KRAIG KANN, LPGA Chief Communications Officer
MIKE WHAN, LPGA Commissioner
YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1
NA YEON CHOI, Rolex Rankings No. 2
STACY LEWIS, Rolex Rankings No. 3
AZAHARA MUNOZ, Rolex Rankings No. 16
KRAIG KANN: I guess if you built the stage, everybody is going to come. This is pretty cool. Thank you very much. So we are 1‑up right now, let's set the record straight, we are 1‑up. Now let's make sure we continue the momentum for the rest of this news conference. Thank you so much. A quick little story about the anxiety, the anticipation, the excitement, the energy that everybody is feeling about being here.
I got up this morning and I didn't sleep a whole lot last night because I was pretty excited about the potential for all of these people to stand in here today. I got up and said, I've got to go to the gym, I'm going to do my half‑mile swim that I do with some regularity.
Normally I don't really pay that much attention, anyway, to things, as people who work with me would understand; usually I count the laps and today I didn't count any laps. I just kept swimming and swimming and swimming and before I knew it, I had swam into the middle of a ladies aquatic Jazzercise class, I'm not kidding you, I said enough is enough, I'm out of here and away we go, drove home, got ready, came here and now we're doing this.
So thank you very much for being here. Fantastic, tremendous audience. It feels great. We have a lot of media here in attendance, industry folks, LPGA stakeholders, thank you all.
I know this is a very busy week, you have a lot of people to see, a lot of things to do, so we really, really appreciate, all of us, from the LPGA, the time that's being spent and you making a little time for us.Also a very special thank you to The PGA of America for their support in helping us put this stage together, put this event together and allowing you all to come visit with us for a period of time this afternoon. This invitation went out a couple of days ago but I can safely tell each and every one of you here, this has been top of mind, top of mind, this event, for at least, two years.
Now, I've been with the LPGA 18 months, for me, it's been above top of mind for the last 18 months, which is a great thing. It gives us something to build on and things to get excited about, and every little thing that went into today is something we talked about for the last 18 months or two years.
It feels like to me the excitement of the first major the year kicking off the golf season and in my old world it feels like the debut of a brand new TV show, it really does, so thank you for being a part of that and making this room feel something special.
Now, let me introduce some of the folks on the stage today, some need no introduction. Actually they all really need no introduction. Ambassadors in every sense of the word for making the time to be here today, taking ownership after an event like this we are going to talk about that means something special to the LPGA that we feel fortunate about.
In 2010 she made her debut season on the LPGA and in doing so she made an immediate impact winning Rolex Rookie of the Year honors, in 2011 she made another big splash, being part of the victorious European Solheim Cup team in Ireland and in 2012 she became a Rolex first‑time winner, ultimately finishing in the Top‑10 on the LPGA Money List at No. 8. She is one of the most recognizable faces on our tour, Spain's top‑ranked player, No. 16 in the Rolex World Rankings, ladies and gentlemen, welcome Azahara Munoz.
If you followed us closely in 2012, you saw plenty of this player. She led the Tour in birdies, she led the Tour in eagles and she led the Tour in rounds in the 60s. She began the year with a major victory at the Kraft‑Nabisco, already on her resumé and wasted no time in taking it to a whole other level, winning four times in 2012, the first American winner of the Rolex Rookie of the Year since Beth Daniel in 1994. She is now ranked No. 3 in the world, she is the highest of all the Americans, ladies and gentlemen, big round of applause for Stacy Lewis.
Also on the stage today, a young woman who is as recognizable as they come in Korea these days, and I mean that, I've seen that, I've lived that actually. She's not just a golf star; she is a sports star. Two victories last year on the LPGA, which just happened to be the year's two biggest purses, she's a fantastic financial planner, very good timing. She won the U.S. Women's Open, her first major and the season ending CME Group Titleholders to finish second on the Money List. She is the top‑ranked Korean at No. 2 in the Rolex World Rankings, say hello to, we call her, NYC, Na Yeon Choi.
Okay, if you don't know this next player, you simply have not been paying much attention to the LPGA over the last few years. After a breakout season in 2011 where she won seven times on the LPGA Tour, she launched into 2012 winning three of the first five events on our schedule, to let everybody know, she wasn't just the Tour's top player, she was golf's top player. She is the fastest player, male or female, to win five major championships. She has 15 LPGA Tour victories in all. She's a two‑time Rolex Player of the Year winner. She's been a No. 1 ranked women's player in the world for 102 consecutive weeks. No. 1 in the world, No. 1 in Taiwan, ladies and gentlemen, Yani Tseng. She's also the only one on this stage celebrating a birthday, that was yesterday. I won't tell you how old; I will tell you where she spent it: She was at Animal Kingdom yesterday. What was your favorite thing; I want to know that later. We are going to get to the tough questions but I want to know what your favorite thing was.
One more introduction to make. This man is used to being in the middle. He's in the middle of meetings with staff. He's in the middle of traffic on his way to meetings at our tournaments. He's in the middle of meetings with our sponsors in the middle of meetings with fans and players while walking the golf course. He's never been a tournament winner. He's never been Player of the Year. He's had a lot of birthdays. He's never been a ranked player.
But as of today, a little secret, folks, as of today, you can add him to the ranks of the Twitter verse. He has finally said yes to something that we have asked him to do internally. Ladies and gentlemen, @LPGACommish, the LPGA Commissioner, Mike Whan.
If you have followed the LPGA over the last few weeks, you have seen us announce some new key partners and our 2013 playing schedule. While that alone gives us cause for the season ahead, what we are most excited about is one word and one word only: Momentum. We talked a lot about it internally. We are spreading that word. We feel good about that word. It surrounds our tour right now.
Over the last two years, eight new tournaments have been added with proud title sponsors, double digit growth in TV ratings, and this year television exposure reaches an all‑time tour high, believe it or not, 300‑plus hours of scheduled tournament coverage reaching 160 countries worldwide.
Are we a truly global tour? Well, look no further than the stars on this stage and the resumés, in fact, of the Top‑20 players in the Rolex World Rankings, nine different countries are represented, nine. Probably not surprising. Six hail from Korea, five from the United States, three from Japan. But six other countries are in that group of 20: China, Australia, Scotland, Norway and Spain.
Yes, indeed, the women's game has gone global in so many ways: Global superstars on this stage, global sponsors who have joined forces with the LPGA, global fan following in Europe among that group, thank you, and also global media covering us now more than ever before.
That's a lot for the LPGA to be proud of, so the question then becomes: What do we do with that? How do we take that to the next level? How do we find things to showcase what's happening at the LPGA? That's not for me to talk about anymore. I bring on now, a LPGA commission, Mike Whan.
MIKE WHAN: Thank you. As you can see since Kraig has joined the LPGA he's on my same high‑caffeinated diet so he's moving about as fast as I am, and thank you for the nice words and thank you everybody for joining us.
Kraig talked about momentum, but for us, sitting here looking back at you, three or four years ago we have this meeting and we don't fill a room like this, so thank you for supporting us as you have been.
We are excited about the following that you are all giving us for the women's game. Kraig talked a lot about 2013. We are excited about more events and more purses and more TV. In all the interviews and discussions we have done in the last week or two, we really haven't talked about probably the biggest women's golf spectacle that will happen in 2013 which is when the Solheim Cup makes it's return from Europe back to the U.S. at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colorado in August this year. That's when the U.S. Team will regain the Cup from the European Team that stuck it away.
The first time I went into a Solheim Cup went in there and opened my closet, they had my clothes laid out for each day of the week ‑‑ I'm way off topic, surprise. It was red white, blue, blue, white red. I thought I'm Commissioner of the LPGA; I love all these players. I might be born in Chicago, but come on, I can't go out there, red, white and blue. The first three days I had grays and blacks and looked very corporate, and on Saturday and Sunday, I had red, white and blue. And my face had a flag on this side, my parents were there, gave me red, white and blue sunglasses. And Cristie Kerr said, "It took you three damn days but you finally got with the act."
Unfortunately can't hide anymore. We have to win that thing back, no question. It's pretty exciting for us to think that people are talking about our 2013 schedule and we are not talked about what is our biggest viewership opportunity, Solheim Cup.
When I was sitting there last year, I got a lot of questions from media and the fans, and now with Twitter I'll probably get a lot more. The Solheim Cup is great, but shouldn't we be adding an international component or a continent or the rest of Asia? Shouldn't we have a U.S. versus the rest of the world like The Presidents Cup? Why don't we play U.S. versus Korea?
There were a lot of ideas that came our way and one of the things, I guess I would say two things were clear to me sitting in Ireland. First, I got out of the car at 5:45 A.M., pretty standard for me, I'm early up and early to bed and at 5:45 in the morning, first tee time on Sunday was ten o'clock and they were singing the National Anthem from the first tee. It was so loud that it actually reverberated. I thought, you don't mess with this event. This event is a home run, and the last thing I'm going to do is change the Solheim Cup.
Then I started talking about the other questions, U.S. versus rest of the world, Korea. One thing is true if you have travelled the LPGA and travelled the globe like we all have, when you go play in Korea, they are rooting for Korea; and when you play in Japan, they are rooting for Japan. Japan and Korea don't want to play on Team Asia; they want to play each other. And Australia might not view themselves as part of that region, and they wear their own flag and have their own anthem.
So our challenge was: How do we really bolster that incredible excitement that happens in all of the homecomings. When we go to Taiwan, we can't get Yani from the parking lot to the practice tee because there's so many people that just want to see her, and that's such an awesome thing that's happened in women's golf.
We said let's not bring out a format that the world has seen or a U.S.‑centric us versus everybody else. Let's not try to put people in continents or regions and waves. Let's let countries be countries, and introduce something to the world of golf that can really take advantage of what's happening in the women's game.
Let's introduce something that's going to make people in this room and fans around the world say, it's about time. Let's introduce, the International Crown. Take a look. International Crown.
KRAIG KANN: Pretty exciting. I think so. I think we all think so. We cannot wait to get to 2014.
We are going to take some questions from the room in just a few moments and I would also like to acknowledge a couple of other special guests in attendance. Big events like this are about big venues. You can't launch something unless you've got a great place to showcase the best players in the world and that's what we feel like we've done. We have got great venues with big history, Caves Valley Golf Club in 2014 and Rich Harvest Farms in 2016 have been ranked among the top American courses by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine. Caves Valley has hosted the men's and women's NCAA Championships and also the U.S. Senior Open. We would like to please welcome the tournament chair for the International Crown in 2014, Bill Jews.
And to have great venues you need some great designers, also in the front row, man, am I glad to see he you here today, Mr. Tom Fazio, the designer of Caves Valley.
Rich Harvest Farms is one of suburban Chicago's true gem's, LPGA fans remember it as the host course for the 2009 Solheim Cup, won by the United States, which set records for attendance that week.
Please welcome the chairman and owner of Rich Harvest Farms, by the way, also the architect ‑‑ pretty much he does everything there, right in the front row, welcome Jerry Rich.
Also on the news front, let me share one thing, given the global nature of this new event we are proud to say at this very hour a news release is being sent around the world translated into each country's spoken language, and the video that you just have seen also has been translated for each country as well and sent around the world. Our goal is to spread the word but spread it to each and every country that will be a part of our event. We call that communication.
Let's get some initial comments from some of the Tour stars who are up here and I'm going to start with Yani, the birthday girl. I'm not going to ask about Animal Kingdom just yet.
You are the No. 1 player in the world, you have never felt the rush of the Solheim Cup. When you first heard International Crown and this concept, what did you think?
YANI TSENG: Just so exciting because I never played the Solheim Cup and so when I heard about this, the only time I can play for my country, it means a lot for me. Because I love to wear those uniforms and those bags and you look so good on it. I'm like, why I never get that, it's only U.S. against Europe.
So every time I was watching Solheim Cup, I always wish I can be there playing for each team or something. I really want to thank everybody for giving us this opportunity to play international and to play for our country and to be the best country in golf. It's very exciting things for me. I have to say my save my best, you need four players in the country, and end of this year, it will count who is the best, so I need to work hard and we want to play as a team.
KRAIG KANN: Quick question about Taiwan. When we went there for the first time for the LPGA and as Mike said, we could barely get you from the car to the clubhouse to the first tee; it was one of the largest crowds I've ever seen. It was Michael Jordan to another level at the press conference in my opinion at the Taipei 101. What will Taiwan think about this? What will it mean to your country?
YANI TSENG: I was very surprised how many people come to watch the LPGA and everybody knows. I think it's just so exciting and I think Taiwan is going to be ‑‑ I think they are going to be very, very happy because they always see me play as an individual and then they know, you know, I'm kind of an individual in the States and they always want to cheer for me, but this is the only time they can cheer for me as a person. But now they can cheer for their country.
But for me, I always feel like I play for my country, but I never really played for my country. So this is a time I can really feel I play as a country, maybe or the Olympics. I think it's great, I think the TV ratings is going to be very, very high in Taiwan and everybody is very excited about that.
KRAIG KANN: You have a nice history at Caves Valley, do you want to to tell us about that?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah, I have great memories from that golf course. It's actually one of my favorite golf courses so I'm really happy we are coming back. We won there, the NCAA, my last event in college. So I'm super excited to be going back there. We play as a team, as well, so it will be great.
