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WGC - DELL MATCH PLAY MEDIA DAY
February 24, 2016
CHRIS REIMER: How excited we are that it's the Match Play, the World Golf Championships‑Dell Match Play that's coming here. One of my favorite events. I've been working for the TOUR for 15 years now, and the Match Play is unlike any other event we have on TOUR.
I'll start off just by recognizing some of the dignitaries that we have here today that will be speaking. We have Trisa Thompson, Vice President of Dell Global Corporate Responsibility. We have Steve Adler, the Austin mayor; Jordan Uppleger tournament director for the Dell Match Play. We'll be talking in a moment with Rory McIlroy via satellite, and then I want to welcome two World Golf Hall of Fame members, Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw.
I think we'll go ahead and get started with our guest of honor today, who's just finished his pro‑am at the Honda Classic. We'll go ahead and start by welcoming our defending champion, Rory McIlroy. Do we have him via satellite? There he is. Rory, thanks for joining us.
RORY McILROY: There we go. My pleasure.
CHRIS REIMER: I think, first off, if you could, just kind of walk through your memories of last year's event. Obviously match play is a style of play where it's head‑to‑head, it's a little more, you can take a few more risks, but you have over the course of your tournament, five, six putts every round that can mean the difference between winning and losing. Talk through what it was like to win last year.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it was great to win the Match Play last year. Obviously we went to a different format. You know, going with the round‑robin thing, and even if you did lose a match early on, you still had a chance to redeem yourself and get through to the quarterfinals and the semifinals. I thought Harding Park was a great venue, and I felt like it suited me well.
But then, you know, once I got going, I felt like I had the game to play well. I had to find myself in a couple of sticky situations in the first couple of matches against Billy Horschel, and then against Jim Furyk in the quarterfinals, as well, had to go extra holes against Paul Casey, and I think all that really prepared me for the final, and I went out and I played a great front nine holes, and that was basically it.
I really enjoyed it. I've always enjoyed the Match Play. I love the format. I feel like I can be myself a little bit more and be aggressive, and it worked out really well for me last year.
CHRIS REIMER: We'll take some questions.
Q. Rory, I'm curious the excitement of coming not only to a new venue but you guys are all popular in your own right, but you know who the favorite is going to be here. Is it going to be pretty cool to see kind of a college crowd with Jordan where he went to school here?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, for sure. I've never been to Austin before, so it's somewhere that I'm really looking forward to be. Obviously Jordan, the home boy there, and it would be great to go against him. I know that 99.9 percent of the crowd will be with him, but I guess it'll be like a Ryder Cup that we would play in America.
You know, it'll be good. Jordan has obviously done phenomenally well over the past couple of years, and his year last year is one of the best years ever in the history of golf. It's well‑deserved that he goes there and probably the favorite, and it's up to us to go there and try and beat him in his own backyard.
Q. The match play format, do you think that the Europeans, the Irish, the Englishmen, have an advantage in match play over the American golfers who will be in the field?
RORY McILROY: I think so a little bit. I feel like we play a lot more match play golf growing up, when you're amateurs and in junior golf. We play a lot of match play, and I feel like that serves us well in this tournament. But the weeks that we have off, if we're playing against each other, we'll play match play, and I feel like every guy that's in the field will have a decent history of match play.
You know, I don't feel like the Europeans have any sort of advantage over the Americans in that. I feel like everyone can play match play, and some guys adopt the strategy that they want to play the guy they're playing or they just play the golf course and try to shoot the best score they can. So there's definitely ways to approach it.
But I don't feel like one nationality has any advantage over the other.
Q. You spoke a little while back about the pressure Jordan was under to continue the pace he was on. How difficult is that to go through that the way you went through it and kind of slowing down a little bit, and now he's going through it a little bit? How difficult a process is that?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean, I wouldn't say Jordan is slowing down by any stretch. He's had a couple of average weeks by his standards, but I mean, he's still got a win this year. You have to remember all the travel that he's been through, as well. It takes its toll, and there's going to be a point where you don't play your best golf. I think it's a good thing for him that he's taking a week off this week.
But it is, it's hard to keep that standard of play up for 12 months a year. I think the only guy that we've really seen doing that is Tiger. Tiger was the one that‑‑ he was relentless. He just kept it going for so long.
You see most of the guys now, they have good stretches of golf in maybe six‑ or eight‑month periods and they might cool off a little bit for a month or two, but then they'll come right back again.
It's tough to keep it going, mentally and physically, because you have to have your downtime. You have to have time to work on your game, work on your swing, and have a balance in life, as well.
Jordan has had a couple of average weeks, but by no means is he going to slow down. I mean, he's a phenomenal player. I feel like he's young enough to keep it going for a while. That's me talking as a 26 year old. I'm four years older, but at the same time, he's a phenomenal player, and I have no reason to believe that he'll‑‑ I mean, he'll feel more pressure, but I have no reason to believe that he'll slow down.
Q. What do you know about the course here at Austin Country Club and how difficult is it to play a course that you've never seen before?
RORY McILROY: You know, honestly I don't know much about Austin Country Club. I know that nine holes we're going to play is sort of up on the hill a little bit and nine is down near the river, but apart from that, I really don't know much. I feel there's a bit of a disadvantage there if you're going to a golf course that the other guys know well, but if you're going to a new course for everyone, it sort of levels the playing field.
You know, it'll be the same for everyone. We'll all have to get there a couple days early and practice and get to know the course. I think everyone is in the same boat in that regard. Obviously a few of the guys from Texas might know the course a little bit better than we do, but pretty much everyone is in the same boat when they get there; they need to learn a new golf course and learn it quickly.
CHRIS REIMER: This is a new tournament for this market. If you could just talk a little bit about what makes World Golf Championships events special.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean, WGCs are some of the biggest tournaments that we play. Obviously you get the best fields in golf from all over the world, and I think that's the great thing. The more that we can get the top players playing against each other more often, the better, and obviously with the Match Play, Doral next week, Firestone, then going to China for the Champions tournament over there, I think having these World Golf Championships and getting the best guys in the world together more often is great for the game of golf. I think the fans really want to see that, and the players want that, as well. We want to challenge ourselves against the best players in the world.
It's great that we have this series of tournaments, and hopefully it continues for a long time.
Q. Do you know anything about Austin, Texas, its music culture? It's going to be a crazy week. We have the rodeo, South By Southwest in town, the golf tournament, we'll have a race just before you guys get to town. Do you know much about Austin?
RORY McILROY: I don't know. The only thing I know is that it is a big college town, but apart from that, I know that the Formula 1 is there, but really apart from that I don't know much, so I'm looking forward to getting there and learning more about it. I haven't really played in Texas all that much in my career as a pro, and I'm looking forward to getting to a new place and experiencing something different.
CHRIS REIMER: Rory, last question from me is how is your game these days? I know you're in a busy stretch of your schedule, you played LA last week, you've got two tournaments this week and then the World Golf Championships. Kind of talk about where you are and your thoughts on the upcoming stretch.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I'm feeling good about my game. Last week was good for 57 holes, I guess, and then sort of fell apart the middle of the round on Sunday. But the game feels good. It's nice this week, it's a home tournament for me, I can sleep in my own bed, and any time we can play an event and sleep in our own bed, we'll talk it. Obviously happy with that, and then got a good run of events coming up with Doral next week and then Bay Hill and obviously at the Match Play in Austin. A good run of events coming up, and I feel like my game is sharp enough to contend and can't wait to get to Austin and defend my title there. It's going to be my first defense of the year, and hopefully I can put up a good one.
CHRIS REIMER: Thank you for taking the time to join us, and good luck this week, and we look forward to seeing you out here.
RORY McILROY: Thank you. Thanks, guys.
CHRIS REIMER: Well, not a bad way to start off media day with one of the top players in the world.
He spoke a little bit about what makes World Golf Championships events special, and for those of you in the room, they are a step above your standard PGA TOUR event. World Golf Championships count for every Tour across the world, so European Tour players, it counts towards the Race to Dubai, Asian Tour players it counts towards the Asian Tour Order of Merit. So this is an event where you're going to have the top 64 players in the world, where an average PGA TOUR event might get 25 of the top 50. You will have the very best of the best. For instance, Rory McIlroy made his United States debut at this Match Play tournament several years ago, so it's where fans get to see the up‑and‑coming international players that you might not see everywhere else.
For more of what makes the World Golf Championships‑Dell Match Play special, I'd like to introduce Jordan Uppleger, tournament director.
JORDAN UPPLEGER: Thanks, Chris. Appreciate it. It's good to see everybody here. I see some recognizable faces, so thank you for being here today. Again, my name is Jordan Uppleger. I'm the tournament director for the World Golf Championships‑Dell Match Play. It's hard to believe that eight months ago we moved from San Francisco to start the planning process for this event, and here we are 25 days away from hosting this international event here at Austin Country Club.
It starts with our partners. We've got great partners here. I can't thank Dell enough for their support of this event. They've worked diligently with us on the planning process, making sure they bring this unique Austin feel to the fans here, and it's been very, very helpful.
The folks here at Austin Country Club are magnificent to work with, under the leadership of Jim Cahill, Greg Meserole, the staff, the board of directors, and the membership, our experience here has been unbelievable.
The last thing is the community. We launched our ticket sales; roughly 30 days, we're sold out. We launched our volunteer program for 1,100 people to operate this event; roughly 30 days, all of our committees are full.
