NORTON, Mass. – The PGA TOUR announced agreements Thursday with CBS Sports and NBC Sports that secures the TOUR’s television rights through 2021. PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem made the announcement at TPC Boston on the eve of this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, with CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus and NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus participating via conference call.
Here are a few excerpts from the news conference ( click here for news release with more details ):
FINCHEM ON THE KEY POINTS: “I think the three takeaways from these agreements really are, first and foremost, the term itself and what that means; secondly, that they provide for growth and stability of our sport … and third, they provide for a framework of innovation, when we talk about a lot of the digital rights and how they'll be employed.”
FINCHEM ON CHARITY IMPACT: “While the vast majority of our charity dollars are raised at a tournament level, the stability that will be developed by these agreements that we're announcing today and the overall impact on our ability to take steps that support our charitable mission will be a very positive factor for that activity, and I think at this point we then can say without question that barring some significant economic downturn that we will reach the $2 billion mark of charitable giving in 2014. I think I can say with some confidence that we could reach the $3 billion level before the end of these agreements.”
FINCHEM ON IMPACT OF YOUNG PLAYERS: “The fans clearly have taken increasingly to the nature of our competition over the last couple years and in doing so have re-instilled confidence in our sport that might have been waning when our No. 1 player was not that active two of the last four years. But there is such tremendous buzz and focus on this juxtaposition of Tiger and Phil and other mature players and veteran players against this huge increase in young players who are coming forward and able to win tournaments at every level. We hear increasingly more and more from our fans about Dustin and Rickie and Keegan and Webb and Bubba and Graeme and Rory and on and on it seems, that has helped our ratings, stabilized our ratings, grown our ratings, has helped result in sponsor renewals, et cetera, and I think that is a major factor of why we are now at a point where we can look forward to 10 years in growth.”
McMANUS ON CBS’ PERSPECTIVE: “I am really, really happy with this deal. The process was open. It was honest. And to be able to continue with the TOUR for the next 10 years is a proud moment for CBS Sports.”
LAZARUS ON NBC’S PERSPECTIVE: “The NBC Sports Group is obviously very bullish on the sport of golf and the PGA TOUR with this extension for the NBC Television Network on behalf of our affiliate stations and their constituents and with the work we do and the long‑term arrangement we have with Golf Channel, PGA TOUR and the game of golf are very important to our company and to our overall business model. “
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- Is the PGA TOUR headed back to Philadelphia and Detroit? If it has its way, yes.
This is the final year Aronimink is playing host to the AT&T National, which moved from Congressional Country Club just outside Washington D.C. after the 2009 tournament as that course underwent renovations to host this year’s U.S. Open. The tournament will return to the Bethesda, Md., course next year.
That said, PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said the support of the AT&T National at Aronimink has been “fantastic” and that he would like to see the TOUR return to the Philadelphia area.
”This is a terrific sports town with a terrific economy of its own,” Finchem said Wednesday. “We have a strong fan base here. There was terrific enthusiasm by the membership.
“[That] certainly leads us to conclude that we would definitely like to continue an involvement here in Philadelphia, and we're actively looking for ways to do that.”
As Finchem pointed out, there currently aren’t any open dates on the schedule, but he could see a return to the area following the 2013 U.S. Open, which will be held at nearby Merion Golf Club.
”This is a place where you don't want to be gone for very long,” Finchem said. “That's not good for the sport. So we'll be looking at that.”
Finchem also acknowledged that the TOUR is actively seeking a return to the Detroit area after losing the Buick Open following the 2009 tournament.
“We have a working discussion going on with General Motors, which has shown strong interest,” Finchem said. “Our hope is that depending on how our schedule works out for the long‑term that we will be able to figure out a way to get them on the schedule because we do think it would be a very positive addition. I just am not in a position to say how it's going to happen just yet.”
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
TRANSCRIPT: Tim Finchem
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem held an impromptu Q&A session with the media outside the press room Sunday morning, and he addressed a number of topics. Among them were Tiger Woods, drug testing, the schedule and more.
Here’s a rundown of some of the key points:
• On Tiger Woods and whether the TOUR pressured him to play, Finchem reiterated what he said earlier in the week and said, flatly, no. “We communicate with players all the time about weak field events and we encourage players to move their schedule around and try to include a weak field,” Finchem said. “We never go to a player and say would you please, please, please, play X event, this event or any other event. Ever.” As for when Woods will be back, Finchem doesn’t know. He sent a note to Woods wishing him well but there’s been no indication as to when Woods will return from his latest injury.
