home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


October 22, 2000

Ngconde Balfour

Tim Finchem

Louis Martin


BOB COMBS: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being with us. We're going to have announcement this morning, some overview comments from Tim Finchem, PGA TOUR Commissioner. He's joined by a couple of individuals on special announcements, on his left, Minister Balfour, Minister for Sport and Recreation of South Africa. And Louis Martin, Chief Executive of the Southern Africa Tour.

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Let me just start with a brief comment about how delighted we are with what's happened this week. Not just with the quality of the competition, but I think what has stood out this week as much as anything is of course, number one, the evolvement of The Presidents Cup and its maturation of an event of even more significance. But secondly with the captains, the players and especially the fans, just a tremendous display of sportsmanship. The staff tells me that we have not had one -- all week, not one incident of anything involving a fan. We haven't had any fans that have had too much to drink. We haven't had any fans who have been negative to the players from the opposing team. And obviously these are fans who have rewarded and supported the American team vociferously, but they've been appreciative of the great play of the International Team. And I think if you look at the captains and the way the players have conducted themselves and the fans that golf has been done a real service by what's happened here this week. And when we left Melbourne in 1998 I made the comment that we were just so delighted with the quality of the fans and the behavior of the fans, but the fans here in Washington have matched what the fans in Melbourne did, and we're delighted with that. The matches right now are obviously weighted heavily to the American team. It's interesting that one team can play well, as the Americans did in 1998 and lose handily to a team that played incredibly. And then the same team plays well here, but the other team plays incredibly well. And that seems to have been the pattern, although we obviously have a lot of matches out on the golf course. At this point we'd like to make an announcement about the 2002 Presidents Cup. The Presidents Cup has as its mission several objectives: to involve heads of state around the world in golf competition so as to bring a worldwide focus on our sport in a very positive way, to raise significant dollars for charity to be distributed by the players, and to allow all the players around the world the opportunity to play in this type of team competition. In order to meet all of those objectives it's important that we have the championship be available to fans in different parts of the world. That certainly was the case in Melbourne two years ago. Today we're announcing the 2002 -- the week after THE TOUR Championship, The Presidents Cup will be played at The Links Course at Fancourt in South Africa. Fancourt is about four hours north of Capetown or northeast of Capetown up the coast. And we're delighted with the arrangement that we'll have playing at The Links Course designed by Gary Player, a fantastic venue. Why South Africa? 25 percent of the International Team this year is from the South African, Zimbabwe area. South Africa has a rich tradition of sending some of the greatest players forward to the world scene, starting with Bobby Locke, and of course Gary Player, Harald Henning, Simon Hobday, and now the current trio of Nick Price, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. As a consequence South Africa is a beacon of golf on the continent of Africa. And to be able to play The Presidents Cup there will mean that we will be able to stage the most important golf competition in the history of that continent and perhaps the most impact full. It will have the impact of continuing the tradition and mission of the Presidents Cup, but it will also have the impact of helping us grow the game in that part of the world. We're delighted with the cooperation that we've had, both from the South African Tour and from the ministry of sports in South Africa to arrange the basic details regarding The Presidents Cup matches in 2002. And again the dates for those will be the week after THE TOUR Championship on, I believe those dates are November 7th to 10th at The Links in Fancourt, South Africa. At this point I would like to ask the minister of sports in South Africa, Minister Balfour to make some comments about this announcement. Minister?

MINISTER BELFOUR: Good afternoon. Thank you very much, Tim. To the media and to the people of this country we really are very happy to be here. On behalf of President Thabo Mbeki, the leader of our country in South Africa, we pledge ourselves to a very strong and firm commitment to make sure that The Presidents Cup is ran properly, administered the way it has been done before, without any fail. This is a very unique opportunity for us as the South African country to showcase what South Africa has to offer, but also to showcase South Africa and the continent of South Africa. We believe very strongly that this is one of the major events in golf to happen in the continent. We also pledge a very strong corporate support for the tournament in 2002. And we believe that industrial and business houses will come out in full force and support us in what we'll be doing. The impact of this announcement is a big one for golf in South Africa. South African golf is one of those sports that's growing very, very quickly. And there are lots of young South Africans, black and white, who are taking up golf, women as well, who are taking up golf and seeing most of the golfers like Ernie Els, Tiger Woods, Retief Goosen, the likes of Gary Player, who have played before, as role models for themselves in South Africa. There are areas in South Africa where most of the disadvantaged youngsters live. And to them it will be a big boost to be able to see this golf as strutting their stuff on South African soil. On behalf of the government, I really thank you very much for this.

