Featured Golf News
Lehman Receives Payne Stewart Award; Finchem Discusses Tour Changes
Tom Lehman was presented the Payne Stewart award by PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem on Tuesday at the site of this week's Tour Championship, East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
Named after the late two-time U.S. Open champion and winner of the 1989 PGA Championship and one of the game's all-time global ambassadors, the Payne Stewart Award is given annually to a PGA Tour player for his career and charitable achievements.
During the press conference announcing the award, Finchem also did his annual Tour-in-review commentary and discussed what went well and what didn't in 2010. He also talked about upcoming changes on the Tour for 2011.
Starting with Finchem's review and followed by the announcement of Lehman as the Payne Stewart Award recipient, here's a complete transcript of yesterday's press conference.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Commissioner Tim Finchem to the Tour Championship presented by Coca-Cola. This is Tim's standard state of the Tour press conference, and I know you have some opening remarks. We'll take some Q and A from the media, and then we'll move to our 2010 announcement of the Payne Stewart Award after that.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Good afternoon, everybody. I thought I'd make a few comments about where I think we are on the PGA Tour at this moment and then try to answer your questions. First of all, I think we've had a very eventful year. As we are here for the conclusion of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup, I want to thank FedEx for their season-long support this year and their commitment to the Cup; Michael Lynn and his executive team I think have done an excellent job to partner with us and communicate with this year-long competition is about. I certainly want to thank our host Tom Cousins and the East Lake Foundation. We originally came here to play in Atlanta largely because we love the golf course, and we wanted to take the opportunity to communicate around the country what East Lake is all about and what it stands for and what has happened. I'd like to congratulate them, as well, on the first-ever East Lake Invitational, which was held on Monday. And I should mention that there is a video piece that is currently available on the Together Anything is Possible website that tells the story about that event.
We could not have this event this week, the Tour Championship presented by Coca-Cola, without the support of Coca-Cola, and we were delighted to announce earlier in the year a multi-year extension with Coca-Cola. They are the perfect sponsor for this competition. They've been a great partner. They understand sports marketing, and Sandy Douglas and his team at Coke have been great partners. As well we want to thank the Southern Company and their commitment to this week and also to the Payne Stewart Award, David Ratcliffe, their chairman and CEO, and all their team have done a great job of communicating what that award that we'll get into a little bit later is all about. The volunteers here at East Lake have been second to none on the PGA Tour, and I certainly want to thank Rob Johnston for his role as general chairman of the tournament, not just in operating and executing but in creating new ways of going about the presentation of this competition. With respect to where we are on the PGA Tour, the 2010 season I think has been an interesting one, one that's been filled with a lot of great individual performances, when you start with two 59s in one month, Paul Goydos at John Deere at Stuart Appleby at Greenbrier, you don't have to go much past that. But we've had a combination of solid performances from our veterans, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Ernie Els and others, complemented by a bunch of new faces on the PGA Tour.
And I can't remember a year when we've had more buzz, more interest, more questions from fans about the younger players. And certainly Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Hunter Mahan winning this year, Rickie Fowler being named by Corey Pavin to the Ryder Cup for next week are just examples of that kind of effusion of new, talented exciting young players who are captivating our fan base. Overall I think, when you look back over it, the competition has been terrific, and the players are here to bring the FedEx Cup portion of the season to a close. The next area I'd like to talk about is where we are with television. Television, as is true with any major sport, is an integral part of our value and our business. And I think the biggest takeaway from 2010 is that even though we've continued to suffer through what I read in the Wall Street Journal now is the recession is technically over, but in real terms it's certainly not over. Our audience performances have been very well. Our No. 1 player was out four months, and yet our cume (cumulated)audience, which is the number that we primarily look at, has held up very well in 2010, cume audience for men's golf might be off 2 percent off of '09, which we think is a very solid performance.
Men's professional golf in the United States has attracted over 177 million unique viewers at one point or another during the season, 148 million unique viewers excluding the major championships, and that translates to each and every week we average somewhere -- we attract somewhere between an audience of 30 and 60 million viewers. Our events are second only to NFL games in major sports in the United States in terms of total audience, which is very solid. In addition to that, we're delighted that the business model that relates to television has been executed this year very well, as well. We deliver, through our title sponsors and official marketing partners, a significantly high percentage of the network advertising offered during our programming, which as you know is year long and has an awful lot of hours. Only the NFL delivers more advertising dollars to broadcasters than the PGA Tour, and as a consequence that business model is very valuable to our television partners, and we're glad to see that that's continuing. On the international side of the equation, golf continues to grow outside the United States, and the interest in PGA Tour golf continues to grow considerably outside the United States. I think this is the 20th year in a row when we have increased both distribution and financial value of our product internationally. We have 77 international players currently playing from 21 different countries. We are seeing a continued increase in the percentage of our over 100 sponsors that are global companies and/or companies based outside the United States. Our product is translated in over 30 different languages as it's transmitted around the globe and is distributed to nearly 600 million homes in over 225 countries.
We are continuing to focus even more energy on growth in Asia and in Latin America, and we see that continuing in the years to come. In addition to that, we recognize that the addition last fall of our sport to the Olympic program starting in '16 will add to the arc of the trajectory of growth in many places in the world, particularly in eastern Europe, Asia, and in South America, which will continue to fuel the growth of elite players available from different parts of the world, as well as the interest of corporate community and sports marketing globally. So in the international area, we are delighted with our progress but we see a very bright horizon indeed. With respect to the Playoffs, I think that this last year and this year in terms of competition, we have been very pleased with the results. We like the fact that the competition can't be over before we get here to the Tour Championship presented by Coca-Cola. We like the fact that when we get here and you're seeded in the top 5, you control your own destiny. If you win the tournament, you can win the Cup.
We like the fact that there is volatility, that players can make a significant move late in the season, early in the Playoffs, when we increase the number of points. We like the fact, though, at the same time that if you play well early enough in the year, you can cushion yourself against a downward spike in your relative playing as you come into the Playoffs and still make it here and have a shot to win the Cup in Atlanta. So we like all those factors. Originally when we set the Cup up, we wanted the points to be structured in such a way that when you come here to the Tour Championship presented by Coke that you have a competitive home field advantage if you're seeded higher than the next player, and we think that that now is in place. Obviously at the end of the season, depending on how things work out this week, we'll evaluate the structure again. But last year we determined that we wanted to take a break from tweaking it, and we may come to that same conclusion this year; we'll see. There are a lot of opinions in this subject matter. I'm not sure I read two opinions that are the same. We like that, also, because we like the debate that it generates, the interest that it creates in the Cup, and the discussion level that goes on, whether you're on the side of having no reset and everybody starts over again to going all the way to the other end of the spectrum, whether the regular season means an awful lot.
I would also point out that there clearly is an increasing amount of reference to -- that I think speaks to the increasing stature in what the FedEx Cup is all about when it is begun to be part of the conversation as it relates to Player of the Year. As we come into this week, clearly there are a number of players who can win with a win and have two wins coming in and arguably at least, and this is all by way of argument, could have a leg up on Player of the Year. We have four different players who won major championships, all of whom who would need a lot of help if they were going to win the Cup, but certainly like everybody else in the field have the opportunity of an even basis to win the Tour Championship presented by Coca-Cola, which in and of itself is its own feat and could propel them into consideration by the players for Player of the Year. There have been six times historically when players who were honored with the PGA Tour Player of the Year recognition had not won a major. It's conceivable that that could happen again this year. But I think the important thing is that clearly those discussions, that debate, as it has extended, recognizes the growing impact of the Cup, what the Cup stands for, and certainly we've seen globally, and this is fairly significant I think, last year and this year, outside of the United States a very strong uptick in the fans paying attention to this interesting situation when a player is out playing in a golf tournament but he's playing for two things at the same time.
I remember a couple of years ago Arron Oberholser spoke to that I think in Chicago after he came out of Boston, remarking how unique it was to be walking down the fairway and playing for two things at one time. And I think the fans have now caught up with that interest level and really followed the telecast. I also would like to congratulate our television partners, The Golf Channel, CBS and NBC, and a lot of our international distributors, starting with Sky Sports in the UK, the way they've gone about communicating the uniqueness of the competition because properly communicated it is captivating. A couple of other things I'd like to comment on and then I'll take your questions. The Champions Tour clearly has a lot of momentum right now. Two-time reining Player of the Year Bernhard Langer on the Champions Tour is headed into the Schwab Cup with five victories leading the Schwab Cup standings right now with five victories. Freddie Couples has made his presence felt with three wins. We're excited about the Schwab Cup champion being played at Harding Park, which we've fallen in love with playing a World Golf Championship there and a Presidents Cup there, tremendous venue for that competition. And the Champions Tour is doing quite well in the marketplace.
A number of good extensions announced this year, three nice tournaments, added tournaments in Mississippi and Montreal and Songdo, Korea, which was a great success a couple weeks ago, and we're delighted with the energy and success of the Champions Tour. On the Nationwide Tour, we continue to see the younger players on that Tour doing even better. We've got four two-time winners in Martin Keller, Chris Kirk, Tommy Gainey, and now Hunter Haas from this past weekend. We've got three of the top 5 on the Money List are recent college players of the year, Chris Kirk, Kevin Chappell and Jamie Lovemark, so a lot of good, young talent emanating from the Nationwide Tour. In addition, that Tour, as well, has added some very strong new events in Colombia, South America, a tremendous event early in the year; in Cincinnati; and in a few weeks in Jacksonville, Florida, where we'll be playing the TPC at Sawgrass on the Dye's Valley Course sponsored by Winn Dixie, which we think is going to turn overnight to be the biggest charitable donator on the Nationwide Tour and one of the best events, as well. So we're excited about that.
Finally, I'll just say with respect to the economy overall, we continue to navigate the choppy waters of the downturn. We've been at this since 2007. We've made a lot of progress. I think in this last 18 months, we've announced 20 either new sponsors or extensions of sponsorships that are major in nature, an increasing number of tournaments being taken out to 2015 and 2016, so we're delighted about the progress that we've made. We have a long way to go, but the strategies we've employed seem to have been working. The players have done their part, and we continue to be able to maintain somewhat of a growth curve in this down economy. With that said, I'll be happy to try to answer your questions before we get into the Payne Stewart Award recipient.
Q. You mentioned that you sort of liked the debate about the FedEx Cup and the points system. But we're at least at year four now where people are either recommending everything from minor tweaks to some major changes. Isn't there some point where you have to say, wait a minute, we need to step back and take a more broad strategic look at this thing? And isn't it a little bit disingenuous to write it off as a rousing success?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, we think it's a terrific success because the first year we had 60 percent of fans develop an awareness what we were talking about. We carried out audience into the fall for the first time, had great crowds in Boston, New York and right here. The players have really bought into it. We got tremendous response internationally, so there's no question about the success. Financially for the players to be able to have the best players play week after week after week for a total amount of $62 of distribution is a significant thing. I think it's a huge thing. We took a year off last year. We said, let's take it easy, we're not going to tweak anymore for a while, but I think it's healthy to have a debate. I think actually, as incensed as all of us college football fans are about the BCS, it's a great thing for the BCS to be arguing about it all the time. Who wouldn't want the argument? There isn't a right or wrong. It's a matter of degree, it's a matter of individual things happening. You ought to be able to argue that you can fix club marks or if you hit the ball in a divot you ought to be able to drop it. Those are debates that have been going on for years. I remember four different times in an annual player meeting saying when are we going to change the rules saying you can drop the ball in a divot. These are the things that make golf interesting, and the structure of the competition I think is the same thing. So as long as we're moving in the direction we're moving, I'm pleased.
Q. How will Tiger's situation this year affect TV ratings, or will it affect -- not the ratings, but will it affect negotiations at all? Why or why not?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Yeah, as long as the business model is working, I don't think so. I think Tiger brings a lot of unique viewers to the telecast. Tiger doesn't generate the core audience that we have week in and week out. And I'll say this for maybe the 50th time: We have 47 tournaments; Tiger plays in 16. We have 120 tournaments and three or four we're looking for sponsors for. The economy is the problem, not Tiger. Having said that, there isn't any question that when you have not just the No. 1 player on this Tour but the most dominating player in a sport in history, you want him playing because it makes a lot of things work a lot better. And we want him playing, we want him playing well, and given his intensity, we assume that'll be the case.
Q. With the top 5 controlling their own destiny here, could you talk about Dustin Johnson in particular, what it would mean to him to win the FedEx Cup after overcoming his disappointments at the majors?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I think Dustin Johnson has done two things this year: He has developed a tremendous following among fans, and he's also given us a couple of great examples of how when you're dealing with adversity in very difficult circumstances, you handle it in the way that you want to see a PGA Tour player handle it. And he in a way has contributed to the culture of the sport in the way he has done that. If he were to win this week, I've got to believe he would be -- a lot of people would be betting on him for Player of the Year. There's two or three players there that would continue sort of -- I mean, you could argue the first three years, the best player all year long won the Cup, and I'm not so sure anybody would argue against you, even though he fell short at Pebble Beach and Whistling Straits. It would be his third win, and winning the year-long competition I think would put him in that category.