KRAIG KANN: Arizona State Sun Devil, one of the great players in college golf. What can this do for your country, for Spain and golf worldwide?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I think it's going to be huge. Golf is growing so much everywhere. In Korea, it's almost bigger than men's golf, but in countries like Spain, the golf media is doing a great job. They are showing us on TV live if we are playing really well.
But something like this, it's going to take it just that step farther that we need and get the whole country behind us and get the whole media behind us. We have been playing so good and doing great things, this is exactly what we needed to get everybody behind us.
KRAIG KANN: The reigning Rolex Player of the Year, Stacy, you are challenged by the Solheim Cup every couple of years and now we have gone beyond Europe to they haven't. When you first heard about this, what was your reaction? Great, I get to do this every year now?
STACY LEWIS: Finally. That was my reaction. We have been waiting a long time for this. We are asked about our tour being so worldwide; that I think it's just been a matter of time. Solheim Cups, you see the player's personalities more as a team and there's more emotion and more passion.
I think the public and our viewers are going to see that passion in the other countries, too, that maybe they don't think that they don't see that and they will get to know the other players better. There's only 32 people, so you have to get to know them. I think it's just going to be a great opportunity for the stars and the big names of our tour to really get out there and raise the event up.
KRAIG KANN: Since we have started talking about this event, kudos to you for doing a very nice job becoming the highest‑ranked American player, so your odds of competing are very good and you can take that excitement to Caves Valley.
Na Yeon, you're one of Korea's biggest stars, I don't if anyone here knows that, but as I mentioned, we all witnessed that. It was just pointed out by Azahara that in Korea, the women's game is almost bigger than the men's game. What will this mean to Korea? Tell everybody.
NA YEON CHOI: I think a lot of people are going to watch on TV, like Olympics, I think all of the Korean fans are going to be cheering for us, and also we are going to play for our country, which means a lot to us. A lot of good players over there and we can't control about the results. So we will do our best to make some good results and I hope all of the Korean fans are proud of us.
KRAIG KANN: That team might be fairly difficult to make.
STACY LEWIS: It will be very hard to make. (Laughter).
KRAIG KANN: Have you thought about that at all?
NA YEON CHOI: Over there there's a lot of good Korean players on top, but even this year, I have to make a good result and I would like to really play the tournament in 2014.
KRAIG KANN: The ladies are here because they are the highest‑ranked in each of their countries and they are tour ambassadors.
Some of the specifics about the event itself, take it away, Mike.
MIKE WHAN: At the end of the day, as the video said we are talking about 32 players, four players per eight country, they are going to play for four days and there's going to be one crown come Sunday night at Caves Valley and Rich Harvest Farms. Bottom line is you have eight countries, but how do the eight countries get in.
So at the end of this season, at the end of the 2013 LPGA season, which for us ends at the CME Group Titleholders in Naples, that next Monday we will take the Rolex Rankings from all the players in the world, we will take the top four players from every country and add their Rolex Rankings together, and by adding your top four players in each country ranked together, you get a country rank, and we are going to look at all the countries and all their ranks and the top eight countries get in.
So the really good news is: The Commissioner doesn't decide who gets in, the USGA and R&A doesn't decide who gets in, and we are going to do that again in 2014. We might have different countries than we do at Caves Valley. That's how the countries qualify. So far, so good.
If you played today, for an easy example, Sweden, Korea, U.S. and Japan would be one, two, three in terms of the ranks. How? If you took the top four players from each country, to the right of their name is the their Rolex World Ranking. So the bottom is adding those four together.
So we get to country ranks, so if we played tomorrow that would be sort of one, two, three and we would go right through to eight. So if we played today, and we are not, these would be the eight countries in the International Crown 2014. We will revisit these flags the Monday after CME Group Titleholders in November.
So far, I think you're with me. So how do the players get in? Well, at the end of the CME Group Titleholders, we look up the counties, take the four players, the countries are set.
But just to make it a little more interesting and a little more dicey, we are not going to set the players for those countries until the Monday of Kraft‑Nabisco, which means we will know the eight countries next Christmas, but we won't know the four players that have played their way into those country teams until we get to Kraft‑Nabisco.
That gives us a few more tournaments and a few more nervous months to figure out who are the four players on each of those countries, and those will be the four top‑ranked players in each country. If one player in the top four ‑‑ inaudible ‑‑ we would take the next highest‑ranked world‑ranked player from that country. That's how you get in as a country and as a player.
