|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
September 14, 2000
ANA LEAIRD: Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us here this morning. I'd
like to just start the program by acknowledging our distinguished guests. We have with us
Mr. Al West, the chairman and CEO of SEI Investments and title sponsor of the SEI
Pennsylvania Classic. We have with us the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Tim Finchem; the
governor of Pennsylvania, the Honorable Tom Ridge; and a gentlemen who I know needs no
introduction in this media center, Arnold Palmer. We're going to begin with some opening
remarks from the Commissioner, Mr. Finchem.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you. I'm not going to reiterate everything I said yesterday
about the background of the tournament; the purpose of this morning is to have Arnold join
us over here at the first Pennsylvania Classic here at Waynesborough and to say hello to
the players and just to let the people know who is involved in making this all happen. Of
course, Arnold at the start, Governor Ridge, and then our good friend, Al West, stepping
up with SEI Investments to bring the sponsorship package together to make it all happen.
We're delighted to be here. As I said yesterday, the player reaction to what's happening
here has been absolutely outstanding. I would like to recognize the chairman of the club
where we'll be playing next year in Pennsylvania at Pittsburgh, Pete Love, the chairman of
Laurel Valley Country Club, and we're delighted to have him here with us; he came over
from Pittsburgh with Arnold Palmer. And now I'd like to ask Governor Ridge to make some
GOVERNOR TOM RIDGE: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. There's a lot of credit that is
justifiably being spread around as we take a look at this inaugural Pennsylvania Classic.
We thank Al West and SEI; we thank our presenter, Marconi Communications; we thank our
volunteers. But the bottom line, you still have to have somebody with both the idea and
the persistence to get it done, and when Pennsylvania was looking for someone to be the
primary protagonist, and maybe occasionally antagonist in order to get it done, there was
no one better than the individual who came up with the great idea to bring the PGA TOUR
back to his home state. So it's just a great pleasure for me to be able to introduce my
friend, someone who talked about this privately a couple years ago and then worked very,
very hard to make it happen. There's a lot of things going on in the PGA TOUR today and a
lot of folks getting a lot of credit for the extraordinary rate of growth of golf, but
none of this would have ever happened without our Pennsylvanian, Arnold Palmer, and that's
the reason the Pennsylvania Classic is back in Pennsylvania. A familiar Pennsylvanian who
happens to be responsible for that whose name happens to be Arnold Palmer. Arnold?
ARNOLD PALMER: Thank you, Governor. And I think it was said when everyone put all of
their resources together to make this happen, the Commissioner was tough, as you say, but
he acquiesced, to allowing that Pennsylvania is a major state and is one that really
should have a major championship such as we are playing here this week and we'll play at
Laurel Valley next year. And I also agree with you the fact that everyone, Pete Love, Al
West, Waynesborough Country Club, and all of the people really put forth a great effort to
make it happen. And, of course, that's kind of the way I feel about the State of
Pennsylvania, the fact that we need to put it all together to make things like this
happen, and I'm very pleased and proud of the fact that we have this golf tournament here.
And next year, we'll have it in western Pennsylvania, and of course in succeeding years,
we'll be moving back and forth. And I think that says a great deal for the state. I think
it is something for Tim Finchem and the PGA TOUR, also, the fact that they are bending and
we're going to keep bending them to make this the best tournament on the TOUR, and I'm
very pleased with that. And I thank you, Tim and Al, for your contributions to making this
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Let me also ask Al West to make some comments. You know, you can
do all of these things to arrange a schedule and find a good golf course, but if the
sponsorship is not there that allows us to stage the event at the right level, PGA TOUR
standards which you're seeing out here on the ground, and to attract the players, it just
does not happen. Al and his team and all of the people at SEI Investments that not just
sponsored the event; they really worked hard with our staff over the last year to prepare
for the tournament and make it very special. Now we're in your debt but we'd like to ask
you to make some comments.
