August 4, 2013
CHRIS REIMER:Â Thanks, everyone, for joining us.Â We just want to thank you for taking the time today for a special announcement.Â I\'ll start off by recognizing our speakers today.Â Starting at the far end of the table and working towards me, we have PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem; we have the CEO and Chairman of the Board for the Bridgestone Corporation; and then CEO and President for Bridgestone Americas, Mr.Gary Garfield.
Commissioner Finchem, if we could just start off with your announcement.
TIM FINCHEM:Â Thank you, and good afternoon, everyone.Â This is an exciting day for, I think, all of us at the PGA TOUR, our players, and everybody involved in the World Golf Championships, including the International Federation of PGA TOURs, and Richard Hills is here, who\'s with the European Tour, representing the other members of the Federation that\'s been working together since 1994 and for many years now on the staging of the World Golf Championships.
We talked a little bit earlier in the week when Jack Nicklaus was here and he was recognized an as Ambassador of Golf about the history of golf here in Akron and particularly at Firestone, and we\'re really, I guess, at 60 years and going in terms of that history and relationship over a number of different tournaments, most recently the World Golf Championship.
Since 2006, Bridgestone has been our partner, our title sponsor in this tournament, and we\'re delighted to announce today that they will be extending their sponsorship for an additional four years, which means we have five more years of partnership, and as I say, and going strong.Â I think the relationship has been very, very positive.
I\'d also like to share with you that Bridgestone will also take on the position of our official tire company and our official marketing partner category, which will broaden our relationship with Bridgestone even further, and we\'re very, very pleased about that.
Since Bridgestone\'s coming aboard in 2006, this tournament has continued to grow, and I think it\'s a product of the commitment of everyone at Bridgestone to not just have a golf tournament, but make it a very special tournament.Â And in addition to that, this is a company that has demonstrated time and time again their commitment to charitable giving, their support of programs like the First Tee.Â And because of that focus that they have, it has really been of additional benefit to the quality and stature of what we\'re doing here this week and our relationship with Northeast Ohio Golf Charities and the work that they do.
So as we look back over these past number of years with Bridgestone, we see increasingly strong cooperation, commitment, trying to make it better every year, and that\'s exactly what\'s happened.Â I would like to congratulate Mr. Tsuya and Mr.Garfield for their support, the support of their executive teams here in the United States and in Tokyo.
The other thing I just mentioned about Bridgestone is that it\'s an interesting company because they do a lot of different things, and obviously they are a fixture in the golf business, as well.Â So I think that has played a role in increasing even their enthusiasm and involvement in every aspect of the staging of this great championship.
Now, before I turn it over to Gary to talk further, I\'ll just say that from our perspective and I\'m sure from the perspective of these gentlemen, we have a tremendous week going on here.Â It\'s always interesting to see how when Tiger Woods gets a big lead, he gets a bigger audience.Â People want to see how big the lead can be.Â And as I was coming in here from the airport this morning, I was told that I should expect to be delayed leaving this evening because of the great crowds, and that\'s the bad news I always like to hear.
With that, I\'ll turn it over to these gentlemen.Â Mr. Tsuya, thank you for making the trip to be with us today.Â It\'s always great to have you with us, and thank you and everybody in your company for having the confidence in the PGA TOUR to make this extension.Â We appreciate that.
MASAAKI TSUYA:Â Thank you, Commissioner Finchem.Â On behalf of Bridgestone Cooperation, I would like to say how proud we are to have signed as title sponsor with this world‑class event for the last eight years.Â We are excited to continue our relationship with the World Golf Championship here at the Firestone Country Club, and we look forward to the bright future ahead.
Bridgestone Cooperation is the world\'s largest tire company, with a wide range of tires and diverse products, including golf clubs and golf balls.Â This sponsorship will further enhance the power of the Bridgestone brand and continue to provide additional worldwide chances for us to grow.
This is a solid investment in the Bridgestone brand, and we believe our association with the Bridgestone Invitational will further our position as a leader in technology, whether the product is golf equipment or tires.
We feel that golf\'s increasing global reach, as well as the international scope of the World Golf Championships, align well with Bridgestone\'s history in the world and our position as the world\'s largest manufacturer of tire products.
Bridgestone has a long history with the game of golf.Â We began producing golf equipment back in 1935.Â We are No.2 producer of golf balls in North America.Â We bring the same passion for performance, technology and innovation to design and develop our golf products, as we do to our tires.
The timing of this announcement is particularly unique and symbolic in that we are celebrating the 25th anniversary with the Bridgestone‑Firestone merger.Â Our renewed commitment is an excellent way to celebrate the past two and a half decades; why?Â We\'re aiming for the next 25 years.
Thank you again, Commissioner Finchem, for your continued support.Â The Bridgestone World Golf Championship is an important one for our company, and we are excited by the possibility and opportunities it holds for us in the future.
Now I would like to introduce my friend and colleague, Gary Garfield, CEO of Bridgestone Americas.
GARY GARFIELD:Â Thank you, Tsuya-san.Â You mentioned a moment ago that this is a wonderful day for the TOUR.Â It\'s a wonderful day for us, too.Â We\'re very, very proud of our partnership with the PGA and with this tournament.Â This tournament attracts the best golfers on the globe, and it\'s a tournament that\'s also played, as the Commissioner mentioned, at the historic Firestone Country Club, which is a very, very big part of our company\'s culture.Â We have a long relationship with golf going back many, many, many decades, and this sponsorship agreement reconfirms our commitment to golf fans worldwide, to the PGA TOUR, and to the area of Akron.
We are also very proud of the commitment this shows and the impact this has on the Akron area.Â We take our corporate responsibility very, very seriously, and this tournament generates about a million dollars a year for charities in northeast Ohio, including the First Tee of Akron and many other charities.Â We\'re extremely proud of that fact.Â In addition to that, it generates hundreds of jobs and it pumps about $20 million into the local economy every year.
As the Commissioner mentioned, we\'re also very excited that we\'re announcing today that we are the official‑‑ continuing as the official marketing partner with the PGA TOUR, meaning that the Bridgestone tires are the official tire of the PGA TOUR, and the extension of this agreement allows us to continue marketing our tires in a unique way to the people who watch and enjoy golf.Â So again, we\'re thrilled with today.Â It\'s a wonderful day for our company, announcing the continuation of our sponsorship of the Bridgestone Invitational and our marketing agreement with the PGA TOUR.
Q.Â Mr.Garfield, I was just curious if you could make address what you think is so special‑‑ you kind of talked about the Akron area, about Firestone specifically.Â Do you continually get feedback from the tournament from players about how strongly they felt about this?
GARY GARFIELD:Â Well, there are a couple different reasons.Â First of all, Bridgestone and Firestone merged about 25 years ago, so we have two world‑class brands:Â Bridgestone and Firestone.Â So having this tournament, the Bridgestone Invitational, at the Firestone Country Club is kind of like bread and butter.Â It\'s just a match made in heaven for us.Â So that\'s one of the reasons we\'re so excited about it.Â And of course Firestone Country Club was founded by Harvey Firestone many, many years ago.Â It just couldn\'t be more perfect for us.
Q.Â Mr.Finchem, I just wanted to ask you, are you at all distressed that 3 million people won\'t get to see today\'s tournament on CBS and next week\'s PGA presumably?
TIM FINCHEM:Â Well, some of them will watch it on simulcast, but I don\'t want to comment about the issues involved in that negotiation.Â Obviously from our perspective and other sports that are carried on CBS, I\'d like to see it resolved and we hope it will be, but I don\'t have any detailed information on exactly where they are, so I couldn\'t speculate.Â It\'s just that we hope they get it resolved.
Q.Â Do you know if the dates are going to be relatively the same for the event, the week prior to the PGA, and any word on how 2016 might be affected due to the Olympics?
TIM FINCHEM:Â It\'s our intention, I think we found over recent years that the week before the PGA Championship works nicely.Â That would be our intention.Â That\'s our plan.Â And I don\'t see anything out there that would move that in a different direction.
On the Olympic year, we just haven\'t quite finished sorting out the run in mid‑summer in those weeks, but it\'s not going to affect this week because the World Golf Championships have to have priority positioning, and the date will reflect that as it relates to the PGA Championship and for the Olympic competition, as well.
There won\'t be any hesitation in the continued growth and presentation of this championship brought on by those factors.
Q.Â Is there any chance this and the PGA can come after the Olympics in 2016?
TIM FINCHEM:Â Well, I could answer that, but until the Olympic Committee next spring, the International Olympic Committee, finalizes the competition schedule‑‑ and you know, women\'s golf is represented, as well, so the men will play one week, the women will play the other week, and all of that has to be ratified next year.Â As we look at the relative schedule around that and during that period, it\'s really subject to that getting finalized.Â So it\'s kind of premature actually now for me to talk about it.
Q.Â Do you see any possibility of the venue changing in the next five years to a different location, and do you think eligibility would change?
TIM FINCHEM:Â Well, we\'d have to go out and ask the players first what they thought about that.Â I guess we\'d go down the list.Â We\'d start with Tiger at the top.Â I think his vote would probably be to come back and play here every year.Â (Laughter.)
No, our intention would be to play here every year.Â The golf course is terrific.Â The players all love it.Â It\'s interesting that you see players this week and every year that struggle.Â It\'s a very difficult challenge, which speaks a lot to Tiger\'s position right now.Â But they respect the golf course.Â It\'s a very fair golf course.Â It\'s difficult but fair, and you have to be on your game, and that\'s what the best players in the world like to see.
So when you have a golf course that is so popular globally with all the best players, you have to have a pretty good reason to move away from that because it makes everything else work so well.
As I said earlier, we have 60 years of history here in Akron, so we want to continue to build on that, as well, and I think that those sentiments are shared by Bridgestone.
Our intention is to be here every year.
Q.Â How about the possibility of expanding the field?
TIM FINCHEM:Â Expanding the field?Â Well, you know, I haven\'t thought about that in a while.Â We look at field sizes every year across the board, whether they\'re invitationals or WGCs.Â It\'s something we\'re constantly looking at.Â Right now‑‑ and it\'s not just the size of the field, it\'s how that field comes together, and that is a very different animal as you look at our schedule through the course of the year, with major championships, World Golf Championships and all of our tournaments.Â It\'s something we evaluate.
But right now I think the structure we have we think works pretty well, but we\'re always going to look at it.Â Obviously we have more and more demand and we have more and more good young players coming up, but that\'s a constant for all of our Tours, all the Tours in the Federation.Â Richard and the European Tour face the same challenges as to how you provide access for so many good players.Â It has to be a hierarchy of events, but right now we\'re comfortable with the structure of this event.
CHRIS REIMER:Â Gentlemen, thank you, and congratulations.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports