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August 22, 2016
Q. (On arriving early in 2015):
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, I think that's kind of common the last few years. I've showed up early for a couple reasons. One, the TOUR Championship is the TOUR Championship; it's our last chance of that season to make an exclamation point to cap off a year, to make a significant impact, and there's certainly incentive in the FedExCup and the TOUR Championship itself.
It's a very significant event that we put up there in the top -- right below a major championship. It's extremely high importance.
Last year is no different. I mean, I came off two missed cuts the first two weeks of the Playoffs, then went to -- had a pretty good finish at the BMW and gained a little bit of momentum and wanted to go straight into East Lake, get out there on Monday and get adjusted to the Bermuda, to kind of the difference in green speeds and the way the course plays.
I also really enjoy the fact that there's 30 guys, so you have all the facilities to yourself. Everything is on your own time.
It was very important to me, and obviously it worked out last year at the end of it, and I'm pleased that two out of the last three years I've finished second to Henrik in 2013, and then '14 had a bad Saturday round, but then '15 came back strong. It's just one of my favorite places in the world, one of my favorite golf courses in the entire world. I love the layout, and that's another reason why I was there early, because I just thoroughly enjoy being at my favorite places.
Q. (No microphone.)
JORDAN SPIETH: I mean, we still play the same 72 holes, add them up at the end. I think it'll be exciting. No. 18 was a pretty -- obviously now I have a fantastic memory on that green finishing up there. You had some drama on that hole in the past with notably Jim Furyk's bunker shot to Sneds' priceless reaction, but the 9th hole, that provides an opportunity for someone to make up two shots, and normally that 18th hole, you're making a 3, and that's going to be about the average score.
On the 9th hole you can make an eagle, and then if you're in trouble you can make a bogey. I mean, you can make up two to three shots on one hole.
I think it adds quite a bit. I love the seating around the 9th hole. You don't necessarily have to put big grandstands. You've got the backdrop of the clubhouse right there. It's a beautiful hole to finish on.
For us players, from what I've heard, we're not -- we're somewhat indifferent, I guess. We think very highly of the way it was and the way it will be now.
Q. (No microphone.)
JORDAN SPIETH: You know, to start the year -- well, I guess we had a chance at the Masters to continue on that pace, and then after that, it was just a bit of a lull trying to answer questions, figure out how to phrase what happened there with after the U.S. Open, okay, you've gone two majors without winning. You know, that's not exactly a level that anybody has ever played at.
Just sitting back, recognizing that this is a fantastic season, how can we forget about any kind of expectations, forget about 2015 in a sense, use our experience and our confidence from performing in big moments, but how can we improve each and every week going forward the second half of the year to hopefully eventually create a scenario where I can play the way we played at the TOUR Championship and then feed that into the Ryder Cup, which is now those two weeks are obviously highlighted.
You know, I recognize that it's just not possible necessarily. I mean, you have to get so many great breaks to have the kind of year like last year. I can get better as a player and have years that are similar and maybe even better some day, but it's just not going to happen every year. But each time I tee it up from now on, that's out of my head, and I'm looking forward versus behind and ready to get back into the thick of things, honestly.
Q. (No microphone.)
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it's more recent. That's more, I would say, Open Championship on. You know, before that, that's where I started to recognize it almost like I was just trying to guide the ball too much and getting emotionally invested in every shot, and it's just going to take too much out of you.
Yeah, things are going well. I struck the ball the best I've felt like I hit it all year, including going back to the Masters. Other than Hawai'i, the best I've hit it all year were at the last two majors, I just for whatever reason, the putter went cold. Not really worried about that. That doesn't seem to happen too many weeks in a row for me, so if I can continue the consistent ball-striking that I've had the past month and then bring this putter around in these last four tournaments, five including the Ryder Cup, you know, then we'll be right back on track and hopefully better than ever for this year, better than I have been in 2016 at any point.
Q. (No microphone.)
JORDAN SPIETH: I think honestly it's maybe underappreciated by the players. I mean, this is something that the PGA TOUR and FedEx together provide for us that isn't necessary, I guess. I mean, that's not really the right word for it, but it's not something that they have to do, but they choose to do anyways because they believe it's good for all parties. We just benefit from it. I've gotten to know quite a few of the members at FedEx now, just fantastic people.