AL WEST: Is that my payment? (Laughter.) I'll take another payment. Although this isn't
as tough yesterday as the first tee in the Pro-Am, first time I ever did that and I was
scared, but these three gentlemen brought the Classic, the Pennsylvania Classic; and I'm
glad it's named the SEI Pennsylvania Classic. But these three gentlemen are the ones that
are really responsible for the idea that germinated and bringing it all the way to
fruition. We had the easy part, which was to pitch in, both with a little money and a lot
of effort and our employees. And our employees worked very, very hard with the people from
the PGA TOUR and from Waynesborough, and have really done a fabulous job pulling this
tournament together. And the Good Lord gave us the weather today and it is a wonderful
start, and we're just -- SEI and me personally are very, very proud to be part of it. Also
I would like to mention that as always, the PGA, I think it is $45 million they are giving
to charities every year, and we have three charities here, and then we also have charities
in western Pennsylvania that will be beneficiaries hopefully as this tournament continues
to grow a lot of money, and I think we've always got to keep that in the back of our mind
as we're enjoying these days. But thank you very much. Thank you all.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: If I could just make one other comment. I'd like to thank Arnold
for coming over and being here today to kick off the Pennsylvania Classic with SEI and Al
and the governor. This is not the right forum to list all of the things Arnold Palmer is
doing to give back to the game but this week alone, Arnold was in Boise, Idaho to kick off
our BUY.COM event in Boise, which is our best BUY.COM TOUR event on the Tour. Over the
last two years, he spent an enormous amount of time with Jack Nicklaus designing a golf
course which will help elevate the quality of the World Golf Hall of Fame in Florida
called the King and the Bear which will open in November. It's the only time Jack and
Arnold have co-designed a course -- maybe the last, I guess... (laughter). But it really
is a fantastic golf course, and these two guys have done it and really created something
special that just goes on and on and on; his stewardship now with Pebble Beach and what he
is giving back to the game is very, very special. And to have him here today and to lend
his name to this championship for the PGA TOUR, we thank you, Arnold, for that and
Q. Commissioner, I wonder if you could make maybe compare the era in which we are now
living, Tiger versus what we came through with Arnold in the late 50s and early 60s?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, that's a long answer. Just the other day, I think there was
a huge parallel, a very strong parallel between what happened when Arnold and television
and Augusta National came together in the late 50s and early 60s and kicked off a wave of
enthusiasm about the game that's lasted 35, 40 years, and without parallel in our sport,
Arnold Palmer drove all of that. And the enthusiasm that people had about Arnold drove all
of that. And now we have this new wave of enthusiasm reaching people that heretofore had
not been involved in the game, and seeing kids want to be involved in the game. I don't
think I've ever told this story to Arnold, but when I was 11, I had three -- I didn't have
access to a golf course. I had three cans in my backyard and I would hit whiffle-balls to
these kids and I would try to emulate that swing of Arnold Palmer when I was 11 in 1958.
And kids in those days and all the way through the 60s and 70s they wanted to be like
Arnold Palmer. Now kids today want to be like Tiger Woods. Very similar parallels.
Different era, different styles, but the impact on the game, a very strong parallel. As
big as Tiger Woods is, I think Arnold in comparison to the rest of the Tour was bigger,
but the impact on the game is very, very similar.
Q. When he called you regarding the tournament in Pennsylvania, I'm assuming you
listened extra closely when Mr. Palmer calls?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: He didn't have to call twice. (Laughter.)
Q. What does it mean to you personally to have the tournament back in Pennsylvania?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I think it is wonderful to have it here in Philadelphia. I
remember when I played here in the IVB, I had some good fortunes here, and how that
tournament impressed me as a player. And, of course, Pittsburgh, I played in the
tournament that there's not many people in this room who will probably even remember, and
it was the Dapper Dan, and that was one of my first PGA TOUR events. I was a senior in
high school at Alcoma Country Club, (phonetic), and of course that disappeared. And the
fact that Pennsylvania has had some great golf tournaments, and I've had the opportunity
to participate in them, and I think it was just very bad that we didn't have and do not
have until this week a tournament here that is a PGA TOUR event. I would be very remiss if
it ever disappears now. I think we are very fortunate to have it, and I think we need to
endorse it and make it work. Under Governor Ridge, this state has made some fantastic
progress, and those of you who watch what is happening in Harrisburg and what is happening
throughout the state should know that it is going to continue, and he's going to be around
for a little while yet, and we're going to use him as much as we can to make this state a
very outstanding place to live and to play golf. And having this tournament back is very
important to me.
Q. All of you putting this tournament together over the past year, is there one point
where you can look back, maybe yesterday or today, this morning and say, "We've done
it," and be pleased or anxious? What kind of feelings has that brought for you?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I would say that the point when the governor and Arnold got
together, it was pretty much a done deal it would happen. When Al came aboard, it was a
reality. But you never know until you get to the tournament week what the players are
going to think about everything, the golf course, the arrangements, the operations, and
when I got here yesterday, and after 35 or 40 players the only thing I was hearing was:
"This is great." I can't recall being at a first-time tournament at a golf
course and have the players uniformly excited about the quality of where they are playing.
And you add to that the staging and the operations; we've had no complaints, no concerns.
The volunteers, the majority of the club members volunteered in the tournament. So, the
excitement level is very strong. It's just a very good feeling about everything here. And
that was enough for me. I was real pleased yesterday. It makes my job real easy. And the
staff here as worked very hard and I just want to say that Brian Goin and his team, Joe
Rotellini, they have just done a superb job. We're delighted and off to a good start.
Usually it takes, and Arnold knows, in the case of the Bob Hope Classic, for example, it
was probably five years before the tournament really hit its stride in terms of charitable
contributions, and you can see that across the Tour. And when we started this, we thought
five years, but honestly, I the SEI Pennsylvania Classic has the opportunity to reach full
maturity in about three years and we're really on a good track right now.
Q. How did the idea of letting the state share the tournament evolve, alternating
between the two major markets? Whose idea was that?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: The way Arnold called me, and then I got Arnold's tournament; and
he's got the governor of the state with him waiting for an answer. And then the three of
us were talking about things, and I don't know where it came up, but I think the
governor's interest was to showcase golf in Pennsylvania. Arnold's primary interest was
what was best for golf. You know, gee, we have not played in either place in 20 years, and
there are great golf courses all over the state and it just kind of evolved.
ARNOLD PALMER: I think that's right. I think the governor certainly did not want to
ignore any part of the state. He wanted to call the attention to golf in Philadelphia, as
well as in western Pennsylvania. And, of course, Pete Love and I both have a deep interest
in Laurel Valley since his father and I were founders of Laurel Valley and Pete is now
chairman. So that was of great interest, too. The other thing was the charities involved,
which is very, very important. When I did the little thing that I did with bringing
players in, all the gala, the hospital in Latrobe was a major benefactor, which will be a
benefactor from the tournament here, and that was very important to me and to our area and
the charities here in Philadelphia. So the combination of doing it that way was pretty
good, the fact that we moved from east to west and then back again. And let's hope that it
gathers enough momentum that maybe some day down the road that we'll have a tournament in
both places. But right now, I think that it is unique that we can do what we're doing by
having this tournament here. And hearing the players this morning, as the Commissioner
said, they are enthused about this. And they are also enthused about coming to Laurel
Valley next year. So the combination of things has worked out very well and I'm pleased. I
think the governor is, too.
AL WEST: I'd like to add from a sponsor's point of view, we thought it was brilliant
because it allows you to really concentrate on the event, and yet not take too much out of
everything in your day-to-day life. And we just Love it. Now, we will be going to Laurel
Valley, but we won't be the name sponsor and we won't have as many responsibilities there
so we can enjoy it a lot more. (Laughter.) But I love the format. And we're rookies at
this, and the whole experience has been really enjoyable and rewarding.
Q. Arnold, could you talk about what you did to solicit player participation in this
event, and are you a little disappointed that more of the Top-30 players did not attend?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I think certainly you would like to have Tiger Woods. That's kind
of what you're saying. I was going to play ... (laughing).
AL WEST: I was going to say we've got you and that's just as good.
ARNOLD PALMER: I can't tell you the caliber of golf that these young people are
playing. And I'd like to just have time to tell you about the players that I have seen
coming along and that are playing in this golf tournament that you, right now, won't know
as a Tiger Woods, but down the road in a few years, you will see them and they will
perform beyond. And there's no question about the fun that you can have by going out and
watching these young players. In this field, you've got kids 20 years old that are
excellent golfers, and with a little experience, they are going to be challenging Tiger
Woods. And I think the galleries and the media from this point of view, the media can
enhance the golf tournament by talking about some of these young people that are potential
stars. You have Robert Damron here, who was raised at Bay Hill. I watched him grow up. And
watched him just hit off the first tee and drive right over everything out there. He's
going to be a star. And that's something that I think everyone can take an interest in, if
you can promote that in your conversations with people. So that can be fun in itself. What
did I do? I wrote the players all and asked them to participate. And as you know, we had
some guys that would have been here, but under circumstances, they could not make it for
one reason or another, injuries and so forth. David Duval was going to be here. You can't
prevent those things from happening.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We had a wedding.
ARNOLD PALMER: Yes, we had a wedding that I almost brought the wedding party here...
(laughter.) I really tried. Brad Faxon is a good friend of mine, and he wanted me to play
in an event that he's doing. And I said, "Well we can trade off." (Laughter.)
But his bride -- or his future bride, had a little problem with family, so that didn't
work out. (Laughter.) But just to tell you to some of the lengths we went to to ensure the
players were coming. And I don't have any problem with this field, I can tell you, and you
will see some golf that will astonish you this week and in the future. And I feel pretty
proud of the guys and the way they are playing, and as I say, the media, you people, can
really be the coup de gras by helping us support these guys that are going to be great
Q. What was the time line? When did you come up with the idea to have the tournament? I
know it had to be tougher than just a phone call to get a PGA event?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, we have not stopped working on the potential for this golf
tournament for the last ten years. We've been working on various types of golf
tournaments, various situations. And of course, I've talked to Tim about it, and as you
say, a phone call -- well, maybe he underdid that a little bit, but that was how it got
started. And Pete Love and some of the guys at Laurel Valley and the governor was very,
very supportive and has been right along, a very important part of making this all happen.
Q. What level of influence did the sponsors, SEI and Marconi have, as well?
ARNOLD PALMER: Let me tell you, without them, we don't have all of the other things
we're talking about because they make it possible, and they are the people. And, of
course, that is just a foregone conclusion that without a very excited sponsor, you don't
have a golf tournament. SEI and Marconi are going to make this all happen, and they have.
We're very pleased and proud of that, and of course, we're going to give them as much
support as we can.
Q. Did you make the cut in the Dapper Dan? What was your score? Do you remember what
you shot there?
ARNOLD PALMER: You know, I wrecked my father's car going to the tournament, and I
didn't make the cut. (Laughter.) But I got cut when I got home.
End of FastScripts