• On disciplinary matters: “Our policy is we don’t comment on disciplinary matters. We don’t announce disciplinary decisions,” Finchem said. “We do reserve the right to clarify the record if an individual or the involved player makes a statement that’s not consistent with the action. We renewed it a number of times. We like the policy.”
• On THE PLAYERS’ move to May, which took place five years ago: “We like the flow of May, we like the weather,” Finchem said. “We had the storm [Saturday] but it’s the first delay we’ve had in five years. We’re still working on getting this golf course ready [for May] but we like it, the players like it, the fans like it. We’re very pleased with it.”
• On the TOUR’s drug testing policy and whether it would reconsider its policy on testing for human growth hormone: “Possibly,” Finchem said. “The big question about HGH is reliable testing. That’s the challenge with all sports. If there is reliable testing available and it’s only blood, do we want to go to blood, which is another step. As part of that review you’d want to think about whether HGH makes a difference in this game. We’re testing for a lot of stuff right now that quite candidly doesn’t make a difference, but we do it so our program has credibility in the anti-doping world. We’re supportive of the coalition to find answers on HGH on all these questions and we’ll see what develops over the next several years. It may be something that comes to our doorstep with golf entering the Olympics in 2016.”
• On next year’s schedule: “There may be some changes in the schedule for next year,” said Finchem, who added that next year’s schedule isn’t set and that there’s a large focus on 2013 and beyond as the TOUR enters television negotiations. “We haven’t finalized things for next year, so there may be some movement.”
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem on Friday denied a report that the TOUR pressured Tiger Woods into playing THE PLAYERS Championship. Woods withdrew from the tournament after nine holes in Thursday's first round with knee and Achilles tendon problems that have plagued him since the Masters.
"It's always important for Tiger to be a part of the TOUR, because he's Tiger Woods, but the idea that we would pressure him to play is ludicrous," Finchem told CNBC's Darren Rovell. "We don't pressure any player to play the tournament. In this case, the suggestion is somehow he was hurt and we got him to play anyway. Tiger doesn't enter a tournament unless he thinks he can win."
The commissioner said he is not worried about Woods' status as it pertains to the TOUR.
"You know, I hope he's healthy enough to play," Finchem said. "Just look at it from the health of the TOUR standpoint. If he's an active player it helps us out a lot. ... He doesn't have to come back and dominate like he did. He needs to play.
"My concern is, where are his injuries going to go? And he doesn't know what the answer will be and we won't know for a while."
Asked by Rovell about the TOUR's TV ratings being up 29 percent on weekend telecasts through April, Finchem said: "It's a focus on young players and I think its also a combination. Tiger has played some this year and a question and interested if he's coming back. Phil (Mickelson) is a major impactor."
DORAL, Fla. – At a press conference early Sunday afternoon at Doral, PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem and George O’Grady, the chief executive of the European Tour fielded questions from the media on a variety of subjects. Here are some of the highlights:
* Discussions are continuing with the South African Tour about the conflict between the dates of the Presidents Cup in Australia and the South African Open. Ernie Els, who is the defending champion of the tournament, leads the International Team standings and is among five South Africans at the top of those list to make Greg Norman's team. The South African Open is co-sanctioned by the European Tour, and O’Grady said he hoped there could be a resolution by the Masters.
"The European Tour certainly has an interest in seeing a very successful Presidents Cup, at any time, and especially when it goes around the world; and it can help, if you like, to grow the message of top flight golf in the countries it goes to, whether that's South Africa, Australia or any territory it might go in the future," O'Grady said.
"With the leading players on the rest of the World ranking coming from South Africa at the moment, the choice of that date doesn't appear perfect. … There are different alternatives, and I would hope that we can get it sorted out quite quickly."
* While he noted the top players in the world already compete against each other at 15-18 events each year like the majors, THE PLAYERS Championship and World Golf Championships, Finchem knows the game is evolving and new markets like South America and Asia emerging. So he expects more integration between the leading golf tours in the future.
"When that happens and how that happens, I couldn't tell you," he said. "I don't think it's in the short term. I certainly believe it will be in the mid term, ten to 20 years from now. Certainly as Asia develops as a powerhouse in terms of generating elite players and managing what that means in terms of access and presentation of the sport; and I do think we should be looking out 15 years on these issues and talking about that, and we are."
* Finchem said the TOUR is in on-going discussions with Cadillac and General Motors to bring a tournament back to Detroit. Those talks, however, hinge on finding an open date and there isn't much flexibility in that department right now. There are two tournaments currently on the PGA TOUR schedule that do not have title sponsors – the Bob Hope Classic in January and The Heritage in April -- but Finchem doesn’t expect those to fold.
"I think they are both going to be on the schedule for a good period of time, but I'm not positive about that; if that doesn't happen, I suppose it conceivably could open up a position for Detroit, although Detroit obviously has to be played later," Finchem said. "So it's not without its challenges, but I suspect it could happen.
"Right now, if I were to bet, I would say that both of those tournaments would continue to be on the schedule, and at some point in the future, it is a priority of ours to build an event in Detroit, and we are working on how to build that event. But it's the kind of event that we would want to, you know, do in a manner that would be quite successful. So we are spending energy on it. I just don't know when it would be added to the calendar."
* When asked about the devastation in Japan, Finchem said no plan has been formulated yet but there would be some kind of support for the relief effort. Right now, though, he said it was too early to identify the areas of most need and where to direct the support but he expects an announcement within the next few weeks.
"We are going to watch the situation, watch what the President's lead is on this from the United States' perspective and talk to the other golf organizations like we have done in Australia where The Presidents Cup people down there worked with Greg Norman to help people affected by the floods," Finchem said. "There was some effort in Christchurch; there was a big effort after the tsunami by golf several years ago where we supported the funds chaired by President Bush and President Clinton, and that was done across the board in golf.
"We'll just have to see things evolve and what we can do to help." – Helen Ross
PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem and Ernie Els will be among the people honored by the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association at its 60th annual National Awards Dinner on June 7.
Finchem will receive the MGWA's highest honor, the Gold Tee Award, for his leadership and service to the game of golf. Others who have received the award include Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Patty Berg, Nancy Lopez, Annika Sorenstam, Bob Hope and President Gerald R. Ford.
Finchem, who has been the commissioner since 1994, is credited with expanding the earning opportunities for PGA TOUR players both domestically and internationally. He also has been instrumental in the formation of the International Federation of PGA Tours and the World Golf Foundation’s First Tee initiative.
While Finchem oversees the creation of outstanding playing and earning opportunities for its members, he is especially proud of the TOUR’s charitable contributions of more than $1.6 billion.
Els will receive the Winnie Palmer Award, for his foundation work on behalf of autism. CBS Sports broadcaster Jim Nantz will receive the Lincoln Werden Golf Journalism Award while the Donald Trump Family has been named the Family of the Year; Metropolis Country Club, Club of the Year; Nationwide Insurance, the Bing Crosby Tournament Sponsor Award and Mary Bea Porter-King, Distinguished Service Award.
Proceeds from the dinner are distributed to the Metropolitan (New York) area caddie scholarship programs and the MGA Foundation. More than $1.1 million has been raised over the years for the association’s charitable endeavors.
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Count PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem among those concerned by the recent spate of disqualifications that have happened the day after TV viewers reported rules violations.
In each case, the violation was inadvertent -- Camilo Villegas brushing away a piece of dirt as his ball rolled back down the slope beside the green; Padraig Harrington's ball moving so slightly after he picked up his marker that the infraction was only visible on high-definition TV.
The violations were reported after the broadcast and in each case, the player was disqualified from the tournament. But did this ultimate penalty fit the crime? Had the rules violation been uncovered before the player signed his scorecard, it would have been a two-shot penalty.
Finchem said Tuesday at the Farmers Insurance Open that he would like to see a thorough discussion of the issue as it relates to the penalty with golf's governing bodies, the USGA and Royal & Ancient.
The commissioner said that the TOUR raised the issue with the USGA several years ago and has rearticulated its concern in light of recent events. He said he's spoken to representatives of the European Tour several times over the last few weeks and they feel similarly.
Finchem said he is meeting with the USGA Executive Committee next week.
"I hope to have a conversation with them at that point in time, and I would hope that we could have a global conversation about the rule and certainly the penalty that is attached to it, because it obviously troubles a lot of people in terms of how it shakes out from time to time,' he said.
What worries him the most is the severity of the penalty. Harrington was one shot off the lead after the first round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship but was DQ’ed when the infraction was brought to his attention prior to his tee time in the second round.
"I think the suggestion has been made in the past that perhaps it would be adequate to have an additional two-shot penalty to a player who had no knowledge that he violated a rule, and the tournament was over or the round was over, the scorecard was signed, and he is disqualified,” Finchem said.
"But there are other variations. I just think that there's a lot of discomfort with this whole situation and questions raised. I don't want to assume what our position would be on any piece of it. All I'm saying at this point is we ought to have an intelligent, thorough discussion of what we have today and what options might be available to us." – Helen Ross
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- No changes were made to the FedExCup points structure for 2011, but PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said Wednesday that the TOUR will keep a close watch on how the points unfold this year, especially in terms of players making big moves in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup without benefit of winning a tournament during the year.
"The question raised by some players and others that while you want the full season to have a real impact on who gets to Atlanta and where the seeds are going into Atlanta, at the same time, there's too much volatility and somebody can come from pretty far back and scoot way up into that list without winning," Finchem said.
"So we did look at that and we looked at it carefully. But ... we felt like across the board, there clearly was a recognition that play early meant a lot late, regardless of what happened late. There were a number of examples of that."
The commissioner cited Tiger Woods as an example, saying that if the world's top-ranked player had played his normal number of events in 2010, he would have advanced to East Lake. Instead, Woods made nine starts in the regular season and failed to post a top-10 finish in any of the first three Playoffs events, leaving him outside of the top 30 who advanced to THE TOUR Championship.
Finchem said the TOUR did not want to react so quickly with another points adjustment in this, the fourth year of the FedExCup.
"I do think it's an issue that clearly deserves watching," he said. "And then the other side of it, smaller reason, but a reason, was that, again, we just felt like we wanted a solid continuity to continue to get more fans involved in the process without a distraction of explaining a change. So that weighed into that discussion a little bit.
"But it's certainly an open question and it's certainly something we are going to watch carefully as we go this year. ... So we just want to build on that this year, and then these kind of questions we'll keep an eye on and maybe make a change for the future."
Other highlights of the commissioner's new conference Wednesday:
THOUGHTS ON THE EUROPEAN TOUR: "This recent focus on three or four players, particularly as it relates to Europe, does not cause us concern. I mean, we see the need for these players to support the Tour in Europe. We feel like a strong European Tour is in everybody's interest, in our interests. The European Tour has been under a lot of pressure, and we didn't help their cause when we moved THE PLAYERS to May and when we created the FedExCup with the Playoffs.
"What that did was it put significant pressure on their early summer and late summer schedule, when any player or most players who are dual members are going to play more here in the early summer because of THE PLAYERS and then again late in the summer.
"So the fact that they have worked hard to encourage their players to play more and changed their rules as it relates to The Ryder Cup for that reason, is understandable, and we don't complain about that. We think that those steps are reasonable, and we support players playing more over there, even though it might cost us some starts over here. We feel like we are strong enough and we like the balance of international players.
"And you can make an argument, candidly, long term that it's in our interests that we keep that balance; that we not be a TOUR populated 90 percent by players outside the U.S. We need to appeal to the market in the United States, and it's a good balance. It's a balance that allows us to be very successful in the United States and at the same time be very successful in distributing our television product around the globe."
RICKIE FOWLER BEATING OUR RORY McILROY FOR 2010 ROOKIE OF
THE YEAR: "I'm not going to again speak for the players,
but how much emphasis do you put on winning a tournament and how
much emphasis do you put on season long consistent performance, and
to some extent, the support of the TOUR?
"In this case, Rickie was ahead of Rory on the Money List and he was ahead of him on the FedExCup points. He didn't win but he had a consistent year, and he played more events.
"Some players would say yeah, but winning is everything, I vote for the guy who won. Other guys will say, I'm compelled by this. And I suppose, based on what you all have written -- I haven't heard a player say this, but I've read that some players just question the criteria of designating Rory a rookie, which I suppose might have affected some votes.
"But you know, I don't think it's an unreasonable determination either way you go." – Mike McAllister