November 5, 2003
BOB COMBS: Ladies and gentlemen we'll go ahead and get started. Welcome to the Tour Championship presented by Coca-Cola here at Champions. I'm Bob Combs with the PGA TOUR staff. Good to see all of you again. To those of you in the media from the Houston Market, thank very much for being here. We're delighted to be in your community. For the number of you who cover us throughout the year and have given the PGA TOUR and other tours such great exposure, we obviously thank you very much for that and we look forward to a great week here.
The state of the TOUR address from the commissioner has become a tradition at the Tour Championship presented by Coca Cola and we're going to continue that today. But we have another couple of important announcements also connected with that and we would like to lead with one of those. So I would like to bring up Commissioner Finchem to begin that process. .
TIM FINCHEM: Good morning, everybody. Let me just start the day off here by welcoming everybody, and as Bob did, and we have an announcement to make before we get into our overall State of the TOUR presentation. You'll recall that in July at the Western Open we announced that Lilly ICOS would be our title sponsor of the Western Open through 2006.
Over the last year or so, our staff has worked diligently with the Lilly ICOS team to put together an expanded relationship beyond that sponsorship that would include a broad range of marketing relationships. We're delighted to announce the extension of that relationship today. And to announce that Lilly ICOS will become a marketing partner of the PGA TOUR. This partnership will run through 2007 and it extends to the PGA TOUR and the Champions Tour. This is the latest in a series of announcements regarding leading companies around the country that have aligned themselves with the TOUR. Additional indications of the strength of the product of the PGA TOUR and the image of the players and of course the strength of the PGA TOUR brand.
This relationship will include a themed vignette program to air on PGA TOUR telecast throughout the year. A major on-line presence on PGA TOUR.com. And a sponsorship panel on the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour electronic scoreboards for the next several years. Obviously we're delighted with this expanded relationship with Lilly ICOS. And we're pleased that their chairman and chief executive officer, Paul Clark, is with us this morning. I would like to ask him to come up and make a few comments.
PAUL CLARK: Thanks, Tim. Lilly ICOS is delighted to be part of the PGA TOUR family as an official partner. We're proud to be associated with the PGA TOUR and look forward to building a strong, long-term relationship with golf and its fans.
As some of you may already know, Lilly ICOS is a joint venture between ICOS Corporation and Ely Lilly and Company. Lilly ICOS is committed to helping patients get the most out of the innovations we discover and develop. ICOS and Ely Lilly came together several years ago to develop exciting new medications, medications we're confident will improve the lives of those who take them.
For many people, golf is spending quality time with others, sharing special and memorable moments. And truly enjoying life.
This partnership with the PGA TOUR allows us to connect with millions of golf fans across the country and will enable us to position Lilly ICOS in a meaningful and memorable way. And I can tell you that golfers are an ideal audience for us. They're well educated, above-average incomes, and active. All traits of people who are more likely to also take an active part in managing their own health care. As Tim mentioned, we're developing a series of broadcast vignettes featuring top players from both tours. We hope these vignettes will help enhance the fans' enjoyment of the game. These vignettes will focus on emotional connection to the game and will air during PGA TOUR telecasts throughout 2004 and will be featured on PGA TOUR.com.
The vignettes will highlight moments in golf that players and fans can relate to. Around such topics as preparation, confidence, enjoyment, and re-energizing. The overall goal of the vignettes is to enhance fans' enjoyment of the game. We're giving you a sneak preview of one of these on a story board that we're working on for next year. It will be available to you outside as you leave. We hope that you'll enjoy it.
Our partnership agreement also includes an on-site component whereby Lilly ICOS will join Mastercard as a sponsor of electronic scoreboards at PGA TOUR and Champions Tour events. This provides us with a dedicated ad panel on each scoreboard. This will debut at the Mercedes Championship in January.
In addition to the marketing elements we have mentioned, Lilly ICOS will be developing a series of national and local marketing programs to further support its connection to golf and leverage its association with the PGA TOUR.
We're excited about this new partnership with the PGA TOUR, we're very excited looking forward to 2004 and participating in it.