This just shows how important this event is to this community, and I feel that it's given us a great foundation to be successful. So thank you very much.
I want to talk a little bit about why this event is so unique. I think Rory obviously talks about it and Chris will talk about it, but we are the only event on the schedule under the match play format, and it offers a couple different things that I think it's important for all of our fans to understand.
Obviously the top 64 players in the world will be here, but what does that mean? Well, our average PGA TOUR event on the schedule, there's only 23 players that represent the top 100 in the world week in and week out, and we're going to have the top 64 players here competing head‑to‑head with one another, and I think that's very, very special.
You know, Rory talked about getting all of the players together and making sure that they're competing at this level. That's why the World Golf Championships were put together, to get these players to compete outside the major championships, which is going to be happening right here in Austin, Texas.
A couple other things. In San Francisco we had 34 international players that represented 18 countries. That just shows the international reach that we have. If the field was done today, 39 international players would be represented with 21 countries. So that's exciting. That doesn't happen week in and week out. I can't speak for the Honda Classic, but I know that our other coworkers around the United States don't have that type of field. So very special.
Obviously our format. Rory spoke about it, as well. We're competing over five days, so Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we're playing in group play with single elimination starting on Saturday and Sunday. He didn't speak of this, but your traditional PGA TOUR event, you have 72 holes of stroke play. Rory had to play 91 golf holes to take the prize last year, 36 holes a day Saturday and Sunday. This doesn't happen week in and week out. It takes a very, very different strategy about how you're going to play the golf course, are you going to play the golf course, are you going to play the player, and so we're going to be able to watch that all take place right in front of us, and I think it gives our fans, the community, and our corporate sponsors a great foundation to sit and watch this happen right in front of our face.
Our defending champion, obviously we're excited that Rory is here, but with Jordan Spieth, we've had the opportunity to catch up with him last week to talk about what he thought about coming to Austin, so here, take a look.
JORDAN SPIETH (recorded): I'm excited for the match play in Austin. I think that Austin Country Club is going to bring in kind of all of Austin. I think nine holes on the water, nine holes in the hills, what a great venue for the tournament. It's going to be a lot of fun being back home, too.
Yeah, I love match play format. It allows you to take more chances. It allows you to play more aggressive, also kind of play against your opponent. It's a little more of a mental game. I think Austin Country Club is going to be a great course for match play format because there's a lot of risk‑reward. The par‑5s can bring in eagle, but you can also bring in bogey then. There's a reachable par‑4 as well as these par‑3s. Par is going to be a pretty good score, I think, that week.
It's going to be a fantastic. It's going to be interesting to see the impact on the water there, see some of the boats. You'll have fans out there, you'll have a lot of people cramped into that kind of area down by what is now 3, 4, 5, what will be the back nine. Great finishing holes where it does bring in risk‑reward and you really have to commit to a lot of good shots.
JORDAN UPPLEGER: So we share that excitement. We're obviously thrilled to have Jordan here. Thank you again for being here today. Thank you, Dell, for your support. I want to thank our volunteer leadership, our host committee, and personally thank you for embracing our staff and helping us with this event. It's been unbelievable. We look forward to hosting you in 24 days here at Austin Country Club.
CHRIS REIMER: Thank you, Jordan. I just want to reiterate how great of a job Jordan and the local staff here have done. We also have Alex Bodney who's here. He's our tournament operations manager that's here. I would recommend all of our TV and radio folks that are here today find Alex, hunt him down, because he's going to be the one helping you with power and phone lines and all that good stuff, and he'll be the one you call at 5:00 a.m. when you're bringing your live truck out to the golf course.
And then we also have Callie Gibson, who's our tournament services manager here. She's basically everyone's boss. She's working on a lot of our volunteer programs, a lot of our travel programs, so they've really been welcome with open arms here in Austin, and we truly appreciate it.
I'd briefly like to tell a story that Kym Hougham, who is the tournament director of our PGA TOUR event in Charlotte, relayed to me. When he started his tournament there in Charlotte nearly 10 years ago, he went to Arnold Palmer and asked Mr.Palmer, what makes for a good PGA TOUR event. Mr.Palmer told Kym Hougham three things, and the first thing he said is to find a community that's going to embrace golf. Find a community that's going to provide an incredible experience for the fans, the media and everybody and the players aligned with the tournament. Find someplace where you can feel the excitement from everyone you talk to, where you're the main event in town.
Our next guest, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, is going to speak to us a little bit about why Austin is so excited for this tournament.
HON. STEVE ADLER: I think Austin is a magical city, and in this magical city, it doesn't get more exciting than what is about to happen with this tournament. I think it's especially exciting that the WGC would not not only to come to Austin but to start this tournament on my birthday (laughter), and I'm excited about that.