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, Minister, and thank you for your cooperation in bringing us to this point. I would also like my counterpart with the South African Tour to make a few comments, Louis Martin the Chief Executive of the South African Tour, and a member of the Federation of PGA Tours.

LOUIS MARTIN: Thank you, Tim, and thank you, Minister Balfour. A thank you on behalf of professional golf in South Africa to you in the United States and you in the media. We sincerely are looking forward to hosting you in 2002. I think you've certainly set the standard over the last few Presidents Cups. It's maintained an event, it is an event now which is seriously on the golfing calendar, and I can assure you you are going to be hosted down at the beautiful Links at Fancourt, it's down on the eastern cape, on the garden route, and we're hoping that using The Presidents Cup as a catalyst, we will be able to help boost tourism, all about job creation in South Africa, and we're sincerely looking forward to some great matches down there. From an area point of view there's some beautiful accommodations, there's some wonderful scenery down there, it is very different from what we have here, and we hope we can stamp the South African uniqueness to this event, and I think as Commissioner Finchem has mentioned this event is about the difference in being able to bring into golf some of the different areas, not just the participation of the professionals. And we will undoubtedly be able to uphold that tradition and we look forward to hosting you in 2002.

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, Louis. I would just add that we are delighted with this development. It will be a test in terms of logistical aspects of working with yet another country to make the event work, but our experience in Melbourne was a good one. We think having the opportunity to create the biggest golf event in the history of this continent is an exciting opportunity, and we'll continue the tradition of the Presidents Cup and we look forward to the challenge. I'll be happy to try to answer a few questions on this, and then we'll dismiss our guests and I'll take questions on other matters.

Q. Tim, earlier in the week in this room several players were asked if they were prepared to commit to this event if it went to South Africa, specifically Tiger and Phil Mickelson. Neither of them were. How difficult is it going to be to convince your top players, particularly, to go especially when some of them had also expressed some reservations about going to Melbourne last time?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I don't know. We're a long way away from that. We just start the eligibility process for the 2002 Cup this coming January. So we are a long way from knowing who is eligible to play. Obviously the International demands on our players have changed. We are looking at our sport as being global, with the World Golf Championships. We are asking our players to make some extended travel. Not all players will do that, certainly some of the players will not play in Spain in a few weeks, although we'll have the best field probably in the history of Spain at that event. Some of the players won't go to Australia, but we'll have, by any definition, the strongest golf event in the history of Australia at the Andersen Consulting Match Play. So I'm less concerned about any individual player, I'm more concerned about whether or not the matches or the cup or the event meets its mission. And I'm quite confident that when we arrive in South Africa the week after THE TOUR Championship in 2002, we will have two teams that will set the stage for a very, very strong event, the strongest event in the history of that continent and one that will continue to grow the reputation and the depth of the Presidents Cup. And if we do that we'll be very satisfied.

Q. Can I just follow-up and ask if Tiger does not come, what does that do to this event? Does this event need Tiger Woods?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I think any event wants to have Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods is the best player on the planet right now. If I were involved in any PGA TOUR event, and I happen to be involved in all of them, I want Tiger Woods to play. Again, I'm less concerned at this point about any individual player, I'm more concerned about the direction and development of the Presidents Cup. I think this is going to be a positive step and speculating about any individual player two years in advance is frankly -- would be speculative and not very productive.

Q. Louis, can you speak to what you might do with Sun City that year? Will you bump it up behind it and some talk of you possibly expanding the field to accommodate the trip over?