BOB COMBS: Thank you. Either Paul Clark or the commissioner could take questions now or Paul Clark would be available for questions following. Are there any right now? We can handle those. Well, thank you. You can see Mr. Clark afterwards for any additional follow-up. As I said, 2003 has been a very, very memorable year for the PGA TOUR on all three of our tours. For some of the highlights I'll bring back up the commissioner, we'll follow with a Q and A.
TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, Bob. Let me just start off by saying how delighted we are to be here at Champions again. We had a nice visit with all of you two years ago when we were here. Once again, Jackie Burke and his staff have done a great job of preparing the golf course, getting the tournament organized with our team. It's been better than it's ever been. I talked I think to 28 of the 31 players yesterday. They were delighted with the condition of the golf course. I think one player Jackie said maybe the greens were a little soft, so I know that bothers you a lot when it's one out of 30. But the work that's been done to prepare for this championship is indicative of the importance that we place on it. And we're very, very pleased with what's happened and we owe Jackie for the passion that he's put into it.
Last night we presented Jackie the Lifetime Achievement Award with the players. We're going to do that publicly this morning in conjunction with the Payne Stewart Award and we'll have more to say about Jackie in a couple hours.
The purpose of this press conference every year is to sort of take a view of where we are and where we're going on the PGA TOUR. When you look at the status of any organization or certainly any sport you don't want to dwell too much on where you are at one point in time, you want to keep into consideration where you are on a continuum. And if you go back five years or ten years and compare where we were to where we are today, obviously the trends that we see are very, very positive. We look forward five years or ten years and we think those trends are going to continue. But it's always helpful to also take a snapshot.
We had nice visit with all our tournaments yesterday or day before yesterday in San Antonio on this question, but what I would like to do if I could is just look at where we are today for a minute and in five or six specific areas. And let me just say generally I think I can say unequivocally that we are at the healthiest point in our history on virtually every measure.
We're very, very pleased with where we are and I think it's particularly important to recognize that health as we're just coming out of the longest recession that any of us can remember in the last couple of decades. So we feel like we're very, very well positioned for the future. And why is that? To answer that question I would like to look at four or five different areas of our activity.
First of all, and most importantly, is the competition. On the competitive side, on all three tours, we have had, I think, a tremendous year. We are having a great conclusion to an exciting season on the PGA TOUR. It's been wide open. It continues to be wide open. Here we are the day before the TOUR Championship and we have the Arnold Palmer Award for leading money winner at stake. We have the players getting ready to vote on Player of the Year. And I doubt many of them have concluded where their ballot is going yet, going into the final four rounds of the year. So that in and of itself has given us a great year.
But when you look beyond that, underneath it's really fascinating what's happened. Last year we had a record number of first-time winners. This year we had eight multiple winners. A couple players winning four, Tiger winning five. We have got one to go. But we have also had this incredible resurgence of players over 40 with 15 wins going to players over 40. And THE PLAYERS Championship was won by a veteran, but all of the major championships were won by first-time Major championship winners. So it was a unique blend of good play from our increasing number of international players, a lot of good young players breaking through, the veterans playing very well. And if you're a golf fan, and our fan base has reacted to this, clearly it was an exceptional year.
We still have to look forward to the next week's World Cup and in Kiawah and the Presidents Cup the week after. But we're delighted with the season that we have had.
On the Nationwide Tour, I think, as I said last Sunday in Alabama, it was clearly the best year we have had on the Nationwide Tour. We went to 20 cards this year. We got a good group of young men that are coming on to the PGA TOUR. They handle themselves well. They're great players. And they will really contribute. When you look at the PGA TOUR and recognize that 55 percent of our players have had Nationwide Tour experience, and that number's probably going to go to 75 percent in the next five years, that Tour is clearly the future of this Tour. And it's a positive future when you see the kind of players, the kind of young men that are out there that are competing.
On the Champions Tour, without question, we had a very positive series of things happen on the Champions Tour in a very positive feel to that Tour from a momentum and interest standpoint.