You know, the Match Play tournament is going to bring 70,000 people here to our city. It's going to fill up our hotels. It's going to generate almost $20 million to the Austin economy in this period of time. Specifically for this city, there are five charities that have been picked out and are going to benefit by what happens here. It's going to benefit the Austin Parks Foundation with the city, The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin area, the First Tee of Greater Austin, the Helping Hand Home For Children, and Keep Austin Beautiful. You know, an event like this not only brings the entertainment, but it brings that kind of local support, and for that we are fortunate and real appreciative.
It's going to take place here at our own Austin Country Club, one of the oldest clubs in Texas, home to some of the top world‑class golfers, Rich Beem, Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, and now UT grad Justin Spieth. But perhaps most important and the biggest impact on golf history, this tournament is coming to the home of Harvey Penick, and I'm sure that many people here like me have their "Little Red Book" that they still carry around and treasure.
You know, Austin is becoming, growing up and becoming ever more an international city, and I think that events like this are the ones that recognize that coming of age for a city like Austin. This is going to be an incredibly exciting event, and I hope‑‑ it's going to be hard to top Rory McIlroy's exciting finish last year, but I am excited he's going to get here so that the next time he gets asked, he actually has heard some of the music down on 6th Street and down on Rainey, that he's had some of the food at the food trucks in our city.
Again, Austin is a magical place, and an event like this just belongs here, so welcome to the WGC.
CHRIS REIMER: Thank you, Mayor. So the second thing Mr.Palmer said was important to having a great golf tournament, and he actually stressed this one as the number one element to having a great event, is defining a great title sponsor, a sponsor that doesn't just put their name on an event but rather looks for ways to make the event the best in the world. He added that a title sponsor shouldn't just put their name on the event but they should truly embrace the community where the event is played and then find meaningful ways to give back to that community. Dell has done just that. It's due to Dell's foresight and dedication that this tournament found a home here in Austin, so at this time I'd like to introduce Trisa Thompson of Dell to say a few words.
TRISA THOMPSON: Thank you, Chris. As Chris said, my name is Trisa Thompson, and I'm really excited to represent the 13,000 team members we have in Austin and the 100,000 team members we have globally. We are really excited and actually I should just say we're actually thrilled to be the title sponsor of this event. It's a way for us to extend our brand globally, but importantly, as well, it's an opportunity for us to connect with business leaders and decision makers who are looking for a great technology partner that will help them accomplish really great things, and this is a great opportunity for us to do that.
It's also really important for us to bring professional golf back to Austin. Austin has a great‑‑ well, it's a great city. You just heard that from the mayor. But it also has a great sports heritage, and we're really excited to have that opportunity to bring it back here. It's also a really good opportunity for us and the PGA TOUR to expand on our philanthropic efforts. We're working‑‑ well, I'm going to start here. Look out the window if you didn't notice on the way in, Austin Country Club is a special and fantastic venue. It's just beautiful, and we're really excited to work with the club and its membership to bring the TOUR back to Austin.
I want to quickly share a little bit of information about Dell. A lot of the people here know a little bit about Dell. We've been here a little while. It is our birthplace and our hometown. But for the past 30 years, a little over 30 years, we've been providing and enabling access to technology, affordable technology, to millions of people worldwide, from every age, every profession, everywhere.
As we like to say, Dell is an end‑to‑end technology solutions provider. We provide technology that takes you from the desktop to the data center to the cloud. Our customers are extremely diverse. We represent‑‑ we have customers that include 98 percent of the global Fortune 500, all of the G20 governments, 4,000 hospitals, 200,000 physicians, over 13,000 K‑12 schools, millions of students, and millions of consumers worldwide. So you can see the reach is pretty expansive, and the technology is equally expansive. Like I said, we can take you to the cloud.
We're also eager to showcase our technology to all of the people watching this event worldwide, as well as the fans that are on the TOUR that come here and watch the event.
As I also mentioned, it's really exciting to be part of an organization and working and partnering with the PGA TOUR that has a long philanthropic history every place where it goes and plays. Just like the PGA gives back in all the communities where it plays, Dell is committed to giving back in the communities where we operate, and particularly Austin, also, where we have our headquarters.
Let's talk a little bit about what we plan on doing.
So technology has always enabled potential, human potential, and we really have at the core of our initiative youth learning, and youth learning is about enabling human potential early and making a difference in the lives of those children. This is going to be‑‑ the events that we're going to work with and the partners that we have here, there are five of them, and we'll talk about them in just a moment, but we really want to focus on outdoor play and how critical it is to the social, emotional health and academic achievement of students. All of the studies show that outdoor play is critical to this, and that children who are active are actually healthier but also have higher academic achievement across the board.
Our charitable partners, you can sort of see them, I think they're all kind of lined up there in the back row, as Mayor Adler mentioned, include Austin Parks Foundation, the First Tee of Greater Austin, Boys & Girls Club, you can just raise your little hands back there to show us where you are, Keep Austin Beautiful, and Helping Hand Home For Children.
