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July 17, 2013

Peter Dawson

Jim McArthur


MALCOLM BOOTH: Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to The R&A's Eve of The Open Championship press conference. My name is Malcolm Booth, director of communications for the R & A, and I'll introduce the panel, who I know will be familiar to many of you. On my far right, is Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, executive director of championships for the R & A. Next to him is Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R & A. And to my immediate right is Jim McArthur, chairman of our Championship Committee. Jim, I think you're going to open us up with a few comments.
JIM MCARTHUR: Yes. Thanks, Malcolm. Good morning, everyone. On behalf of the R & A welcome to the 142nd staging of The Open Championship, and specifically to our Eve of Championship media briefing. Thank you all for being here, and on behalf of my colleagues, I hope you have a productive, rewarding and enjoyable week at the magnificently presented Muirfield. I'll begin by thanking Derrick Lawrenson and the AGW on behalf of us all for a very enjoyable 75th anniversary dinner last night. Special thanks for Iain Carter for hosting such a splendid evening. Everything is ready for the championship that lies ahead of us. The culmination of at least two years' hard work. As always, our aim is straight forward: To provide a true links test for the world's top golfers, and to deliver the best spectator experience for golf fans here in the UK and around the world on television and online. First a few opening remarks from me, and we will be happy to answer your questions at the end. We are very much looking forward to the start of play. And we have real momentum behind us. There is massive European interest in the progress U.S. Open champion Justin Rose and great expectations in the United States for Phil Mickelson, winner of last week's Scottish Open title. While our reigning champion Ernie Els is synonymous with nail-biting finishes. Take last year at Royal Lytham and at Muirfield in 2002, when you will recall we witnessed the first ever four-man playoff in an Open champion. Ernie Els returns to Muirfield as last year's winner, and the winner the last time the championship was played here. Not since James Braid in 1906 has this situation prevailed, and by a strange twist of fate here at Muirfield. With regard to this year's championship, the main things I want to focus on are the golf course, the quality of the field and the champions who have won here, and the continued investment we are making in The Open. The golf course, we believe, is in truly outstanding condition, and the weather over the last few weeks has helped enormously in presenting the course in true links style. I hope the weather continues along the same lines, and the latest weather forecast we have says it will remain mostly dry and settled for the championship, with a good deal of warm sunshine on Thursday and Friday, although cloudier conditions are expected for the weekend, with dull and misty starts possible on Saturday and Sunday. Good Scottish summer weather. Muirfield, as I'm sure you're all aware, has often been described as a fair but tough championship test. And with the alterations which have been made since the last time The Open was here, we are confident that the course will again present a tough but fair challenge to the best golfers in the world, and a worthy champion will emerge at the finish. We have tightened the course since 2002, particularly at the approaches to greens and added almost 200 yards to the distance. Holes 7, 13 and 16 are as they were in 2002, and subtle alterations have been made over the rest of the course, including new tees at 2, 9, 14, 15, 17 and 18, new bunkers at 1, 8, 9, 10 and 11 and several bunker relocations at other holes. Driving accuracy is very important at Muirfield. And is a great test of driving right from the first hole. Avoiding the bunkers is essential. The rough is the course's primary defense, and is currently in perfect condition. Good scoring will depend upon finding the fairway from the tee. The rough is long and a challenge to play from, especially when the wind is strong. Players need to be aware constantly of the wind direction, as they seldom play consecutive holes on the same tack. Finally, in my humble opinion 16, 17 and 18 are among the best set of finishing holes in the world. So we are confident that Muirfield will continue to test the best players of today, just as it tested the players of yesterday. The course is a favorite among competitors, and this has been reinforced by the comments of those practicing over the course last week. The feedback has been very positive, and we are looking forward to a great field on a great golf course. With regard to the quality of the field, we have 156 players from 27 countries. And we are delighted from an International perspective, particularly as the players have some connections with the R & A development work around the world. Not only is the field International, but we also have 15 past champions playing, and 74 out of the top 75 in the world. And that's only because Steve Stricker did not enter. There are 36 first-time participants, 7 amateurs, and for the first time since Sergio Garcia in 1998, the current British boys champion, Matthew Fitzpatrick, together with 24 former Walker Cup players. The greatest golfers of every era have won here in the past, including Henry Cotton, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Sir Nick Faldo and Ernie Els. And going way back Hilton, Vardon, Braid, Ray and Hagen. We're sure that this year's winner will also be in the top class category. Now investment in the Open Championship: We continue with our efforts to provide the very best facilities for our Open spectators. Specifically at Muirfield we have invested over two million pounds in enhancements to the spectator experience. Perhaps the two most exciting innovations are investments in a state-of-the-art Wi-Fi network and four large LED screens, score