Tom Watson winning the Schwab Cup, we had 26 different winners in 31 weeks. We had clearly increased crowds throughout the year. We had more television attention. And we had a good solid year with sponsors. So across the board I think the Champions Tour really took a very positive step forward.
Secondly, in the technology area, we made significant progress in incorporating the technology advancements we have brought forward to impact the quality of our television product and on-site communication with fans. Shot Link has sort of got to the point now where we're seeing the applications from that data platform, if you will, being employed to really educate the fans about what's happening, becoming a tool for players to use it to evaluate their game and what they need to do, and to give us an uplift in terms of the way we communicate and present the sport. And we're delighted with the progress of Shot Link. We still have work to do, but it's becoming more and more important to what we can offer to our fans.
In the sponsorship area, the sponsorship area may be one of the best indicators of the health and strength of the TOUR. That so many companies have invested and made a commitment to invest during this economic difficulty over the last couple of years, and I'll just point to two things. One, we had 18 new sponsors, 11 on the PGA TOUR come forward. We renewed and extended another 21 in the last couple years. We are virtually fully sponsored. But beyond that, we also have worked very hard to improve how we deliver to our sponsors, and the results of that effort I think it was gratifying to see the results of the recent Sports Business Journal survey and surveying companies that spend money over multiple sports platforms, the PGA TOUR ranked No. 1 in overall performance with sponsors. And I want to congratulate our staff and our tournaments for delivering back to our sponsors to get us that overall No. 1 ranking.
In addition to that, we ranked No. 1 in terms of providing value after the agreement back to the client. And in other words, I hope that means that we're underpromising and overperforming. So if you just stand back and look at our overall sponsorship base today and compare it to three years ago or five years ago, we feel very, very positive.
Fourthly, the image of the PGA TOUR has never been more positive. I think this has to do first with the image of the players, as always. The increases in giving back. We, in our handouts today, we're giving you some data on the recent poles that have been taken about our image. And clearly we have to be pleased, if you compare the PGA TOUR to other sports, or to our competition about the overall positive feeling that fans and the sponsor community have about our sport.
Fifthly, giving back generally. I think that we have continued to make strides, not just on generating dollars in communities where we play, but communicating the impact of those dollars to our fans, to our sponsors, and to people that we would like to be our fans and our sponsors.
As we often say to a sponsor, look, you're going to spend some money to entertain people. You do it every year. Why not spend it in a way that you know that the net dollars are going to go to help communities where we play. And by the way, you take a tax deduction if you need it. But that message seems to, in the last couple of years, finally be getting through in a way that's really having an impact.
And in addition to that, companies want to be aligned with a structure that is dedicated to charity. It works for them and it works for their image. It's helped us in terms of our marketing. So it has high impact, it's good for our image, it helps our sell-through. And we need to concentrate on it as a major part of our culture and our mission as we go forward.
Sixth, I think we have to be pleased with how we're not just focused on today, but we're taking steps today to impact the future of the sport. Growing a sport, recognizing the need for diversity in our sport, making things happen from a diversity standpoint, and reaching out to the kids who want to play the game, who haven't had affordable, accessible entryways to the game is an important focus of where we are today.
Now that's not going to translate into impact for us in terms of how we perform for many, many years, but it's going to translate into the lives of kids right away. It's going to translate into impact on communities right away. And eventually it will significantly impact the way we look as a sport, and that will have a positive impact. So it's not just the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do and I'm delighted with the progress through 2020.
First Tee now, as many of you know, we're testing a version of First Tee in schools. We have a 100-school test going on this year, which will reach 70,000 kids. The early returns from educators are that it's being very positively received. We will start rolling that program out in schools all over the country within the next two years. And it has enormous potential. So First Tee with dedicated facilities, First Tee in schools, and then short-term programs like Linkup to Golf are all initiatives where the golf industry has come together and is working together more closely today than it ever has, in ways that will really impact the future of the game.
So if we stand back and look at where we are today, we're very pleased, but we're also recognizing areas where we need to improve. And clearly we have room for improvement in terms of maintaining our relevance with our overall audience in an environment where time is of the essence. And it's very difficult to pull somebody into a five-hour commitment to play a round of golf, coming up to a golf tournament for three hours, even spending an hour of time on television. It's a fight. And we have to maintain our relevance. We have to figure out ways to maintain our audience levels as we go forward.