All of these organizations are top‑notch and are fiercely committed to youth development, as is Dell. Dell and the PGA have a history of working with these organizations, and these organizations have an incredible history of giving youth access to technology and outdoor play that has improved youth across the board.
Together we're going to work together to determine how to use the charitable proceeds from the tournament to encourage‑‑ well, not to encourage, to improve health, wellness, resiliency and academic achievement for underserved youth in Austin, and we will make a lasting impact for our underserved youth and help prepare them for a better future. It's been a real pleasure to work with the PGA TOUR, the Austin Country Club and the city of Austin to bring this tournament here, and we're really excited to see how the show goes in 24 days and to really make an impact on our community.
We're looking forward to a long partnership with the ACC and with the PGA TOUR, and we are really excited to have this start in 24 days. So thank you, and all of our partners will be here afterwards, as will I, so we can have any conversations you'd like to. Thank you.
CHRIS REIMER: It's always great to see firsthand the impact that our tournaments make in the communities where we play. We celebrated a great milestone last year. The World Golf Championships is a series of four events, and combined those four events hit the $50 million mark in charitable contributions, so that's a great number, and we know that with everything Dell has focused on here in this community, that number is only going to grow exponentially. It's helpful to remember that when you support our tournaments, when you support this event, a lot of that support is going to go right back here to Austin, so thank you, Trisa, and thank you to all the folks at Dell who are really focused on making that happen.
So we listened to the first two items from Mr.Palmer's suggestions. His last suggestion is to find the golf course. Find a course that's going to be universally loved and appreciated by world‑class players, and so I don't have the ability to share with you why Austin Country Club is going to be great, so we invited a couple Hall‑of‑Famers to come and talk to us about Austin Country Club. At this point I'd like to invite Mr.Crenshaw and Mr.Kite to please come forward.
CHRIS REIMER: Well, thank you, gentlemen. I think my first question I would pose to you is why are the players going to love this golf course.
TOM KITE: Well, I think‑‑ we are fortunate in Austin in that we've got so many really, really good golf courses, but I think this is one of the special ones in the state of Texas. I think it is underrated, mainly because the membership of the Austin Country Club hasn't really sought out all that recognition. They're not promoting it because our membership is full, and I think it's just a great opportunity to show this golf course off. I think the players are going to love it. It is really a true test. It's probably a little short for the players and the distance that they hit it right now, but that's really going to add to the excitement of the tournament being a match play tournament. It's going to allow them to take advantage of some of the opportunities, as Rory and Jordan spoke of, the shortish par‑5s that will allow them to go for those in two, a couple of drivable par‑4s are just going to increase the excitement so much.
So I think everybody is going to enjoy it, but I think the players are really going to be blown away when they see the golf course.
BEN CRENSHAW: I think that the Match Play tournament provides something that a medal play doesn't. I think Tom and I played forever, and the times when we got to play match play, there's very something different about it. Match play brings in the human element, whereas medal play where Tom and I have tried to make our living for forever is more numerical.
But I think, like Tom spoke about this golf course, I think that it architecturally‑‑ I think it's really going to be wonderful for match play because there are going to be situations where, yes, this is going to be the first year, but it's the players' knowledge of the golf course, how well they've prepared to try certain shots at a certain juncture, which I think will be very interesting.
You know, obviously Tom and I can't say enough about our hometown. We love this place. We want people to see it. And to see why we love it so much. There's so many things that we love about it. But I really do think that the people that are going to come out to watch, they're going to witness some of the best golfers that have ever played the game. Tom and I have played against some pretty fierce competitors in our career, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player and Lee Trevino. These guys today are really, really, really good. You've seen so many advertisements from the TOUR saying that, but when you watch these guys up close, you'll say, well, this is‑‑ they can't believe that people can do this.
On that note, you know, when we saw Rory speak, he spoke about golf is worldwide now, much more so than when Tom and I played, but the young golfers that are up front now are remarkable, and what's great about them is they're all great ambassadors for the game. We are so proud of them and the way that they play and the way that they treat people, and it says volumes about the game that we play and how exciting the game is today.
These guys are going to be in Austin, which is great.
CHRIS REIMER: Yeah, I think it'll be exciting to come out and watch, those that are familiar with this course, to see the lines that a Bubba Watson takes on certain holes and the way he moves the ball or where these guys put their tee shots compared to where the rest of us lay people do is going to be great.
Q. What does it mean to have Jordan Spieth, a guy that is an Austin guy now, and to have someone as special as him kind of be an ambassador type guy for this tournament?
