REPORTER: Recapping our top story here on Live@THE PLAYERS, Vijay Singh announcing early this morning via his attorneys that he has filed a lawsuit against the PGA TOUR over doping allegations involving deer antler spray. Singh today filed suit in the New York Supreme Court, charging the PGA TOUR with violating its duty of care and good faith.
Vijay released a statement through his lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, and that statement reads as following:
As the PGA TOUR could have known by conducting some basic testing and research, the product that Singh sprayed contained no active biological ingredient and could not have possibly provided any performance enhancement. The PGA TOUR has now finally admitted the use of deer antler spray is not prohibited.
Vijay himself offering these quotes:
I am proud of my achievements, my work ethic, and the way I live my life. The PGA TOUR not only treated me unfairly, but displayed a lack of professionalism that should concern every professional golfer and fan of the game.
Should be said the Golf Channel has reached out to Vijay Singh; he has declined to comment. Now to Rich Lerner who is with the PGA TOUR Commissioner.
RICH LERNER: Commissioner, thank you for sitting down with us. We thought this was over last week when you announced that Vijay wouldn't be penalized. Did you see this coming at all?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I'm just not going to comment on this action for a lot of different reasons. I don't think it's appropriate or helpful, and it's a matter in the courts right now. So until such time as there is an adjudication, I don't think we'll be saying anything.
Q. Is it true that the TOUR did suspend Vijay for 90 days?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We did not make any comment then or are we now about the details of the action we took about Vijay, only that there was an action and that it was under appeal at the time that WADA had changed its list, and we dropped the action.
Q. So that's why the substance IGF 1 was initially on the banned list and then removed because of WADA?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No, we go by the WADA list. WADA changed its list, and when they changed the list, we dropped the charges. Everything that is relevant to that is in a statement I issued last week in some detail.
Q. Given that golf is going back to the Olympic games in 2016, is blood testing on the horizon for golf?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Yeah, well, whatever the IOC uses for testing in the Olympic Games will apply to golfers that are in the pool of players that might access the Olympic Games in 2016; so, in that sense, yes. And whether we go to blood testing year in and year out is certainly possible. We're watching the science very carefully, as I said last week, and we're waiting to see when the science is consistent with being able to generate a reliable test. The same issue baseball, basketball and football have with that particular testing.
So it's very conceivable when that test is perfected, we may very well go to it.
Q. After you cleared Vijay last week in Charlotte, did you have any communication or conversation with him?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I'm not going to discuss anything outside of the statement that I gave last week regarding Vijay.
Q. All right. Let's backtrack just a couple of days. Monday night was a great night. Freddy was emotional at the Hall of Fame; Colin Montgomerie was funny. Just curious, how do you explain that not a single male member of the Hall of Fame was present for one of the most important nights of the year in golf?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I don't think it was intentional. I certainly don't think it should take away from what was a great ceremony. I know that is the case for Freddy and Colin and the other inductees. The male members of the Hall historically have not shown up in big numbers and at all. This year we had a few additional players sick.
I think we do have to look as I said yesterday in the media center, I think we have to look at the day. I think the ceremony is great, but the day and the experience that we provide for existing members and the overall experience for new inductees is something we need to look at and we will.
I think that when you see the emotion on Fred Couples' face the other night, the impact it has on an inductee, it is, as you say, a very special day in golf. It's our duty to make it as good as it can be. I think we all agree it could be better, so we'll have more to say about that later this year.
Q. I promise we're going to talk about this great championship, but let me get a little bit more business out of the way. We're expecting to hear a decision in the near future on the anchored putting ban. If the USGA and R&A do uphold the ban, what then for the PGA TOUR, which has spoken out against that ban? What then?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, they wouldn't be upholding the ban. I think what you're saying is if they finalize their process, they're saying they're going to enact the ban. Then we have a separate issue. The issue that we've been dealing with is reacting to the proposal that they've made and giving them our best thinking on whether that's a good idea or not. Now if they move forward, we have a separate issue, and that is are we going to follow the rule? And under our rules, we profess to want to do so, which we do. We think it's important that the rules to the extent possible stay the same for everybody. But our rules also provide that we have the ability to go a separate way if we think it's in the best interest of the TOUR.
We decided not to engage in conversing about that with players, with our board, until such time as the USGA and R&A completed their process. When that gets completed, if they're going to move forward, then we'll address it. Then we'll go through our process, and then we'll have more to say about it at that time.
Q. Let's talk about THE PLAYERS. In what ways has this grown in stature and in every other way over the last decade or so?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I think we're proud of the efforts here because THE PLAYERS, the staff, the people that work on the tournament, the volunteers, the community, the objective with THE PLAYERS has always been pretty simple, and that is make it better next year, make it better next year. Whether that's the golf course, whether that's the presentation, whether it's the television package with our great television partners, and, in fact, it has gotten better every year.
So as long as we stay on that trajectory, we're very comfortable. Because of that, over 40 years, it's changed dramatically, and it's important that it do so from our organization standpoint because this is a tournament that THE PLAYERS view as their own tournament. It represents for them what a great tournament should be, and it represents what a tournament should do outside the ropes.
So when we look at things like economic impact, charitable impact, economic development, recognizing our men and women in uniform, all those things that we do across the TOUR, we try to do it as best we can this week as well. And in all of those areas we've improved every year, so we're very pleased with our progress so far, but we can always do better.
Q. Busy week for you in addition to all of your duties as Commissioner, you had the bag on the shoulder yesterday. You caddied for holly and the PGA TOUR Wives Association charity event. Did that go well? You didn't pull a wrong club or anything?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It was a huge letdown for me because here's my opportunity to caddie, and they had us in carts. I couldn't believe it. I was ready to put the bag on my shoulder. But I did get to experience what it's like to advise your wife in terms of shot making, setting up the shot, getting the line, perhaps even going so far as to get into the technical aspects of the swing. All of these things are a disaster in my case.
But, no, she had great fun. It was a really fun format that the TOUR wives put together. It was all the wives played scramble and then all the men caddies had three mulligans that they could use. So we get around to the third hole and Webb Simpson hit a driver 270 right at the hole, and we had a little pitch and putt, which all the teams had that capability. So it was fun. It was a good mix, and most importantly it is celebrating the 25th anniversary of what these women have done, which is really phenomenal. Because they do two things: They raise money to help charities themselves; but when they go to tournaments, they go out and create publicity for the charitable efforts of the tournament, and that really does have a huge impact for what our tournaments are doing. It's just a great partnership that those women do. They work hard at it, and they're good at it.
If Amy Wilson didn't have three little kids and her husband wasn't on the TOUR, I'd offer her a job tomorrow. She is terrific. She can run anything, and right on down the line, they're all terrific.
Q. Speaking of hard work, your crew here has done an incredible job. I mean, I don't know that people fully appreciate how bad it was here with, as Rex reported moments ago, more than ten inches of rain in just a couple of days. This golf course looks impeccable.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, it was the first real test of the rebuild in '07 when we sand capped the golf course. We've had a lot of rain before, but not this much rain close to the tournament. You know, this place was a swamp when Pete Dye and Dean created it. They had to dig a perimeter ditch around this entire property and drain it for a year and a half. It was a swamp. Then get it to where you couldn't even build it. It took us until 2007, and then come back and sand cap it so it could drain.
But you have to get the water out of this area. We brought in all these special pumps to get it into the Intracoastal to let it drain. And Jim Furyk said he came over and hit some shots on Sunday afternoon, and just the day after the rain, the three days of rain, and he could not believe how firm it was. So we are in really good shape right now.
Q. Looking at this golf course and the gauntlet at the finish, I just want to quickly address something. Because it's been suggested that 17, while it is a fun hole, given where it sits on the golf course, second to last hole, it's not a major championship hole because the price for a miss is just too steep. What is your view on that most famous little par 3?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, you watch what's happened over the years and tell me you really want to take the difficulty and stress and mental anguish that that hole can create and move it to a less strategic part of the round. I don't think so. I think, although I don't like to see an overfocus on the 17th hole, because we've got 18 great holes here; and by the way, the Golf Channel, every year has done a phenomenal job of telling the story of all 18 holes. Anybody that's come here and played here knows that, and that's really important.
But, no, I disagree. I think those three holes in combination, you've got a good risk reward opportunity at 16. You've got a lot of pressure on you at 7. And you go back over the last 30 years and you've seen a lot of strange things happen when leaders get to 17. You've got to be able you know, look. If you or I go out there and play and we're playing a little ahead of our handicap after seven, eight, nine holes, you know it's sitting out there. You know you have to stand there up and hit that little silly 132 yard shot that one year 92 players in this field hit it in the water. 92 of the best players in the world. It changes your thought process.
No, I think it's perfectly situated and a great part of that finish. Then you get to 18, and you play a tough hole as well.
Q. 18 is all you want. That tee shot is every bit as daunting as 17.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: You've seen over the years a lot of strange things happen there, either pulling it in the water or bailing out right and getting behind a tree. So we love the finish here.
Q. Congratulations to you and your team on delivering such a great Championship.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you.
Q. We appreciate your time as well.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you, have fun this week.