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September 19, 2001

Tim Finchem


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We're pleased to have PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem join us in the media center. I think he wants to start out with a few comments and then we'll go into Q&A.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Let me just begin by making a few general comments and I'll be happy try to answer any of your questions. I think I should start by stating, again, the tragic events of last week have obviously touched everyone in our country and around the world. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims in these atrocities in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania, right here. We are moved by the bravery that we have seen in Americans, in fire fighters and policemen. But we are dedicated to moving forward. The President has indicated continuously over the last week that we need to move forward. We want to move forward. We know that the President and the administration are focused on the long-term effort to eradicate terrorism from our planet, and based on the tragedies last week and that long-term commitment, we know our lives are going to be changed. What I think that means to us is that we all do what we do better. Our organization is dedicated to trying to do what we are supposed to do as well as we can, and at the same time, dedicate ourselves to a commitment to our country to cooperate in every way in the long struggle that faces us ahead. Today I would like to comment on a few things in terms of how these events have impacted our sport and how we have reacted to that. First of all, we did announce during the course of the day, most of you probably have most of this information; that after the Ryder Cup decision that was made last week, we have worked to just move the schedule of Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup competition back a year, with the Ryder Cup moving to the even-numbered years and the Presidents Cup, beginning in 2003 on the odd years. Consequently, we would move the Presidents Cup in South Africa back one year. It will be played in November of 2003. The date is yet uncertain. We had a number of tournament and television issues in November to work with and through, but we are working through them and we will culminate that process in the next few days. In the short-term, we obviously are playing golf this week. We have a full schedule this week. We have a full schedule next week. We have a full schedule the rest of the year. At each of our tournaments this week, we will be pausing to take recognition of the catastrophes last week, and to pay tribute to the victims, the families of the victims and the great bravery that was displayed in the aftermath of the disasters. We will do that here in Pennsylvania tomorrow at noon, local time. We will do it in Boise, Idaho at noon local time tomorrow and we will do that in Raleigh, at our SAS Senior event at noon local time in Raleigh. In each case, we will stop play for a brief period of a few minutes, add some remarks in the case of Pennsylvania by the governor, and in the case of North Carolina by I believe the lieutenant governor, and a brief ceremoony with a moment of silence. Next Tuesday in San Antonio, we will hold, for lack of a better term, patriotic rally sponsored by the PGA TOUR, PGA of America, World Golf Foundation, other elements of the golf organizations, to be held at Fiesta, Texas -- Six Flags, Fiesta, Texas in their amphitheater at 6:00 PM. We will have a number of announcements at that rally that relate to the financial commitment being made by golf organizations and golf to support the families of the victims on the heels of the $2 million commitment that the PGA Tour announced last week. We will also have a number of things going on during what will be a 60-minute exercise. Our PGA Tour players who are playing next week will be in attendance. Some players who are not playing will be in attendance. Members of the Ryder Cup team and Curtis Strange, the captain, will be in attendance. It will be an effort to publically have the game of golf come together and demonstrate its support, its recognition of the need to support the families of the victims, also a commitment to the direction of the nation over the weeks and months to come. In the out year scheduling beyond next week as it relates to any changes to the schedule, we don't anticipate any at this time. We have had a number of questions about international competitions scheduled, other competitions. We anticipate no change in our schedule, other than the changes that will occur in 2003 and beyond that will result as the changes in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup competitions. Beyond that, our commitment now is to not forget what happened last week by any stretch. We will never forget. But to go on, move forward, and recommit ourselves to the future of this sport. I'll be happy to answer any questions that you might have.

Q. Was there any consideration earlier about switching dates with the Ryder Cup or was this whole thing created by the incident?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think it was an immediate reaction. I was very involved in the Ryder Cup decision making with Captain Strange and Jim Awtrey of the PGA of America; that flung right out of our decision making on first, Tuesday, and then Wednesday as it related to last week's event. At the outset of those discussions, it was our position that the most likely scenario, if, in fact, at the end of the day we made the determination to postpone the Ryder Cup, was to slide everything back. So that was sort of a lead scenario from the outset of those discussions related to the Ryder Cup, and the more we went through it, the more it made sense. Then when we looked at the logistics of it, with a couple of exceptions, it seemed like not particularly difficult to do.

