I'm curious about the circumstances surrounding Commissioner Tim Finchem's press gathering today. I suspect it was like last week's scrum where he simply appeared in the press center and the slingers moved in with their antiquated tape recorders.
Anyway, after talking about what a great American Phil is and how he won't divulge their conversations, Ernie Els' press conference came up and I think he did a nice job clarifying the deferred compensation question.
Q. Did you have a chance to read Ernie's comments today because he was pretty vocal and critical in his complaints that the Commissioner's office and the players are growing apart, and the players had next to no input on all of this.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No, somebody mentioned the no input question. I've heard that from two or three players. You know, I think if you go back and look over the last three years, the number of player meetings that have been called to discuss the details of the Cup, the number of PAC meetings that have been called, the amount of information that's been distributed to players, you know, in hindsight I feel comfortable that we did a good job in reaching out to players on the details.
Now, over the last six months, we've discovered that a lot of players, regardless of the amount of information that might have been discussed, didn't necessarily for whatever reason want to pay much attention to it. When we got to the Playoffs, the players were calling the office saying, how come I'm not an alternate. There's no alternates in the Playoffs, they didn't pay attention to that.
When a player comes to me, which I had one do in the last ten days, and say, well, wouldn't it be better if this cash wasn't in the form of an annuity, and I said, well, it's not an annuity. Well, it means that the TOUR puts up less money. No, that's not the case. If you win the Cup you have $10 million in your account. It's not an annuity that you buy something for a certain amount of money and it grows and you get $10 million a number of years from now. That's not what happens. It's $10 million that's earning interest tax-free.
When I hear a player say, well, the problem I have with the deferral is I don't see the money for 20 years. That's not the case. You earn the money and get the money right away in your account. You can spend it starting at 45 or when you retire, whichever is later.
So a lot of players just for whatever reason are focused on some of the details. I say a lot. Some players. I talk to a lot of other players that say, yeah, I knew that.
But the point is right now I think the important thing about the FedExCup and the Playoffs is, is it accomplishing what it was designed to accomplish, not whether we have little details in the structure of it that players didn't focus on or we need to look at going forward.And in my view, my strong view, it's accomplishing what it's set out to do, create a better end of the season, create some really powerful events in business markets around the country, get the best players playing, and most importantly, give the fans something that they can enjoy. I believe strongly that's happening over the first two weeks.
So I don't want to get off on worrying about these detail issues. I'm sure that when we get through with the Playoffs we'll have a complete opportunity for any player to have the opportunity which he may not have chosen to utilize over the last two and a half years to say wait a second, I didn't know this and I'm not so sure I agree with it.
As I was reading the transcript, I had a similar sentiment...
Q. Did you ever think you'd see the day where you would put up $63 million in prize money over four weeks and guys would be bitching about it?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't think they're bitching about it. I wouldn't characterize it that way.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We've got $28 million in cash and $35 million that's going to go into players' deferred accounts. I think that's -- our job is to take actions and make decisions that are in the best interests of the TOUR players generally and the fans, and I think that's what we've done in this case.
Can it be done differently? When you stand back and look at -- you guys are taking a couple comments here, and I understand that, but when you stand back and look at the import of what these comments are about, these, again, are not fundamental questions.
Well, I don't know about that.
Q. Referencing back to Els' comments, did the players actually have an up-down vote on this thing?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We have a system.
That's a no!
The players get together and give us their comments with our directors present at multiple meetings. We have a Player Advisory Council, and we have a board of directors, just like any company. We call it the PGA TOUR Policy Board. I'm not going to get into the details here, I'm just going to say we worked reasonably hard, I think very hard, to reach out to players over an extended period of time. If something is far off in the distance, perhaps they don't get as focused about it.
If the policy board made decisions without fully understanding the detailed focus of the players, we should correct that. I think it's important to recognize on this question of deferred money, there's no benefit to the TOUR whichever way it goes. The money is either going into an account for a player and the interest is deferred, or it's going into his bank account and he goes and spends it now. That's the only difference. There is no benefit to the TOUR. There is no agenda as to why it's in the interest of the TOUR.
So when the TOUR directors made that decision, they did it on the basis of what they believed was in the overall best interest of the players.
Now, having said that, I would recommend that we do whatever the players basically want to do, within reason. If it's all cash, it's all cash. But what we heard was a lot of players saying that, look, why don't we take advantage of the vehicle, and that's what you would do and I would do and most people would do, but not everybody would do it. And a number of players feel differently for whatever reason. It doesn't matter, they're entitled to that view. There's no point in arguing. The merits are the merits. I think the board should, going forward, make decisions on the basis of what players feel.
And if what players feel about that issue was not properly measured, we should go out and measure it again, because candidly, I certainly don't care, nor does the TOUR care, it's just what's in the best -- from a fiduciary responsibility, we have a fiduciary responsibility to make decisions that are in the best financial interest of the player. So they made that decision and they made a decision to provide more options to the players because, just so you know, I don't know if I mentioned this, this is self-directed investments. The players determine the vehicles to which the funds will be invested to their benefit.
Q. Did you get a commitment from the high profile players, or at least an understanding from the high profile players, like Phil and Tiger, that they would play in all four events?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No, I never asked for a commitment. I never ask for a player to tell me, if we schedule the Presidents Cup, will you play it. We go out and say, here's a tournament we're going to play, this BMW tournament with the Western Golf Association, it's got this date on it. Do you like moving in this direction? I don't ask a player to commit to me that he's going to play. It's just not the way we go about things.