Secondly, we have got to continue to strengthen the impact of our tournaments. A lot of our tournaments are really integrated into the communities where we play. A number of them aren't. Where they are, we need to build on that, and where they aren't we need to get there so we have that kind of impact consistently throughout all of our tours.
Thirdly, as part of that, we need to continue to figure out ways to get people to understand what's happening with our tournament structure. We have 110 tournaments on three tours. 101 or 102 of them are organized for a charitable purpose where 100 percent of the net proceeds go to charity. Getting that message out to the corporate community and to our fan base in terms of what that means and what it could mean, the more people get involved, is an important focus for the next few years.
And finally, we need to continue to broaden, grow, and diversify that fan base. Take advantage of our role models that we now have with Asians and Hispanics and African Americans, to grow the interest in those areas and translate it into participation in the sport and certainly participation in life. That's an assessment of where we are today. We have had a good year, a good year to build on. We have come through the recession well. And I would be happy to try to answer any of your questions.
Q. One of the things that has been brought up this week is Shot Link and the participation of players and caddies. What do you see as a possible?
TIM FINCHEM: This has to do with club selection?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, we feel like the bottom line is that the Shot Link program is good now. We think it would be enhanced with club selection information. Maybe not so much in terms of the applications for fans, which is the most important part of the program, although I think it would be helpful in that regard. But in terms of how players use the information for themselves it would be helpful.
Also, as we said in the equipment area, we think it's very important when we go to the USGA goes to the indoor test range and essentially caps the distance on the golf ball, next year, that we would be in a position to really measure what's happening with equipment impact over the next few years. Because we hold out all of our options in that area and we need to know exactly what's happening. Club selection information is helpful to that. This is a process where people have got to help, players, caddies, have got to help make it work. My sense is that they will. I think we'll have a good solid club selection amount of data being collected next year. There are other ways we can do it, the way that we're going to start out doing it the first of the year I think is workable. I think the players will support it. So I'm real positive about it.
Q. Is there a technological way to do it that would not require them to write down what club?
TIM FINCHEM: There has to be some communication between what's happening coming out of that bag and the shot. So there's a human element there. The way we're doing it now is as we have tested it this year is to have that information collected after the round provided manually by the player or his caddy. That seems to be the least intrusive in terms of getting in the way of competition. And it's been effective in our tests. I think that it's almost been problem-free. Am I correct on that? So assuming that those tests are accurate and they can be rolled out that way, this is a simple way to do it. There are other ways to do it. There are other ways to do it, but we think this is going to get the job done. And we'll see what happens next year.
Q. You said it would be helpful in terms of gathering data, but how reliable would it be unless you were measuring whether you had a flier lie in the rough, what the air temperature was that day, how strong the wind was blowing?
TIM FINCHEM: It's totally reliable. Your question is, are there other variables out there for comparative purposes?
Q. For the USGA in terms of their efforts.
TIM FINCHEM: Yeah, surely.
Q. In terms of capping the distance?
TIM FINCHEM: Yes, but you've got to remember where we're coming from. In today's environment, if you're just talking about distance, we take two holes out of 18, we have no other information. We have no club head selection information, we have no other information. In this instance, if we're focused on equipment measurement, we would, to the extent possible, input variable information. And we know whether the ball's in the rough or not. That's measured. So we will have a much better idea of exactly what's happening with club head selection information than we don't. And that's why on that particular point we think it's just another reason to do it.
Q. Will it be mandatory by Mercedes?
TIM FINCHEM: No, it's not mandatory. At this point we don't think it needs to be. Nothing about Shot Link is mandatory. It's mainly by volunteers. But that's an issue that we would have to get into down the road. Based on all the conversations I've had with players, I think we're going to have an enormously successful effort here. None of our tests have had, to date, have had any problems.
