play is, in some ways, if not killing the game, is killing the club membership because of the time it takes to play.  And whatever we can do in our events, and bear in mind that we are not seeing the players week in, week out.  We see them two or three times a year, professionals once a year, amateurs two or three times a year, we're doing whatever we feel we can in the circumstances to contribute to improving the pace of play.
But it needs to be a concerted effort, not just the R&A, not just the Tours, but the golf unions and other golf organisations to, I think, come to a coordinated effort to improve the speed.
And I think we should‑‑ personally I think we should be aiming in club amateur golf for three and a half hours maximum for a threeball, perhaps elite amateur four hours.  These should be maximum times, and we should be trying to improve these at all times.

Q.  It's clear from the comprehensive answers you've given on the Portrush matter that you've given lengthy and fair consideration to the idea of The Open going there someday.  I would assume that amid those considerations you would have exactly waged the cost or the added cost of taking The Open to Portrush.  Could you tell us how much that would be, please?
PETER DAWSON:  In all honesty we haven't got there yet.  It's not true to say that we have considered it.  It is true that we are considering it.  So a lot of these numbers and so on have yet to be determined as part of that consideration.

Q.  You said there was a considerable added expense.
PETER DAWSON:  There would be a considerable added expense on the ground at the golf course in drainage, in facilities for tented villages, electrical cabling, fiberoptic cabling, all of that kind of area was what I had in mind when I made that remark.

Q.  From The R&A's point of view from the commercial aspect and the corporate aspect of moving the event across the sea, logistically have you had a look at the cost of that?
PETER DAWSON:  Not entirely.  One of the first things we would try to do is try to establish the availability in Northern Ireland of a lot of the things that we perhaps take for granted in setting up an Open; number of grandstand seats, for example.  Are they available, would they have to be shipped over.  What I'm saying it's a very big exercise and it's by no means complete.

Q.  Is there a ballpark figure?
PETER DAWSON:  No, there's not at this point.

Q.  Mr. Dawson, I'm from Dubai, and we greatly appreciate having the support for a Tour out there called the MENA Tour.  What I wanted to ask you is in the considerable funds that you distribute, is this something new or something exciting for say the Middle East or Asia in the coming years that we can talk about?
PETER DAWSON:  Well, we do try to spread our support for golf development and at all levels around the world as best we can.  We don't have an infinite purse, unfortunately.  And our golf development committee has to set priorities and make decisions.  This is, of course, one of the reasons why the commercial success of the The Open Championship is very important to us, because it does allow us to use the funds we generate to help.  And we've been delighted to help the MENA Tour, which I hope is starting off and is going to grow very, very successfully.
In terms of new initiatives, we work very closely with various affiliated national unions and indeed with Tours around the world.  And we're looking for ideas from there.  It's not that we are sitting in St. Andrews on this issue and thinking this is what they need there, this is what they need there.  We are looking at ideas coming from the territories themselves that we can discuss and hopefully support.  It's as much in your hands, if you like, as in ours, as to what these initiatives are.

Q.  Peter, with only two amateurs in the field of 157, is there a chance of a change soon to the situation where they have to stay amateur to take their exemptions up?
PETER DAWSON:  We have discussed that, but I can't report that there's any imminent change in that situation, no.

Q.  Peter, do you have any concerns about the players' and caddies' use of social media, such as Twitter, given that it seems to be causing more and more travesty in other sporting fields?  Will you be monitoring this Championship?
PETER DAWSON:  Malcolm, can you take that?  This whole subject is entirely beyond me, I must confess, why people feel the need to Twitter, but I'm old‑fashioned.  Malcolm, I will hand this question to you.

Q.  Do you have an account?
PETER DAWSON:  I couldn't afford it.
MALCOLM BOOTH:  Well, we do monitor Twitter.  We have our own Twitter handle that is pretty successful out there.  And of course, we keep an eye on what the players and caddies and connections throughout the game of golf are saying.  I can't say I've noticed a huge influx of tweets from the golf course, and I suppose if that started to happen we might take a look at it, but we haven't observed that at this stage.

Q.  Will you remind them of their responsibilities, perhaps?
MALCOLM BOOTH:  We'd take a look at it, but we'd take a look to see what the activity is first.
PETER DAWSON:  They're too busy holding their umbrellas.

Q.  Along those lines, would you describe yourself as more nervous or curious about the mobile phone policy for the week?
PETER DAWSON:  I'm more curious, certainly.  And I'm glad you raised that.  We banned mobile phones after the '06 Open with a pretty heavy heart, actually, because we do know that they're very useful tools for many people who have become entirely accustomed to having them alongside themselves.  But we did have the bad experience at Hoylake, and that's what caused it.
Now we're reversing that policy in as controlled a manner as we are able.  I think you will see what that policy is by the signage on the golf course.  It's very clearly signed where the mobile phone zones are and where you can't use phones.  And I'm very hopeful that the Great British public will respond and give consideration for the players.
Now, consideration for the players, let me say, is our primary focus.  If this policy fails we will be analyzing very closely whether to continue it or not.  But we're very hopeful that it will be fine.  I think it's worth at this point maybe, Malcolm, just telling the floor about what we're doing on digital media this year, because there's some very exciting innovations that are really firsts in sport and in the game of golf and I think could actually revolutionise spectating at golf events in the future.  So if you'd just give us a minute on that, Malcolm, that would be good.
MALCOLM BOOTH:  Thanks, Peter.  For the third year in succession, we'll have mobile phone apps available on the Apple platforms and second year in a row on the Android platform.  One of the considerations in bringing mobile phones back onto the golf course is that over a number of years we will be able to enhance the spectator experience.  It's a little bit untried and untested, and I think that's where our curiosity for the week comes from; we want to see how it works.
But for the first time people up and down the UK will be able to watch the BBC's domestic coverage wall‑to‑wall Thursday through Sunday on our apps and website, and in America they'll be able to watch ESPN's coverage on our website, and I think that allows us to work closely with our television partners to engage with our audience globally.
And then on a local level, ultimately that will lead to people being able, we hope, to watch television pictures on their mobile devices in the grandstands.  That's not something that we will expect to happen for this week, because they'll be reliant on a 3G network, which will only have a certain capacity to watch video, but we hope they'll be able to get live scoring on their devices, as will you, we hope, as you walk round the golf course, but there is every chance that the 3G network‑‑ we'll have to see how that works.
But over time, as we see how this performs, it's going to become a much‑valued tool to spectators and media around the golf course, and we're very optimistic that it can be a real enhancement at the championship.  We're trialling Wi‑Fi on one of our grandstands on 18 to see what the capabilities are of putting Wi‑Fi out in a manageable way out on the golf course, where it actually performs well.  And that's something we'll observe over this week, and see what we can do for future years.
In terms of enhancing spectator and media experience at the golf course, I think it could be, as Peter says, quite revolutionary.
JIM McARTHUR:  Can I just add to that?  I think Malcolm mentioned the spectator experience, and I think that's an area we're looking at in a lot of detail at the moment.  We are looking at the other majors, we need to make sure we're comparing ourselves favourably with them.  We feel we have individual selling points in terms of we're the first in the original major.  We also play on traditional links golf courses presented in the finest conditions.
But the spectator experience is one area which we continue to develop, and I think the mobile phone is one area which we can use to increase our spectator experience by providing more information, by providing information from around the golf course when people are in one location, so it's a very important thing for us that the mobile phone policy is actually observed by the spectators here this week so that we can enhance their experience going forward.

Q.  Have you downloaded these apps yourself?
PETER DAWSON:  I have, yes.  I'm becoming at dab hand with an iPad.

Q.  Is it someone's official duty on the first tee to ask every player if they have 14 clubs in the bag?
JIM McARTHUR:  Well, each walking rules official has been asked to check with the caddies on the first tee that they have no more than 14 clubs in the bag.  That's a general instruction that's given to all rules officials in a situation where they're walking with the groups.  Other than that, the staffers are asked in other competitions to check with the players.

Q.  Peter, I don't want to beat a dead horse on Royal Portrush, but one question comes to mind.  I know that you spent considerable money at this golf course upgrading it, and I know that you do that at the other venues like Muirfield for next year.  Could you see spending the amount of amount of money, even though you don't know what it is, at Royal Portrush for a one‑off?
PETER DAWSON:  I don't think there would be any chance that we would invest in a venue for a one‑off.  That just‑‑ I just couldn't imagine that being the case.

Q.  Four hours 30 for a threeball is refreshing brisk for a major championship.  A lot of players actually tend to ignore it, and in the States they never get penalised.  Are you actually stressing to the players here this week, we are going to really keep a close eye on you and we will penalise you shots even if you're leading coming down the final stretch?
JIM McARTHUR:  Yes, we have emphasised to the players that we are applying the policy stringently, and we have instructed the walking rules officials, as I said before, and the timing rovers to take whatever action they feel is appropriate to ensure that these time schedules are met.

Q.  And has there been any feedback?  Have some players suggested this is too quick in these conditions?
JIM McARTHUR:  There's been no feedback.  We will take into account the conditions.  We'll have to have‑‑ that is our target.  But if the weather conditions are bad, if we have a major holdup on the course, then we have to make allowances for that, and we will do that.
But I can't emphasise any more than I have that we are trying to contribute to improving the pace of play of golf, and although this is a professional tournament as opposed to other amateur tournaments, we still feel there's a part to play here, as well.

Q.  You're all looking very smart.  Was there a bidding war to outfit The R&A?  Just how much did Ralph Lauren pay to take over the merchandising tent?
JIM McARTHUR:  Peter, could you answer that for me, please?
PETER DAWSON:  Well, I'm not sure we're all looking very smart.  No, we're delighted to have Polo, Ralph Lauren as a patron of The Open Championship.  And it goes without saying that when you have that sort of commercial relationship, you do expect officials, referees, volunteers, etcetera, to be clothed by them.  And that's terrific.  Their support of the game of golf, not just here, but other events has been strong, and we're delighted to have them as a partner.
In terms of the financial number, that's obviously confidential and would actually depend on the outcome in the merchandise sales this week, anyway.  So I couldn't give you a number even if I wanted to, which I don't.

Q.  How many complaints have you had from other merchandisers so far?
PETER DAWSON:  Personally I have had none, but I would be surprised if there weren't some flying around.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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