In the future I'd like to go back to Memphis and give back to those guys specifically for what they've now done for me. It's just a fantastic opportunity for us to play for more, and then with that, have a chance to then give it back or do, I guess, what you want with it. It's pretty fantastic what the FedExCup does. It adds just an extra element to the end of the season.
Q. (No microphone.)
JORDAN SPIETH: It probably took -- right afterwards, it was great, but we were getting ready for Presidents Cup. I would say it was around Christmastime, New Year's time, where I could really reflect. I never really stopped. I never went for more than a couple weeks without playing a tournament in the off-season last year.
It takes some time to let it sink in, and honestly, with the way this year has gone, which I thought it's been a pretty great year, it actually makes me really put in perspective how special last year was, because it's not going to be the norm. No one wins two majors a year for their entire career and a FedExCup. That just doesn't happen. It puts it in perspective. You don't ever want to think that. You want to think you can keep on improving, and even the results will get better. But the realistic side sets in a little, and honestly, it drives me, but it also helps me appreciate to the extent how special last year was.
Q. (No microphone.)
JORDAN SPIETH: It doesn't, no. My schedule is pretty much set the rest of the year. I'd really like to play well at this tournament, though. This is the only event in the Playoffs where I feel like I haven't had a chance to win it. I had a fun time at the Deutsche Bank in 2013 earning that captain's pick. That was a round fun. I've had a couple close calls at BMW, and then TOUR Championship has been a fantastic event for us.
But the Barclays has been one where I've kind of struggled to get myself up there and have a chance to win, and to come to a major championship venue in one of the toughest venues in the United States at Bethpage, the Black Course, that's exciting. That's where I think it would play into strengths of mine. I feel very confident on very challenging golf courses. I feel like my game, I can step it up and dig in almost a little bit more. I maintain focus better on tougher courses.
That's the idea is to -- after a few weeks off, hopefully there's not any rust. There shouldn't be. I've still played quite a bit of golf this season, and I feel really good about the work I've put in in these weeks off to be prepared to put on a show at Barclays.
Q. (No microphone.)
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, it was the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur. I was 15. I already loved the game. I wanted to play on TOUR. I wanted to be a professional golfer someday. But I wasn't exactly, I guess, the next level of realizing, hey, this can be it, this is possible. There and then the Byron Nelson in 2010, but that Junior Am kind of went in as one of the favorites, and that's difficult in a match play format. Dug through the whole time, ended up winning the event, and that was a huge moment for me.
I remember that having a pretty lasting impact for months afterwards on how special that feeling was. I mean, that's a major championship in junior golf and a very difficult one to win, and then took that -- and that propelled me to the experience at the Byron Nelson. I got the exemption partly because of that win at the U.S. Junior.
After the Byron Nelson in 2010, I was pretty sure that I could -- if I continued to improve that I could definitely compete out here.
Q. (No microphone.)
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, the two holes that come to mind are that stretch of 5, 6, which I guess will be 14, 15 now, right? That's where I would imagine -- other than now the new 18th hole, the old No. 9, those two holes are probably going to decide the tournament if it's close coming down the stretch. Those were already pivotal holes in the round, and they were the fifth and sixth holes of the day.
Now they have a little bit more importance towards the end. You have the new 14th, you have to hit a fantastic drive just to hit a long iron into the green, which is a hard enough shot off of the severe downslope you're hitting off of, and after you do that, it's not done, the green is challenging. Really looking at a par hole there, and then you roll over to now the 15th with a 5-iron in your hand from 205 yards into an island green. When the pressure mounts -- I remember last year being in the lead at that point, or at least I think we were maybe around tied. I was tied with Henrik. But I remember it being obviously nervous on that tee because it's a very challenging shot, but it was nothing like what I felt when I got to the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th holes. It just didn't have necessarily the same importance at the end. You still felt like you had an entire round ahead of you. So that's going to change that hole a lot, as well.
Q. (No microphone.)
JORDAN SPIETH: I've been getting up and going to the gym and practicing. I did that this morning here at Bethpage. I think I'll roll back up by the golf course, go ahead and go -- pretty boring. Probably go to sleep and get up, go to the gym, and I think I'm going to play 18 holes tomorrow in the morning.