If we played today, these would be the eight countries and these would be the eight players. I think you'll see, there's a lot of names in there you recognize and a lot of teammates that will probably team up in this kind of world competition for the first time. The great news about that slide for me is, I don't know how different it's going to be come Kraft‑Nabisco 2014, but what I do know is it will be different.
So that takes us to format. Bottom line is we will take these eight countries and put them in two pools or brackets and go in by their country rank. As I said if Korea was the No. 1 scoring country, they are one and the U.S. is 2. So you get into two different pools, and essentially you are either in Pool A or B.
Why does that matter? Because for the first three days on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, each country is going to play each other country in their bracket over the first three days. So on every day one country will play one other country from their bracket. They will do it in two four‑ball matches that the players will decide who plays with who.
So there's no coaches or captains. They get together and decide who are their two‑person teams. The players know that no player will sit. And slightly different from other competition, each match is worth two points, two for a win, one for a halve, and zero for a loss, and the points accumulate each of the three days. Which really is going to bring us to Saturday and our cut.
On Saturday night, we are going to take the top two scoring countries from each pool and they move onto Sunday. We are going to take the third place teams from each pool and they will play together in a sudden death playoff to be the wild card team and the fifth country that will go to Sunday.
How that will work is, each of the teams on Saturday morning will give us an envelope low and in that envelope low will be the name of one player, if you happen to be a third place team come Sunday night, we tear open the envelope and you have already who is your representative. We pull the name out, those countries go to the 18th tee and we play sudden death for that fifth wild card country.
As of Sunday morning, we go to Sunday singles and five countries are in. If you think about it, you're a team of four, and there's four other countries in, other than yours, so every person on your team will play one other country.
So if there's four Americans, they are going to play, one American will play that country, that country. So the cool thing is: Each country plays one single match against each country that's in. Each singles match is worth two points, two for a win, one for a halve and zero for a tie.
What's really cool now, when you add up all those points on Sunday, if there's more than one country in the lead and there could be even three or four countries tied for the lead, we again asked for the envelope, please.
KRAIG KANN: I just happen to have one I just around with a crowns.
MIKE WHAN: On their Saturday night team meeting, these players will get together with their team and decide which player are we putting in our envelope to be our tiebreaker on Sunday night.
So imagine: It's 6 o'clock; it's Baltimore; it's Caves Valley and we are standing on the 18th green and we realize that these four countries are tied for the lead. We open their four envelopes and pull out the name that they have selected to be their player representative, don't know if you want your name ‑‑
KRAIG KANN: Did you just see the look on Yani's face? She just said, yeah, that's my name, let's keep moving here.
MIKE WHAN: But we will tear those up for the teams and in front the galleries and worldwide television audience and we will go play sudden death until we crown a winner on Sunday night.
So we are talking about something that's very different, two pools, four countries in each pool, only five countries advancing to Sunday.
On Sunday you play every other country in the final Sunday. Points add up the entire week and as you can imagine on Sunday singles when each match is worth two points, there's a lot of points still on the line.
And on Sunday night if we have a tie we will figure out a tie based on who the players chose and that's what we are going to do every two years, because at the end of 2015 we start all over again, top four countries, in each country, which countries qualify. And it's designed to be different every two years, and hopefully you'll see that not only today, but you'll see that play out when we show up in Baltimore in 2014.
KRAIG KANN: A bit of reaction from the players. First to you, Na Yeon. How much pressure will you feel based on what you just heard, and what will that be like with no captain?
NA YEON CHOI: I think we might have extra pressure, but I have experience playing under the Korean flag and a lot of Korean players have experience, too. And I mean, there is no captain but we are all good friends, so we can discuss and we can decide who is going to play with me.
I mean, also, International Crown usually I'm not showing my emotion to people, but at that moment, I think I could do it with my teammate, both hands up or something like that.
KRAIG KANN: So you basically would tell Mi Hyun Kim to go sit down?
NA YEON CHOI: I don't know yet.
KRAIG KANN: We'll find out, we're going to be in that team room. Or maybe I go into the Spanish team room, talk about fiery Spaniards; I saw the names that were up there. How is that going to shake out? Who is going to put the name in the envelope?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Sorry, Mike was talking to me. I missed the question.
KRAIG KANN: For Spain, you've got all these fiery Spaniards; is that an easy call? Is that going to be the toughest room of them all to discover who goes in an envelope?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I don't know what to say. We are actually ‑‑ those four, I hope they don't change but maybe they do, we are all pretty good friends, so I think we'll be okay with it.