Q. Specifically about the technology with clubs and golf balls, this year as you know it was quite blatantly said that there are players out there on the TOUR who are using illegal equipment. How can you stop that and shut it down?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, stop what? Stop somebody saying that it's happening or stop illegal equipment?
Q. Well, I mean --
TIM FINCHEM: In every other area besides the club head over the last -- ever since I've been involved with sport, we test. We test golf balls randomly. We measure grooves. We measure putters to see if they're conforming to the rules of golf. Those things are easily tested. Because even with golf balls, even though you send them to the USGA to be tested, a guy can continue to play. With a driver it's a little different if you have to tear the driver apart. There are two problems with that. One, the driver goes away, maybe the only driver you have, and the second thing is, you don't get it back. It's torn up. So the new testing device that we're rolling out in January takes care of that. It's a very quick, precise, easy test to evaluate a club. It will be available to players to check their clubs. It will be available to our rules staff if there's any reason for them to see the need to test themselves.
Q. So it won't be a case of when they step on the first tee the clubs will be tested?
TIM FINCHEM: No, we have never had that with any other rule. We don't measure grooves when you step on the first tee. We don't measure -- we don't send your golf ball away to the USGA real quick for a test. This is a game of honor and integrity. It will continue to be that way. But my suspicion is that when you're dealing with your ability to stay eligible to play in a golf tournament, you're not going to fool around with whether your driver is above or below a COR limit. You're going to test your driver. That's certainly many, many conversations I've had with players. There's no doubt in my mind that every player is going to get their driver tested. And in about four weeks after we start this procedure it's going to be a nonissue. It will be yesterday's news.
Q. Do you see any movement on the schedule next year like with Greensboro and Tampa this year, and when will the schedule be released and what's the status of Vegas?
TIM FINCHEM: The schedule's going to be released today, I believe. Vegas will be listed as "to be decided." We have no sponsor in Vegas. It's the only tournament we have an issue with. We have options to play elsewhere, but we would like to play in Vegas and we're continuing to and will probably, into the first of the year, continue to talk to potential sponsors. We'll see what happens. If we make a change and play elsewhere, we will announce that at the appropriate time.
Q. What's the drop-dead date for delivery do you figure?
TIM FINCHEM: We haven't set the date yet because we're in some discussions right now and we're going to see how those play out. And then we'll see what happens. Then we probably would set a date. But we haven't.
Q. Play somewhere for sure that week?
TIM FINCHEM: I suspect we will.
Q. Is it more of a priority to find a sponsor for Las Vegas or the World Cup?
TIM FINCHEM: We never look at it in terms of what's more important. We have Vegas and the World Cup, one official, one unofficial, they're both important. They have different -- they appeal to different audiences and different focuses. One is an international tournament, it's played almost largely outside of the United States. The other is a tournament that lends itself significantly to client entertainment, customer entertainment. So generally it appeals to different kinds of companies. We're talking more colloquial-oriented companies, for the world companies. We're talking more U.S.-based companies for here. Just like we have replaced sponsors in a dozen tournaments we didn't prioritize, we just talked to companies and we get a feel for -- they do the prioritization, because they tell you what they want to do.
Q. You talked about the testing on equipment and things. There is a new steroid, designer steroid in a lot of sports that's made the rounds in the track and field and made a point of saying all sports and even mentioning golf by name, as a matter of fact, should look into testing and look into the effects of steroid use, growth hormones and such things, by their athletes. Where is the PGA on that? And do you think it's a concern as far as things like guy's perhaps using designer steroids to enhance their strength?
TIM FINCHEM: Yes and no. I think the speculation about it can be of a concern. I'm not at this point concerned about an issue in our sport competitively. Other than a couple of instances of anecdotal comments I've never seen -- first of all, I've never seen either one of two things. I have never seen any study or data that demonstrates that some substance helps you play the game better.
Secondly, I don't know of us having an issue with players using any illegal substances, and since no substance has ever been defined as "performance enhancing" in the game, you can't have a problem with a performance-enhancing drug if you don't have a performance-enhancing drug.
