What they said: Tim Finchem, Peter JacobsenSeptember 17, 2013
LAURA NEAL: Good afternoon. Welcome to the TOUR Championship by Coca Cola. As is tradition this week, we have the State of the TOUR press conference with PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. We will then transition into the Payne Stewart Award announcement and invite Mr. Beattie from Southern Company to join us.
TIM FINCHEM: Thank you for joining us this afternoon. This is a point of the year where I characterize how the year has gone, what's going on with the PGA TOUR, and take a quick look toward the next year and then see what's on your mind before we do the special recognition a little bit later.
First of all, however, let me just thank everyone here at East Lake for their hospitality again this year. This has been a great partnership for a good number of years. It started with the discussion about how we could help through this particular tournament, the TOUR Championship, tell the story of what's happened here at East Lake, and the story continues to grow.
I'd like to recognize and thank Tom Cousins for his partnership over the years, Coca Cola and their executives and their executive team, their sports marketing team for the great work they've done to bring this Championship forward. Our friends at the Southern Company, who sponsor the Payne Stewart award.
I should relate that there was an excellent dinner, you may all be aware of that, last night with the Southern people and the Coca Cola folks, chaired by Muhtar Kent, the CEO of Coca-Cola, in which there was another major contribution made to the East Lake Foundation for the schools here. It was a great start to what I think is going to be a great week.
What I'd like to do is start with talking just for a minute about where we are right this minute, which is toward the end of the FedEx Cup season, and make a few comments about it.
I think the FedExCup has again this year taken another step up in terms of its involving the fans, involving the players. And through the playoffs these last four weeks in particular, we've had great play on great golf courses, at Barclays, at Deutsche Bank, at TPC Boston, at BMW, and then we're looking forward to this week.
I think two things of note are that we're very excited about how Liberty National played in the first playoff event and the reaction we had from the fans and the players. We were also delighted with the play at Conway Farms and are looking forward to getting to next year.
It might be good just to step back for a second from the FedExCup and maybe reflect on a few things that we think are indicators of how strong this competition has become. Starting with the players. I think all of you know the players are really into this competition now for lots of different reasons.
One thing of note is that, if you look week in and week out on the PGA TOUR and I mean every week on the PGA TOUR and consider the number of players who have access to that tournament and the number that take advantage of that access, and then you compare that to the first number of years now of all the playoff events on the FedExCup, it's interesting. 99.1 percent of the starts by players that were available to players have been actually utilized. Of the 975 opportunities, 966 have been filled.
It's an indication of the very robust interest, support, and enthusiasm the players have for this competition. And I think, as with the fans, it continues to grow.
Secondly, obviously, the fans, the quality of our galleries at the playoffs in particular, the television coverage, which I think started off good, but I think it's gotten better every year in terms of bringing the viewer into the multiple number of stories that go on in each week of the playoffs in terms of who can make that cut of the week, who is going to make it to the next week, along with who's going to in a position to win the golf tournament.
And I think that has been a very important thing in terms of bringing the fans in and growing the interest among the fans.
In addition, I think the strong movement of international players to try to compete for the Cup has also been a very positive thing, particularly in terms of generating global interest in terms of what the FedEx Cup is all about. That has grown as well over these last six or seven years.
So we're at a good place. We have a great field this week. I think the system we've had the last couple years is very, very sound in terms of its competency as a competition, and also it's structured in a way that maximizes the interest of the fans.
Additionally, while that's been going on, we've had we're now well into the Web.com finals, and I must say in this first year we're off to, I think, a very, very solid start. The quality of the golf courses in the finals, the juxtaposition of the 126 to 200 from the PGA TOUR against the top 75 off the Web.com Tour money list has, I think, proven to be very interesting to fans. Our galleries have been good at those events, and we've gotten good results on television.
So I think I think we're off to a good start there, and I think here again, as fans get more involved in understanding this new system we have, I think it will continue to grow as well.
We're particularly excited, as I mention a new system, we're particularly excited about what happens on Sunday because, if you go forward two weeks, we will have had we will have completed the final events on the Web.com Tour. So everybody will be designated with their card for next year.
This Sunday will culminate for the first time in the FedExCup era, it will culminate everything about the competition for a season. In other words, the FedExCup will be awarded. The TOUR Championship trophy will be awarded. The Arnold Palmer award for leading money winner will be decided. The Byron Nelson award for leading scorer will be decided. And in addition to that, the balance for Player of the Year for which players vote will go out the door literally right after the conclusion of play on Sunday.
So it really brings every and we will be announcing the results late next week. So everything comes together for the first time in this FedExCup era at the same time. It allows the fans to get their arms around what a real season means. You recall a couple of years ago we had the FedEx Cup and weeks later Luke Donald was still competing for whether or not he was going to win the Arnold Palmer award against Webb Simpson.
So we really think that improves things, tidies things up and allows us to promote what a season is and how these players are competing comparatively in a more effective way.
A couple of comments about the overall strength of the TOUR at this point in time, one, continues to be and I kind of put it at the top of the list the increasingly important focus on young players coming up. We've seen this now for the last three years. The fans, it translates into some interesting things that I'll come back to, but the fans are really into learning about these young players.
And I think that there are several reasons for that. One, they're winning. The percentage of tournaments won on the PGA TOUR for players under 30 has grown the last four years. So the percentage of players who win has gotten younger and younger and younger over the last four years.
They are coming up as rookies with a maturity level and a confidence level that is significantly greater, in my view, than 10 or 15 years ago. They were coming up as rookies on average with more athleticism than has been the case in the past. That has been a steady progression now for a number of years. The athleticism of our young players.
And the reason for that clearly is that a higher percentage of young men who are good in other sports are gravitating to our sport, and that means on average those that can make it this far have a higher degree of athleticism.
They have, in addition to confidence and athleticism, we're also noticing their maturity and their focus on the other stuff, the stuff outside the ropes. I'd say in the last two or three years the number of players, young players, players who are in their first year, who are focused on charity, on giving back, on creating their own foundations, on doing their own fund raisers is significantly different than ten years ago when a player was almost entirely focused on can I stay out here?
These players come out here, young men think they're going to be here for 20 years, and they want to do what the players who came before them have done, which is a terrific thing across the board for the PGA TOUR.
The next thing I would mention, in addition to young players, is and, of course, I would say the juxtaposition of those players with great veterans who continue to play well in Tiger and Phil and Furyk and Stricker, many of whom we just had a terrific exhibition from this past week I think the golf courses on the PGA TOUR are the strongest group of golf courses that we've ever had in terms of how they challenge, how they stand up to the best players in the world, how they're conditioned.
We owe a lot of people a lot for that across the TOUR, but I think it's a very important piece that sometimes we don't talk enough about. I'm delighted that we're going to be going to Cherry Hills with the BMW Playoff event next year. Cherry Hills, we haven't played in Denver in a while, and we think that's going to be a mega event in Denver.
The last two things I'll mention are television and international. On television, we just had such an incredible year last year in terms of every metric that you could think about, and yet this year we managed to reach 100 we had 165 million different Americans tune in at one point in time. Over 100 million tune in on 10 or 12 events or more.
The interest level, in terms of cumulative numbers, is, we think, the highest it's ever been. Our ratings were very solid to last year, and the average number of minutes that a viewer spends with a telecast is up again this year, which we think is an indication of two things. One, again, wanting to learn about the young players, and you've got to spend some time with it. And, two, the continual increase in the percentage of our fans who, when they watch the telecast, are also following us online, and the combination of those two things tends to create a more interest in some of the things that aren't a part of the broadcast but creates more of a focus and a commitment to time than we've seen in the past. So that is all very healthy.
Finally, in the international area, we've had good success in the last couple of years, and we look forward later this year to, as we start the new season, to Malaysia, HSBC, the World Cup in Australia, and then in two years the Presidents Cup in Korea.
I should mention on television also we're pleased we have a long way to go, but we're pleased with the impact of our simulcast as we started our first year of our new agreements with CBS and NBC.
Let me say a word about our tournament structure. We think our tournaments across the TOUR are stronger than ever. They have they're managing to grow their reserves at the same time they're growing their commitment to charity, and I'll come back and talk about charity in a minute.
We have a tremendous sponsorship group right now, fully sponsored for next year, and sponsors who are engaging, not just in branding and advertising, not just in business to business, but also increasingly working with our tournaments to grow their financial base, which translates to growing a commitment to charity because these sponsors are focused on charity.
