Who says there's no Christmas in February?
After Commissioner Tim Finchem thanked more people than an Oscar winner, he took a few questions from the assembled scribblers:
Q. The commitment to Tucson, how long is that for, is that through the sponsorship? 2010?Judge, can you direct the witness to answer yes or no.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Virtually all our agreements are linked to our cycles, a sponsorship cycle and television cycle. All of our agreements dovetail; in this instance they dovetail in four years.
Q. The other part, do you think the World Golf Championships are meeting the stated aim of developing developed to enhance the competitive structure of World Golf worldwide?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Yes, I think the first and primary reason for the World Golf Championships was to create a vehicle whereby the fans could enjoy the opportunity to watch all of the best players in the world assembled, a more frequent number of times during the course of the year. Heretofore, that was primarily the major championships and THE PLAYERS Championship.
Heretofore? Mr. Commissioner, we're not dictating a memo to Candace. You are talking to people. Well, members of the media. Please, continue...
Today we have, with the World Golf Championships, another group of tournaments where all the best players in the world play. There are others, as well, but as a constant flow with Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup competition included in that. And that was the primary mission.
The secondary mission was to continue to grow interest in the game by focusing on the International and global aspects of the game. And that's why we've had such a great relationship with a company like Accenture, because they have a global focus. And I think that secondary mission is being met, as well.
See, Accenture has a global focus, so the events have had a worldly flavor! That answers the question, right?
Nope, it's about to get awwwwkwaaaarrrd.
Q. I think 39 of the 64 players in this week's field come from overseas. Can you part one of my question, can you explain why so many of these championships are played in the United States? And part two is don't you think that you have a responsibility to take these tournaments elsewhere in the world and to grow interest in the game elsewhere in the world?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Where the players come from is frankly not of too much import. Our system is such that from the start of the system...
Q. I'm trying to point out that it's a global game, golf is a global game.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I understand that. I'm remarking that I had questions during the course of the week, and they're disturbed that over half of the field is not from the United States.
Q. That was not my question.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I understand that. To the second part of your question, yes and no. We would like to see World Golf Championships played around the world, and we have seen that the first eight years. I think we've played on five different continents. Today the World Cup continues to be played this past year in Portugal, and this coming year in Barbados as part of the World Golf Championships. We may add another World Golf Championship. That is a nice thing to do.
That is a nice thing to do? Uh, let's back to the MBAspeak...
I think the fundamental, however, is not that. The fundamental is to bring to the world via incredible television capability, to 145 countries, all the best players in the world playing. The reality is that frankly Sergio Garcia is seen who is not here, is seen when he's played in a World Golf Championship by more people than typically any other event he plays, regardless of where it is, whether in Europe or Asia or anywhere else.
See, it doesn't matter where you play. It's about the television capacity. This is why they should just build one golf course in Orlando with stadium seating and a big parking lot. Construct a 6,000 foot runway (for the G5s, of course), some player housing, and just play all of the events in one place. You can maximize margins and just let that television capacity do its thing!
Ernie Els gets more global television exposure when he plays here this week than he does when he plays in China or Hong Kong.
Imagine if he won a match how much capacity he would have maximized!
But I think the important thing is not that, it's that who are we reaching through World Golf Championships, are we reaching just as many people, and we think the answer is absolutely. Not to say we won't continue to work with having tournaments around the world. We are proud of the fact that we play on five different continents, and we will continue to play somewhere around the world, as well.
I think he meant the past tense there, "played on five different continents." But hey, we're going to throw an event to China so we'll still be playing around the world. Quit your complaining!
And now it's time for the Commissioner's intermission so the Accenture suit can out-MBA the Commish (the audacity!):
Q. Mr. Murphy, was Australia that much of a failure for you when it was played down there? If you were to continue your relationship with this World Golf Championship, would there be any scenario in which you'd be willing for one year to take this tournament abroad?
JIM MURPHY: The Australian tournament in many ways was a huge success for us, because we relaunched our new brand from that place. And Australia happened to be the major continent in the world where our brand was new, because in the time zones that's how it worked out. We changed our name from an older name to what we have now on midnight that day, and we played that week.
Ah those fond memories of the brand relaunch. Amazing how these WGC's just warm the heart.
But it's not all about relaunching the brand for Mr. Murphy...
From a timing point of view, it worked out great. We were somewhat disappointed in the field; some of the top players didn't come. The television coverage was great, we had great client entertainment there, and we saw it as a plus.
Would we do it again? Well, we'd consider it. Certainly we'd talk to the PGA TOUR about it. The PGA TOUR and other Tours drive this process, and we're sort of in a reactionary mode.
A reactionary mode? Scribblers, was Finchem making a note of that one? That's a peach, hon!
We can influence what happens, but they're the experts on golf, and we're experts in managing and selling technology services. We recognize our roles.
Oh, nice, subtle plug. I was wondering what the heck Accenture does.
Okay, enough of him. Back to the Commissioner...
Q. Based upon your knowledge of The Gallery, what were your impressions of the course specifically, and anything you feel The Gallery needs to do to be fully prepared for that event next year?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: We've been engaged for months, and our team has, with everyone related to The Gallery, many of whom are here today. We have a good, solid working relationship on the short term and long term planning that will relate to the conduct of the Accenture Match Play in Tucson. There are, obviously, in any instances like this, a lot of things that need to be done. We're very, very comfortable with the working relationship we have.
Uh, that's a no, he hasn't seen the course.
Q. What's your feel for the State of golf worldwide at this time, is it growing or is it receding, both in terms of the PGA and in terms of..
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I gather the question is what is my perception of the state of the game in terms of its growth globally; is that correct? Well, that's an interesting question, because it's an interesting question, the answer of which has been perhaps many times in the media misanalyzed to some extent.
Pausing here to allow you to go back and read that one more time. After all, it's an interesting answer to an interesting answer.
And by that I mean here in the United States, for example, there is a focus on the total number of rounds played as it relates to golf courses. And in today's society the regular golfer is playing a few rounds less than perhaps he played he or she played five or ten years ago.More people playing less. At least he's honest about it.
On the other hand, there's been each and every year an increase in the number of participants in the game. So from a total participant standpoint we've seen regular growth here in the United States.
Q. I realize it's not done yet, Commissioner, on the FedEx Cup points, but where do you see the World Golf Championships positioned with that series going on next year?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: It would be premature for me to say. We're evaluating different processes. It will be a process that goes to June. But whether or not it's a process that relates to strength of field or a process that relates to purse or a process that relates to stature of events, under any of those scenarios World Golf Championships will fare well, and fare well in that configuration.
And it's a process that we'll be processing for quite some time since no one can really process how this FedEx Cup process is going to be processed.