Q. I talked to one tournament director who said that the November meetings will probably be heavily involved with discussions of how tournaments will be run in the future and changes that will be made with security, etc. What changes have been made to run this event and events for the rest of this year and what other changes do you envision perhaps taking place?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I would say that as a general rule, over the last five or six years, security has been an increasing part of what we do, based on what's happened in some of the other sports. And we've had a couple of scares in our sport ourselves. So we have continuously upgraded our focus on security. We have a full-time security director. We have a full-time security staff. We have staff on site at tournaments. We have procedures. A lot of these things were not in place five years ago so, there has been a general escalation. I would characterize a lot of what we are doing now just a continuation of that escalation, but I would point -- usually, and I won't today comment specifically about what that means. There are three things that I think the public probably does need to know about. One is that we will have more security personnel on site than we have in the past. Two is that we will not allow anyone entering the property to bring backpacks or any large parcels of any sort into the golf tournament proper. Those parcels will be -- in the short term, we will ask those fans to check their parcels with us. In the long term, we hope that over a period of time, they will learn not to bring them, but we will always check them. Then thirdly, smaller parcels, handbags, things of that nature, will be searched. Those procedures are going into effect ASAP, as early as this week, and we will move forward with that. Beyond that, we have a range of additional security measures and interfaces with other organizations going on, but again, there's no real reason to state the specifics of it publically.

Q. Considering that one of the hijacked planes went down not very far from here, was that considered in any decision to go ahead with this week or this specific event? Was that talked about, the appropriateness of it?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think everything was talked about. Certainly, the fact that we had part of the tragedy happen so close to this site was a factor. I think that we won't through this in terms of last week's tournaments, and coming out of that, starting to focus beyond that, it was clear that the priority was to get things moving again if at all possible. We looked hard at moving ahead last week. We concluded that it was not the right thing to do. We looked hard at the Ryder Cup moving ahead, but we saw big distinction between the Ryder Cup and our tournaments this week in terms of asking thousands of people to make international travel, the time away from families. It was just so soon, we didn't get comfortable with that. But on balance, our priority all through this is to get moving again. That's what the President has indicated he wants to see happen. We think it's an important thing for that to happen. So that was our priority, and in this case -- while in these cases I've come to find that there is no right answer; you have to have an answer, and there is no right answer. Maybe there's no wrong answer. But there certainly isn't just a right answer, and you just have to choose and move ahead and that's what we determined to do.

Q. Are you comfortable with this event going back and forth to Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and was there something the tournament would have to do this week to determine the success here? Are there certain goals you are looking for them to reach?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I was comfortable about it until I heard Arnold say he wanted it to stay here, so I have to be very careful as to how I phrase this. The concept was to have a special event in Pennsylvania, a Pennsylvania Classic that could bring PGA Tour golf on a regular basis to two of the better sports markets in the country that currently don't have any, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. We still like that concept. But, we also said at the time, that we wanted to evaluate the response in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and so we struggled this as a four-year commitment, with two years in each city. We are going to follow through on that commitment, and as we go through that commitment, we will evaluate it and determine whether it is the right thing to do going forward. I don't think anything after 2003 is look locked in stone at this point. We are committed through 2003.

Q. Do you feel any urgency to get back to St. Louis?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't feel an urgency. We're terribly disappointed that we didn't get to play that golf tournament, for a variety of different reasons. One, and first and foremost, is the outpouring of support that we experienced in St. Louis was tremendous. Every category of support was exhausted a year before the tournament pretty much. The people of St. Louis, the financial community, the business community of St. Louis really stepped forward to support the PGA TOUR and in that case, the World Golf Championships in St. Louis. The golf course, the players were terribly disappointed that they could not play it. It was a great golf course in immaculate condition. We could have had a tremendous competition with those players on that golf course. On the other hand, here we are, and we have other issues and other things moving ahead. We would really like to get back to Bellerive and play in St. Louis. Bellerive has, I believe, a Senior Open scheduled in just a few years hence, which raises questions about when, but certainly we are going to have discussions about the possibility of coming back and certainly it would be something that would be high on our list.

Q. Paul Tagliabue said last week that making his decision to cancel, you were one of the people he consulted with. Could you give us a general sense of what those discussions were about and whether or not it felt like you wanted them to take the leap or they wanted you to take a leap or did it matter?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, we talked on the phone about -- I think just generally what our thinking was at this point. This was mid-day Wednesday or maybe morning Wednesday. We reached out to talk to a lot of people on those discussions, and the discussions that followed that regarding the Ryder Cup. I thought it was just a broad conversation about what was going on and what things would impact the decision in his regard and what things would impact the decision in our regard. I did not feel that we needed to follow the other sports, and the reason for that was that we had total purses last weekend of $9.1 million. I felt that the players would support -- in conversations that I had with a large number of players, that they would support the concept of dedicating virtually all of that money to the families. I think we made the right decision, but again, there is no right decision. I watched on the air a CEO who lost 50 or 600 people on the air; that money does not stick around when you don't play. I second-guessed the decision all during the week. Everybody was congratulating us on the decision. I was not quite sure it was the right thing to do, but we had to make a decision based on all the factors and we did. He had a little different situation in that he was focused on one day, one specific day. One of the factors in our decision had to do with the fact that, clearly, the President was going to call for a National Day of Mourning or prayer and that was probably going to fall on one of our competition days, and we were in the position of canceling later on some of the competition and that was just one factor. We had 462 players committed to play in four tournaments last week. A lot of them did not get there. That was a lesser factor in the decision, but nevertheless, a factor. His situation was many what different, but at the end of the day, everybody sort of acted together. I guess we decided on Wednesday or mid-day Wednesday what we were going to do, and then everybody moved forward. Then I think that I saw these debates on television about why aren't we playing. I thought that over the weekend, I felt that having no sports to watch is a unique thing in America. I mean, it occurred to me how much sports we have to watch and listen to and read about, and it wasn't there. And frankly, in hindsight, I think that was a good thing, because having none of that helped us focus on what we should have been thinking about as a country. So I was comfortable in hindsight.

Q. Just to follow-up on the Ryder Cup decision, were you from the start, could you see there was no way this was going to happen or did you change your feelings as the days went on?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: My head was telling me it could not work. My heart was telling me we were going to see 30,000 British people that had for two years -- everybody is worrying about how loud they are going to yell at us, and they are all going to have American flags in their hands; and the power of that spectacle, it was hard to shake off and just say, you know, all of these reasons we can't make this work. So I was really torn with it. Here again, I think the right decision made sense, given all the factors, and what's happened since I think has pretty much bore that out.

Q. This is a PGA TOUR managed event. Do you see down the road the Tour managing a larger percentage of the calendar; Is that a goal?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No. We don't have any specific agenda. We have managed, obviously, THE PLAYERS Championship and the SENIOR PLAYERS Championship on both tours. We manage two or three other events for a unique set of reasons. But the problem with managing lots and lots of events is maintaining quality control. So we have a different strategy, which is to make sure we are working more and more closely with the management entities that are in place at tournaments in an effort to help them get better, as opposed to managing them ourselves.

Q. With regard to the future of this event, did what Arnold Palmer say in here earlier catch you by surprise, or has he quietly been lobbying you for a while?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: The only thing that's quiet about Arnold lobbying me is a telephone conversation. No, I think that Arnold, you know -- Arnold and I and the governor, who is a terrific guy, Governor Ridge, he's a marvelous guy, we've been talking about this for three or four years. The governor has been absolutely instrumental in making all of this happen and pulling it together. You know, his vision is more Pennsylvania. Perhaps Arnold's vision is here. It's here. It's understandable. Our vision is kind of what makes the most sense in trying to reach out to fans in both markets. If we just play it in Philadelphia or just play it in Pittsburgh, I think it is going to be a success. If we go back and forth, I think it will be a success. This is a great golf course. There are other great golf courses in this market to look at down the road. I think all of the options ahead of us are positive, so I'm not all wound up about this. But Arnold being Arnold, made his points and we'll see what we can do.

Q. Halting play for seven or nine minutes tomorrow is unprecedented. Can you talk about how that decision came about and why there was not something at the start of play early in the morning and what that means?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We want to get moving again, but it's not all business as usual. It is unique. It is different and what's happened to our country is different than anything that's ever happened. We want to focus in just any little way that our sport can pay its respects and show support. We felt that doing this way made the most sense. You could argue, I guess, that in baseball or football, you have time outs and you have innings and it makes sense, and we don't do that in golf, and we don't. But we are going to do it this time.

Q. How are you going to do that right at 12 o'clock?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We are going blow a horn. We are going to have a brief ceremony, and we are going to blow the horn again and the players are going to play on and the players are going to play on.

Q. Where is the ceremony?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: 18th hole. We have audio rigged out on the golf course. We are not sure we are going to get all of the golf course, but we are going to get a lot of it. Players are going to stop and pause. This should be a five-minute ceremony.

Q. Are you going to be out there for that?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I will be here tomorrow at noon, yes, sir.

Q. Are you going to go out at 7:20 and watch these guys tee off?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I'm here today. I'm out here all day and all day tomorrow. I have to go from here to Raleigh in the afternoon.

Q. What is the status as Marconi as a title sponsor? They have had kind of a business meltdown; were they able to meet their obligation or do you have to find someone else?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: They are meeting their obligations. We have a contract and there's no change in their status at this point. So I really don't -- they are doing some changes in the company that we are aware of, but at this point in time, there's no change in their status with us.

Q. Are they contracted to do 2003, also?


Q. A long question, if you don't mind. D you get a sense that the players are eager to get back? And what do you get a sense of the mood for the rest of the season will be in that the five majors are done with, the World Golf Championships are done with. It seems as though Tiger has pretty much got most of the important awards wrapped up, whereas baseball, eventually get to the playoffs and you feel like you are geared that way. I wonder if you could address that at all?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: To be in the middle of September and have Tiger having most of the major awards sewn up is nothing new. We have had that happen before. So let's set that one aside. As far as the aftermath of the tragedy, that's a different thing. I think as I have talked to people, and it's only been eight days; everybody handles it differently. Some people have focused on it more than others. Some people want to watch ten hours of it on television. Some people want to stay away from it. Everybody reacts differently. These players are like the rest of us; they are all going to react differently. Does it mean they are going to play better or worse or with as much enthusiasm? I don't know. I think we are all change the. The fans have changed we are changed the players have changed in some way that maybe we don't own recognize yet. We also have our eye on what this country is going to do over the next months and years, and how that is going to play out in terms of what kind of world we live in. I think that there is going to be much more focus on that by the average golf administrator or the average player or the average sports writer than ever before. We are going to be paying more attention to that. So that is going to change us in terms of our prioritization of what is important. One thing that occurred to me all week is how do the things that were so important eight or ten days ago just don't seem as monumental as they were then, and you could just start listing them. So how does that impact sports and our reaction to sports and our focus on sports, I don't know. But my sense is that from an entertainment standpoint, sports is the healthiest piece of the entertainment side of our society that there is. I don't see that changing. As far as the athletes go, this is their livelihood. We have to get back to it. We all have to go back to work. We have to get focused and these players, this is their livelihood for their families and their future. I think they will play with tremendous spirit and focus. I think the country is going to be more unified and more focused than it ever has been. As tragic as these circumstances were, we will, as a people, benefit from this and we will be stronger and we will together and we will do things better than we have in the best, and I think that applies to sport.

Q. This question was asked of Arnold also, earlier. In light of the fact that these terrorists seem to be fueled by anti-American, anti-Western civilization sentiments, has the horrible thought crossed your mind about them making a sporting event or a high-profile Tour event target? How much have you wrestled with that?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We've wrestled with that for years. We are a high-target sport. You know that there have been terrorist attempts and some successes in other sports. It seems like given the event last week, we are now small potatoes compared to the kind of targets that these people have now focused on. This is a multi-year -- some say, going all the way back to the failed effort in 1993, that with that kind of focus, and now they will drift back into the shadows and they will fix the problem with airplanes and they will try something else. But I don't think we are a higher or lower visibility target today than we were two weeks ago, frankly. The difficulty is in our sport, we are spread over 250 acres. The small sabotage terrorist effort is more difficult to prevent, given that, and we have to get good at being able to prevent it. So we are all in this together with the other sports.

Q. We don't know what the changes are going to be, but there are going to be great changes in travel and other things that would affect the heart of your business. Do you have any idea what we might expect in the future? Might you have to change your schedule to lump tournaments together as they used to be decades ago or anything of that nature?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think the airline transportation will right itself over time. Let's face it, we didn't have a hijack of any description for over ten years in this country until we had a very highly-calculated long-term planned effort at a specific set of targets, using aircraft, not to hijack them, but to use them as weapons. I think that probably could be fixed. I think the American public will gradually get more comfortable with air travel again, when the questions get answered, and we'll be able to move ahead. Now, in the short-term, we may look at -- depending on how it goes over the next two or three weeks or through the rest of the season, we may look at some charter assistance in certain cases where we are having real problems. But right now, the players are not having problems. The flights are not full. So it's just a matter of going through the hassles at the airport and allowing for some more time. If you allow for time, you can go around the country. And I think in that respect, we'll be okay, but we'll keep an eye on it.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you for joining us.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

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