And with that, let me turn to charity for a minute. I think we you've seen our advertisements. We're talking a lot about reaching the $2 billion number in charity that our tournaments generate in partnership with us, and we will continue to talk about that because we feel like, even though it doesn't tell the story of how the dollars are spent and the great stories that are out there in terms of helping people, it gets people's attention. We want people to recognize that this is a huge charitable platform. When you spend a dollar on the PGA TOUR, a percentage of that is going to the bottom line for charity. 100 percent of the proceeds go to charity, and by doing that, we get more people involved.
I would like to particularly recognize the TOUR Wives Association 25 year anniversary this year for the commitment they've made over the years to work with our tournaments' charitable endeavors, and that has been another stimulus to the charitable numbers that I'll mention in a second.
The First Tee program that we undertook to help raise a lot of money for last year is in terrific shape and making a large impact.
This year on the PGA TOUR, we will set a record of in excess of $130 million raised. We should reach that $2 billion number right at the end of the year. We haven't figured out which week we'll go over that, but it will be an exciting moment.
And I would point out that it took 67 years to reach the first billion and 8 years to reach the second billion. We're moving in the right direction from a growth standpoint.
A couple of words about 2014. I mention we're fully sponsored. We're delighted to have Valspar as our new sponsor in Tampa with a multiyear agreement. That's a golf course that is very popular with our players. It looks great on television. It's a good test. And we're delighted to stay in that market as part of our NBC package, Florida swing next year. We extended our Hyundai agreement. All of our tournament agreements for next year are out. Our schedule is done. I'm very happy about that.
I mentioned Cherry Hills. We'll also be playing the Barclays at Ridgewood. So two different golf courses in the playoffs. But other than that, we're pretty consistent with this year.
Since I'm mentioning venues, I would like to congratulate the PGA of America, who I believe announced this morning that they would be playing the PGA Championship 2019 at Bethpage, New York on the black and also back with the Ryder Cup there in 2024.
As you know, we've played the Barclays there. We're going to go back and play the Barclays there in 2016. It's a terrific venue. I think it's just terrific for the PGA and our players who play in those tournaments. So we're very pleased for them and delighted with the progress they're making as well.
With that, I'll pause. I could go on for a while and give you a lot more data that you don't want to hear. So I'll stop and try to answer your questions.
Q. Hi, Tim. We had another rules issue the other day where somebody not involved in the competition brought it to light. Obviously, a few times a year we have viewers calling in and such. Just curious again on your opinion on that phenomena of people calling in. Would the TOUR ever look at perhaps prohibiting that?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, we've been talking about it and looking at it over the years. I think twice we've actually got pretty serious about it. It's not just one thing. It's sort of three or four different ways to look at it starting with one fundamental, which is disqualification reasonable for signing a card wrong when you didn't intentionally do anything?
Going from there to what's a reasonable point to accept outside information? Is it better to have some sort of limit on it? If you don't learn about something before X time. All the other sports close their books a little quicker than we do, so to speak.
But there's two sides to the story. I mean, it's not an easy argument one way or the other. I think it's cumbersome and difficult and awkward sometimes. On the other hand, sometimes it's pretty interesting to the fans. I mentioned this at THE PLAYERS Championship.
But we seem to have three or four of these things this year. So we'll probably be taking another harder look at it after we get done with the season. Thank you.
Q. Commissioner, you brought up the average number of hours that people are watching. Do you know what that number is, how long they stay?
TIM FINCHEM: Average number of minutes per viewer is what is it, 60? 65.
Q. Secondly, you said a couple years ago at the start of the year that the U.S. TOUR is better off when the European Tour is strong. Do you still feel that way? Is there any concern that as more European players not only come here to play, but come here to live that it's causing the European Tour to become too weak?
TIM FINCHEM: I don't think I said that. I think what I said is golf is better off when the various tours around the world are strong and vibrant. And the reason I say that is professional golf is the driver for interest in the game.
If you just go look at Arnold Palmer and Augusta in '58 and what happened 25 years later. So when you have big tournaments, exciting tournaments, the media spends a lot of time on them, good crowds, it creates excitement for the game, and I think that's important.
It doesn't necessarily mean year in and year out that the PGA TOUR would necessarily benefit in and of what we do, but I think we have a bigger we have to focus on the long term, what's best for the game globally. If the game grows globally, that is better for us in that context.
So I think it's always good to take steps that will help move other tours in that direction, if that can be done. I think some of the things that have happened in the last number of years have had some impact in that regard, but I think that's what I was specifically talking about.
Q. You mentioned earlier that playoff point structure, you feel like, is very sound, but I know you said a few weeks ago that you are going to look at the volatility in the playoffs and perhaps dial it back. Can you give us an update where you are in that process? Where do you see it going forward?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, we're not any further than what I said, but we are in the process this year of looking at that, but once we got well into the season, it just made sense if we weren't going to change it for this year, we might as well have stopped talking about it and see what happens this year again and weave that into what we're looking at.
So that's what we'll be doing starting on Monday. I think that's the one thing is the volatility that the significant increase in points creates. Is it a little bit we like volatility, but is it too much volatility? You want a system where if you're like Tiger Woods is coming in here seeded first. That's where you want to be coming into this week.
You've still got to play. You've got to play your tail off to beat these other 29 guys, but that's where everybody wants to be.
Next thing would be, okay, second, third, fourth, or fifth because, if I win, I can win. Next thing is get to go Atlanta, et cetera. So we want players focused at the start of the year on, okay, I've got to play pretty well during the season. I've got to play I've got to keep it going during the playoffs, and I've got to play in Atlanta, all three.
The question is, if you have that much volatility in the first couple of weeks of the playoffs, does it throw that off a little bit? You want the season to mean a lot. So that's what we're looking at. It's just that one thing. I think we'll bring that to a head most likely, yay or nay, by our board meeting in November, which is in the first two weeks of November. If we're going to do it for next year.
If we're going to do it for next year, we want to address it this fall and get it out there way before the playoffs. We could do it the first quarter, but it doesn't affect anything until the playoffs, but I think the earlier we address it the better off we are. So we'll be talking about that.
Q. Tim, going back to the international question for a second, you had mentioned that, when the game is strong worldwide, it's great for the TOUR. Well, it's strongest right now in Asia, in terms of the growth of the game both in participation and in courses being built. What sort of market penetration is the Tour making there in viewership, partnership, that sort of thing?
TIM FINCHEM: I think from the standpoint and this applies not just to Asia, but everywhere, in terms of a global penetration to a sports fan with our brand, with our players, with what we're all about, I think we're very solid. That applies to, I think, all the emerging markets, whether it be Southeast Asia, China, South America, Eastern Europe.
We have good product in it's available to everybody because of our television distribution, which is very, very strong. Secondly, it's because we have a good mix of international players in most of those countries, it's very appealing.
So we feel like we're in a good place in that regard. Specifically, with regard to China, we've been involved with China since '93, when we went to China to set up the World Cup for '95. We played a number of World Cups there. We've played tournaments there. We've worked with the China Golf Association the last four or five years on their elite player development programs. We've had their team every year to Sawgrass.
We're doing a lot with China. We have a great partnership with Korea and Japan, Japan being more stable and have more history. So we're very active, and we're trying to be responsible to use, not just take steps to benefit the Tour, but to try to focus on especially with golf going in the Olympics, the long term gross in the game on an international basis, which translates into a long term growth on an elite player basis.
I think we're seeing, on the elite players side, terrific movement. I think the Olympic step was a real catalyst in some of these areas to get serious about elite player development. It's interesting what's happening in some of the areas. I think it will have a fundamental change on the texture of the game globally in 25 years.
It will be a process, but it will get there.
Q. Tim, following up on Bob's question about fans calling in, one, what steps would need to take place in order for a change like that to occur to maybe prevent or prohibit fans from calling in to change a ruling? Secondly, you said you tend to close your books a little bit later than other sports do. I think football, when you review a play, if the ball gets snapped on the next play, it stands. That's the way it is. Could you foresee a case where, if a player isn't alerted of an infraction before it reaches the next tee or plays the next hole, what sort of scenarios would you see?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, the answer to your first question is you could just write a rule and say we're not going to accept outside information after X. So the execution
Q. The players would have to vote on that, correct?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, technically, our board it's a board decision, and there are four players on the board and four outside independent directors, and President of the PGA of America. But that would be the technical execution of what you're talking about.
In terms of the second part of your question, there's all kinds of issues with that, with talking about this subject in terms of equity, where are we going here digitally, are we going to be at a point in time when there's going to be a camera on every ball at every moment anywhere on the golf course? It's just going down that road.
It's a real question of is there an unfairness two things. One, from the standpoint of the competitor, is there unfairness here? From the standpoint of the presentation of the sport, which is what you see with the leagues when they get into are you going to have replay? What's your time limit? How are you going to do it? It has to do with the presentation of sport.
The time it takes to play the competition, how they want the viewer to be engaged in what's happening on the playing field. And I think it's fair for golf to consider that as well.
I'm just saying these are the issues. I personally, as I've sort of mentioned now a couple times, I don't have a strong view one way or the other. I don't like it sometimes. It feels awkward when it happens. On the other hand, I hate to say it's part of the tradition of the game because actually you can't really argue that because it's changed with the degree of television we have. It's really changed as a reality.
So I don't know. I think we need to do some more thinking about it. I think people in the game need to think about it.
Q. Tim, in general, are you happy with the pace of play on the PGA TOUR? And specifically, are you satisfied with how slow play is enforced on TOUR?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, it takes us a long time to play because of the number of players we have. If you look at how long it takes us to play in a World Golf Championship when we have 80 or 90 players, it's fundamentally different than when we put 156 players on the golf course.
Am I happy about how long it takes to play? No. Am I in favor of playing opportunities for the players? Yes. Has pace changed much in the last 15 years? No, it really hasn't.
When it does change, it's usually where we get a golf course where there are drivable par 4s, reachable par 5s, or a lot of wind that day, and that's when it changes.
When you jam up the golf course with 144 or 156 players and those things happen, you don't have any there's no room in the accordion. There's no flex. If you got 80 players out there, you can do a lot of different things. So that's kind of the challenge.
By the way, I look at that stuff as different than your second question. The second question goes to more in my mind sure, it has an impact maybe on how long it takes to play, but it's more directed at is the competitor playing the way he's supposed to play? He's supposed to keep up. He's supposed to not drag the group back, and where you have situations like that, I think we have to be aggressive in penalties.
So part of our analysis that's going on right now is taking another look at the penalties we've had in the past and asking ourselves should we have a stronger penalty structure? And that is squarely in front of us as we speak.
But I always you know, there's two different things. One is how long it takes to play, and the other is fairness to your fellow competitor because you do have occasionally a slow player who works the system a little bit, knows how he gets behind a little bit to catch up, and that's not the way you should play. You should play in par time starting off, and you should keep up with the group ahead of you, period. That's the way it is.
So that's kind of where we are. I'm glad there's some discussion on it. But I honestly think the idea you would talk about playing on the PGA TOUR in the same breath as saying recreational play suffers because it takes too long to play. It's two different things.
As a matter of fact, an interesting suggestion lately is to go out and show TOUR players playing golf when they're playing recreational golf and see how fast they play. They fly around the golf course. It really is about the number of people we put out there, and I don't want to see our players tarred and feathered for having some impact on if a guy wants to be as meticulous as Jack Nicklaus was in 1962 or some of the players that are playing now and do that 91 times, it's going to take a long time to play the game.
Our players can still get around pretty good, but they've got 71 times. What else can I tell you?
Q. Just come back to Doug's point earlier, in the context of the overall growth of the game which you referred to, could you foresee a scenario where the best outcome is for the PGA TOUR and the European Tour to become one and the same?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, I don't know about that. I do think that we've been going down a road for a good while now really. And actually next year will be 20 years since we created what then was the International Forum of PGA Tours that then became the International Federation. It then launched the World Golf Championships that has since worked on the re bringing of the World Cup back.
So it's a constant, I think, movement down a road of more cooperation, more collaboration, thinking jointly more. Up until then, there wasn't much of that, if any, and thinking about how what we can do together.
So where that leads, I don't know. I think being one and the same would just be you know, I suppose there could be at some point integration of tours, but there could also be collaboration, and through partnership, more global competition focus.
So rather than it become a graduation tomorrow, it's a continuation of what we've seen. I think that's equally likely. But I do think the ability to utilize worldwide media effectively, to be consistent in the delivery to quality global company title sponsors, to generate interest, increasing interest in the sport on a global basis, those things argue for a unified competitive structure on some basis.
I'm not out selling a basis. I'm just suggesting we keep talking, keep talking, and try to figure out if there's a better way to present. There's a lot of models out there. Just look at the sports landscape of sports that are global in nature. And there are different ways to do it. But I'm not saying we have to do it. We're doing quite well right now, so we don't feel like this is something we have to do.
We do have this view that long term one and one and one could equal six or seven, and that's something I think we should spend some energy focusing on. We all have other things to do, and we have things to run, but think it's just a healthy exercise at this point. We'll see where it leads.
Q. I'm just curious, did you happen to see video of Tiger's ball moving, and what did you think about the way he stood his ground that it didn't move even in light of video evidence?
TIM FINCHEM: I saw it on the I didn't see it on an up front camera. I did see it on HD television.
I agreed with Slugger. Slugger said that he could see how you could come to that conclusion if you're just glancing or something. I think you had to study it pretty carefully to see it move. I did think it moved.
So we're back into that arena of what's a reasonable burden on the part of the player or not, or do we want to even get into that arena? If it's not visible to the naked eye without HD slo-mo capability, does it get into an area of fairness?
It's just a difficult situation. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer to it, to be honest. We've got to have answers. We've got to do things.
Q. Are you surprised the way he kind of stood his ground about it didn't move even after he saw the video?
TIM FINCHEM: I can't comment on it because I wasn't part of those conversations. So I can't you know. He clearly thought it oscillated and not moved, and I can see, in my view, a pretty close call. I could see that. I wasn't there. I didn't see it.
Q. Do you wish you had been there?
TIM FINCHEM: I'm always interested in those things.
Q. Tim, just a follow up on this whole thing about the rules. If not for a tournament camera there watching Tiger and the ball, that would have been an infraction that would not have been discovered. It seems like, because there's 156 guys playing in golf tournaments, there are infraction that's go undiscovered on a weekly basis. Are you concerned about that, and do you discuss that?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, it reminds me of the time 20 years ago we had a player who said a bad word, and people some people heard it. He said, well, I wasn't anywhere near any microphones. Nobody could hear it. But you said it. Somebody heard it.
I don't know how you get into that discussion. We have a lot more cameras on the players who are in contention on Sunday, say. You've got 70 some players playing on Sunday. Seven or eight or ten of them can win the golf tournament. 85, 90, 95 percent of the camera time is on those seven or eight players.
I think the test is the same. The question is did you violate a rule or not? It's not this assumes because even if you reduced, even if you said, okay, we were talking earlier, OK, there's a point in time when you close the door on it, there's a point in time when the door's opened. Is that equitable to everything?
But who knows? Maybe we'll have cameras on every shot on every place in ten years. We don't have to have this debate.
Q. Tim, related to this again, I'm curious if you're at all concerned the rules of golf do allow for outside people, whatever, spectators, to point out infractions.
TIM FINCHEM: Absolutely.
Q. Do you feel like the USGA or the R&A would have to make a ruling on this before you would, or would you have to go outside of that?
TIM FINCHEM: First of all, put the cart before the horse. We have to include that a change is something that we want to do. Sure, we go talk to the USGA and the R&A. Our batting average with them haven't been real good the last year, but we'd have a nice conversation with them. And then it would be we'd have to decide what we want to do.
LAURA NEAL: At this time, it's my pleasure to transition to the Payne Stewart Award announcement. I'd like to invite Southern Company Chief Financial Officer Art Beattie to the stage. Southern Company has been a longtime partner with the Payne Stewart Award and the PGA TOUR.
TIM FINCHEM: Art, thank you for joining us. Let me just say that tonight we'll be awarding the 14th Payne Stewart Award presentation, 14th presented by Southern Company in a ceremony down at the hotel.
As we've talked about over the years, and certainly this year's honoree personifies the ideals this award is all about sportsmanship, integrity, the spirit of giving back to charitable causes, understanding of what it means to be a role model.
Clearly, going back to the first year when Arnold, Jack, and Byron were recognized together, the men who have earned this award over the years have all distinguished themselves through their demeanor, their professional presentation, and their words and actions on and off the golf course.
This year's recipient is the personification of these qualities, and I'd like to introduce Peter Jacobsen.
So we found somebody who all of you know, and Peter, who is a good friend of Payne's, exemplifies the values that Payne defined.
I was asked a question last night about the origination of this award, and since Peter's here now, I'll mention this. At the Ryder Cup in 1999 in Boston, I had a conversation with Payne, in which he lamented the development over the years that, when players got turned 50, they headed for the Champions Tour, and that not having a Byron Nelson out there or Sam Snead, who played so long in his career, he felt might be having a negative effect on the younger players coming up having the ability to look to these senior statesmen in the game and learn the core values of the sport from them.
He just asked that we think about that a little bit in terms of are there things that we could do to deal with that? Well, three weeks later he passed away in that crash, and it occurred to us that by recognizing people like Peter Jacobsen, who have stood for the qualities that I just mentioned, could go could have in addition to the recognition of that, could have the effect of getting players, young players coming up to think about these things.
As I mentioned earlier in my presentation, if you just look at the kids who are coming up now and their focus on their presentation, their interest in charity and giving back, I do think it has something to do perhaps with our players talking about this area and the Payne Stewart Award.
Art, I want to thank you and Southern for the work that's been done that you will do again this year, not just to participate in supporting this award, but to tell the story of Peter Jacobsen and why he's being recognized because that really helps tell the story of the quality, integrity, and credibility of our players.
So with that, Peter, congratulations.
PETER JACOBSEN: Thank you.
First of all, I'd like to thank the Southern Company for their support, not only of the PGA TOUR but also for their support of Payne and his family and keeping Payne's name and legacy alive.
He was an amazing guy. A lot of you in this room knew Payne, knew what he stood for. He was a dynamic personality, somebody who was as intense a competitor as there is in the history of the game but also somebody who few how to have fun.
He would he's out there chomping on his gum and laughing and knocking putts into win the Ryder Cup and raising his fist and jumping around. I remember when he won the U.S. Open, he grabbed Phil Mickelson's face and said, you're going to be a father. That's the greatest thing you could ever have happen to you.
So he was a good friend of mine. We did a lot of things together with our families. But mostly, we competed against each other. We laughed. And we had a lot of fun, played some music together, some really good music together, I might add, for all you music lovers out there.
But, again, thanks to the Tour and thanks to the Southern Company.
LAURA NEAL: Mr. Beattie, I know you have your congratulations remarks as well.
ART BEATTIE: Let me start by congratulating Peter on your selection as being the award winner this year. We all know Peter is a class act, and he certainly represents the best of the attributes that this award attempts to recognize.
This is the 14th year the Southern Company has been honored to share in the presentation of this award, and we think it's a meaningful way for us to certainly honor the memory of Payne Stewart and pay tribute to his commitment to the game's heritage of giving back.
As a company, Southern Company strives to be bigger than our bottom line, and we do that by helping our communities and helping our economies be better because we are there. These are the same values that are espoused by the Payne Stewart Award.
So our support and sponsorship of this is a natural fit for us. It's an easy decision. We're proud to be affiliated and sponsor of the Payne Stewart Award, and we look forward to our continuing association with the PGA TOUR and this award in the years to come.
Peter, congratulations again. Well done.
PETER JACOBSEN: Thank you very much.
Q. Peter, I'm just curious, we talk a lot about the traits of Payne that are embodied in this award. I wanted to ask you about his golf swing and if you see anybody on TOUR today who best resembles that, kind of the swinger he was.
PETER JACOBSEN: It's funny you mention that. The person I see that swings the most like Payne is Jordan Spieth, as he now emerges as a superstar.
Payne had what a lot of people refer to as a two-plane swing. He swung a lot like Tom Weiskopf, Hale Irwin, Tom Watson, the arms and club kind of up and down the target line.
When Payne and I played, we played a lot of practice rounds together, and we both had the same swing thought. It was tempo. It was rhythm. And if you watch Payne's swing, that's what you see, and that's what you take out of his swing.
Having done some analysis now working for NBC and golf channel, I see those same swing mechanics in Jordan Spieth. He works a lot on tempo, good positions in his swing. But I see a lot of Payne Stewart in Jordan Spieth.
Q. What about from character standpoint? Anybody?
PETER JACOBSEN: There are a lot of kids who have the same character as Payne Stewart. I'm so impressed. First of all, being a member of this PGA TOUR for 37 years. I think it's 37, 38. It's been a long time.
For me to see from afar, I play on the Champions Tour, but I also do television out here, and to see what these young men, how they present themselves on a daily basis, how they interact with the fans, how they treat the sponsors, my at is off to Commissioner Finchem and everybody on the TOUR for the message we're getting as players, the message they're getting as players on how to be.
From people like Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Lehman, Jay Haas, all the Payne Stewart Award winners and more, those who have not won the Payne Stewart Award, these men are just great examples of sportsmanship and integrity. I really don't see any bad actors on the TOUR.
And I'm always looking because I'm a harsh critic when it comes to doing the right thing. I think it's important to do the right thing. I see a lot of kids out here that do the right thing, and I'm really proud of them for doing that.
Q. I'm sure this could be a long answer but
PETER JACOBSEN: Me?
Q. If you had one story, personal story that you could tell, favorite story about Payne that you were either involved with or know of, what would it be?
PETER JACOBSEN: I'll tell you a story. I was going to tell it tonight. I'll tell it to you right now.
Payne and I put together a rock and roll band, something completely away from the game of golf. We both loved music, along with Mark Lye and Larry Rinker. Commissioner Deane Beman at the time asked us to put together a band and perform at the Players Club in Ponte Vedra. We had this crazy idea to put together a little band, which we did. And we called it Jake Trout and the Flounders. Nobody wanted to sing so they pushed me out there. Payne played harmonica, Larry played guitar, and Mark played guitar.
We did this. We bumped around at some Pro-Am dinners and some functions, and we had a blast. We were going to record our second album. We were in L.A., and we recorded we got two days of recording time at this studio in L.A., and we paid for 10:00 to 4:00. And we had two days. We had Glenn Frey and Alice Cooper and Huey Lewis and Bruce Hornsby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash all people you know. All in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They're all coming in for us to record with them 10:00 to 4:00.
So Payne and I fly in. Mark was already there. We go to the recording studio at 9:30, 10:00 in the morning. We're pounding on the door, 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, 12:00. Nobody's there. We're pounding on the door. We feel we got ripped off. We're a bunch of golfers. Somebody ripped us off.
So we drive around town, and finally we call. I get the producer. It's 4:00. He said, we're supposed to be recording today. He said, yeah, 10:00. I said, yeah, it's 4:00. He goes, yeah, we've got six hours. I said, what recording artist? You going to be a vampire.
So we went back to the hotel, got a shower, got a nap, and we went and recorded the next two days from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. I realized then, that was the realization, Payne said you have to be a vampire to be a rock and roll star. That's why we had a very short-lived career.
But being with Payne was enlightening. He was one of the most interesting guys. He had a lot of thoughts. He had a lot of ideas. And he could play music too. He was pretty good on the harmonica. Huey Lewis, who's a great harmonica player with Huey Lewis and the News, said Payne was about a 8 handicap on the harmonica, which is pretty good because he was about a 15 handicap golfer. So it's a fair trade.
Q. Hey, Peter, we've been talking something about integrity before you came in with the fact of what happened with Tiger last week and how the incidents kind of continue to happen. Your opinion on, because you played long enough on the PGA TOUR and the Champions Tour, your opinion on these calls, and just talk about how you used to handle rules infractions back in the day, and should it change in some way, shape, or form?
PETER JACOBSEN: I think it only strengthens when we have fans calling in after watching it on TV, it strengthens the rules of the game and strengthens how good we have to be.
Specifically, with the Tiger situation last week, when you're moving a twig or a piece of a leaf, you're not looking at your ball. You're looking at whatever you're moving. So when Tiger says he didn't see the ball move, I get that. He was standing on top of it looking down, probably saw it in his peripheral vision. He didn't see it move.
We've had so many infractions that Tim and the staff have to deal with, but, again, I think that it just strengthens the fact that integrity is one of the measuring sticks out here on TOUR. We don't have to worry about crazy things happening because we have an unbelievable rules staff.
I don't mind it. I don't mind people calling in. It's unfair for Tiger because Tiger's got a camera on him everywhere he goes. If you ever play with Tiger it's interesting. I've played with Tiger and watched fans watch Tiger. People will watch Tiger hit his shot. They don't watch the ball in flight. They watch Tiger. And when Tiger puts the club in the bag and goes over and gets a drink of water, he may be playing with Jordan Spieth. They're not watching Jordan Spieth. They're watching Tiger get water and watch Tiger drink water.
Because Tiger's an amazing individual. He's in the class of a Michael Jordan, a Muhammad Ali. He's got that it factor. He's dynamic. That's why I'm glad he plays on our TOUR. He's a member of our organization, because he's special.
So I think people calling in with rules and infractions, it only keeps us sharp. Probably no fun for the PGA TOUR staff and all the rules, but I've been in the trailer now a couple times when the rules officials come in and say, we need to look at this, that, or the other thing. You know, maybe one out of five or one out of six actually turns into something, but I don't have a problem with it.
LAURA NEAL: Congratulations, Peter.
PETER JACOBSEN: Could I just introduce my wife Jan here. I'm going to start crying. And our youngest child Mick.