KRAIG KANN: Do you feel there will be a lot of pressure to represent Spain in this thing?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: For me and everybody else, there's nothing like representing your country, and playing as a team, I love it, and I have played junior golf representing Spain as a team.
So as a European and American, we get lucky enough, but only do it once every two years. This format is amazing, it will be pressure but pressure for everybody and great for golf.
KRAIG KANN: No captains, I'm thinking Kraft‑Nabisco going back a few years ago when you battled for a title, that would not be the worst thing in the world on a Saturday night or a Sunday if you two went head‑to‑head.
What will that be like in your mind with no captains? Yani, you first.
YANI TSENG: I'm youngest on the team, so I probably have no choice. I mean, that's how ‑‑
STACY LEWIS: I think they will send her out, I'm pretty sure.
YANI TSENG: I hope just win and don't have to play off.
STACY LEWIS: On the American side, it will be pretty interesting. We have got some personalities there. (Laughter).
KRAIG KANN: Do tell. Do tell.
STACY LEWIS: Do tell. You probably know that already. (Laughter).
It will be fun, though. It will be different. I mean, you'll get to see the friendships that we generally have. I mean, we are friends. We do care about each other and you'll see that out there.
Q. As a native Marylander, my heart is jumping now; this is great.
KRAIG KANN: He's got a Ravens vest on, by the way.
Q. Commissioner Whan, your previous experiences in hospitality in Maryland has been overwhelming, from the LPGA at Bulle Rock, this, and the crab cakes. Beside that, what brought you back other than the phenomenal course and the record that this course has?
MIKE WHAN: Two things. A, I've heard players talk about the course before. When I went and visited Caves, a year ago, maybe more than a year ago. Walking the course, even driving in, it's got "big venue" written all over it.
And then I talked to the USGA about their experience at Caves, and one of the things they talked about is, not only is the course itself a great venue that separates champions, but the membership at Caves Valley really got behind big events; and not only did they get behind it from a funding and get behind the members, but really rallied to make it a big event and really set records when they had a big event there before.
We wanted to go to places that were proven in terms of venues that would separate great players. We also wanted to go to venues that have already been proven to create bigness, whether with their membership or engaging the community. If you look at Caves and Rich Harvest Farms, both are proven entities. We are not test marketing anything in either one of the two.
Q. You played in the NCAA, how many of the gals, if I remember correctly, Maria Hernandez was the NCAA Champ and Jennifer Song was the runner‑up. How many will get some inside tips on how to play this really tough golf course?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Well, it was a few years back, so I don't know how much we exactly remember, and, you know, probably the course is playing a little tougher than when we played NCAA. I don't know, we will see. I don't think we'll be telling them any advice. They can ask whatever they want to.
Q. Could you talk about sponsorship and what the financial backing will be?
MIKE WHAN: It's twofold. It's an LPGA‑owned event, so it's not a corporate‑owned event or venue‑owned event.
What we decided to do is we will come out with a separate press conference and talk about all the ambassadors that are supporting it. The neat anything is, you can tell by the name, International Crown, that it's got a various group of supporters that will enable us to call it the International Crown, as opposed to other names that could go in.
The name actually is all about the event and not really focused on sponsors, per se. We have got a list of ambassadors, somewhere actually in the room, and they can identify themselves, and we will have a separate meeting probably at Caves Valley and we will talk about some of the corporate ambassadors.
But the cool thing, if I can say the word cool, my kids would be proud of me; all of these sponsors have come to me and are willing to let the Crown be the focus of both the name and the event.
Q. These international events have a special appeal, and if this turns a tidy profit like it should, do you have a compensation plan in place for the players?
MIKE WHAN: We have a compensation plan in place for the players. It's a pretty well‑funded event and has a purse. There is a significant advantage to winning the event versus missing the Saturday cut, but there's a payday for every player that will make it into the event; and relative to LPGA purse, it's pretty significant. It's a well‑founded event and an event that will be beneficial for the players.
Q. What will you be handing to the winners on Sunday night?
MIKE WHAN: Stay tuned. If I started to describe it, my team would really be frustrated with me because they want to have its own unveiling, if you will. But if you can imagine the name "crown," you can probably figure out half of it.
Q. How are the countries selected that host the event? I saw the first two are in the United States.
MIKE WHAN: Has not been decided if we are going to take it on the road or not. I think there's a couple reasons why we really want to keep it in the States probably for a while. You'll think it's very American of us, but really that's not the idea.
The idea is: We probably could not have done this event 15 or 20 years ago because the best players from all over the world would have played. Now with co‑sanctioning and TV deals, now generally speaking the best players in the world play on the LPGA. So this needed to be convenient for them, and generally speaking, in the summer we are playing here.
If we were going to Tokyo in the middle of July, it's difficult not only for the players; it's difficult for all the tournaments that come before and after because you kind of lose a few weeks.
So really by playing it here, and knowing that most of our players, while they come from around the world, they live in Florida, so they live here. They moved here to play here so we want to make it convenient for them. We also have it conveniently located close to the U.S. Women's Open because a few players might be in that event. That's why it's strategic.
We want this event to be easy for the best players in the world, because if the best players in the world come, we are not concerned about international viewership. The one nervousness we have never had is flying to Korea or Spain or Taiwan and saying, who is interested in airing this on TV. That one is pretty easy.
Q. On the TV side, is it going to be Golf Channel or is it going to be network coverage on the weekend, and is it in competition with anything else on the schedule at this time?
MIKE WHAN: We won't compete anything with our tour. Whether or not there will be hours on network, to be determined. We may not have the greatest weekend the first year for network, but we are still having that conversation. I think long term that's our plan is to have a combination of network and Golf Channel coverage.
It's really the best of both worlds and really the best for our tour and for these ladies. There will be a lot of Golf Channel and there may be some network tied to it, as well but in terms of 2014, still not identified.
Q. Can you just talk about the positioning of the tournament on the schedule? It looks like the first one will be before the British, if I'm right, and 2016, are you looking before Olympics, after Olympics?
MIKE WHAN: Yes and yes. So it's designed to be middle July, and so our hope t it will be a month before the Olympics, which I've talked with the IGF, too, about this event and what we think it can help do for the Olympics, too, because we are going to create some pretty significant worldwide interest and country pride for women's golf and, then just roll it right down to Rio; which we are looking forward to Rio because we know what that can mean to our brands and to their brands, as well. It's designed to play every even year and Olympic years to be played before the Olympics.
Q. Playing before the British, these events take it all out of you, and there's a lot of emotion involved. Just your thoughts, whoever wants to field that one on doing those back‑to‑back.
STACY LEWIS: I don't know, for me, I like playing a lot so it's not really a big deal to me. But I think that any time anybody has a chance to represent their country, I think they are going to show up.
. I don't think it's going to be a big issue unless we are flying from the U.S. to Asia to Europe, then it becomes an issue. It doesn't sound like it's going to be that way. So hopefully.
MIKE WHAN: I didn't say in there but every day 18 holes for a player, so a lot of times these events require 36, 36, 36, or 36, 36, 18. In this format, every player plays one 18‑hole ‑‑ unless the match ends early but you're really only playing one round a day.
So from a pure physical exhaustion, not nearly, but sometimes these events can turn into.
NA YEON CHOI: I think when you play for your country, like Stacy says, for me, this is a great opportunity. Doesn't matter where it's going to be, I'll be there, if we qualify for this. (Laughter).
MIKE WHAN: You said that in front of a lot of people.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I agree with them both. Any time you have a chance to play for your country, you're going to be there, and I don't care if I only have one practice round at the British, you know, it's really important for me to play for my country.
You know, this event is going to do great things for all of us and women's golf and so I think everybody is going to be there.
NA YEON CHOI: You know, one of my biggest goals is to be playing in the Olympics in 2016, so it should be a great chance to prepare for the Olympics in 2016. So I would like to play the tournament.
Q. Who thought of this?
MIKE WHAN: There's a lot of people taking credit for that. I'm on top of the list of people taking credit for that but I clearly didn't. In fairness, when I became Commissioner in 2010 one of the first things in my inbox is something at the time we were calling the 'Continental Crown' and it was the concept of three different continents.
We had a bunch of meetings, I journeyed to Rich Harvest Farms and sat at Jerry with his dinner table one night and talked about this. I met with Ron Sirak and for an off‑the‑record discussion and he gave me a bunch of ideas. It's been a building process that a lot of people have been involved in, probably no one more than Heather. But each time we get together we tweak it a little bit so about six months ago we made an agreement to seal it, we are not allowed to screw with it for the next six months and actually launch it, and I think we will play with it as it goes onto make it better and better.
KRAIG KANN: From a media perspective, I remember in days at Golf Channel and sitting amongst the many of the media with people like Beth Ann and Ron Sirak and some of the other names, and these ideas came out for so long about the United States versus Korea, the United States versus Japan, the United States versus Asia, and it always included the United States.
And quite frankly it always felt like such an American‑centric, selfish conversation that didn't capitalize on what the LPGA was really all about.
And as you see the people here and what we have kind of tried to talk about is the fact that when we talk about World Rankings, we have not only players from countries, but we are talking about stars from countries.
So if you look at from a media perspective in Spain, for example, they want to be the next Azahara Munoz; in Korea they want to be the next NYC. There's now something out there to grow, like in the men's game somebody wants to be the next Tiger Woods, the next Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy; and many countries can say that about various players, Jason Day trying to be the next Greg Norman. I think that's what's very cool about this event from a media perspective, just to add something that we have talked about.
Yani, what did you do at Animal Kingdom? Just when you got there?
YANI TSENG: I just watched some monkey jumping around. (Laughter).
STACY LEWIS: How old were you?
YANI TSENG: 24. I'm still young.
KRAIG KANN: I waited an hour for a monkey answer, I thought I would get more than that but that is tremendous. Happy birthday.
For each of you, I want you to take three seconds and look behind you at the flag of your nation, your country and I want you to imagine what it would mean on Sunday at The International Crown in Caves Valley or Rich Harvest Farms the second time around to be wearing your country's flag around your shoulders and your teammates as well; and then fast‑forward it to you getting off the plane with the crown and the flash bulbs from your nation, your country or your city. What would that feel like to you; NYC?
NA YEON CHOI: I think it would be an honor to have a real crown. I don't know I can wear like the crown or not, but (laughter) just have the crown, I would like to ‑‑ I would be very happy and I'm very happy at the moment, like we play for the country, so I hope all the Korean fans are proud of us.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: It just gives me goosebumps thinking about it.
As I said before, nothing better to play for your country and obviously be wearing that crown and named the best country in the world would be great for golf, especially in my country which is growing quite fast but there are seven other countries that are good and talented and I hope they will let us do that easily. I hope we can do that on Sunday.
YANI TSENG: I think I dream about it, because like I say, I only play for my country when I was an amateur, and we never get to change, so I'm very excited, I wish that I can really play this tournament, play for your country and I think it's going to be incredible and I hope that the crown have a little diamond on it, maybe gets more motivation.
STACY LEWIS: For an American player, I think it would be an honor just to be one of the four to be a part of that team and to hold that crown at the end of the week would be awesome to win it in the United States. So I just want to be on that team and hopefully we can keep it here in the U.S.
KRAIG KANN: We talk to the players a lot about this, I'm a big believer that before you build a stage, you'd better have something to show and before you go to the media with an idea or ask for media attention, you'd better have something that you can be proud of that can get attention and get people to talk and raise your level of exposure and notoriety and try to do good things that get people to be Paul Revere, if you will, and tell everybody else about it.
So to you all, thank you so much for coming today. I'm going to give Mike Whan the last word, because that's certainly what he deserves because it was his idea. I'd ask you all to be Paul Revere and thank you for being here with us today.
MIKE WHAN: I don't know if you realized, Stacy when we played in Arkansas, it says hometown girl, Stacy Lewis. Then we went to Toledo, and hometown hero, Stacy Lewis. Found out she was born in Toledo. In Florida, Florida's very own Stacy Lewis. Last week we introduced a new Texas Shootout, and the newspapers had said: It will bring hometown girl Stacy Lewis back to Texas. So I can tell you that if Stacy wins the crown, she's going to have to visit at least four or five cities.
We appreciate what you all have done for us over the last few years. We hope to give you a lot more to talk about and write about in the years to come.
Most importantly I would tell you, don't miss the visual of this. So imagine any other sport that's going to launch something new, and they make a phone call to their No. 1 player from every country and say, hey, would you mind in your off‑season lose your training for the day, stop practicing, come to a trade show and meet with a bunch of media. I know you do that all season long, and in the off‑season that's not what you want to do, come and spend some time with us on stage and launch a new event.
I've heard it said many times that I'm passionate about what I sell; I'm passionate about what I sell because I believe in our product. These players are the best, most approachable players in the world and they understand about giving back to the game. And this took one phone call and an e‑mail, from what I understand to get these four players here.
If you write nothing else, write about what is different out here because the LPGA, we are proud of this, and we are proud of the fact that these women are going to show the rest of the world how different we are in July 2014. Thanks for joining us.
Topics: International Crown