TOM KITE: Well, I think that one of the great things about golf‑‑ one of the bad things about golf is that we don't have a team to pull for. We're not from that city. But you have players that are from there. Everybody in Ireland is pulling from Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke and those guys. But everybody from Texas right now is pulling for Jordan. You know, he's just doing such a great job on the golf course, but I think the thing that Ben spoke to about the quality of the person, you just love what he's doing, the way he's representing the TOUR, the way he's representing Texas, the way he's representing himself and his family. He's one of the classiest kids you'll ever want to meet.
You know, it does our heart good when we say, yeah, we went to school at the University of Texas, and there were a number of other players that followed in our footsteps, and now Jordan is the most recent. But it's fun watching him do the great things that he's doing and handling himself so well while he's doing it. And he's not the only one.
You know, that interview with Rory right there was just terrific. He's articulate and excited about being here, and Jason Day and Justin Rose, and there's just so many of them right now that are just great players. Yeah, I'd like to be Tim Finchem and try to sell the PGA TOUR right now. That's a pretty easy sell.
BEN CRENSHAW: Just on a personal level, watching last year unfold was one of the‑‑ I never had so much fun, watching Jordan. And Rory touched on it a little bit. It's really one of the great years to ever happen in the history of golf. My mind goes back to Ben Hogan's year in 1953 in which he won three major championships and really couldn't play in the PGA that year, but there's only been a very few people who have had a realistic shot at the Grand Slam. God, the sustained golf that he played all through the year, and I must say, too, that when Tom and I played, the media scrutiny wasn't quite what it is now, but how he handled himself all the way through it is remarkable.
But I'll never forget the first time that I met Jordan here. He was only here for one year. But I played golf with him, and Tom and I were together not too long after that, and I said, have you really met Jordan? He said, yeah. I said, you know what, that guy looks at you different. He's got a different look about him, and the first time I met him, I could tell it was a different guy, but I watched him play, and it was just like he had such natural ability, and he has a knack of playing the game. He's very smart about it.
And to watch him play this last year and the year previous‑‑ the year previous he almost won the Masters, and then he carried it off in beautiful fashion last year.
But I have had such a good time watching him. We're very much in his corner.
Q. You guys have embodied golf, y'all are the face of golf here in Austin for forever for a lot of us. How special is it to have this kind of talent pool come to our town? How personal is it for you guys? And how much will you guys play the ambassador role again because I know you guys did that for the Champions Tour?
BEN CRENSHAW: We'll have a great time being here. We want to be here. We want to see it. We want to see how far golf has come. Tom and I, we don't get a chance to see and watch and play and be up close to the players of today, and it's come a long way.
But to watch them tackle this course, but having them come here to Austin, and obviously this club means the world to both of us. Tom's been here forever, and we're linked here. I think that‑‑ and we also‑‑ we've got to say about Dell, we can't thank Dell enough for doing this. This is their inception, really, in professional golf.
That's a pretty good story unto itself. Michael did a little experimenting in his dorm room, made a computer. That was pretty good. And these days are filled with pages‑‑ he's trying to buy a little small storage company. But it's a good story on that end, but we can't thank Dell enough for being so involved and all the charity outreach that they've done all through their career.
All the whole amalgamation was very exciting. You start thinking about all the things that Austin rolls out these days, South By Southwest, the X‑Games, Formula 1, just people around the country and the world, they say, God, this is‑‑ what a place this is. We say, yeah, we've known this for a good while.
TOM KITE: I think Ben and I both, having lived here as long as we have, kind of‑‑ part of us wishes this town had 300,000 people in it like it did when we were growing up. Obviously it's not the same town, but when Ben and I were playing the TOUR, Austin wasn't what it is right now, and there was never an opportunity for us to play professional golf in our hometown, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth, they were the big cities, and they're the ones that Monday plied it, and golly, we had four tournaments on the PGA TOUR in Texas. Well, I mean, that kind of‑‑ I guess that's as much or more than any state. Maybe California has a couple more.
But we never even thought about the possibility of having one here in Austin. But we're a little bit more than‑‑ well, the zero is in a different place right now, and I think we're 2 million people now, and we deserve it. This town is so vibrant and it's such a cool place. I mean, it's not 300,000 people, but it's still Austin, Texas.
And the thing that Ben and I love about it and the thing that we‑‑ why we never left, why we didn't go to college somewhere else, why we stayed in Austin, why we still stay in Austin, is because this town is still that cool little town that it was, it's just got more stuff going on and more issues that the mayor has to deal with and things like that.
But it is, it's an exciting place to be right now. I jokingly call it the epicenter of the universe because everything seems to revolve around Austin, Texas, right now, and this is just another feather in our cap, and we're proud of it.
