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September 13, 2000

Tim Finchem

Tom Ridge


NELSON LUIS: We'd like to welcome everyone here. Obviously this marks the first time in 20 years the PGA TOUR has returned back to the State of Pennsylvania. With us here today we have the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Tim Finchem and the Governor of Pennsylvania, the Honorable Tom Ridge. Gentlemen, if you could take it away.

GOVERNOR TOM RIDGE: Thank you very much. First of all, let me thank all of you for not only your presence today, but I've noticed the kind coverage you have given this event in anticipation of the start of play tomorrow, and on behalf of those of us who feel it was very, very important to get the PGA back to Pennsylvania and to make this inaugural event a successful one, I just want to say thank you. First of all, Tim, we're glad to have you back after 20 years and we're thrilled that the SEI Pennsylvania Classic has now become a regular stop on the Tour. I know most of you know how this all developed, but I do want to give credit to someone who I believe was as instrumental as anyone else in getting PGA to take a look at Pennsylvania once again and reinstituting a first-class tournament, and that is our friend Arnold Palmer. I couldn't say it in front of him because he doesn't like being called "The King." Presidents come and go, governors come and go, but there's only "King" of America and his name is Arnold Palmer. When he started talking about having a Tour event, and he had discussions with you a couple years ago, Tim, that gave immediate credibility. And also to Al West and SEI and some of the other sponsors Tim is going to talk about, we thank you for your participation and great support. Tourism is a big industry in Pennsylvania. It's about a 27-, 28 billion dollar industry. We have a lot of folks in Pennsylvania who play golf. We have 500-plus public golf courses, let alone all the private clubs we have, hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who enjoy the sport. That we have an annual event that would change venues every other year to give golfing fans throughout Pennsylvania an opportunity to see the professionals is something for which we're also very, very fortunate. Rather an unusual format, the Pennsylvania format, because we like our golf here and we're glad to welcome the PGA back. One other thought: I didn't get a chance to say thanks to every volunteer out there today. I hope everyone appreciates the fact, and Tim will underscore this: We can get the sponsors, arrange with the clubs, we have to get the approval of the membership, and that is critical and that is important, but you cannot hold a first-class event unless you have 1,200, 1,300 dedicated volunteers. They are going to be here five straight days and have been working on this thing months and months, and I want to tip my hat and thank them for helping Pennsylvania with it's inaugural classic. We have a great field. I was paired with Steve Pate in the field today. Each year the field is going to get stronger and stronger. Tim thanks for hearing our call, Secretary McCollough Arnold and I are grateful we have a new partner. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, Governor. Let me just say that this did start with a phone call from Arnold Palmer. Then a few weeks after that I met the Governor at Arnold's event down in Orlando, Bay Hill. They double-teamed me pretty good. I was basically dealing with one guy I can't say no to and another guy who is difficult to say no to and that makes it impossible to say no to. But since then, the governor's office, and his staff, Secretary McCollough have really been extremely, not just helpful, but taken the leadership role in pulling together the various pieces that is getting us to where we are today. First of all, with SEI stepping forward, Al West and the great people at SEI Investments to sponsor the event, and now today we're announcing that Marconi will be the title sponsor of the event next year at Pittsburgh. And each of those companies will be the presenting sponsor: When we play in Pittsburgh the presenting sponsor will be Marconi; when we play here in Philadelphia the presenting sponsor will be SEI. So both these companies will be heavily involved in the tournament. So that allows us to put the kind of purse up that will attract the quality of players that we want to play here. Just a word about Waynesborough Country Club, let me start, what the governor said about with the volunteers, I was amazed coming here a few months ago to announce Waynesborough that a strong majority of the members of the club had volunteered to work in the tournament. That doesn't happen that often. Usually it's about 50/50 as to whether a club wants to have a tournament; and in this case, we had 75 percent of the members actually volunteering to be involved in the tournament. What a tremendous membership this club has. And then to get here today and I've been here, most of the day, and to talk to player after player, who said, "Boy, this is a fantastic golf course. "We love this," and "We can all play here forever." Just uniform praise about the operations, the staff, the team that was put together by Championship Management, and we're off to a great start. Now, as I said in June, usually it takes five years to ramp up and really hit your stride with a PGA TOUR event. I think all indications here are we're going to do that much, much sooner, and we're well on the way to doing that in a record period of time where we achieve the charitable contributions and all of the other things that make great golf. So we're delighted to be back here after 20 years. Governor, I want to thank you once again. And we're pleased Arnold is going to be here in the morning to welcome the tournament, as well, and we look forward to having a great week. And the governor and I are available to answer any questions that you may have.

Q. Will it be a benefit or a problem to establish the momentum or tradition over the years as the tournament rotates back and forth?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, I don't know the answer to that question. We have had a great deal of success in the rotation of the TOUR Championship now the last few years between Houston and Atlanta. I think it is going to work really well, but, if it doesn't, you know -- but I think it will be, because both of these groups of people involved in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh will want us every year, which is a great problem to have, and then we try to accommodate that. But when we're playing in golf courses like Waynesborough and Laurel Valley in Pittsburgh and getting the support we're already seeing, I think the concept is going to work good. And I think it could be a great tradition, but if it's not what works for Pennsylvania, we'll try to find a better way, but right now we're enthusiastic about it.

Q. If it turns out over five years that one city supports this tournament more than another, would that area then become a permanent spot?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: It could. I think that would be speculation. We're talking about two great sports markets, two of the top sports markets in the country, generally, two great golf markets. I don't think there's going to be any question that we're going to have great support in both places. If there was a huge difference, I suppose it would have an impact, but I don't see that as a likely possibility.

GOVERNOR TOM RIDGE: I just might add, I think having a key corporate sponsors within each community gives it a very significant present. Marconi is a British company that just established its North American headquarters. SEI is an extraordinary company we have in Pennsylvania, and with their roots here in both these marketplaces, we're very hopeful that we can continue that tradition, having two great sponsors in each region, two good Pennsylvania companies will be very helpful.

Q. Are you also going do be able to promote Pennsylvania through commercials on ESPN this week, as well?

GOVERNOR TOM RIDGE: We are using this opportunity to promote Pennsylvania. When people came to the convention, when people came to the National Governor's Convention, when people come from New York, Delaware to New Jersey to this tournament, people are not just coming from one state. This will attract multiple state coverage. They will get to see another part of Pennsylvania they have not seen. We'll be entertaining some customers here. Just good all the way around. We view it as a win-win. The course is in great shape. That rough around the bunkers, (laughs) , it is pretty deep.

Q. All indications were you were pretty up front on the front lines with getting the tournament here. Why was it so important to you to get the Tour back to Pennsylvania?

GOVERNOR TOM RIDGE: I think there are different ways that you showcase your state. Obviously, the cities are proud -- it goes up and down. But the cities are proud to have a legacy of football and baseball and basketball and hockey, and we are, I think, a first-class state and we have got world-class community. But the one athletic area that we've haven't had has been golf. And there are not too many Pennsylvanians that play basketball once they get out of high school or football or anything else, but a bunch of us play golf, and it's one of those lifetime sports. Just the fact that we could have a PGA event, and then have them at least willing to try to work with us to choose two venues on both sides of the state to help market the state I thought was worth our time and effort and some of the resources that we put in.

Q. Tim, a lot of the fans were real disappointed that only five of the Top-20 players on the money list are here, including the No. 1. Is that common with a first-year event or is it a disappointing sign?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: No. I think actually we're in good shape for a first year. I think a lot of times with a golf course that the players have not played -- traditionally what has happened is a lot of players will want to come and play it. A lot of players will want to hang back and see how it really is. The golf course has a lot to do with the player's decision and how he's going to manage his schedule. Now, what I've heard from the players all day today, if that holds up during the week, and the players know Laurel Valley a little better because the PGA Championship was there in 1978. Now you have the representation of the Pennsylvania Classic being played on quality golf courses that players, frankly, were raving about today. Jimmy Furyk said this may be the best challenging set of greens of the year. The players, it's unusual for me to go to a golf tournament and not have anybody in the field tell me they don't like the golf course, I can tell you. So that will pay big dividends in terms of the quality of the field as we go forward. No question about it. I think we're off to a great start. And the operation, the volunteer coordination, the fact that we have a very well-managed event is also going to be something the players are going to talk about, and those kind of things do have a positive impact. I think we are going to be in real good shape in the years to come. Like I say, it usually takes five years to sort of hit your stride. I think we're going to do that a lot sooner here in Pennsylvania.

Q. Can you talk about the evolution of Marconi as a sponsor for the western part? It seems like there was some starts and stops there?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Only because they had some staff changes in the organization from the time that George Simpson, their CEO, committed sponsorship, to being able to announce it, a number of details involved in the arrangement. I wouldn't call them stops and starts; I would just say a different group of people we're dealing with and some different ideas. It's all resolved. We're in great shape. We made an official announcement and the governor has entertained George Simpson and recognizes with their North America base in Pittsburgh, it is a great fit. So I think we are in good shape there, as well.

GOVERNOR TOM RIDGE: I want to add real quick, we met them first 18 months ago on a trade mission because they had just made an acquisition in Pittsburgh, and they were a huge company in Great Britain and looking around to establish a North American headquarters. And we said Pittsburgh is a technologic community. And once they established their North American headquarters, it seemed to us a good idea. And Tim and his team put a great presentation; if you want to get your name known within a region nationally, why not get involved in a PGA event. And George Simpson himself is an avid golfer. So it worked out pretty well for all of us.

Q. Can you talk about the selection of Waynesborough? When you think of new events on TOUR, traditionally it is going to a newer course or a newer type of course. This is more along the lines of, say, a Westchester or Colonial.

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: That's one of the reasons the players like it. I'm trying to think -- two players today compare it to Winged Foot from the standpoint of how to approach the greens on their approach shots. And a number of players say, whether they believe it or not, like to think they want to play on "traditional golf courses." Now I can find you some traditional golf courses that frankly if we built today we would all be hung. But since they have been around a long time, they are traditional. But this does have the feel of a golf course that has been around for an awfully long time. The layout is something that appeals to the players and the greens are very challenging. They are just really looking forward to playing this week. And I don't know what the course record is offhand, and I know it is playing tough out there. But we've got the best players in the world playing here, and my guess is we'll see some scoring, but I might be mistaken.

Q. This is one of, I believe, only four tournaments actually run by the PGA TOUR Championship Management, at least on the PGA TOUR. Are we going to see more of that in the future?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Not necessarily. I think at this point in time, we're real comfortable with the management spread that we have. We run a lot more than four because we run TOUR Championship, SENIOR TOUR Championship, SENIOR PLAYERS Championship. We're running about ten with the World Golf Championships, and that's enough right now. So we're comfortable where we are and we have good, improving golf organizations at the local level and our other markets that are getting better. What we do want to do on the PGA TOUR is reduce the amount of differentiation between our events week to week. We'd like to see them all run at the same quality level. Having a few more run by our staff which we think does the best job, helps in that regard. We've had some people come out to see the way we're set up and the way we're operating. But we have no design to manage all tournaments. Here, we felt like with Arnold involved, the governor involved, moving back and forth, which creates its own set of problems, it was important for us to step in and make sure this one worked right.

Q. You had a chance to play Saucon valley and Waynesborough. Where did you play better? How did you play there and how did you play here?

GOVERNOR TOM RIDGE: Actually, I played better here. I'm not taking the score card home from either, but I played better here. Actually, our team was 12-under today. Steve played well. I played well. I'm a very erratic 15 handicap.

Q. Can you go over birdies and bogeys, please?

GOVERNOR TOM RIDGE: (Laughs) A couple birdies. A couple pars. A couple bogeys.

Q. 3-putts?

GOVERNOR TOM RIDGE: Now, this press conference has gone so nicely . (Laughter.) Not as many as I usually do. You didn't see the one on 18, huh? Helluva putt for a bogey.

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