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WGC ACCENTURE MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP


February 24, 2013


Tim Finchem


MARANA, ARIZONA

Q. We've got the commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Tim Finchem, with us. And Tim, not a slow news day on the PGA TOUR by any means. You've got a big championship match going on here as well as a consolation match.
But I know you were talking with the assembled media there, and you were making a statement as far as the PGA TOUR's stance is concerned against the USGA's proposal to ban anchoring. And you made it clear that it was expected that you were against that proposal, at least for now.
TIM FINCHEM: Well, we were just trying to clarify a couple of things. One, we did give the USGA our position last week and our Board and our Player Advisory Council concluded that we should be opposed to it, which we articulated. But also I've read some things that would indicate that we're kind of at war with the USGA over this thing, and I just wanted to clarify that we're very supportive of the USGA. We hold them in high regard. We were asked for our opinion, and we feel strongly that going down that road would be a mistake.
You know, this is a very subjective thing. 25 to 30 years ago you look at anchoring, long putters, everybody has an opinion, the USGA approved it twice. Our view is ‑‑ I think if there's one thing that would prevail across a lot of players and a lot of board members is that it's been around for a generation, and the game of golf has done quite well. So unless you have a compelling reason to change it, you shouldn't, and the USGA has indicated there is no performance advantage to using anchoring. So on that basis, and given the fallout that occurs with amateurs and the fallout that occurs with players like Webb and Keegan and others who have grown up with the process, there are negatives.
Our players from day one have sort of said‑‑ and we have players that want to see the ban, too, but again, it's a subjective decision. But most players are saying, listen, without a significant upside and no competitive advantage, let's don't do it.
But we submitted our opinion. The PGA of America has come out against it, as well. And we'll see what they decide. But we're just doing what we were asked to do.

Q. So the big question remains that the USGA remains staunch in this position, what would the PGA TOUR do as far as running its own tournaments and making its own rules perhaps? Would you go against a governing body that has been in this position for more than a century? It could get a little chaotic.
TIM FINCHEM: Well, maybe. But first of all, our rules say we're going to follow the USGA rules, provided that we maintain the right to differ. This is one rule. We're not interested in getting in the rule‑making business. We like the structure for rules. We're delighted it's gotten as transparent as it has, that everybody is invited to give their opinion, whether it's an equipment matter or not. That's good.

Q. But you haven't made a decision on whether or not the PGA TOUR would follow that rule? That would have to be debated amongst the players?
TIM FINCHEM: That's right. We'd have to go back to the process again because we felt like asking that question is somewhat inflammatory, look, is this the right thing or the wrong thing, let's get that in front of the USGA in our opinion, let's see what happens, and then we'll go back through the process. So I wouldn't want to speculate right now except to say that ideally we agree that all the rules should be under one roof, all the rules should be the same for everybody. I can see some situations where you might bifurcate the rules, but that wouldn't be the first choice.
Right now, we're hopeful and the PGA is hopeful that the USGA will maybe change their mind and end it. That way and we don't have to go back through the process. But as I said in Hawai'i, we'd just like to see this be a positive, open discussion. These are all friends. We're all interested in the same thing, what's in the best interest of the game of golf. We can all argue and vary on our personal opinions, but let's keep it positive.

Q. Well, you've mentioned the USGA, the R&A, as well, involved and their stance on it, as well. Stick with us here, and we'll talk more about that. Just to wrap up your news of the statement today. I was intrigued by you saying we're hoping or wondering if the USGA might change its mind and back down. You've been a part of that organization for many years. Do you see any scenario where they might do that?
JOHNNY MILLER: Well, when they made the decision, they said they'd leave it open for comment for awhile, right?
TIM FINCHEM: The discussion period is just ‑‑
JOHNNY MILLER: Normally you don't hear that out of the USGA, right, when they make a decision? But was the impetus for making this decision on your part and the Players Council part, was it just a majority of the players or was it your input or was it just the players voted and said we just do not want this, we do not want this?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, I think it's interesting, going back three or four months, there certainly has been a fairly significant shift in players who originally, when just put to the question, would you get rid of anchoring, sure. But when they got more into looking at the impact it has on players learning about the thinking, being why you would change it, understanding the impact on amateurs, it shifted. So we get to the Player Advisory Council last week, and 12, 13 out of 15 guys are against the ban. Now, a number of those guys are guys who are saying, look, if I was asked in 1975 or '80, I think the general thing of learning that there's no competitive advantage, it's been out there a long time, and the history of why it was out there. It didn't just happen. The USGA looked at it and said it's okay, looked at it again and said it's okay, and so I think players like Davis Love and others have said, you know, if there's no upside and there's some down side, why are we doing it? So that's led to a movement.

Q. The competitive advantage that you alluded to, maybe statistics not showing what anchored putting does, but there are some players out there today like Adam Scott and guys who have just rejuvenated their career.
JOHNNY MILLER: There are some advantages only for the sort of injured player. And you've had some pressure from the Champions Tour.
TIM FINCHEM: Twenty percent of amateurs using according to some data. We looked at that. So thousands of people have gravitated to the method. What the data shows is there isn't an anchoring putter on the PGA TOUR that's in the top quartile in putting stats.
JOHNNY MILLER: I'm not saying a good putter is not going to use it, but it sure helps the‑‑
TIM FINCHEM: Again, it's a subjective thing. I think, though, when it came out 30 years ago, that's where it was viewed at. If you had the yips, go to anchoring. But Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson don't have the yips. They grew up with that method. And one out of every five, or a little less than one out of every five plays it. Everybody on the PGA TOUR has tried it. For some guys it works, for some guys it doesn't.
I don't have a problem with a guy that says, I think the swing rule should be such that you don't anchor, and had the USGA made that decision in 1975, it would have been a no‑brainer. But the reality is it's become part of the game, a significant part of the game, and it has had no negative effect on the game. And here we are. So that's the debate, and it'll be interesting to see how it concludes.
I would also point out that the PGA announced that 65 percent of its membership, these are the guys that are teaching the game locally, they're worried about the amateurs, think that the ban is a bad idea. So I think you've got to pay attention to that.
JOHNNY MILLER: I can see the USGA's point of view, but I think it's not a big issue either way.

Q. You also made some remarks to the assembled media today regarding Vijay Singh and his earlier admission of using a banned substance that is banned by the PGA TOUR, yet he did play a couple of PGA TOUR events, and I know it is an ongoing process to evaluate what the suspension will be, if any, by the PGA TOUR. What did you tell them?
TIM FINCHEM: Actually I was answering a question, which is what's going on with it, and I said it's in process. There is a process, and it's been well reported about what he did. But we've got some steps, and when we get done with it, we'll have it out fully in public, fully transparent. Any action taken will be fully disclosed. But I'd prefer to wait until we have it all done and can talk about it.

Q. It's been one heck of a start to the 2013 season. You've got some great winners already and a pretty good American run.
TIM FINCHEM: It's really good, and the youth movement continues. Just an interesting statistic, that in the last four years, the percentage of wins on the PGA TOUR going to under 30s has gone from in the 30s up to 54 percent, four straight years of increase.
It wasn't just a few years ago I think Jack said this, and some other folks, that where are the young players, where are the young American players. Well, they're here, and it's going to be exciting. To have Tiger and Phil win and Russell Henley give a phenomenal performance in Hawai'i, etcetera, etcetera, we're looking forward to this year.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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