And I'd like to say one other thing about Dell. The best tournaments on the PGA TOUR are those tournaments that have a sponsor from that area. The best tournament on the Champions Tour is in Seattle, Washington. Boeing is our sponsor. They get involved with it. They love what's going on with the community. You know, everybody lives there, so they just want to‑‑ they have the pride of the whole area the same way that Ben and I do, and it's great that Dell has decided to get into golf, but it's great that they've brought it here to Austin, Texas, and I think it‑‑ when you have a sponsor like that that has a vested interest in the community, it really speaks volumes for where this tournament can go long‑term down the line.
I know there's a four‑year commitment, but as all the representatives of Dell said, we hope it goes on for a long, long time past that.
Q. As you know, as a member of the UT golf team, Jordan played and practiced here extensively, and in three weeks he'll be facing players who will probably be getting their first look at the course on that Monday or Sunday before the tournament. How big of an advantage is that for him, particularly on this course?
BEN CRENSHAW: I think it helps. Whenever Tom and I went to a place where we did not know or that we had to feel like we had to cram for exams, let's say, you're always‑‑ you want to learn as quickly as you can, but I think this golf course, it seems to me from a golf situation, yeah, it tests every part of your game, but I think‑‑ I think the greens are sort of medium to smallish, and I think going into the greens and approaches is going to be very important. I think to try to get those iron shots the right distances to putt the greens I think is always something that we've always thought of as positioning, but it's only the knowledge of the contours and whether it's the distances or up and down or‑‑ you have to be ready.
You know, let's face it, in a few weeks the wind might be blowing a little bit in March, but Texas golfers always have a little bit of an edge because they know that a north wind can spring up, and you need to know the golf course to learn how to play that.
You learn all these things in a sudden way, but that's kind of the way that we've learned to do it over the years. You always will play during your career places where you're most familiar and you feel like you can do well, but the people who prepare in a short period of time here and knowing how it can play will benefit.
TOM KITE: Jordan will have some advantage because he knows where the golf is and kind of has an idea of how to play the course. But as you probably know, the golf course was‑‑ we did a revision to the golf course, and Rod Whitman came in and did some changes to the golf course to kind of get it back to what the original design was. The greens had shrunk through the years.
But he went beyond that. He actually made some changes to the golf course. So it's not exactly the same golf course that Jordan played when he was in school here, even though he does have an advantage.
But the thing that‑‑ I'm always aware, yeah, these guys have this ability to learn. This is their job. The best are really good at it. I know when I first went on TOUR, I was amazed at how much stuff the veterans saw that I didn't see until they pointed it out to me, and then it's like, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, I see that now. But after playing out there for a number of years, all of a sudden you start to learn stuff. It's just like anybody else in their business. When you really know your business, you see more than everybody else does. These guys have an unbelievable ability to learn the golf courses very quickly. Their caddies will help them a great deal. But I promise you, by the time‑‑ certainly by the time the tournament is over, the guys that will be playing in this tournament will probably know the golf course better than some of our members who have been members here for 30 years. They will see things that our members don't even pay attention to, don't even have a clue exist. It's just their job, and they learn it so well.
It's going to be a fun process. I think that's part of the fun part of coming out early in the week and having a chance to watch these guys play their practice rounds and get an experience to see which guys learn‑‑ they're going to hit putts all over these greens and try to learn them and try to guess where the pin placements will be.
But as Ben alluded to, this is a Pete Dye golf course, and so much of what Pete designs is all about angles, and it is going to be fun to, as Chris said, to try to guess where Bubba Watson, what angle he's going to take or what sight line he's going to take versus somebody else. It's going to be an interesting learning experience for them.
CHRIS REIMER: I imagine Jordan will have a lot of practice partners during the practice rounds, a lot of people volunteering to play with him?
TOM KITE: I would think.
Q. You alluded to this a little bit, but Austin has a rich golf history with the Champions Tour event here and the Senior Tour being founded here. To kind of see that all come full circle now and get a PGA event of this caliber in Austin, what does it mean to you guys and to our golf community?
BEN CRENSHAW: You know, Tom and I played many years there at the Hills of Lakeway, which was very well‑suited to when we played there. It was a wonderful golf course. The players loved it. People who had not been‑‑ some of the players of our era had never been to Austin. They loved it, of course.
But the genesis of senior golf, it started at Onion Creek, and it really showed a different side of golf to a lot of different people, and I thought it was wildly successful. They had some unbelievable players from yesteryear play in it, which gave it so much credence. But now we have the modern era right before us, and it really‑‑ this is so special.
Tom alluded to Dallas and Houston and San Antonio, and like Tom says, it's Austin's turn. Austin is well showcased to have it. But I really do think from a sentimental side, at least to me, Austin Country Club and Harvey's name has a lot to do with what the players know about and what they'll learn.
We had a gentleman who not only meant the world to Tom and I but meant the world to a lot of golfers who took lessons or new Harvey as part and parcel of this place, Austin Country Club, so it has a very sentimental value, as well.
TOM KITE: Yeah, I would hazard a guess that all 64 players that will be playing have at one time or another read the "Little Red Book," and to have read it and kind of touched on a little bit of that knowledge and that history, and then all of a sudden to have the opportunity to go to the place where he lived and taught and mentored, you know, that's going to be pretty special for them.
Obviously our love of Harvey is‑‑ we want to share that with as many people as we can. We're very happy about that.
CHRIS REIMER: Mr.Crenshaw, Mr.Kite, from the PGA TOUR, I want to thank you guys for being true ambassadors not only to the game of golf but this tournament and this city. You spoke a little bit about this new generation of golfer, whether it's Jordan, Rory, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and what great people they are. Well, that's because of the mentors and the example that the players like you set for them. Appreciate your time today, and look forward to experiencing this exciting event when it comes here, so thank you so much.
Well, I think it looks like we satisfied all of Mr.Palmer's requirements. I am truly overwhelmed by the excitement this community has shown for this event. As many of you know, we sold out in record fashion. We have all of our volunteer spots handled, which is something that we don't always see at every event, the outpouring of support from everyone here in this city and this area has been fantastic. You can see by the attendance today how excited everyone is for this tournament.
When you think about what will be the back nine for this event, I need everybody's help reminding fans, don't just go sit on the 18th green. Match play doesn't always end on 18, okay, so if there's people out there thinking they're going to see every match, 18 might not be the best place to be.
But that amphitheater and that area out by Lake Austin, it's going to be absolutely electric with multiple viewpoints where you can see 13 tee, 15 green, it's just going to be really, really exciting out there. With match play, particulate of our job is to get quotes from every player at the end of every match, so we're running around trying to find the matches ending on 13, getting to 15, and I just think for the fans, it's truly going to be special at this golf course.
Before we conclude, I have a few housekeeping items. First of all, as Dell has tried to make this truly an Austin event, working with our tournament staff, we've identified five local food partners, some of which are here today to feed everybody, and so we've got‑‑ I'm trying to do this off memory so I may look for some help. I know we've got Amy's Ice Cream, Hat Creek Burger Company, Micklethwait Meats, Torchy's Tacos, and East Side‑‑ you guys hear from them. We've got some food, if you could talk to them about their excitement. We really wanted to make this tournament an Austin tournament, so it's not just hot dogs and fries that are going to be out there. You're going to have Austin food as part of this event, as well.
We have a really unique event that's going to happen Monday of tournament week, so March 21st, where we announce the brackets, announce the brackets for group play at the Paramount Theater. This is a live Golf Channel show that's going to be at the Paramount. We're selling tickets for it right now. All proceeds will go to charity. We need to get the word out about this event. We want to kick the tournament week off on Golf Channel with a full house. Andy Roddick is going to serve as kind of the emcee of the commercial breaks. We'll have a number of players that come there, and they see as their group is being chosen. It's kind of a mix of the NFL Draft and the ESPN March Madness Bracket Special. So we have the whole ping‑pong ball machine which will be a lot of fun, and again, it goes to support Austin charity. It's kind of a unique way to take the event and have something downtown there on Congress Street and celebrate one of the landmarks here in the city.
If you guys could kind of help us get the word out about that event, again, we're really excited that it's going to become a tradition to kind of have that kickoff to the tournament week on that Monday.
Just a reminder that there are 500 tickets every day that are going to be given to military members for free at Camp Mabry. It's one of the things we do to support our men and women in uniform. Those can be fulfilled by contacting Camp Mabry, and we will also have a hospitality tent, the Patriots Outpost here on site where these military members and their families can eat, drink and have a place to be for free.
As a veteran of the Air Force myself, it's great to see how the PGA TOUR does this at almost every one of their events and truly celebrates those that are fighting for our country and their families.
We also have a policy that every ticketed fan can bring one youth member 18 and under for free to the event. We want to expose kids to this game, so if you've got a family of four and you've got two tickets, you can bring your kids out, and again, that's something that we want to make sure that the public hears.
Again, I'd like to thank all of our speakers. We do have an online media kit specifically for this event. The video of Jordan, the video that we showed at the beginning, our story ideas deck, how to get credentials, our fact sheets, information about Austin Country Club, information about Dell and our charity partners. It's all on this media site. It's dellmatchplaymedia.com. There's broadcast‑quality footage on there that you guys can use, and we will have a full transcript from this event that we'll email out to everyone, as well, and hopefully have a Dropbox link of Rory's video to share.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us, but all that information should be available shortly.
As we mentioned, we're really, really excited about this tournament. I think you can tell from all the speakers we have, all the guests we have, that this is truly going to be a one‑of‑a‑kind, unique and fantastic event, so thank you for your support, and I appreciate everybody's attendance today. Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports