Steven Gribin from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio visits with PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem to discuss the year in golf, upcoming changes to PGATOUR.COM, the work of The First Tee and the Web.com Tour.
Commissioner Tim Finchem said this week there will be no changes to the PGA TOUR's on-course phone policy for fans.
“We’re committed to making it work,” Finchem told Bloomberg News while playing in a pro-am round at the Champions Tour’s Regions Tradition event in Birmingham, Ala. “If we get to a point where we don't have an acceptable competitive environment, we’ll do whatever we need to do, but I don’t see that happening.”
In 2011, the TOUR began allowing fans to bring cell phones to tournaments, designating areas away from play where the phones could be used but also reminding fans that they should not be used closer to the action. In addition, phones should be on vibrate or silent at all times.
“We know, by virtue of the fact that we don’t get many ringers, that the vast majority of fans will use good etiquette,” Finchem told Bloomberg News. “We have to be aggressive to some extent when the policy is violated.”
The commissioner is hoping that fans will adhere to the rules about cell phones.
“It is incumbent upon the fans to help us out here so we can maintain this policy and make the experience very positive,” he told Bloomberg News. “Being able to keep their phones with them is part of that.”
CELL PHONE GUIDELINES
If you bring a cell phone to a PGA TOUR event, please follow these guidelines:
> Ringers must be in silent mode at all times
> Calls can be made and received only in designated areas
> Receiving and sending text messages is permitted on the course, away from play
> NO video recording is permitted anywhere, any time
> Photos may NOT be taken during competition rounds
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem held his annual press conference Wednesday prior to the start of THE PLAYERS Championship. Here are a few of his answers to reporters’ questions:
ON THE POSSIBILITY OF A THREE-HOLE PLAYOFF INSTEAD OF A SUDDEN-DEATH PLAYOFF STARTING AT THE 17TH HOLE ...
"It's a matter of regular discussion and we continue to look at it," Finchem said. "I think we determined right now that we would go ahead through this year with our current television agreements. There are a lot of obstacles to moving that direction. There are pluses and minuses, but it will probably be something we spend a little bit more time on as we get into the middle part of this year.
"But last year we talked about it some, and we'll be talking about it again this year. It's something that's interesting to us, but we have not yet determined it's something that we should necessarily do. If you ask 10 people, probably five would say, if you're going to have a playoff, sudden death on the 17th hole is tough to beat. Others would argue that you keep the suspense going in an aggregate, multi-hole situation.
"Then you take either one of those courses and start to apply it to air times and darkness and whatever; it's not a situation where there's a right or wrong answer, so we'll continue to think about it."
ON THE ITEMS STILL TO BE DETERMINED PRIOR TO QUALIFYING AND SCHEDULE CHANGES IN 2013 ...
"There's really only two things that are hanging out there," Finchem said. "One is, now that all tournaments will be part of the FedExCup, how many points do they receive relative to other tournaments. And the second is, in the qualification, we know that the top 75 off the Nationwide are going to go into those three final events, and we know when they go there, they are going to be joined by the 126 to 200 off the PGA TOUR. That's going to happen. And then there's going to be three finals, and then there's going to be 50 cards awarded.
"The question is, when those two groups come together, do you weight them in some fashion; do you seed them in some fashion? And the details of that are what's left to be ironed out by the June meeting. But that's pretty much it."
ON THE TOUR'S VIEW OF AUGUSTA NATIONAL'S MEMBERSHIP POLICY ...
"I think the position of the PGA TOUR hasn't changed," Finchem said. "We have a policy that says that when we go out and do a co-sanctioned event, we are going to play it at a club that is as open to women members, open to minority members, etc., and we follow that policy carefully.
"In the case of the Masters, we have concluded a number of times now, and we have certainly not moved off of this; that we are not going to give up the Masters as a tournament on our TOUR. It's too important. And so at the end of the day, the membership of that club have to determine their membership. They are not doing anything illegal.
"But we just elect to continue to recognize them as an official money event on the PGA TOUR because we think it's that important to golf, so we don't get to determining whether their policies are right or wrong, because we don't have to, because we made the conclusion that regardless of those policies, we are going to continue to play and recognize them as part of the PGA TOUR.