and information boards allowing spectators to keep up-to-date with live scoring and coverage of play from almost anywhere on the golf course. The Wi-Fi is not just leading technology in golf, but it represents a first on this scale at any championship. This is a leading technology project in sport. Building a Wi-Fi network to serve this kind of acreage and tens of thousands of people is ambitious. And we are cautiously optimistic that this has been achieved. Our goal is to provide a modern, unrivaled spectator experience in golf, and we hope to work with our partners, Straight Up Technology, to progress this technology over the next few years to achieve that. Our four new electronic score information boards around the course - three at the three par-3s, 7, 13 and 16, and one at the 17th green - will provide information on players, scoring and provide some highlights from around the course. We believe that this combined with the Wi-Fi infrastructure will offer our spectators a fantastic and enhanced experience. Also recognizing that spectators nowadays like to do other things at the Open Championship, as well as eat, drink and watch golf, we meet this demand through attractions like the R & A Swing Zone, where free lessons are available all week, and the HSBC Golf Zone, which provides many opportunities for spectators to test their skills and have a chance to win a host of daily prizes. After each Open Championship the R & A commissions independent research into economic benefit that The Open brings to an area. Last year's Open's Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes delivered a 65 million pound benefit to Lancashire from the week-long event. This headline figure included 28 million bumped directly into the Lancashire economy, by spectators, organizers, sponsors, the media and the players themselves, as well as a destination-marketing benefit worth 37 million derived from exposure on global television. We believe a similar figure of between 60 to 70 million will be generated for East Lothian and Edinburgh. Many people will travel from outside Scotland and overseas, and we are sure that the businesses and local residents will provide a warm welcome. The Open is one of the world's great sports events. And through exposure on global television will deliver a healthy legacy for golf and other tourism to the region. In addition, we know that the championship will inspire participation by local people, both young and old, in the sport. We're expecting a total crowd of 160,000, and hoping for 170,000 over the week. And around 4,000 hours of televised coverage, reaching five hundred million households worldwide. We are very fortunate to have a strong list of eight patrons, who support The Open, namely Doosan, HSBC, MasterCard, Mercedes-Benz, Nikon, Polo Ralph Lauren, Rolex, and our latest patron NTT Data, in addition to our much valued official suppliers. Finally I should also mention one further venture that we undertook last week at St. Andrews Square in Edinburgh. Where over three days we gave the general public a true flavor of the oldest Major Championship in golf. It was called The Open in the Square, where we had a free PGA coaching, a golf simulator, putting competition, a giant screen showing great moments from past championships, photographs taken with the Claret Jug, as well as ticket and merchandise sales. The event created a high level of interest, helped to showcase The Open and golf in general, and we believe strengthen with the link with Edinburgh, Scotland's capital city, where many spectators will be staying this week. Over three days in the square almost 1,000 people took advantage of a free golf lesson, with one of eight local PGA officials, and 150 of them had never held a golf club in their life. 800 people took a putting challenge, and eight more tested their skills in a golf simulator. Finally, 1,200 people posed with the Claret Jug trophy and the moment captured for posterity was e-mailed to their friends. The Open is growing, meeting the challenges of the future and is working for golf. I'm sure you share my enthusiasm for a great golfing week ahead. Thank you very much for listening. Peter, anything to add?
PETER DAWSON: Thank you, Jim. I'd like to echo your thanks to the AGW for an excellent dinner last night. Thank you very much indeed. I think it's no exaggeration to say that in my time at the R & A with direct involvement in The Open Championship, which goes back to 2000, factors have combined this year to make this the best course setup we've ever had in that period. The course is just as we want it. It's hard. It's fast. It's in wonderful condition. The rough is just right. I think the players are all enjoying it. So factors have come together on top of Muirfield, which is a wonderful golf course in its own right, to make this the best setup I've seen in my time, and we're absolutely delighted with it. I'd just like to add, as well, that not my subject, really, but these technological enhancements that Jim has described are really very exciting. Historically it's been wonderful to come to The Open Championship and experience the atmosphere. But, of course, you could only watch what's in front of you. Now with this new technology, you can also watch all of the golf that's going on around the golf course, through the Wi-Fi network that we've set up and enhanced by the big screens and electronic scoreboards around. So you can both get the atmosphere of the event, which is wonderful, but also keep more in touch with the state of play all around the golf course. We're on a bit of a journey with this. This year is something that we've begun in earnest. It may take us two or three years to perfect. It's one of the main reasons we reintroduced mobile phones to the championship, because we could see this coming. And I think it's going to be a massive benefit for spectators. So I just wanted to make those two points before we move to questions, which I think we now can, Malcolm.
MALCOLM BOOTH: Ladies and gentlemen, if you would like to ask a question, we've got microphones circulating.

Q. You say that it is a great test of driving, which obviously it is, and you've got the hard and fast conditions you want. But are you content that some players will use the driver precious few times and indeed a few are planning not to use the driver at all?
JIM MCARTHUR: That's their choice, obviously. I think part of golf is golf course management. Some people are comfortable with a driver in their hand and some others are not. I think Muirfield certainly is one of those courses where some people might not use the driver because they're not comfortable with it. They want to get the ball on the fairway and using irons the whole way around, that may be the way to do it. But we think that's all parts of links golf, particularly in these conditions, where the ground is getting very firm and the ball is running a long way.

Q. Peter, can I ask, are you disappointed by the first minister's position not to attend The Open? And do you feel his non-attendance hinders the debate on single-sex membership or helps?
PETER DAWSON: I think at the R & A we've been through over 250 years of existence without getting into political comment, and I don't really intend to break that rule here. Obviously the whole issue of gender and single-sex clubs has been pretty much beaten to death recently. And we do, I assure you, understand that this is a divisive. It's a subject that we're finding increasingly difficult, to be honest. In recent months we've been at great pains, I think, to try to explain some of the facts about this matter. Single-sex clubs are in a very small minority in the UK. Half of them are women only, half of them are men only. They're perfectly legal. In our view they don't do anyone any harm. And we think the right of freedom of association is important. And we've explained our view that we think they have no material adverse affect on participation. On the other hand, the media are, with seemingly boundless energy, I think, and enthusiasm, giving out the message that this is an issue, and that such clubs should be condemned to extinction, and we shouldn't be using one to stage The Open Championship. And we understand that view, too. We've got, as you mentioned, politicians posturing, we've got interest groups attacking the R & A, attacking The Open, and attacking Muirfield. As you can see, I've made a few notes about it (laughter). To be honest, our natural reaction is to resist these pressures, because we actually don't think they have very much substance. But I'd like to stress we're not so insular as to fail to recognize the potential damage that campaigns like this can do to The Open Championship. And it is our Championship Committee's responsibility to do what is best for The Open. And to maximize the benefits which The Open brings, not just to golf, but also to the local area. And, by the way, in huge funding for women's golf. I think in the last ten years we've put, as best I can estimate, looking at the figures, about 30 million pounds into women's golf. And that's what The Open Championship's success brings with it. So it's not all bad. I think we're on the verge of what promises to be one of the very best Opens and a huge number of people have put in an enormous amount of work to make this championship happen. I'd like to suggest that we get behind it now. Let's make it the success it deserves. And when things are a bit quieter, after the championship, I'm quite sure we'll be taking a look at everything to see what kind of sense we can make of it for the future. But I think right now our concentration has to be on this wonderful event and making it a success.

Q. Peter, you could rightly claim to be the most open of the Majors, of the four Majors, and as just described from 27 nations. But this is being staged in Britain. Do you think it may be that the pendulum has gone a little bit too far, when you consider there are only 17 English players, the lowest I think in my memory, anyway, and there are 49 from America. Has it maybe gone a little bit too far the International way?
PETER DAWSON: I think that's a reflection on how golf has grown globally. Actually I think the percentage of American players in the championship is probably quite low at the moment, compared with ten or a dozen years ago. But the International spread of the field across the 27 countries, into Asia, into Africa, into South America, Australasia and so on, has been very considerable. And we pride ourselves on being the most international major. We want to continue that way. And I think it's for English and British and golfers, by and large, to get up there with the rest of them, as many of them have at top level. We'd like to see more home players. But I think our qualification system is such that it gives everyone a fair chance from wherever they come from.

Q. (No microphone) For example, the international qualifying at Sunnydale was won by an American. So I wondered if you thought that that was quite right.
PETER DAWSON: The question was, IFQ at Sunnydale was won by an American, and do I think that's quite right. IFQ at Sunnydale is, as you know, targeted to be convenient to European Tour players, and I think that American was playing on the European circuit at the time, so that's fair enough.

Q. As you said, single-sex clubs are legal, but morally, what's the difference between men only and whites only?
PETER DAWSON: Oh, goodness me, I think that's a ridiculous question, if I may say so. There's a massive difference between racial discrimination, anti-Semitism where sectors of society are downtrodden and treated very, very badly, indeed. And to compare that with a men's golf club I think is frankly absurd. There's no comparison whatsoever.

Q. Peter, golf is one of the new boys when it comes to the Olympics in 2016. One of the oldest Olympic sports at the moment in particular sprinting is in a meltdown over drugs, allegations, and failed tests, et cetera. Is that something that maybe concerns you from a golfing point of view with the scrutiny that being in the Olympics brings? And could you share with us any testing arrangements that are in place this week?
PETER DAWSON: Well, golf is very aware of its responsibilities as an Olympic sport, and indeed as a sport to ensure that it's clean and drug free. The tours have been doing extensive testing now for some years, I'm pleased to say, with no serious, adverse findings. But we're always, and I was in a meeting as recently as yesterday, to see what improvements and enhancements could be made to the anti-doping policies in golf for the future. So we're right on the case, as far as that's concerned. As far as this week is concerned, we're operating the European Tour anti-doping policy and there will be drug testing. We never advertise how it's to be targeted and how it's to be done, but drug tests will be conducted this week.

Q. Just in reference to your earlier remarks, I mean you made it seem as if there was a restless urge to drive Muirfield into extinction. But I'm not sure that's really the case. No one disputes Muirfield's right to cite its membership policy, but is the issue that not that the R & A is avowedly committed to growing the game throughout the world, and yet you bring The Open, the greatest championship, to a venue that excludes half the population. Is that not a morale dilemma?
PETER DAWSON: I understand the point, obviously. What I dispute is the fact of the matter that it does harm participation. I think The Open Championship at this absolutely magnificent venue enhances participation hugely. It's going to be watched by hundreds of millions of people around the world, whatever the numbers are. And I think that we will find that golfers, men and women, are inspired by what they see. I don't think people are seeing there thinking, "oh, this wonderful place, but..." I really don't. But we're aware of that view. I don't quite regard it as quite such a morale issue. I think the practical side of it takes over in my mind. But we're aware of the view. And to think that it would be a good thing for The Open Championship not to play it here, and perhaps to reduce the number of venues from nine to six in the UK, I could only imagine would do great harm to the championship, and not enhance it at all.

Q. Peter, you talked about the spectator experience. Back in the day when you used to come to The Open Championship there used to be something, it wasn't a merchandise tent, it was a golf show. And it was a large show and a lot of different vendors and a lot of things that people participated in. And today's version is quite different than the previous version. Can you tell me if your plan is to stick with this type of version or do you see yourselves going back to something that was more all-encompassing?
PETER DAWSON: Well, I think you're right, that we have lost a certain charm of the marketplace, the souk, if you'd like, of historical artifacts and things. Two Aspects to this: The Open Championship has to be a financial success to keep reinvesting in the championship, and to keep up with the other Majors around the world. All of the Majors, especially in the United States, make a good deal of profit from merchandising. We were not doing that, and so it's natural that we would try to put in a merchandising operation, which we have done, and is generally very popular, judging by the sales that come through it. I acknowledge that in that acts we have dropped what was a fairly popular spectator facility, but I think our need here is to actually reinvigorate the amount of exposure that the heritage of the game gets at The Open Championship, and we are looking at that in the future, although that might not involve going back to exactly what we had before.

Q. You said in your introductory remarks that it's number of factors that come together to make this the best setup in your time. Clearly the weather was one of those. The quality of the course, I imagine is another, did you have anything else in mind when you were saying that?
PETER DAWSON: I think the course changes that we've made have gone in extremely well and have been very effective. The general expertise of the greens staff here and the very specific assistance we now get from the Sports Turf Research Institute, STRI, we were actually in a quantitative way measuring the performance of the golf course in terms of hardness, green speed, trueness, smoothness, water content and all these things. It's a much more scientific operation than perhaps it was a few years ago.

Q. It's been six years, almost to the day, since Gary Player spoke about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs in golf. In the years that have passed, have you spoken to Gary Player about what he knows? And what have you done about it?
PETER DAWSON: Yes, I have spoken to Gary Player, and I don't think I found very much out, to be honest, in specific terms. But you just can't be complacent about these things. All you can do, I think, is to ensure that players are properly educated, and that your drug-testing regime or anti-doping policies do as much as they can to trap miscreants. We mustn't been complacent here. I have no particular evidence of a problem. Everything I hear is anecdotal and hasn't had very much specific behind it that I can latch on to, to be honest.

Q. Yesterday Tiger Woods came in and said he felt that water had been applied to the golf course between Monday and his play yesterday morning. I was wondering if that was the case. And also many of the players are under the impression that the R & A is, with the USGA planning, to do something about distance. The PGA Tour even referenced that in their statement related to the anchoring ban. Where are you on that?
PETER DAWSON: Well, the position on watering the golf course is that we are most evenings doing a minimal amount of watering to insure that the golf course stays alive in these conditions, and all we're trying to do is keep a balance between the water content that's being lost during the day and putting a little bit on at night. And we're just trying to make it lose a little bit more water content rather than a lot more too quickly. Our position on hitting distance remains constant since 2002, since the USGA and the R & A issued its joint statement of principles. That said that there was a line in the sand, but if hitting distances started to increase again, action will be taken. That remains the case. Hitting distances since that statement have not increased materially at all, they're absolutely on a plateau, and that continues to be the case.
JIM MCARTHUR: May I just add to Peter's comments about watering, we felt at the beginning of the week we had the golf course the way we wanted it. The task now is to keep it there, and keep it through. And there are certain areas, because of the weather, that are beginning to get a bit hard. So we're doing selective watering here and there. And I think that's making a difference and it's keeping the course exactly the way it should be.

PETER DAWSON: The hardness is going up a little bit day by day, so we've got it nicely in balance.

Q. You mentioned how difficult the buildup has been with this championship, with the ongoing debate about the men-only membership. Do you accept that realistically something has to change, whether it's from the R & A's point of view or from the clubs, simply to avoid this debate rearing its head every time we come back to a club like Muirfield?
PETER DAWSON: Well, I don't think we're in the business of doing something to avoid debate, frankly. We will have a good look at what people are saying, and try to take a view about all of this and find the most sensible way forward. We understand it's a polarizing issue. We've been through other polarizing issues - recently with anchoring, for example - and you eventually come out with a conclusion. I'm absolutely not going to pre-empt what's going to come out of this. I wouldn't even want to call it a review, but we're very conscious of the disparity of view on this subject.

Q. I guess you're not going to elaborate at all on what discussions might be after this Open on the gender issue. Has there been any discussion with the three clubs with considering changing their membership policies?
PETER DAWSON: I'm absolutely not able to say anything more. We do believe that membership policy is a matter of the club's. And we take a long way, I think, to be a hard push to push us off that position. We happen to believe that very strongly.

Q. The question about slow play. Can you enlighten us on what the timing policy is. Last year you said it would be stringently applied, but I don't believe there were any penalties.
JIM MCARTHUR: There were no penalties last year. Again, we are applying a pace-of-play position stringently this year. We have slightly reduced the round time from what we had at Royal Lytham & St. Annes last year. We are down to 4:25 now for the first two days, and 3:41 for the final two days. I think we are making progress here. As I said last year, this is a bitty of a journey rather than a solution immediately. And we are working with everybody. I think there is a mood amongst many players nowadays to improve the pace of play as well. We're getting much more cooperation. I know it's not professional, the Amateur Championship, the pace of play was good. The IFQ at Sunnydale, the pace of play was good there. So we are getting more and more players helping us to achieve our goals here, and I think we will continue to progress until we get to what we consider to be reasonable round times in the future.

Q. Back to Gary Player and the doping issue. You said you didn't learn much from your conversation with Gary Player. Can I ask, did one of the world's greatest ever golfers, confirm to you that he knew of players that were taking banned substances?
PETER DAWSON: No, he did not.

Q. That is what he said six years ago, he said he knew of players --
PETER DAWSON: Just to make that clear, what I mean by that is, he certainly didn't name any names, and therefore, I'm not sure what you can do with that information, other than be aware there may be a problem, and put in the policies to deal with it.

Q. How hard did you press him? Because these are quite serious allegations from a very, very, very respected golfer.
PETER DAWSON: Yes, well, quite frankly, I don't remember how hard I pressed him. It's quite a long time ago now.

Q. You got a bit upset earlier about the comparison between whites-only and men-only clubs, but you said, you don't regard it as a moral issue. It doesn't do anyone any harm. Could you just explain to the ten women in the room why racism is unacceptable and sexism clearly still is?
PETER DAWSON: Well, I don't really think, to be honest, and we could sit here all day and debate this, but I don't really think, to be honest, that a golf club, which has a policy of being a place where like-minded men or, indeed, like-minded women, go and want to play golf together and do their thing together ranks up against some of these other forms of discrimination. I really just don't think their comparable, and I don't think they're damaging. And it's just kind of, for some people, a way of life that they rather like. I don't think in doing that they're intending to do others down or intending to do others any harm. It's just a way of life that some of these people like. And realistically, that's all it is. You can dress it up to be a lot more, if you want. But on the Saturday morning when the guy gets up or the lady gets up and out of the marital bed, if you like, and goes off and plays golf with his chums and comes back in the afternoon, that's not, on any kind of par with racial discrimination or anti-Semitism or any of these things. It's just what people kind of do.

Q. Back to the drug issue, the PGA Tour does not have a whereabouts program in place. Does the European Tour? And if not, when will golf come in line with Olympic protocol?
PETER DAWSON: The answer to that is that players who are in the pool for Olympic selection will come under the International Golf Federation anti-doping policy in the months prior to the games, and that will include a whereabouts coverage, as you've indicated. So as soon as they come into the International Golf Federation policy, which is ahead of the Olympic games, these players will be subject to the whereabouts rules.

Q. Peter, have the events in Belfast over the past few days had a negative effect on the Open going back to Portrush?
PETER DAWSON: We're still at quite an early stage in the investigation. And obviously the political situation in any area, be it Northern Ireland or any other part of the country, is a factor. But it's far too early to say much more than that, I think, at the moment.

Q. Peter, sorry to come back to flog a dead horse on the women side of things. Two questions rolled into one: First of all, do you think if the Women's British Open wa to be staged not at St. Andrews, but at a women-only club, do you think the media would be kicking up such a stink about it? And has the R&A has become a lightning for for this issue?
PETER DAWSON: I think the media would have to answer that one. I know St. Andrews is very much looking forward to the Ricoh Women's Open coming again for the second time. And the R & A clubhouse is being thrown open to the ladies to use. And it adds a great deal of color to the town. It's a terrific event. Next year I think the British Ladies' Amateur is going to Royal St. Georges. So there's no exclusion of championships or play due to these few single-sex clubs being around.

Q. But has the R & A become a hostage to fortune on the issue, perhaps?
PETER DAWSON: I'll have to let you be the judge of that, I think, to be honest.

Q. Peter, have you received any specific feedback from the Tour professionals this week on the anchoring ban? Anything new you've heard this week?
PETER DAWSON: Actually, no one has specifically discussed it with me in those terms, at all. I've had a brief conversation with a couple of players. But nothing of any substance.

Q. Peter, European Golf Association figures show across the last ten years a steeper decline in female membership at UK golf clubs than for male or junior members. How much of a concern is that to you? And how much responsibility do you feel on behalf of the R & A to do or to be seen to be doing something to help arrest that steeper slide?
PETER DAWSON: It's of great concern. We have a series of meetings called the Golf Forum in the UK, where the R & A meets with England Golf, Golfing Union of Wales, the men and women in Scotland and in Ireland, and we discuss this subject to death, to be honest. But no one as yet has come up with -- apart from some very, very successful program at specific clubs in Wales, no one has come up with a good answer to turn this around. But we'll continue to be trying. It's a subject that we give a lot of attention to, but I can't claim any great success yet.

Q. You've painted a jolly picture of how much fun can be had as a member of a single-sex club, but would you accept that the rules are slightly different for the R & A given that you're making the rules for the game worldwide?
PETER DAWSON: Well, the R & A is conscious of that. As you know, it's not the club anymore that does this, but there's still a very close connection between the R & A companies and the club. And I think it's certainly beholden on us to insure that our governance committees are representative of the world at large in golf. We have taken some steps in that direction, but I'm sure there will be more to come.

Q. Peter, Alex Hammond, we understand, has written, as has the sports minister, to the club, Muirfield, protesting the policy of exclusion for members. Has he petitioned you about this issue?
PETER DAWSON: Not directly, no.

Q. I'm wondering about the view of your sponsors and patrons to the gender issue. And are they part of the discussion? And secondly, is there a concern that the issue puts off sponsors and their future relationship between the golf and the commercial sector?
PETER DAWSON: We are very fortunate at The Open Championship to have a very strong group, and a growing group, a group that has been growing, at least, of patrons, as we call them and official suppliers. I think those companies value being associated with the oldest Major Championship in golf and being associated with everything that the R & A does with the commercial success at The Open Championship. And I think they see those as great positives. That's not to say, of course, that those companies are not aware of these wider social issues. And as I say, we'll be thinking about these things in the months ahead.

Q. You had mentioned yesterday that you were in a meeting in regards to the drug programs. My question is, A, did the Vijay Singh issue come up? Because obviously he's been claiming negligence by the Tour in their process. And if so, is there a look at how the process should be done going forward? Because even WADA admits it didn't go so well in regards to this particular product.
PETER DAWSON: That's very much an internal PGA Tour issue in the United States. It would be wrong of me, while it's still under potential lawsuit, to comment. I really can't go there.

Q. You mentioned last year the possibility of looking at the infrastructure for Portrush, including it possibly on the Open rota. I am wondering what the position on that is.
PETER DAWSON: We're cracking on with the work. We've got another visit planned over there relatively soon. You'll just have to be patient and wait to see what comes out of it, I'm afraid.

MALCOLM BOOTH: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us this morning.

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