LOUIS MARTIN: That's correct. Sun City has been on the map for 20 years, and it will be the week after The Presidents Cup. The exact nature of how the event will be comprised has not been finalized but it obviously will be an extended field, which will also include some of the supporters from the European Tour.

Q. Tim, with the event in 2002 coming the week after THE TOUR Championship, and it takes a while to get to South Africa, would you consider changing -- this year you went to a Thursday start instead of a Friday start. Are you going to stay with the Thursday start in South Africa or would you consider moving it back a day just to give the players a break?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Let me give two responses to that. One is the reason to move it up, primary reason to move it up near THE TOUR Championship was in reaction to the players' sentiments for try to play, when we play overseas, they felt strongly after Melbourne that it would be helpful in both -- I'm speaking of both the International Team and the American team to get the competition in or close to the official money season. From a competitive standpoint, they felt like they would be sharper. So we've accommodated that. With respect to the format days, the reason we got to four days this year was because of daylight. And we've had spectacular weather this week, but we almost didn't finish last night and we felt like if we'd had any fog or they had frost here two weeks ago, that we needed that flexibility. We're not wedded to that, but it did give us an opportunity to look at what some involve, a couple of the captains, some of the players have said over the years, they would prefer having it over four days. This was an opportunity to experiment with that. We haven't drawn any conclusions with that. It's something we'll look at. I think there's a possibility that we might go back to three days. We might stay at four days. We might entertain other format changes. We have a lot of flexibility with this event in the sense that it's young, it's six years old. I now believe firmly that it's now going to be around a long time, but we shouldn't be wedded to any one thing about the format. And we will be taking the pulse of the competitors that played and the captains and their assistants to consider changes in the format, and have more to say about that in the first quarter.

Q. Just to follow, would one of the format changes that you would consider possibly be having every player play every day?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I think if you put that on a legal pad, every suggestion that we have heard over the last couple of cups, and we are hearing and we will hear as we -- that would be on the list. No player wants to sit. The juxtaposition of the match is three days, four days, some of the other things that go wrong with the week. We made a lot of progress with The Presidents Cup. I think one of the things I heard today and during the week from Paul Azinger who was the captain's assistant or co-captain for Hale Irwin in '94, and some of the other players is how far it's come in a short period of time. But we can continue to make it better. And we're not going to assume anything. We're going to look at everything and say how can we make this even better, more exciting for the fans, more fun for the players. And if you put that all on a legal pad that's 10 or 15, probably, suggestions that we'll take a look at. We might not make any changes, but we will look at everything.

Q. With reference to The Presidents Cup and the match play a bit in Australia, does it concern you that as the U.S. tour gross more powerful, more strong, more wealthy, the American players seem to be showing increasing reluctance to travel to other parts of the world?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I'm not so sure that's the case. I think that for years appearance money overseas has been able to attract a top player here, a top player there to a foreign event. And the financial strength of the American TOUR today creates a situation where frankly appearance money is not propelling as many players to go overseas. I don't know whether that's bad or good. I'm not a fan of appearance money. But on the other hand, we have been successful now during this phase in having some very special competitions in different parts of the world that will propel the interest in the game. And we're very concerned about what you're talking about in terms of making sure that the interest in the game around the world continues to be propelled. But in December when Tiger Woods is playing in the World Golf Championship World Cup, we will have, I think, and I've said this I guess -- I don't want to sound redundant, but this will probably be the most impactful golf event in the history of South America, in Buenos Aires. When we announced the tournament in Tokyo, there were 150 members of the media that came forward, I think the event in Japan is going to be very, very big. The Melbourne event was huge. The match play event here will be huge. The Presidents Cup in '02 will be very big. While we haven't been absolutely delighted with the American Express at Valderrama, when it is played in the British Isles in '02 it will be very big. So I think that you can look at it one way, you can look at it another way. I think that if once in a while all of the best players will travel to these different areas it will have a huge impact and will be much more impactful than a couple of players showing up for some appearance money.

Q. Are you coming back to here in 2004?


Q. Are you coming back here in 2004?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I think it's been reported that we have a commitment to come back here in either 2004 or 2008. We might come back here both times, but we have not decided anything about '04 at this point, and we will take our time and do a careful review of all our options. I think I mentioned to some of you in conversation this week that there are a number of factors there, one of which is the extent of interest from the White House to be involved and our head of state in the next four years or eight years and what that means in terms of options about where to play. There is a lot of sentiment among players to play here some. Some players feel like we should play here every time we're here. The club here has done a fantastic job; the membership is absolutely energetic. It's such a beautiful setting. The television people love it. With the undulation of the greens, it takes a little longer to play the four-ball, but you can't have everything. So it's great to play here. But we're just not ready to say that absolutely we would play here every time.

Q. Tim, both Greg Norman and Steve Elkington earlier this week said they thought American players had an obligation to participate in events like this overseas, spreading the game was part of your obligation as a player. I wondered if you agreed with those sentiments; if so, would you be using that to try to urge the players to want to participate and do so?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, if you just look at the South Africa situation, you only have three players on this year's team who are going home, really. It's just the same sacrifice for Shigeki Maruyama to go to South Africa as it is for Hal Sutton, et cetera. So a lot of players have to make a travel sacrifice. And I wouldn't point to an obligation to any one event. I do think that it's in the best interests of the players themselves for the future of the game to move around and play, maybe not all opportunities in these kind of events, because now we have a number, but to play on a regular basis in these kind of events and make a regular commitment to play. And I wouldn't want to say that any one player has a commitment to play any one event. The players are independent contractors, they make a sacrifice this week to play, even though they don't travel that far. I might not put it in those terms, but I think it's in the best interests of the sport and the players in the long term to make some of these trips, and most of them are, virtually all of them are, making some of these trips.

Q. If you come back here or anywhere else in America, will you have this event this late in the fall?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Probably not. And everybody this week has been saying these trees are just peaking, and they're perfect, this is when you should play in Washington. And everybody forgets that two weeks ago it was 20 degrees four days in a row. We just got lucky. We wouldn't want to play here this week. We would prefer to play in late September. We had more flexibility with daylight to get the competition around. We have a better chance of good weather. But depending on the part of the country we could play this late. But the more likely scenario would be when we're in the United States we would move back up and play in the late September time frame.

Q. This may be jumping the gun, but with Captain Thomson saying he's most likely stepping down, would it be fair to say that Gary Player would be a natural as an international captain?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Historically, I suspect this year it will be toward the end of the year before we would name captains for the heads of the other Tours meet and put their priority list together for captain of the International Team, and the PGA TOUR does the captain for the American team. I think it would be -- I don't want to jump the gun, but certainly if Gary Player, if those individuals wanted Gary Player to serve and he would serve, I think it would be pretty special. But I don't want to take anything away from other players who would make great captains as well. I guess that's the best way I could answer that.

Q. I have a question for the Minister. Can you give your reaction to the reluctance of some of the American players to travel to South Africa in a couple of years time?

MINISTER BELFOUR: I think that's a very unfair question to ask from me. I think Tim has tried to answer the question as much as he could. So I don't think it's fair for me to answer that question.

Q. In early November what's the weather like in South Africa?

LOUIS MARTIN: The weather should be -- we can't guarantee it, we've gone through our spring, it's early summer, and it should be this sort of temperature, if not a little warmer. It won't be too hot and we're hoping it would be perfect. It's the right time of year for the eastern cape and Fancourt.

Q. Tim, you made the comment earlier that in what you've seen this week convinces you this will be around for years and years. What have you seen this week that makes you feel that way?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: More of what we saw in '94 and '96 and '98. It's just escalated every year, fan reaction, intensity of the fans coming out, we're more prepared for the percentage of ticket holders that came out early in the week, the feel, the environment, the quality of the telecast, the production investment is at an all-time high, and it shows in the quality of the production. The attitude of the players in terms of how they have enjoyed the competition and the way they've handled themselves in the competition. I knew that Tiger and Notah had been teammates at Stanford. I knew they were both great players. I did not know until this week how close they were. And now everybody knows that. There's a lot of little stories like that that have come out. It just reconfirms that allowing these players to be in this particular format is a unique opportunity. That plus a reconfirmation of the involvement of the heads of state, to have a President of the United States, a former President of the United States actively participate in a sporting event, unlike their participation in any other sporting event elevates, in my judgment, the quality of our sport, the feel of our sport, the focus on our sport in a way that is very special and brings indirectly a lot of other value to the sport. So all of those things combined tell me that this is very special, this is very valuable to the future of the players and it ought to be an integral part of our sport. And I certainly feel that when I talk to -- I go around here and talk to fans.

Q. Tim, you talked about possible format changes later on. Being the politically correct guy that he is, Peter Thomson said that foursomes was for little old ladies in their Tuesday morning club matches. Is that something you would consider changing, and what are the mechanics of actually going through a change like that should you choose to do it?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Let me reiterate my earlier comment. As far as I'm concerned the entire format -- there's nothing in the format that is inviolate. How it happens, the International Tours that are responsible for sponsoring the International Team and the American TOUR will visit on these issues. The captains agreement, which sets the pace for the competition, would have to be amended by agreement with the new captains as they are selected. We might recommend a couple of changes, but the captains agreement would be amended to -- that would be the technical way it gets changed. I think it's important to allow what is happening -- it's important to distinguish comments that are made during a competition about anything -- golf course set up, pin placement, the nature of a format -- with a more careful, reasoned review after the fact and that's what we'll do.

Q. Davis Love has been leading out here all week with his play. And can you talk about what kind of leader he is, and what kind of leadership he brings to the Policy Board?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, Davis Love has been on our board for six years, and he's finishing up this year's second term. He has been an incredibly positive force in our organization. I'm often asked what am I proudest of, from our organization standpoint I'm proud of the interrelationship between the staff and the players and the working relationship that they have in Davis Love, Hal Sutton, the other members of the board have had an enormous impact on developing that and making it work over the last five years. It's gotten better every single year. Davis has been a strong advocate of that and I just wish he was seeking another term on the board, but he's had six years and he needs a little break.

Q. I'm just wondering with the event going to South Africa in a relatively untested place, which will be the greater challenge, setting up the event there or getting the full commitment of every top player to attend in 2002?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I don't know how many times I need to say this, but I'll say it one more time. What I'm focused on is the conduct of the matches and the mission of the matches and the things that go into -- I'm assuming that if I'm correct in my feeling about the importance of the matches that will demonstrate itself in the support of the players. But that's all we can do. And I'm quite confident that when we get to South Africa, the teams that will be fielded will be teams that will generate a great match. It will extend further the tradition of the Presidents Cup. It will grow The Presidents Cup. It will have a huge impact on golf and sport in South Africa and the image of the Presidents Cup. And when we're done in South Africa we'll be delighted with the result. I'm much more interested in that than whether any one particular player or two particular players or five particular players feel like, for whatever reason, that trip at that point in time in their schedules doesn't work. I feel the same way with the Andersen Consulting Match Play. I think with the Andersen Consulting Match Play we made a mistake in the scheduling of that event. I think we would have had somewhat less difficulty with some players if we had played it a little bit later and we didn't pay attention enough to the fact we were asking players to leave their families during the holidays after a very long competitive year. Having said that, we have an enormous number of great players going to Australia. It will be the biggest event in golf in the history of that particular continent. I'm proud of that. Andersen is pleased with that. The players will enjoy it and at the end of the day we will have had a positive effect on golf in Australia and we will have extended further the tradition and history of the best match play event that has come along in golf. So those are the kind of things we have to think about. In golf these things evolve over years and years and years. If you start to act like the typical American corporate executive who's worried about quarterly results, you're not going to get very far in golf. You've got to take the long view. And I'm very polished on the long view.

End of FastScripts....

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297