Q. (No microphone.)
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, yeah. We're going on Jimmy Fallon, yeah. I thought you meant after the whole blitz. No, that'll be really fun, filming that I think within the next hour. I've watched -- when I'm at home for a week, I'll watch Jimmy Fallon probably two or three times that week. It's going to be a lot of fun being on the show. Hopefully I can make a couple people laugh. I don't normally do that, but we'll see.
ROB JOHNSTON: Thank you very much for being here today. If you would have asked me back in 1997, 1998, what were my criteria and thoughts for us to have a terrific golf tournament, without question I would have said, Mr. Commissioner, give us a meaningful tournament. The rest of the 40 some odd tournaments are wonderful, Mr. Mayor, but this one is special because it's the championship for the entire TOUR season. So that clicked off the list pretty quick. This is a very meaningful season, and the addition of the FedExCup, I must admit, took a couple years for the players to understand, but beginning six or seven years ago, it is understood and it is respected and appreciated by every player that I have talked to.
The second thing I would have said is we need to host it at a great course with great traditions and great heritage, and that's East Lake Golf Club. This is a magnificent track. You all know the story better than I being the home course of Bobby Jones and the Yates family, but this East Lake Golf Club staff under Chad Parker rates second to none anywhere in the United States. I'm very proud to be a member.
I thought it would be neat after working on the Olympics for 10 years that our public face, our persona for this tournament was someone with notable esteem, and who's better than that than Tom Cousins. This man is not only a giant in Atlanta, he's a giant all over America. I've never met a man with a greater vision and greater heart and a greater commission to an ideal that started in 1992, that he's equally passionate about today as he was back then. I would have asked that we were supported by the elite sponsors in America, and who do we have with the Southern Companies, Coca-Cola, and FedEx. We could not be more proud or happier than to have those three sponsors with us.
And the last thing I would have said is who's going to run it. We need a volunteer pool. And shortly did I realize after that, Billy Payne was asked to chair this initial tournament. He brought 600 of the Olympic volunteers to this tournament. We hit the ground running and never looked back. So almost 20 years later, of our 1,300 volunteers, Mr. Mayor, 700 have Olympic experience going back to the 1990s. That's their commitment.
This tournament has been an equaled success by any dimension over the tournaments. We've raised over $22 million for the local charities, predominantly the East Lake Foundation, and I think you'll all agree that every champion has had a pretty unique story, whether it was Bill Haas chipping from -- even though it was a shallow lake, to the way Jordan putted last year to Jim Furyk, Mr. 58, coming out of the bunker. We have had some extraordinary tournaments, and I do really believe that 2016 by far will be the best, simply for the fact that we've got an incredible field, and also this reversal of the nines. It's going to bring a dimension of excitement, a deviation in scoring in the last couple of holes we have not had before.
Starting our tournament this year, as you know, we have two tee shots. We're the only tournament in the country that has that. One we do to represent our hope for tomorrow, it's the children of East Lake. This gentlemen in the first row is going to be from the First Tee -- stand up, please. He's going to hit one of our tee shots. The second tee shot I am proud to say is Hal Sutton is going to hit it. Hal Sutton, as you well know, won the inaugural TOUR Championship here at East Lake in 1988, and he won it because of -- it's taken me a while to say this, No. 9. No. 9 is a par-3 as you well know now. I don't say the old 18.
Anyway, Vijay bogeyed 18 that year for Hal to make the playoff, and then Hal birdied 18 in a playoff to win his first TOUR Championship, so he and this young man from the First Tee East Lake will be hitting the tee shots.
Mr. Mayor, I just wanted everybody to know that as a proud Georgian and Atlantan that the golf season, whether it official starts or doesn't start, the hoopla does, in April, right down I-20 at Augusta, and it's completed 140 miles later here in your city, in Atlanta, at the TOUR Championship.
I'll conclude by saying, Mr. Mayor, that over the last three months, we have seen Cleveland, Philadelphia and Rio as cities highlighted. There's not one of them that can hold their head up as high as Atlanta and the job you're doing for us.
Ladies and gentlemen, the best mayor in America, honorable Kasim Reed.
KASIM REED: I just hate my wife always misses the really good introductions. I'm telling you, really, I hope I get a copy or tape of that.
I'm so delighted to be here with you all tonight, today, and the real reason I'm excited is because the leadership of East Lake decided to join the city of Atlanta and be annexed into the city of Atlanta, so now the PGA TOUR Championship is actually in Atlanta. That deserves a huge round of applause.
I definitely want to thank the Southern Company. I was actually just with Paul Bowers of Georgia Power before I came here, and of course the Coca-Cola Company, my dear friend Muhtar Kent there, and the East Lake Foundation for the extraordinary job that you do every single day. I think the most important part of this is that in just a few weeks, in 227 countries around the world, the eyes of all of those nations will be right here on the city of Atlanta. And what's really special is that over the 16 years that this tournament has been hosted here, people's lives are being changed in a dynamic and powerful way, and you really could not have said it better.
There is no more exemplary leader than Tom Cousins and the vision that he had through the East Lake Foundation, through the private school that has started where these young people matriculate every single day.
So all of this good corporate behavior, all of this good corporate governance and citizenship really does go to change people's lives. Over the course of this tournament, $22 million has been generated for philanthropy, and this year $2.4 million will be generated for philanthropy.
So I've cleared my schedule because I know where I'm going to be. I'm going to be right here with all of you, and we are so pleased and so proud to have a tournament with such a distinguished legacy and distinguished families and individuals decide to be hosted in the city of Atlanta. You have my personal gratitude and my full support, and I can't wait to see you tee off. God bless you, everyone.
CHRIS REIMER: Why don't we start our panel discussion. I'd like to invite forward Chris Womack, President, External Affairs, Southern Company; Bob Cramer, Group Director of Professional Sports at Coca-Cola; Daniel Shoy, President of the East Lake Foundation; and Ty Votaw, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for the PGA TOUR, and my boss. So make me look good, please.
The format for today, we're going to discuss a few topics. I'll encourage all our panelists to give their thoughts, but I also would love for you guys and ladies in the media here to participate. Feel free to ask questions, raise any questions or thoughts you may have about the topics as we go through them.
Our first topic, we've talked a little bit about it but we haven't really got to the core of what this new logo means. We're going to elevate this tournament, and how are we going to do that. It's a tournament that already has 10 years of history with the FedExCup. It's already the ultimate prize on the PGA TOUR, but how do we elevate it.
So what I'd like to ask, start off with my boss, Mr. Votaw, if you could, just talk about some of the ways that the new proud partner model and the flipping of the nines and the different things we're doing here are going to take this tournament and make it even bigger and better.
TY VOTAW: Thank you, Chris. I listened very carefully to Rob's introduction, and we've been coming to East Lake since 1998, and have had the FedExCup here for the last 10 years, and one of the hallmarks of this event, the support of the East Lake Foundation, East Lake Country Club and our sponsors each year since we've been coming here is continual improvement over the previous year, and it's something that I think this tenth year anniversary of the FedExCup for the TOUR Championship is a great example of that.
With the reversal of the nines to create more drama over the last nine holes on Sunday coming down the stretch, through the support of our two proud partners, Coca-Cola and Southern Company, they have elevated the event through their support that enables us to have national commercial-free television when the leaders make the turn on the back nine on Sunday. You'll be able to watch shot by shot over the course of those two and a half, three hours, unlike any other professional golf tournament on television.
And I think the fan experience that we're going to be able to provide to all of the spectators here at East Lake during that time will also be something that's reflective of that continual improvement. As you walked in and saw on 15, that par-3 that Jordan was talking about earlier, a triple decker hospitality tent, one of the first of its kind in professional golf here at East Lake. It will be a wonderful way for the people who are in that hospitality tent to view not just 15 but the surrounding holes, and we have more spectator viewing areas over the course of the back nine with this new configuration so that the experience will be even that much better as we come down to determine who this year's FedExCup champion and the winner of the TOUR Championship is.
I hope that is somewhat of a description of how we are elevating this event, and it's done through the history and tradition of continual improvement by everybody associated with the PGA TOUR, our sponsors, and that tournament.
CHRIS REIMER: Mr. Cramer, you mentioned the commercial-free portion of the broadcast, but obviously keeping the tournament here in Atlanta is a big plus for companies that call Atlanta home like Coca-Cola.
BOB CRAMER: Absolutely. That was key; Commissioner Finchem and Mr. Cousins took us aside at the tournament last year and really presented their vision for this new format and where they wanted to take the tournament and elevate it to a new level, and we couldn't have been more supportive in that process. We're thankful that the Southern Company has stepped up and are partnering with us in this new proud partner model. It was really important for us to keep this tournament in Atlanta, our hometown for the last 130 years, and with this new arrangement through 2020, we're guaranteed to have this tournament in Atlanta.
The other thing that was really important for us was to make sure that we continually increase our contribution to the East Lake Foundation, and this new partnership with the Southern Company guarantees that there will be an increased donation each year through 2020.
And finally, the format that Ty Votaw just mentioned is really exciting for us, too. As an advertiser, to go dark the last three hours may seem counterintuitive, but we're really excited about the prospect of that and think it will add a lot of value to the viewership on NBC.
CHRIS WOMACK: The opportunity to showcase Atlanta, Atlanta is a great, great sports town, and so the opportunity to keep the tournament here has been very, very important to us but also as the mayor made reference to, the opportunity to benefit this community in terms of the charitable contributions, but the economic impact in terms of bringing job but also bringing hope and opportunity to this community is something that is very important to us.
So our partnership with the TOUR, our partnership with our friends at Coca-Cola means a lot to us in terms of keeping this event here and having the opportunity to showcase Atlanta.
In addition to that, having these 30 great golfers here in Atlanta is a wonderful opportunity to expose Atlanta to them, as well, and so on Monday night again for the second year in a row, we'll have a big Welcome to Atlanta celebration at the College Football Hall of Fame where hopefully we'll have some of our closest and best friends welcome the players to town, and we'll have a wonderful, wonderful event.
And then Tuesday night, something we get real excited about, we'll award our Payne Stewart Award on Tuesday evening at the Ritz-Carlton where we'll name Jim Furyk as the Payne Stewart Award winner.
Values are very important to us as a company, and the Payne Stewart Award as it highlights those players that have a great focus on charity, sportsmanship, as well as community and character. We think it's important to showcase how important golf is as a sport but also how important golf is as growing the game but also giving back and making communities better.
I'll tell you, of all the Payne Stewart Award winners we've had, we've had some phenomenal Payne Stewart Award winners, had Ernie Els last year. When you hear the stuff that Jim Furyk and his wife Tabitha are doing with their charitable work, it will bring tears to your eyes. I mean, they're really giving back. They're really making a difference, and so to bring all these elements together is very, very special, and to do this in Atlanta makes it very, very important and makes it very beneficial to us, and we're excited to continue to partner with the TOUR and with our friends at Coca-Cola.
CHRIS REIMER: Speaking of giving back, obviously Mr. Shoy, the more that we can do to elevate the tournament, the more we can elevate the story of the East Lake Foundation and the impact it has on these young men and women that are with us today.
DANIEL SHOY: That's right, and I would just quickly add that we remain grateful for the generosity and the support from the Coca-Cola Company and also from Southern Company, so we are proud that they're proud partners and are proud to call them partners and not just during this time of year when we have the TOUR Championship but also year-round in the many ways that the Coca-Cola Company and the Southern Company have provided support for this community and everything that we're doing here.
We're particularly excited that this year marks an -- and I'll borrow from what Jordan Spieth said, an exclamation point on Drew Charter School because we will have our first graduating senior class in May of 2017. So as I look down and I look at two of our three young people who are part of that senior class, I think about the opportunity for Drew Charter School as a public school and one that just 16 years ago was at the very bottom of the bottom, to now be in the top percent, not just in the city of Atlanta but also in the state of Georgia, to provide an example of what possibility, hope and opportunity look like, not just in East Lake, not just in Atlanta but around the rest of the country where our sister organization Purpose Built Communities is working in communities that were very much like East Lake was 22 years ago.
CHRIS REIMER: That's great. I know you mentioned the Monday night event. Are you allowed to say who's going to be performing there?
CHRIS WOMACK: I thought it was a secret. We've got Cee-Lo Green. Cee-Lo spends a lot of time in Atlanta, and we hope Cee-Lo brings -- Cee-Lo will do what Cee-Lo does, so we think it'll be very, very entertaining, and so it'll be a very fun night.
We've said before, this is the Super Bowl of golf, so the Super Bowl is full of lots of activities during the course of the week, so we want to kind of create a very similar environment here in Atlanta throughout the week for the players and for the fans to spend time with the players.
We also have Matt Kuchar who has said he'll be there and bring his bronze medal. It will be a wonderful, wonderful event, and this is going to be a wonderful week here in the city of Atlanta.
CHRIS REIMER: And that event will also benefit the East Lake Foundation, as well. Talk about elevating the tournament, you hear from these stories it's going to be elevated for the fan on-site, it's going to be elevated for the viewer at home, it's going to be elevated for the players, as well, with the flipping of the nines.
We caught up with a few players to tell us their thoughts on flipping the nines so we can hear some of those comments now if we can roll that video.
CHRIS REIMER: I got out here, it wasn't necessarily confusing but you build these talking points, you build press conferences like this, you hear from the players, and obviously you probably heard the word excitement about 15 times in that video, but when you get out here and you actually see the holes and you see where fans are going to be able to stand, you see where the triple deckers are going to be built, I think there's truly going to be a buzz down around that corridor by the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th holes, so I think it's going to be a fantastic finish and certainly continues in the goal to elevate the event.
We will be taking media out if anybody is interested in getting photos or going out and seeing that triple decker, just find us after today's press conference and we'll be happy to take care of that.
Next subject, just want to talk some about the community impact on the charity. Charity is at the heart of the PGA TOUR and the TOUR Championship. Each year the TOUR gives millions to charities where our events are played, so it's fitting that the PGA TOUR season culminates here, where it's really the model that the PGA TOUR used to look at how a golf tournament, how our sport can impact the community. So at this point, Mr. Shoy, we wanted to hear from some of our guests, so we can bring you three forward and you can introduce our guests.
DANIEL SHOY: We have Simone Obleton -- and I'm going to allow them to introduce themselves, but Simone is a senior at Drew Charter School. We have JaKayla Rachel in the middle, and JaKayla is also a senior; and then Solomon Dobbs, who is a 10th grader, and I think you already know that he's hitting the hope shot. Why don't each of you introduce yourselves just by saying your grade, for those of you who are seniors where you plan to go to college and what you intend to major in, and the length of time you've been at Drew Charter.
SIMONE OBLETON: My name is Simone Obleton. I am currently a senior at Drew Charter. I'm looking to go to North Carolina A&T, and as far as my major I would like to be an electrical engineer.
JaKAYLA RACHEL: My name is JaKayla Rachel. I'm also a senior at Drew Charter School. I've attended Drew since I was in kindergarten and I plan to attend Georgia State University right here in Atlanta.
SOLOMON DOBBS: My name is Solomon Dobbs. I'm 14 years old and I've been attending Drew for nine years now. I'm now a sophomore.
DANIEL SHOY: Why don't we start with you, Simone. I've had the benefit of knowing you for the last six years. Why don't you share with everyone what you and Alvin Winston, who I know is also a Drew student, had the opportunity to do four years ago and what it meant for you.
SIMONE OBLETON: Four years ago me and Alvin Winston had the chance to follow Brandt Snedeker around the year he won the TOUR Championship, and we interviewed him afterwards.
DANIEL SHOY: Do you also want to talk about what the First Tee of East Lake has meant to you, as well?
SIMONE OBLETON: The First Tee of East Lake has had a major impact on me since I've started coming to Drew in the sixth grade. It's also furthered my, I would say, want to play golf, my willingness to play, also being over here because as we know, Drew Charter is right across the street from Charlie Yates, and having that is -- I have golf in my schedule basically, which at a normal middle school you wouldn't have. So I really was like, that's cool. And I really enjoyed that a lot.
DANIEL SHOY: JaKayla, since you've been with us since kindergarten, if you want to talk about your experience, how has being a student at Drew Charter School changed your life and also share a little bit about your hobby which is dance and what it does for you?
JaKAYLA RACHEL: Hi, I'm JaKayla again. As I've told you guys, I've been here since kindergarten, and being at Drew since kindergarten, I've had the opportunity to watch the school grow as I've grown, so I've seen a lot of changes in aspects of like rigor in the classroom, more opportunities, and they've taught me a lot of things about entrepreneurship, collaboration, and leadership. And yes, my hobby is dance and traveling. I love to travel. And I've been dancing for about 10 years now.
CHRIS REIMER: We'll see you at the Monday event dancing to Cee-Lo Green. Be there teaching Matt Kuchar how to dance.
DANIEL SHOY: JaKayla, since you mentioned you like to travel, what's the most exciting place you've been so far?
JaKAYLA RACHEL: So far the most exciting place has to be Cuba since the embargo has just been lifted. It's been pretty cool to be one of the first groups to visit Cuba.
DANIEL SHOY: Solomon, since I know your whole family and your sister Sariah, why don't you share a little bit about what the First Tee of East Lake, the role it's played in your life.
SOLOMON DOBBS: Well, I'm now on the birdie level of the First Tee of East Lake. It's two steps down from the top, which is ace. And pretty much the First Tee has shaped my life. I mean, I've had to make a lot of sacrifices as far as it comes to being with my friends, doing things like that, because I actually do realize that getting better and practicing has a huge impact on how you do when it comes to crunch time. School-wise, I mean, the First Tee has nine core values and nine healthy habits, and some of those nine core values include honesty, integrity, respect, and those are things that can be applied on and off the golf course, and can also be applied at home.
I mean, with the respect and guidance from my coaches, Coach Nyre Williams and Jeff Dunovant at the First Tee of East Lake as well as Coach Brittny Lott and Coach Lashunda Hall, I believe that they along with my peers Arbred Reyes and Richard Schuman, they're now graduating from the First Tee program and they're both going to their respective colleges, just seeing them and seeing how much they've been able to help me over the years as I've grown from a child to a young adult and just seeing how much they shaped my life and seeing the others that they have also shaped, I think it's just an amazing opportunity that I have that I know most of my peers haven't had the opportunity to have, so for that I am truly grateful.
DANIEL SHOY: One final question for Solomon. Solomon may not realize he's actually going to help us make a little bit of history. He is the first Drew Charter School student also First Tee of East Lake participant to hit the hope shot. Talk a little bit about what you are doing to prepare to hit that shot.
SOLOMON DOBBS: Well, I've been playing a lot of Hurricane Junior Golf Tour tournaments, and besides I've been out at Charlie Yates practicing. After practice every day, I try to go from chipping to driving or putting to driving and just hitting that one shot and imagining in my mind that all of you as well as all the other people that are coming out to watch the TOUR are there, and when I do that, I mean, it just paints a bigger picture in my mind, so when I get there, I don't have any nerves, no butterflies in my stomach, anything like that.
But as far as now leading up to the tournament, I mean, just more driver practice as well as practice with all my other clubs. I think that's what's really going to make this shot the best shot ever, the long straight shot that everybody wants to see me hit. So yeah.
CHRIS REIMER: I don't know if anybody else had any questions for our youngest panelists.
Q. Solomon, can you outdrive Hal Sutton?
SOLOMON DOBBS: Hmm, I don't know right now.
CHRIS REIMER: Thank you so much, and really appreciate you guys sharing with us and sharing your stories. We can't wait to see you back out here, as well, in a few weeks.
Now to the rest of the panel, we've heard so many wonderful things, whether it was from Mr. Shoy or our panelists here, but just talk about what the impact this tournament has on the community collectively from all four of you if you could.
TY VOTAW: Well, the PGA TOUR tends to throw out a lot of dollar figures in terms of its charity numbers. We heard Rob mention that this tournament has raised $22 million in its history, $2.4 million. Mr. Mayor had reported the results of the 2015 tournament. In the PGA TOUR's history, we've raised over $2 billion in charity in our tournaments and our sponsors, approaching $3 billion. But people kind of get numb to numbers, and until you see these three young people and you understand what the impact of the numbers are and the lives that are changed because of the thousands of volunteers that help each of our tournaments happen and the sponsors and the host organizations that make these tournaments happen.
Again, I come back to 1998, East Lake was a very different place in 1998 than it is today, and one of the reasons it is with Drew Charter Schools and a graduating class for the first time this year, we've played -- the PGA TOUR has played a very small part in helping this community become the success story that it is, and we're very humbled by that. We're very honored to be a part of it, and you kids are an inspirational to us. So thank you for being here and thank you for being who you are.
BOB CRAMER: As I mentioned before, part of our embracing this new vision and elevating this new tournament to a new level was really important to us because not only is it going to attract more sponsorship, but that in turn will increase the contributions to the East Lake Foundation.
I was talking with some of the local organizing team today, and they said that based on the new layout and they're bringing clients to the course, it's already created much more buzz than it has in the past, and that's ultimately going to result in increased dollars in support of this tournament, which is really important to us, and we have really, really positive feelings about how this new elevation of this tournament is going to result in the increased support for the East Lake Foundation, which is really at the cornerstone of why we do this in our communities. We're really bullish on the future of this tournament.
CHRIS WOMACK: All I can do, being bigger than your bottom line, being a citizen wherever you serve are things that we espouse in our company, and so with the proceeds going to the East Lake Foundation and to see the results that we see here, it makes you just so very proud, and I would say, in our lifetime, it's always important to try to make a difference. Obviously there's no more important time than now to make a difference and to give back, to lean in, to try to help make communities better. So this is a wonderful way to really give back and try to make a difference with the work that we do as a company, and we're glad to be a part of it.
DANIEL SHOY: I'll just say as I think about the numbers just to close this out, that we remain grateful, again, not just because of being the beneficiary of the TOUR Championship but also because of the number of viewers around the world who will get to see this amazing tournament and will know more about the East Lake model and what we're doing all across the country. But when I think about the numbers, I think about the fact that there are 24 million Americans that live in concentrated poverty in some 830 neighborhoods across the country, and I think about the fact that the East Lake model is being replicated in 16 of those neighborhoods of the 830.
While the 25 million may seem like a number that you can't really put your hands around, if you think 830 communities and we're tackling 16 of them, it makes it seem more manageable. When I think about the fact that the TOUR Championship provides us with nearly 50 percent of the revenue that we need to be able to do this work each year in East Lake, I'm tremendously grateful for that. When I think about the fact that we spend $40,000 a year to send someone to prison, but for $16,000 we can educate them, I think about that. When I look at these three young people and I think with a college education they have an opportunity to make a million more dollars over their lifetime, how can we not? Those are numbers that for me are just too big or too small to ignore.
In closing, I'd like to thank not only the Coca-Cola Company and Southern Company, but also I'd be remiss if I didn't thank the East Lake Golf Club, the PGA TOUR and the TOUR Championship, who makes this amazing tournament happen every year.
CHRIS REIMER: That's great. It's going to sound extremely self-serving, but the media, the folks that are here today are the ones that can get the story out about this tournament, about the great things that it's doing. Whatever tickets are sold, whatever hospitality is sold, however many people we can get here to truly embrace this event for the community event that it is, the better it can do, the more we can raise that number from 2.4 million to 3 million and beyond. We truly appreciate the partnership we have with the media here in Atlanta, and we want to ask your continued support of telling these great stories.
As we conclude the press conference, I've got a few housekeeping things. One of the things that we also do from the community is we truly do look to grow the game. We have a youth policy at the TOUR Championship. Every single youth member of the Atlanta community and beyond can attend this tournament for free with a ticketed adult. So think about that. What other sporting event can a family of five come to where parents can buy two ground admissions tickets and bring the kids and be six feet from the competition? They can learn about the game, they can be right next to the stars of the PGA TOUR. It's really probably an untold element of this tournament, bring your kids, bring your soccer team, bring whoever you want. Youth are welcome out here, and we truly want to grow the game. We want to showcase our great athletes and our great sport.
This year we have a new youth initiative. We've partnered to announce the Verizon GSGA Junior Skills Challenge. It's pretty brand new right now what we're doing with them, but there will be a series of qualifying competitions that will culminate here at the TOUR Championship, short game, chipping and putting competition on Sunday of the final round out in the SoCool Zone. There will be a putting green where they can chip and putt. Be about 60 youth out here, different age groups.
We really think that event has the opportunity to grow, and we thank our friends with the GSGA for helping us put that together and Verizon for supporting it.
As I've worked at the PGA TOUR now for 15 years and been a part of the TOUR Championship for a good portion of that, what I've seen is this event truly starting to embrace everything that is Atlanta. To bring more attention to this tournament, to bring more of the Atlanta community out to this event, whether it's the food that they're serving from Fox Brothers, Universal Joint, King of Pops, that's like an Atlanta trifecta right there, right? We have our friends from the Georgia Aquarium. Some are in back here today, none of the animals today, but we will have some baby alligators and a number of other animals out here. If you remember last year, Billy Horschel went to the Georgia Aquarium, got his picture taken with the gators, so that was a fun moment for Billy, but they'll be out here again, a good community cross-promotional partnership.
We have the College Corner with the Peach Bowl. Everywhere you look, we have partnerships throughout Atlanta, what we're doing at the College Football Hall of Fame on Monday.
I think credit to Martin and Tom and the tournament team for what they're trying to do to get out in the community and make this a true Atlanta event.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports