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February 25, 2014
THE MODERATOR:Â Guy Harvey Samuel to come to the lectern and share his thoughts.
GUY HARVEY SAMUEL:Â Thank you.Â Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for joining us here today.Â This is our seventh year sponsoring the HSBC Women's Champions, and we're extremely proud to continue to be associated with the tournament that is firmly established as one of the premier events on the LPGA Tour.
This is a championship that truly captivates and inspires golfers and sports fans globally.Â The good news is that we all have four days of world class golf to look forward to, with four of our players relishing the chance to join our distinguished list of champions that bear already to its name such as Lorena Ochoa, Karrie Webb, Ai Miyazato, Jiyai Shin, Angela Stanford, and of course, current champion, Stacy Lewis.
HSBC wants to open up the world of golf to all comers, and we recognize the importance of nurturing local talent.Â Each year we're pleased to be able to provide one of Singapore's leading female golfers with an opportunity to compete against the champions of the game.Â This year, Amanda Tan won this opportunity at our local qualifying tournament a few weeks ago.Â I'm sure we all hope Amanda has an inspiring and memorable experience to build upon as she walks alongside and competes against many of her idols.
HSBC has much to be proud of and much to anticipate at the start of what promises to be a sensational tournament, and I'm sure you're all looking forward to watching all our champions tee off as much as I am on Thursday morning.Â Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:Â Thank you, guy.Â Now if I can hear from the LPGA, 32‑events this year, the LPGA is just getting bigger and better every year, and much due to the terrific leadership of their Commissioner, Mike Whan.
MIKE WHAN:Â Thank you for that rousing applause.Â Guy, Giles, Robbie, on behalf of 63 periods of time best golfers in the world.Â Thank you so much for hosting us.Â I hope you get 163 thank yous as you get repeat orders throughout the week.Â But I think just sitting here thinking about this event, there are a lot of sponsors and a lot of tournaments around the world in all kinds of sports that talk about being great and putting on something truly special that the world cares about, because everybody who puts on an event wants that.Â The difference in this case is HSBC and ING deliver that, and they deliver it year in and year out.
As I was saying to, Guy, getting off the plane yesterday, and getting into the Jaguar, which is the first great experience, and heading to the Fairmont, everybody has smiles on their face.Â They're talking about the golf course, they're talking about the restaurants, and they're talking about, this may come as a shock to you, but they're talking about HSBC customers that have been with us many years that have become friends of players and staff alike.
That doesn't happen every day in sporting events.Â It definitely doesn't happen every day in golf.Â It happens when somebody makes a commitment to say I don't want to just create a great event, I want to do what it takes to make sure it gets executed.Â There are so many things that HSBC, ING and the LPGA have in common.Â The list is long.Â You guys know I'm not good with notes, so I almost never take them.Â But I jotted down three this morning, which is the first three I've jotted down in five years as Commissioner.Â So humor me.
Global, bringing together the best, and partnerships, these are three things that are critical to HSBC and we have complete alignment with the LPGA.Â We believe in being global with the LPGA and making a global footprint.Â Lot of sports want to be global, but don't really want to go.Â You can't be global unless you want to go and showcase your sport around the world, and HSBC banks the same way we play.
We bring together the best, and they bring together the best.Â I looked at the chart today, and there are 58 of the top 60 players on the list here and those two players are injured.Â So that tells you something.Â I always say if you want to know how good a tournament is, look at the field.Â When the only two players that aren't here are injured, that tells you everything you need to know.Â I don't get to say that about too many golf tournaments, 58 of the top 60.
And partnerships, we've been in this a long time together and I hope we're in this a lot longer as well.Â We're committed to making sure this event works for them, as well as obviously working for us.
The last thing I'll say is when the Rolex Rankings came out this morning I'm always the first to get them, so I looked and said we've talked a lot about being a global sport.Â HSBC really brings the world together through golf and introduces the world to golf.Â If you look at the top 15 in the Rolex World Rankings this morning, six players from Asia, four from America, three from Europe, two from Australia and New Zealand.Â This game is global.Â The best in the world come from around the world, and that is why so many countries around the world pay attention to this.Â That's what makes HSBC and LPGA together with ING's leadership an incredible event.
I hope you guys don't take this for granted.Â I know some of you have been in the room before, but we don't take this one for granted.Â The rest of the world realizes what's going to happen here Thursday through Sunday.Â Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:Â Thank you, Mike, and I don't think you'll need notes again.
Now, it gives me great pleasure to please invite Giles Morgan.Â From the HSBC Group's head sponsor.
GILES MORGAN:Â Thank you very much for your kind words, Mike P particularly to invited members of the media, thank you for all your support for the many years we've been holding this tournament here.Â It is great to be back in Singapore, and it is a very, very special week for our golf program.Â Mike talked about the stats, the top 10 players in the world playing here, 18 nations being represented.Â Players with over 430 wins with 39 major victories between them, it's a truly stellar list of golfers and their achievements.
We're very, very proud to host this tournament for this our seventh year, because it provides us here in Singapore with a perfect platform to build relationships with our customers and deliver a global experience to people around the world.
As you know, our commitment to golf goes beyond Singapore, because our vision is to use golf to open up the world of golf and open up our business.
In the last decade we've been involved in 36 professional golf tournaments, and it's these flagship events around the globe that put us right in the heart of elite level golf.Â In 2014 we started on a journey stretching from Shanghai in the east to Sao Paulo in the West.Â It's a journey that's already started in Abu Dhabi and arriving here in Singapore for what promises to be a memorable week.Â Looking ahead to what will take us to Brazil as golf prepares to rejoin the Olympics, then on to Sir Royal Liverpool Golf Club for the 143rd Open Golf Championship before finishing in the WGC World Champions, the brother tournament of this event in Shanghai.
We continue to support the game in all levels.Â Opening up new territories and new opportunities for young talent.Â It is this focus on future talent that underpins all of our elite events and lies at the heart of our support.Â After all, today's prodigies are tomorrow's superstars.Â That's why in Singapore specifically events such as the HSBC Youth Golf Challenge are making a real difference.Â It's the achievements of Amanda Tan who qualified this year that really excites us (Indiscernible).Â They are perfect examples of how HSBC is helping opening up the world of golf and there are more children out there.
It's been really fascinating to see the developments of golf both in Asia and with women's golf here in recent years.Â We hope and believe that we are one of the catalysts for that growth and for grass roots programs making a real difference.
For HSBC, whether it's in Singapore or Shanghai or indeed in Rio all of our ambition is the same, to grow the game of golf at all levels and to open up new territories and new opportunities for young talent.Â We look forward to sharing four days of world class golf with you this week.Â Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:Â Thank you, Giles.Â It certainly will be four days of world class golf.
Our final gentleman to say a few works is Robbie Henchman.Â Robbie?
ROBBIE HENCHMAN:Â It's always great going last at these things, there is so much left to say.
Good morning, everyone.Â ING has been running golf tournaments for over 50 years and has staged 750 events worldwide in the sport of golf.Â However the HSBC Women's Champions is without a doubt one of the jewels in our portfolio and one of my favorite events.Â HSBC's commitment to building this event into one of the best women's sporting events in the world is what makes them such a special partner.Â Their dedication makes our job really easy.
This tournament works on so many levels for HSBC, and I believe that's because it enjoys the wholehearted support of both the local and international teams.Â They share the same vision and their never‑ending enthusiasm for making this event stand out above the rest.Â The players also do their best to make this tournament the success that it is.Â Without exception, the players on the LPGA, perhaps more than any other TOUR, globally continually go the extra mile to make ensure their sponsors are happy with their investment.
With ten of the top 10 players on the Rolex Rankings in the field, there is no doubt about the stature of the tournament in the players' minds.
Finally, a special thanks to our friends at Sentosa Golf Club who hosted us last year with great success, and our other great sponsors in Rolex, Jaguar, Singapore Airlines, Swissotel, (Indiscernible) to name just a few.Â We're all looking forward to another fantastic week, and thank you so much for your support.
THE MODERATOR:Â Thank you.Â Now it's time to open up the floor to any questions that you might have.
Q.Â Mike, I hate to say this, but the LPGA has entered somewhat of a golden era in the history of the LPGA.
MIKE WHAN:Â Would you say that again?
Q.Â I know, I know.Â It's become a really hard act to follow.Â How do you and what have you got in place to bring it to the next level in this coming year or the years ahead.
MIKE WHAN:Â You're essentially saying I can't enjoy it even for a season?Â I have to talk about what's coming next.Â The bottom line is I've said this many times, I realized in the first few months of this job.Â This isn't my Tour, this is the players Tour.Â We get to be here for a while, and leave it better for the next generation.
I think to Robbie's point, we're the only sport in the world that takes time in educating the athletes about the people that are actually writing the check.Â I think that's really what made the difference in terms of our growth.Â I think what HSBC showed the world years ago is now becoming the new normal.Â I think back when Giles was up on that podium five or six years ago talking about players from all over the world.Â Lot of golf fans all over the world said, ha?Â And the women's game has led the way and shown that players are going to come from around the world.Â When they do, fans are going to come from around the world.Â When that happens, sponsors come from around the world and that's what's happened.
One of the nice additions you'll see this year is something we call the international crown where eight countries will come together, four players per country to compete over four days and we'll crown the best female golfing in the world, and that will be played every other year and that will be a nice addition.
To be perfectly honest with you, I'm not excited about much more expansion than we've seen right now in the LPGA.Â We've spent a lot of time and money investing in the growth of our schedule.Â You'll see a lot more time and money invested in making events that we now have even bigger and better that the LPGA has invested in as well, that we haven't been able to do in the past.
I really think 33, 34, like I've said since I started is the right number.Â Top players play 29, 30 times a year, and if you have 45 or 50 events, you have a lot of fields to apologize for, and a lot of sponsors are trying to make it the field better.Â I believe if we have to work that hard to get someone to support us financially, I want to make sure they get what they want.
So if your question is how much more expansion will we see?Â I'd say probably not as much.Â If the question is can we bring significantly more exposure and opportunity for these women?Â I think we're only at the very beginning of that.
Q.Â Robbie, can you give us some indication of how it is to put on an event like this?Â What it takes to put on an event like this?
ROBBIE HENCHMAN:Â Well, hopefully after doing something several times you've got something right.Â But no, joking aside, it's about working with great partners, especially the partners of HSBC who are so, so knowledgeable in terms of the event and sponsorship in general.Â They're supportive and engaged.Â It makes our life so much easier.
Having a strong venue for any golf tournament, to have a very supportive title sponsor and a good venue, that makes a recipe for great success.Â Further to that, it's about going to team work.Â There is literally hundreds of years of experience in terms of the people working on this event.Â (Indiscernible) is a very experienced tournament director.Â These guys have done literally dozens and dozens of tournaments, and that creates an extremely good platform for us and makes it a quality event to sponsor.
Q.Â Mike, the LPGA has quite a lot invested in Lydia Ko after you waived the age requirement for her to join the Tour.Â How important is it for you that she has a solid season this year?Â Have you been making any moves, giving her any guidance about her schedule and stretching her season, things like that, to make sure she does well?
MIKE WHAN:Â Good question.Â The first part of the question is how important is it for us that she does well, it's completely not important at all.Â I would say that to you and to her and her family.Â She's going to have a long golfing career.Â Hopefully a lot of great years.Â She doesn't have to have them in the first.Â I find a lot with rookies when you ask them what their goals are, they say, well, I want to win a couple times.Â Well, then you say not that many rookies win a couple times.Â There is a lot going on.Â She's going to have a lot of changes.
Second part of your question in terms of her transition period.Â She'll be a rookie on the LPGA.Â She'll go through quite a bit of rookie orientation, probably more than she envisioned.Â She also has rookie hours, which are hours to understand what happens outside the ropes, whether that's in the TV booth, working on sponsor hospitality, whether that's walking on the fairway with somebody like me.Â We want to make sure she's not only good inside the ropes, but she's good outside the ropes.Â That is the formula for success with the LPGA.
In terms of it seems like now in my fifth year as Commissioner, there is always someone whether it's Michelle Wie or Suzann Pettersen, Lydia Ko, it's not important to me.Â They don't need any more pressure than they already put on themselves.Â If she wins ten times this year or not at all, I want to make sure this is a great opportunity for her and she has her best golfing here as an LPGA member.Â If that happens, we're all good.
THE MODERATOR:Â Lydia Ko is making her debut in the HSBC Women's Champion.
How good has she been?Â She was pretty amazing before she turned pro, but her record also as a professional in professional events is terrific.
MIKE WHAN:Â On the plane last night we were talking about Captain and Tennille, and I looked over and realized there was nobody in my row that would have any idea who Captain and Tennille are because they were all born in the 1990s.
THE MODERATOR:Â We were saying it seems Lydia Ko has been playing for years now and it's April before she turns 17.Â Quite a remarkable record and another player to watch out for this week.
Q.Â Guy, you've been on the ground here at Singapore and you've seen the emergence of this tournament.Â But you must be really thrilled with the way the public has actually embraced the seven stagings of this?
GUY HARVEY SAMUEL:Â That's a great question.Â It certainly seems a long time ago since 2008 when Robbie, Giles and I put the first tournament together then as you were too, and we have a lot to be proud of.Â From an HSBC perspective, our aim is to bring golf to all comers, and I think that over the seven years that you can say that we've done that.Â Attendances have gone up from 19,000 up to well over 26,000, a 33% increase.Â We still guarantee one slot every year for an aspiring young Singaporean junior to play with the big guys, the idols, as I've said.
And perhaps most importantly in terms of grass roots and the public, we work throughout the year with the Singapore Golf Association to really develop and refine the HSBC Youth Golf Challenge that's been going on since 2008 as well.Â Just last year we had 264 young juniors, young Singaporeans, boys, girls, ranging from handicaps of 20 to 27, right down to scratch, competing for this challenge, which is pretty remarkable, really, starting from scratch a few years ago.
But the great news is that Amanda Tan who is competing this week actually won that challenge as well.
Q.Â Yesterday I was privy to a private event that most people don't hear about, the one that was golfer Shanshan out in the middle of the dock.Â No big flashy cameras or retail branding, but she was there (No microphone) speaking with us and some neighborhood kids.Â It was very heartening.Â And I just want to find out.Â Obviously, these programs exist, and how does HSBC view the efficacy of these programs which are attached to tournaments all over the world.Â I'm not just talking about Women's Championships here in Singapore, but at HSBC tournaments all over the world?Â Perhaps, Giles or Guy maybe you can share with us some of the community‑based programs and how tournaments like this enhance those programs that presumably have been with HSBC for many years?
GUY HARVEY SAMUEL:Â There's only one program in HSBC Singapore that I'm prouder of than the HSBC Women's Champions, and that is the Corporate Responsibility Champions we do every year.Â We over the last eight years have gotten the Women's Champions started, we started this program where for a four day period we fixed old timers and disadvantaged kids as partners ‑‑ and the kids are individuals who are having trouble studying or don't have anywhere at home where they can study.
So last year over those four days, we had 800 colleagues and a number of customers who volunteered to help us fix well over 100 (Indiscernible).Â The figures are remarkable in terms of the children and their ability to improve their grades.Â Their ability to improve their focus was truly remarkable.Â And we thought with Shanshan here, in particularly being a speaker, it was quite appropriate to take her up to the heartlands of Singapore and show her what we were doing.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend yesterday, but I was catching up with my colleagues this morning.Â Incidentally the press covered it tremendously well, and it was a bonus and not something we normally look after.Â But the press was saying how wonderful Shanshan was with the kids.Â How she had missed her putt, but some of the kids had gotten theirs, and just a wonderful day everyone had.Â And that was just the filling on the cake as far as we're concerned this week.
Giles, do you want to say something on that?
GILES MORGAN:Â I think the great thing about sponsorship and why HSBC sponsors the way we do, it's an investment that allows us to do a lot of different things to interact with our communities around the world.Â When you think of an event like this, we have our top customers coming, a global TV audience, but it also allows us to showcase what we do in the community by utilizing whether it be golf, rugby, tennis, whatever it may be, using this to bring it all to life.
How we measure efficacy is we look at all of the different things that we do, and you'll see it at this tournament during the week.Â You'll see it around the village, whether it's customers or whether it's with media.Â It provides us with a very, very good rate of return which is great for ING and for the LPGA.
Q.Â Giles, you're playing with Michelle Wie in the Pro‑Am tomorrow.Â Given the fact that she drove it 316 yards off the tee at the 10th last Sunday, how confident are you that you'll be able to keep up with her?
GUY HARVEY SAMUEL:Â Perhaps I should answer that.Â Let me tell you, he has no chance.
GILES MORGAN:Â I think slim to none.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports