Tuesday News Conference - TGCs Broadcast Team

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2001 Warburg CupDAN HIGGINS: Good afternoon, everybody. Thanks for joining us. As you may know, The Golf Channel has the TV rights to this weekend's inaugural UBS Warburg Cup competition, which is being played on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort in South Carolina.

The purpose of today is to introduce you to some of the members of our broadcast team for the event, let them share with you their takes on the players, the competition, the course, and even how the The Golf Channel will present the competition to the television viewer.
 
I guess without further adieu, I'll introduce the folks joining me. First is Peter Oosterhuis, who will be our analyst for the event. He'll be in the booth with Grant Boone. Jerry Foltz is also on the call. He's done a lot of The Golf Channel events for us. He'll be reporting from the course. The third person with us is Keith Hirshland, senior producer for our live tournament coverage.
 
I'll turn it over to Peter. They're each going to say a couple of words about the event, then we'll open it up for Q&A when they're done.

PETER OOSTERHUIS: Certainly looking forward to the cup. I've never been to Kiawah Island. I obviously followed The Ryder Cup there. I have been talking to Steve Pate, and I remember him saying it was the toughest course he ever played. Certainly an appropriate venue for a match such as this. I certainly think there's a place on the schedule for a match for players between 40 and 50 and some seniors. Obviously, The Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup have been dominating this. There's certainly a place for this event.

We have some attractive personalities on both teams. We have some history certainly, Ryder Cup history, Mark Calcavecchia on the '91 team, closing out his match. They'll be looking forward to playing well on a course they've played before. I think it should be a very interesting event.

We have, of course, some of the legends of the game, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus , Gary Player, always great to see them playing. It will be interesting to see how the captains juggle their pairings. I think it's going to be a very interesting event.

I'm interested to see, Jerry, what is going to be your challenge when you're down on the course, summing up not only shots being played, but maybe some of the psychological things happening on course.

JERRY FOLTZ:I think there's definitely going to be part of that. I was talking to John Cook two weeks ago at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic. He said there's no way you can get this group of players together and have the competitive juices not flow. Granted, it's an inaugural event. There's obviously no history to this event. But there's a lot of history on both teams in terms of Ryder Cup and international team competition.

You can bet when the flag goes up, these guys are going to want to win, regardless of what they perceive the event to be in its inaugural year.

I'm going to have to fight my emotions of being out there and being a fan of golf, being so excited to see this group of players playing with something at stake. We might never get the chance to see all these guys together again in one place again playing for something meaningful.

The course, you mentioned Steve Pate said it was the toughest course he always played. From what I heard, he designed it to be that way. When I was talking to Tom Pernice, he said, 'They're playing that at Kiawah, right?' He said, 'That was the toughest course on earth for the best players when they were on top of their game.' It should be exciting to see.

They're going to take the teeth out of it compared to the '91 Ryder Cup. It can stretch anywhere from 7296 yards from the tips all the way up to 6000 yards. The rough isn't up any measurable distance. It's going to be quite playable I think. A lot depends on the weather.

Peter, before I turn it over to Keith, I think being a seaside course, even though this is being played in America, I'm not sure that necessarily favors the American team.

PETER OOSTERHUIS: Probably doesn't. I think Europeans and international players maybe play in mixed weather more often than Americans. I think we're going to be talking about the American team perhaps looks stronger on paper, and that's very often what happens in The Ryder Cup, the American team is stronger on paper. When it comes to these matches, on paper doesn't count.

Europe has certainly won in '97, won The Ryder Cup when there was no question America had the stronger team.

It's going to be fun to watch.

JERRY FOLTZ:I know Peter and I are both looking forward to being part of it. With that, I'll turn it over to a guy me makes us look good and gets to present the action in a way that I think this tournament is worthy of, that's Keith Hirshland, our senior producer.

KEITH HIRSHLAND: From a production standpoint, we're looking forward to this event probably more than any that we have ever done. It will no doubt be in everybody's mind the most important tournament the The Golf Channel has televised perhaps since the Arnold Palmer Golf Gala, which was Tiger and Mr. Palmer, Davis Love, Tom Lehman back in the initial stages of our development.

But coming into this, I think we'll treat it as special, among other things, just the sheer scope of our coverage, which will start at 9:30 on Friday morning, and basically that will include introductions of the first match on the first tee, and go until they're finished. That will be followed up by four hours of coverage on Saturday, then again from 9:30 until completion during Sunday's singles matches. That's just for the tournament coverage itself.

In addition to that, we will have Viewer's Forum shows starting on Wednesday evening. There is a player reception Wednesday night that Viewers Forum that night will feature guests from that reception. After play on Friday and Sunday, there will be an hour of Viewers Forum immediately following play that will include reaction and other things from the players that are competing in the Warburg Cup.

Thursday we'll also have the captains' selections as they choose who will be paired with whom for Friday's matches. That will be carried live, as well, on the The Golf Channel starting at 4:00. I think as far as coverage is concerned, the The Golf Channel is treating this event with the respect that it deserves.

We'll have 15 cameras on the golf course. We will also have microphones not actually on the players, but two microphones with each group that we'll be able to get up close and personal, as we like to see, to steal a phrase from ABC's Olympic coverage. You'll be able to hear the strategy discussion between partners and teammates.

In addition to that, because while we're sure that the players will take this event seriously, we also hope they'll have a little bit of fun. We hope to catch some of that, as well. As Peter and Jerry know, the mood of the players will change throughout the course of the event. It may start out as good?natured, maybe not as competitive, but I'm sure as Saturday and Sunday roll around, the competition will get hot and heavy.

The other thing we are going to do, as Peter mentioned, they did play the 1991 Ryder Cup here, and we have some flashbacks from that '91 event, including the Langer/Irwin match, as well as Mr. Calcavecchia, Raymond Floyd, a number of other players that were here in 1991. We'll take a little bit of a look back and see how the course has changed over the last ten years.

Just to close, we're very much looking forward to it. Can't wait for it to start.

DAN HIGGINS: For those of you that are actually on the phone participating, we'd like to open it up for some questions. I guess I'll turn that over to the conference coordinator.

Q. Keith, could you go over again, I missed it a little bit, as to what time the live tournament coverage will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday?

KEITH HIRSHLAND: We will be on Friday start -- we come on the air starting at 9:30. That will be with the first match, the introductions of the first matches on the first tee. Our coverage will continue on Friday until all the matches are finished. Then immediately following our live coverage, we will have an hour of Viewers Forum that will originate from our Orlando studios, but will include players and reaction from Kiawah.

Saturday we are tape delayed for four hours. That coverage will air on the The Golf Channel at 3:30 and go until 7:30 in the evening. Then Sunday we're back live again from 9:30 in the morning, with again the first singles match which I think we underst and to be Mr. Palmer and Mr. Player going head to head in the first singles match, and then that coverage again will start on the first tee at 9:30 and go until the conclusion of the Warburg Cup matches and then again Viewers Forum will follow again after that.

Q. Are you planning for Friday, since a lot of people may be working, to do any kind of recap or anything like that?

KEITH HIRSHLAND: That's a great question. We will have not only recaps on our nightly news program, Golf Central, that airs at 7:30, but the Warburg Cup will also re-air in its entirety on the The Golf Channel at several different occasions, the first being Friday night from 8:00 p.m. eastern time till 1:30 in the morning. It will be the entire re-air of the first day's action.

Saturday we'll also re-air, four-hour tape delay from 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight. Sunday the re-air is 8:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. If you miss it live the first time around, we'll give you the opportunity for a same-day re-air of that day's coverage, then the following week all three days will re?air again on the The Golf Channel.
 
Q. Peter, I'm presuming that the 40 to 49s will be against the 40 to 49s, and the 50s and over will be against the 50s and over, is that right?

PETER OOSTERHUIS: That's what I understand, yes.

KEITH HIRSHLAND: There is some talk that the captains will be -- that it's up to their discretion if they want to pair a 50 and over player with a 40- to 49-year-old, they'll have the ability to do that.

I know the folks that are organizing the event have even talked about recreating, if will you, the Langer/Irwin singles match on Sunday. I don't think it's written in stone that it has to be a 40 to 49 player against a 40 to 49 player. We'll see when Mr. Palmer and Mr. Player get here what they have on their minds.
 
Q. Is this going to be something that is going to happen every couple years or is this just a trial here? Is there any indication at this point either way?

JERRY FOLTZ:That's a very good question. I think everybody involved with it, Keith will back me up on this, I think everybody involved in this hopes this will take off, grow some legs and become an event that makes its name in golf, gets its rightful place. There's really nothing like this out there.

I don't know if there's a decision that's been made on that yet. I'm sure everyone involved wants that to be the case and will try very hard to make it that way.

PETER OOSTERHUIS: I'll have to agree with you. I would think the choice of Kiawah Island and the types of players we have playing in this first match is going to make quite a statement this week. I'd be very surprised if it doesn't continue.

Q. Nobody has really talked about potential match-ups and what they think is really going to get some juices flowing out there over the weekend.

PETER OOSTERHUIS: I think that Irwin/Langer match probably, the recreation of the Ryder Cup match. I mean, John Cook against Nick Faldo would be fun. (Inaudible) I think it was '92. That would be a tempting one. (Inaudible) against Curtis Strange, both Ryder Cup captains.

PETER OOSTERHUIS: I think in this first year, everyone is going to be trying to create as much interest as possible.

I understand as we talked about Palmer against Player. Nicolas barely beat (inaudible) in 1980. There's some things that could happen.

Q. What about the format? We understand, unlike The Ryder Cup, there's only one particular competition each day. Is that going to play in the hands of one team or the other? For instance, there won't be two different formats in one day.

PETER OOSTERHUIS: I think what's going to happen, I think you're going to have everybody playing each day. With only one match each day, that's practical. In The Ryder Cup, you have people sitting out morning or afternoon on the first two days, then everybody playing singles.

I think having one match each day, there's nothing wrong with that. I think it enables everybody to play the best course of action, with everybody in action all the time.

Q. Can anybody educate us on maybe the players on the world team that U.S. viewers may not be that available with, what their style of play is, what their strengths are?

JERRY FOLTZ:I did my research on Stanley and Smythe, but Peter knows them personally, I'm sure.

PETER OOSTERHUIS: I knew Ian Stanley a long, long time ago when he was playing on the European Tour in the early '70s. This is where it's going to be easy for viewers to fall into the same trap they do when they're going into The Ryder Cup. They say the American team is so strong, they're definitely favorites. Some of these players, Ian Stanley, are not very well-known. He's got 24 wins around the world in Europe and Australia, an established player. He's only been in the seniors just over a year in Europe. He was first in his second season over there. There are some good players on the European senior tour. He's a much better player than people realize. Don't underestimate Ian Stanley.

I think most people know something about Stewart Ginn, another player, an Australian, who has played all around the world, won tournaments in Australia, in Asia, Europe, went through the qualifying tournament to get on the senior tour. He's had a good first season going into next year.

Q. I've heard a couple of people, actually one gentleman in particular from the news media, say flat out it's just not fair, that the American team would overpower the international squad. Who would like to talk about that in terms of the course we're playing, possible weather conditions, just the fact that maybe all rules change during match play, match competition?

JERRY FOLTZ:Peter, let me go before you, because I don't have as much information. I don't think that's a very good observation because especially in the 40 to 49 category, look down that list, Langer, Woosnam, Nobilo, Torrance and Smythe. That's awfully, awfully good with a lot of Ryder Cup experience. You put those up against Hoch, Roberts, O'Meara, Strange and Calc. Even on paper, we're supposed to look better. That is awfully strong. When you get into the 50 and over, I think we do have an advantage, but I don't think it's as distinct as some people might think who aren't that well-acquainted with Stanley and Stewart again.

PETER OOSTERHUIS: I'd have to agree with you. It's tough to ignore the power of Irwin, Nelson and Watson, and Raymond Floyd who played well last weekend, played well with Stewart Cink. It's tough to ignore those players and their records.

These players are much better than anybody realizes. Aoki is a much better player than anybody realizes. Nobody is going to discount his capabilities.

I think it's going to be very competitive. At Valderrama, the American team had all four major championship winners that year. It was definitely a strong team, no matter what way you looked at it. Somehow, Europe managed to win, even with Seve on the course. Somehow they managed to win that match.

We talked at the top of the somehow how competitive these guys are. It might not be a Ryder Cup, it might not be a Presidents Cup, but these guys are naturally competitors. In any win?or?lose situation, they are going to be trying to win.

KEITH HIRSHLAND: Let me add the great equalizer you both know is the golf course. The weather is supposed to be outstanding, which means in November at Kiawah Island, somewhere in the mid 60s with the winds anywhere from 10 to 20 miles an hour coming off the ocean. This golf course, as you'll see on television, the Front 9, it doesn't have as much teeth in the Front 9 as it does in the Back 9.

You play out 10, 11, 12 and 13 with the prevailing wind at your back, then all of a sudden you turn around to 14, which is a par 3 that's right into the teeth of the wind, plays about 190 yards, 14, 15, 16, of course 17 is one of the more famous holes in all the world, and 18 play right back into that wind. If it's blowing 15 or 20 miles an hour, anything can happen.

PETER OOSTERHUIS: I think it's going to be a very close contest. I'd be surprised if it's a run away. Obviously, many people think it's going to be a run away for the US team. I don't think it's going to happen.

JERRY FOLTZ:I couldn't agree more. I don't think you can get this group of competitive guys together playing match play specifically and not have it be pretty darn close.

Q. In light of the postponement of the Ryder Cup until next year, Keith, do you think what the The Golf Channel is bringing in terms of its telecast is going to satisfy the hunger for the golf fan with the match play thirst?

KEITH HIRSHLAND: I think we'll do something to do that. I really hope ? again, Peter and Jerry chime in here ? but it will almost be like what The Ryder Cup was originally intended to be, and there is still some of that good?natured, it's not 100% win-at-all-cost kind of attitude. I think that's the way it will be. These guys will want to win. The competitive juices will be flowing. Also I think they'll know there is some sportsmanship and maybe a certain amount of levity that will also be involved because these guys will see it as what it's also intended to be, which is enjoyable.

I think we're going to get the best of both worlds. The fact that we're going to be on for as many hours as it takes, will give our viewers, the ones lucky enough to get the The Golf Channel, will get to see the best of both worlds in match play competition.

Q. Keith, what are some of the things that you're going to let the viewer in on that they might not normally see on another network?

KEITH HIRSHLAND Again, because I think we're hoping that it may not be quite so serious, that guys won't mind if that camera is a little bit closer than it might be during a Ryder Cup, where that microphone operator is not obviously in the way, but I'm really planning on hearing a lot of the discussion as far as strategy is concerned when these teams are out on the fairway.

The fact that we only have ten minutes of commercial time an hour, thanks to the folks at UBS Warburg, is also going to help the coverage. Peter, you know, as well as I do, when guys are out there walking on the fairways, announcers lay out and no commentary is needed at that point. They provide all of it.

PETER OOSTERHUIS: Certainly when you get into the foursomes, these guys will be discussing situations, strategy, who should play first, what should they be trying to do.

I think it should have a super atmosphere. Less commercials, everybody likes that, except maybe somebody concerned about the bottom line (laughter).

I think the fans are going to make a difference here, as well. We understand it's going to be a limited number of fans on the course. I think they're going to have a great attitude about the matches. They're going to be enjoying and applauding good shots on both sides. We've seen the last couple of Ryder Cups affected by fan behavior. As you said, going back to what used to be the atmosphere of The Ryder Cup, it was certainly competitive, but there didn't seem to be too many nasty situations coming up. Every now and then something, but a number of years ago it doesn't involve the fans. The fans over the last couple matches have been involved.

I think we're going to have fans loving the action and adding to the atmosphere of the event.

KEITH HIRSHLAND The other thing we have that we couldn't be more pleased about is Peter Oosterhuis. Not to toot his horn too much, but there's probably no announcer that works in golf television that understands and knows The Ryder Cup experience and this kind of atmosphere better than Peter. Good gosh, he beat Jack Nicklaus in Ryder Cup. He's been there and done that. What he will bring to the table, we can't even calculate that at this point.

PETER OOSTERHUIS: I have to say I did have Nick Faldo on my side. I mean, listen, I certainly had fun playing Ryder Cup both for British and Irish teams up until 1977, then Europe '79 and '81. Some of my fondest memories are of The Ryder Cup. I've seen the atmosphere of The Ryder Cup change, it's been a bit disappointing to me. I was so delighted in '93, after the (inaudible) Kiawah when Tom Watson and Gallagher got together and said, 'These Ryder Cups are meant to be played in a certain spirit. Let's get back to that. Keep things under control. Everybody have a better time.'

Watson and Gallagher, two very competitive gentlemen, putting their instincts aside and saying that Ryder Cup matters. I think this weekend we're going to see a great spirit from the spectators.

DAN HIGGINS: Are there any more questions? If you gentlemen have any closing thoughts, please share those with us at this time.

JERRY FOLTZ:What do you say after all that? I've watched eight Ryder Cups on TV. Again, with my level of credibility in golf, I have to resist as an on-course commentator being a fan out there. Peter is describing exactly what I'm doing walking along, talking about the fans being thrilled to see grit shots on both side.

By the same token, I have been inside golf long enough to realize that these guys are going to take this very seriously. Hopefully they'll have some fun. There will be some levity, maybe some good natured ribbing. But they're going to take it back to how The Ryder Cup, as Peter mentioned, was intended to be played and hopefully will be played in the future.
 
They're going to do that in the name of still trying to win. You can't point to one single guy on either team who hasn't got to where they are in the world of golf by not wanting to win. They all are extremely competitive. I don't know how to tell you how thrilled I am to be part of it.

PETER OOSTERHUIS: I'm certainly looking forward to it. We have players on these teams that have won hundreds of golf tournaments between them. We're going to see the competitive edge come out but in the right spirit. Looking forward to the matches.

KEITH HIRSHLAND: I'll say that I'm proud that the The Golf Channel is going to be where it's going to be seen on television. I think it's a great opportunity for us to show the world that nobody covers golf like we do, six plus hours live to the re-airs to any chance anybody wants to have to call in on Viewer's Forum or watch highlights on Golf Central. I'm just looking forward to the show beginning.

DAN HIGGINS: Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate your time.