Now, having said that, it is a matter that needs to be reviewed on a regular basis. The overall interest of sport in managing the problem of drugs that are either illegal or cause significant physical or long-term side effects, or in some cases are performance enhancing, has to be a major issue, but in our sport to date I am not persuaded we have a problem. With that aside we should take some more extensive measures we are open to. And we're open to looking at additional data that might suggest that something is performance enhancing.
There was a newspaper story recently in reference to the PGA TOUR, but I wouldn't even characterize the steroid reference as anecdotal. It was just a throwaway line that maybe if you need to hit the ball farther you should take steroids. I think that among our players, our players are educated, they pay attention to health, they are smart enough to recognize the side effects of taking anabolic steroids, and, again, I don't know of any player who thinks that steroidal use is important to be able to play this game any better. As far as beta blockers go, there's been a couple of anecdotal references in the last 10 years to beta blocker usage. The only player that's ever come forward and said he took them is Nick Price and he said it didn't work for him. It made him lethargic and not an "overall performance enhancing impact" even though he was on it for prescription reasons. So this is a very complicated subject. It's a subject that needs to be reviewed carefully by us and our board on an annual basis. We are doing that. As a matter of fact, we have a section of our board materials for next week related to this subject. But to date, during these reviews we have not yet been persuaded that we have a problem. And when we have a problem or we see that there's the potential for a problem, we will deal with it I think at the same time. However, we have to be sensitive to us a sport to be part of the overall effort in sports in dealing with issues that are important in this area, whether that includes education or information made available to our players as a step and that's something that's under consideration. So we're involved in it, we'll continue to evaluate it, at this point in time we are not recommending any changes in our current policies or procedures. If that changes, we will make that information available.
Q. The way Tiger's played the last three years, could you have ever guessed that the Tour Championship would have this much at stake?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, I don't know if I would guessed it, but what I'm waiting for is for everybody who's written this story for the last four years about where's the competition on the PGA TOUR, I want all those folks to write a big story and say it's here. I got a question last week that said how concerned are you that Tiger's not dominating the TOUR this year. For the last five years I've been answering the question, how concerned are you that Tiger's dominating the TOUR. So the bottom line is, golf fans enjoy seeing a player dominate because they are awed with that kind of -- if you can dominate on this TOUR, it's an amazing thing. I used to say nobody would ever do it again 10 years ago. And he's done it. But they also enjoy having a lot of guys in the hunt. So the fan wins either way. I think that's what we all need to understand. The fan wins either way. And if the fan is winning, I'm happy.
Q. How do you handicap Player of the Year right now?
TIM FINCHEM: Oh, I won't get into all that. I think that if -- I think a lot has to do -- you take the people that you think would secure a lot of support today, I think if one of those fellows wins this week, it will have a lot to do with the final impact. I think that it's interesting. When we got done with the summer, a lot of the focus was, well, which of the major champions is going to be Player of the Year. And interestingly now, the focus is on a couple of guys who neither one won a major championship. And I think it's an indication of how important the PGA TOUR season has become, certainly in this kind of competitive year, and that's a good thing for us. That's a good thing. So a lot rides on this week, and second to winning the relative position on the Money List, winning the money title I think should -- will probably move a lot of players' votes. So we'll see.
Q. It is a player vote, but what keeps you guys from releasing the vote totals like they do in other sports?
TIM FINCHEM: I don't know.
Q. Just to indicate how close it would be?
TIM FINCHEM: I don't know. It's been several years since we looked at that. We can take another look at that.
Q. Speaking of performance enhancing, what's your take on why the over-40 players improved their performance this year?
TIM FINCHEM: I think it's a different thing with different players. I think that overall physical fitness -- well, you look at Jay Haas, who is around here, Jay Haas is fit. And I think overall physical fitness is impacting a player's ability to play at a high level longer. I used to say Hale Irwin was going to be the first player, in my view, that would break the 55 mark and when Hale came out, nobody had ever really won much past 55 on the Champions Tour. And what's Hale, 58, 57, 58. He's still -- because I just felt like he was a good athlete and he really worked hard at staying in shape. Well, the player that comes to the Champions Tour in 10 years from now is going to be in really good shape. So I think everything is going to progress. I think that would be No. 1. No. 2, is I think the financial rewards of playing well longer continue to escalate. And players are more focused on extending their careers. I was talking to a player here the other night who is not in the tournament but has been out and hurt a little bit this year and he was thinking about even retiring maybe and he's planning to play 25 a year for the next four or five years and very committed. So I just think it's a combination of physical fitness and commitment and then beyond that it's based on individual situations.
Q. Will the driver testing be in place at Mercedes?
TIM FINCHEM: I'm not so sure which week, but very soon after the first of the year and probably Mercedes. But I'm not positive about that. But very soon after the first of the year.
Q. Just as a quick follow-up, why not make it mandatory considering that thing is so easy to use?
TIM FINCHEM: Making it mandatory, if we're going to say, okay, you've got to get tested, in my view it does a couple things. One, it creates a distraction. Two, it's inconsistent with the traditions of the game and how we have done it. Three, it raises a presumption that if we don't make it mandatory and we don't check a driver, a guy is going to use one. We don't need to do that in our sport. You guys asked me these questions three, four months into next year when we have a problem. I don't think we're going to have a problem. If we have a problem, bring it up then.
Q. A couple weeks ago you had Tiger and Vijay going head to head at a tournament and NASCAR had a rain out. And they showed a replay of a race and it scored higher in the ratings than your tournament. I would think that would concern you. Do you have any thoughts on that as to why something like that would happen?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, television ratings, I've come to find over the years that any rating is a point in time. And what we look at is how we're doing overall, how we're doing over a number of years, over a year, a number of years, what our total viewership is. And the facts are that on the average weekend, our viewership is second only in sports to the NFL in terms of the total number of people that are tuning in; that in the last five years we and NASCAR were the only two sports to increase our audience on television. Against all other sports, the only two to increase. So compared to our competition, compared to us historically and compared to watching our fan base growth we're really comfortable. Picking out an hour here, an hour there, an afternoon, it's like saying are you upset that Tiger Woods wasn't in the final group at the PGA Championship, Shaun Micheel won and you had a bad rating. Well, I guess if I just focused on Sunday of the PGA Championship, but if you are thinking about this sport for 10 years you want the Shaun Micheels to break through and win and I'll take a bad rating sometimes to have a new guy break through.
The history of the PGA TOUR is more and more a growing list of stars. If you go back 30 years and compare the number of players that were winning a tournament and the number of players who were well known to today, it's night and day. And the reason for that is guys came in and won sometimes. You've got to win the first one. So Tiger's just as big a star before or after playing well or poor or indifferent in a Major championship. The next week with Shaun Micheel, when he went out to play, his pro-am partners were more interested in him, the media were asking more questions. So I don't get concerned about points in time with ratings. We're in good shape.
BOB COMBS: Among other special guests, we're honored to have with us Mr. Arnold Palmer and Ruth Ann Marshall of Mastercard. Just as we started this program this morning with an important announcement about the expanded relationship with Lilly ICOS, we're going to close it with another important expansion of our business relationships. And to start it off I'll just turn it back over to Tim.
TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, Bob. As all of you know, since 1979, I think it is, Arnold Palmer and the Bay Hill Invitational have been a Major part of the PGA TOUR with one of four invitationals on the PGA TOUR, a tournament that attracts a first-rate field every year. And especially in that first corner, as part of when the hot levels in the United States -- talking to Jerry's question about ratings -- a tournament that captivates because of the golf course, because of Arnold, because of the field every year, we're delighted today to announce that a partner of ours, Mastercard, is partnering with Arnold as presenting sponsor of the Bay Hill Invitational for the next several years. And to make the actual announcement, I'll call on a Hall of Famer and good friend, Arnold Palmer.
ARNOLD PALMER: Thanks, Tim. Well, geez, I've never been in one of these before. This is pretty nice. What are you doing here?
Q. Checking on you.
ARNOLD PALMER: You want to see what I'm going to I say, right? Or did you want to meet Ruth Ann? Well, it is nice. Thank you, Tim. Ladies and gentlemen, it's a real pleasure. Hi, Jack.
Q. I'm taking it all in.
ARNOLD PALMER: You know, I'm about to make one of the most important announcements of my life and you're sitting there and I just told the press out there that I was, I had reconsidered my playing status and that I was going back on the Champions Tour and you were going to be my guru.
Q. That's it. I'm going to be the new David Leadbetter.
ARNOLD PALMER: Well this is an a great pleasure. Bay Hill, has had 25 years of really a lot of golf, a good tournament, and to be able to announce today that Mastercard has signed up to become our sponsor starting in March of 2004 is very exciting for me. This tournament, as you can imagine, has been something that we have cultivated for 25 years and we have done a lot of things that we think are pretty important and of course charity is one of those things. And we do a lot of things for the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Women. And that is getting bigger and bigger and better. And of course to have Mastercard as the sponsor and helping us increase that is a great pleasure. And I would like to introduce the vice president of Mastercard and of course she is a lady that is going to be our boss, really, with Mastercard. And Ruth Ann Marshall, would you please come up.
RUTH ANN MARSHALL: Thank you. I can't imagine being your boss. Like many of you, I grew up watching Arnie play golf on TV and I think it's why it's one of my great passions today. So it's a personal thrill as well as a professional thrill that Mastercard will be the presenting sponsor for the Bay Hill Invitational. Mastercard got started in golf in picking a spokesman by the name of Tom Watson in 1995. And talk about a great investment. We are as proud of what he has contributed to the game on the course as well as off the course. But in looking at our business assets and choosing to be the presenting sponsor for the Bay Hill Invitational, it's really one of those hand-in-glove, pun intended, kind of relationships. And that Mastercard serves a billion account holders in 210 countries around the world, I can't think of a better place than Orlando, Florida as a destination city, having this legend associated with it, to be able to entertain those consumers and those corporate customers that we have around the world.
And of course because it is a business investment, we look at the ratings and the ratings could not be any better by the telecast provided by NBC, with the field of players that turn out to this tournament year after year. And finally, like you, echoing your words, it's also very important that we get involved with an organization that does contribute to the greater community in terms of charity. And this case it's Arnold Palmer's Hospital for Women and Children. Now I get the opportunity to stand up here and thank Commissioner Finchem and thank Jim Bell, the long time tournament director, but the people that really made it happen for us working behind the seasons I would like to thank Allister Johnson and John Wagner for IMG, are they here with us today? Thank you. And our own CGO, chief golfing officer, Barry Hyde, who is also with us. So with no further adieu, we're going to promise you a lot of priceless golf moments, March 18th through 21st, starting 2004, Bay Hill Invitational, presented by Mastercard. Thank you.
BOB COMBS: Are there any questions for Arnold or Ruth Ann or Tim?
Q. How long is the agreement?
TIM FINCHEM: 20 years.
RUTH ANN MARSHALL: It's through 2007.
BOB COMBS: I'm sure some of our guests will be available afterwards. Arnold, did you have anything else you wanted to add?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I introduced Jim Bell who is our tournament director sitting right back there with Barry Hyde. And I would also like to introduce my fiance', Kit Gawthrop who is with me. And my good friend and advisor and former commissioner of the LPGA TOUR, Charlie and Mrs. Mechem.
ARNOLD PALMER: Does anyone have a question for any of us? No?
BOB COMBS: All good news.
ARNOLD PALMER: I guess we're done then. We must be perfect, huh?
BOB COMBS: Thank you, Arnold and Ruth Ann. Welcome to the other special guests. There will be transcripts of this portion as well. And thank you again to Paul Clark and Lilly ICOS for your expanded support in our relationship. I hope you all take advantage of the fact that in couple hours we're going to have, out on the practice range, the fourth annual presentation of the Payne Stewart Award. I think, given the winner this year, you're all going to want to be there. There's also going to be a very special recognition from the PGA TOUR to Jackie Burke, which could not be more appropriate this week. We'll be around to help you with your questions. The schedule will be out this afternoon, as the commissioner said, and thank you very much for your attention. Enjoy the week.
End of FastScripts.