"I know some people don't like that position, and I appreciate that and I understand their reasoning, but that's the decision we've made."
ON PGA TOUR'S APPROACH TO SPEEDING UP PLAY …
"Anything we can do from a communications standpoint to encourage people playing faster, we will do," Finchem said. "But clubs have got to take the initiative to drive play, and the average player has got to take the initiative and say, guys, let's go out here and play in three hours and 45 minutes, and that doesn't happen too many places.
"... If I'm watching a PGA TOUR player, and I'm going to go through the same pre-shot routine that that player takes, and he's hitting it 69 times and I'm hitting it 93, I'm going to be playing a lot longer than that guy. So it's a different game from that perspective. And if you notice our players, they move; they don't want to be on the clock. They hit a shot and they move. But there are different variables out here at this level and we measure it pretty carefully.
"One thing we are sensitive to is a player who is slow and as such impacts his fellow competitor, which is a different thing from how long it takes to play. That results in some counseling, and we have had good success with counseling. But I don't think PGA TOUR golf is the culprit here. I think the culprit is taking steps to drive the pace of play for the average player, and if we can be helpful in that regard, we're open to it."
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said Sunday that he expects the Plantation Course at Kapalua to remain the host course for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
"I think everything is in good shape here," Finchem said.
Although several of last year's winners are not in this week's field, Finchem said factors ranging from injuries to family obligations to a late European Tour season were the reasons for their absences. He doesn't agree that moving the tournament to the West Coast would entice more eligible players to participate.
"Of the 10 or 11 players ... five of them were not able to play because they had a baby or they got hurt, so they are not going to play," Finchem said. "And to a European player who has played deep, deep into November and December, can make the trip, it's not much difference to come from Europe. So I don't see that as a significant factor."
The commissioner did say the structure of the tournament will be evaluated after this week in case there are any opportunities to get more players involved. But he stressed that he wouldn't want to assume that changes will be made.
"It may be that we want to tinker with the structure of the tournament, and we'll look at that," he said.
Overall, though, he is pleased with the tournament, calling the season opener "a pretty special week at a pretty special place."
"I know Hyundai is very pleased as a sponsor at this point," he said. "I think the telecast is superb, and most of the players that the fans are interested in, the young players coming up, are here."
And as far as having Hawaii as the backdrop?
"Visually this combination of HD television and now the aerial support that they have from a photography standpoint may be creating the best visual week that we have on the TOUR," Finchem said. "It's really quite spectacular."
CLICK HERE FOR FULL TRANSCRIPT OF COMMISSIONER’S NEWS CONFERENCE
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
Monday finishes, golf's youth movement and the popularity of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup were among the topics of conversation earlier this week as PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem joined Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive."
The Hyundai Tournament of Champions kicks off the 2012 season on Friday in prime-time with the winner set to be crowned for the first time on Monday. It's one of two tournaments -- along with the Deutsche Bank Championship -- that concludes its 72-hole run on Monday this year.
Finchem said the Monday finish at Kapalua is just one of several ideas the TOUR has as it searches for innovative new ways to present the game and the players who play it.
* "One of the exciting things about this year is that we're going to be experimenting with a lot of different things -- a lot of stuff online, a lot more digital content to our fans -- and also we're going to play around with different formats and different times and this is one of them. We will watch to see how it works. We'll see how it feels, see how the fans react to it. If it's a more compelling and a more efficient way to get what our players are doing in front of our fan base it will be a winner. We're going to try to do some more experimentation in this area."
The commissioner also sees the 2012 campaign as one of opportunity -- particularly in terms of marketing younger players like Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley, who have really connected with the fans.
* "Everything is pretty good right now on the basic things we want to see. There is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and focus on the younger players that were coming up the last couple of years. Some of that is driven by the fact that Tiger woods came on the scene when guys like Rickie Fowler were 7-8-9 years old. The game has gotten more athletic. Players are bigger, stronger and more exciting to watch ... and people are reacting to that very positively.
"That's affecting our sponsorship, it's affecting our television and it's a good juxtaposition of those young guys versus the guy who's been the No. 1 player for a long time on our TOUR and also the other veterans. So those stories are terrific. Our new television deals are going to be tremendous in terms of the different ways we convey what they're doing to the public. We've got the best continuity of our sponsorship that we've had. So all of those things are very, very good."
Finchem is also pleased with the progress of the FedExCup. He admitted the amount of volatility in the Playoffs has been a point of discussion over the years but acknowledges that is part of the allure of the system. While the commissioner wouldn't rule out changes in the future, he feels the fans have embraced the FedExCup as the sixth season begins.
* "As I said two years ago we wanted to get into a situation where the fans could get used to the system. That's happening. The Cup has really grown every single year. I think another recent indication of its popularity has to do with Lee Westwood's decision, who hasn't competed in the FedExCup but has indicated one of the reasons he's rejoining the TOUR is to do just that. There's so much interest and focus on it now. It's a big part of the game. So we're going to continue to look at that. … But you have to say that over the last five years the FedExCup has done better each and every year and we look for that again this year."
Finchem also said he sees the growth of The First Tee as essential to the growth of the game. He spoke extensively about what this year’s $100 million capital campaign will allow the program that uses golf to teach life skills to youngsters to accomplish.
* "We've reached 4.7 million kids with The First Tee program in the last 14 years. If we can be successful in this campaign which will culminate in Pebble Beach on Oct. 8 ... Joe Barrow and his team will be able to reach 10 million kids with The First Tee over the next 6 or 7 years which really has an impact in improving the look and the face of what the game of golf is in the U.S. and globally."
MELBOURNE, Australia – The International Team has taken the advantage early during the opening Foursomes at the Presidents Cup.
Greg Norman’s squad leads in four of the six matches while the U.S. has the edge in two. Maybe the International Team drew inspiration from some surprise guests on Wednesday evening.
Here’s what assistant captain Frank Nobilo tweeted earlier
today. “3 welcomed visitors to our team room last night. Tim
Finchem and our first two captains in David Graham and Peter
Graham captained the first International Team while Thomson (yes, that’s spelled correctly) was at the helm for three Presidents Cups, including the 1998 victory at Royal Melbourne. That 20 1/2-11 1/2 International win remains the team’s only one in eight previous matches.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MELBOURNE, Australia – The Presidents Cup will be played in the Pacific Rim for the first time in 2015 when the 10th renewal of the biennial matches are held in South Korea.
The venue will be announced in the first half of 2012. PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said there are a number of options and the search is on-going.
Joining Finchem at Wednesday’s press conference were three members of the International Team – K.J. Choi, Y.E. Yang and K.T. Kim. This is the first year more than one Korean has been represented on the squad.
“I think when you look at K.J. Choi, Y.E. Yang and Kyung‑tae Kim, this is the future,” Finchem said. “This is the future of golf in Korea, certainly on the men's side, and it represents to a great degree what The Presidents Cup is all about: Allowing players who come from places outside the United States and Europe to showcase their skills in this unique team environment.
“So all of that adds up to very strong, compelling reasons to go to Korea, to take advantage of taking what The Presidents Cup is all about and sharing it with the Pacific region and particularly Korea and Asia.”
Choi, who is the reigning PLAYERS champion, said he is excited about the development.
"To be one of the players involved in such a prestigious event and hopefully in the prestigious event coming up in Korea in 2015, I'm very honored and very delighted,” Choi said. “It's an honor, still, just to have three players from the same country play at such an event, and it's a much bigger honor to have the event held in my home country.
“It's a good step and positive step in heading to globalization for golf in Korea, and I think everyone in here, including K.T., myself and Y.E., we will try and do our best to keep our a‑level games up until 2015. I know that a lot of my compatriots back home are going to target their goals towards the 2015 Presidents Cup, so I'm very delighted and thank you very much.”
Yang, who won the 2009 PGA Championship and is playing in his second Presidents Cup, echoed Choi's words.
"The first time I came to The Presidents Cup in San Francisco I was a bit awestruck,” Yang said. “Now I can actually absorb a little of what this is and what the meaning of The Presidents Cup is, and apart from it being competitive and a competition for two continents, it's also a golf festival for not just the host country but also for everyone involved, and all of the countries involved.
“So to have that kind of huge golf festival coming to Korea is a great honor, and it just adds to the delight that I chose right in my line of work. I'm very glad; it's one of the occasions where I feel proud that I picked up golf as a living.”
Before the three players left to join the International Team at its barbecue, Choi was asked whether he wanted to throw his name in as a potential captain. He said that he would rather play.
“I learned a lot from playing with the Aussie players this week, how they take pride in playing in their home country,” Choi said. “ would like to feel that, and feel that kind of feel back home, not as a captain but as a player.
“And it's a great stepping stone for a lot of Asian players, and it's a good target for a lot of Asian players to aim for participation in The Presidents Cup. So throughout the years, it was my role and I guess Y.E.'s role to sort of open up the windows for Asian players in Europe and in the U.S. It was quite predominately U.S. and European players in South African and Australian players, and I believe that we sort of trail-blazed that Asian players can compete at that level as well.
“I do believe that with The Presidents Cup coming into Korea and with a lot of Asian players growing up, it's going to be another endeavor for the younger generation to build upon what we opened up and maybe better it and try to compete at a high level in the bigger events.”
ATLANTA -- PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem was at a recent Player Advisory Council meeting in New York when one of the pros made the statement that the TOUR is "at a point of total parity."
Meaning: Any player can win at any given time.
"It occurred to me that that's true," Finchem said Tuesday during a news conference prior to this week's TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. "So far the fans seem to really like it and it'll be interesting to see what develops in that regard going forward."
Finchem said the TOUR has gone from a sport that had a dominant player -- Tiger Woods -- to "all the way" to the other end of the spectrum. He noted that there is particular interest in the TOUR's young group of players, many of whom were inspired to play golf because of Woods' dominance.
"When I go around the country, the first thing I hear from people is, boy, you've got a lot of great young players right now, and they're so athletic and fun to watch on the golf course," Finchem said. "So we'll see. But I think that every indication is that this is the beginning of a long-term (trend)."
Keegan Bradley, who won the PGA Championship last month, is one of those young players, as is Webb Simpson, who'll enter this week's event ranked No. 1 in FedExCup points. Those two players are among the six who have won two events this year; no player has won more than two.
Finchem said the TOUR's sponsors have been particularly pleased with the impact that the young players have made.
"There's a real interest with this number of young players, and I think that sponsors feed off the fans in that regard," Finchem said. "They see the galleries and they see the interest level and they see the television numbers -- and in today's world, if you're spending millions of dollars for a sport, you're really studying it pretty carefully. It's been very interesting."
MORE ON THE PAYNE STEWART AWARD: Toms the 2011 recipient | Previous recipients
ATLANTA -- David Toms has won 13 tournaments in his PGA TOUR career. He's also played on winning Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup teams. But winning the Payne Stewart Award, which recognizes the spirit of the late champion, comes with a greater meaning.
"It's different than winning golf tournaments," Toms said after he was announced as this year's recipient. "It goes beyond that."
The Payne Stewart Award was awarded for the 12th time this week. The winner represents sportsmanship, integrity, the spirit of giving back and understanding what it means to be a role model, said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. It goes to an individual "who through their actions on and off the golf course has distinguished himself with his demeanor, his preparation, his words and his actions," Finchem added.
Toms was voted as this year's winner by a committee that includes some of the previous recipients. His foundation has raised millions of dollars for abandoned, underprivileged and abused children in Louisiana, and was also involved in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
"In Louisiana generally and Shreveport specifically, his foundation activity is well-recognized," Finchem said.
Asked about Stewart, Toms said one of his regrets is that he did not play in a team competition with his fellow American. Toms has played on three Presidents Cup (and will be playing in another this November in Australia) and also three Ryder Cups, but none before Stewart's death in 1999.
"Knowing what those team competitions are all about, I know it would have been a lot of fun," Toms said. "He was always the guy in the locker room that made people laugh, that was pulling practical jokes on people. ...
"To not be able to play on one of those teams and really get to know him better this way, I regret."