Q. You touched on the topic basically on every subject that covers the Tour and seem to be happy across the board, everything was good across the board on the PGA Tour. I have two questions here. The first one, is there anything this year that you're not pleased with, the way that the year went?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, you know, we're doing -- I wouldn't say happy is the right word because we're pleased that we're competing, we're not falling backward when we're in a difficult environment. On the other hand, you would much prefer to grow. I mean, we'd much prefer the growth levels that we had for charitable contributions in the three years before 2008 than bumping along with very slight growth. And the same thing with financial benefits to players. So you'd much rather be in a growth environment, there's no question about it. But given the circumstances, given the difficulties, given the cutbacks we've seen in other sports and given the fact that we're headed into television negotiations, we are cautiously optimistic, and we have to be pleased about that relatively speaking.
Q. The other part, Steve Stricker was just in here talking about the amount of money that they play for here in the FedEx Cup and said he wouldn't be surprised if in the next contract, whether it's FedEx or whoever it is to sponsor the end of the year Cup, if that overall prize money weren't to be $10 million and if that money were to go down, he said it wouldn't be surprising for that to happen. Do you share that feeling or expect it to continue to grow or stay the same?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: That wouldn't be our intention. So no, we don't want to go backwards.
Q. You indicated that the cume audience was off 2 percent off of 2009. How does the economy affect the cume audience?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, the cume audience affects our ability to sell in a down economy, because if you had a sponsor who's considering three different investments in sports and we can generate that kind of cume audience week out and your branding is woven into the overall telecast which puts you in front of those kind of numbers, it helps you win out over the competition, which is what's happened not just in this downturn but in previous downturns. If you're a title sponsor, you're much more interested in cume audience than in a rating. If you're buying a couple of spots in the telecast you're more interested in the rating point. But most of our stuff on the title side is based on cume audience. That really helps us.
Q. So just to clarify -
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't think it affects the economy, though.
Q. That was my question. How does the economy affect your cume audience?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: You know, I think it's more a question of alternative programming. This year, for example -- well, it's only 2 percent, but this year the NBC winter Olympics were at an all-time high, Americans won everything, and so those three weekends were tough to compete with. Also, NFL had record ratings until the first quarter, so those things hurt us early in the year. We were down some. We've come back some. Having the No. 1 player out hurts the cume audience, not just the weeks he plays but just bringing interest to the game. A lot of things contribute to it. I don't know if you can point to one thing. But we've got a great cume audience. If we maintain those numbers, we're in good shape.
Q. You talked about the volatility and enjoying the volatility, and I think a few years ago we were talking about it not being volatile enough and you tweaked it to get it so there was more movement, and now you have a guy like Steve Stricker, who has three top 10s and falls back two spots in a tournament because guys who win are jumping past him with large point bonuses. Is there a happy medium that you guys are looking for to make it more of a year-long thing as opposed to get hot at the right time?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't think there's ever going to be a happy medium because whatever medium you choose, things like that are going to happen and somebody is going to say I wish it was the other way. But this year you had Ernie in the No. 1 spot for a long period of the year, but he generated enough points where he didn't play at that level in the Playoffs but yet he maintained a fairly strong position. Last year you had Furyk come in No. 3 without winning a tournament because he was so consistent across -- so consistency can get you there, winning late can get you there, winning late and playing okay later can get you there. But we did hear a lot after year 2 about the need for more volatility and we made some changes. That's not to say we wouldn't look for a happy medium, but I think you'll always have this debate of variation and weight one way or the other, and that will be there regardless of what we do. And again, that's not a bad thing. But we would like to do the fair and right thing, so these are things -- I'm not being flippant. We are studying them very carefully.
Q. For the first time a lot of us can remember, you've actually had a few layoffs here and there in Ponte Vedra, and I've read anecdotal reports about some benefits that may have been trimmed. I wonder if you could speak to that, what prompted it, if it's the current state of affairs -
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We haven't made layoffs. A layoff is where you have a worker, you lay them off and you bring them back. What we did was we have really tried to reduce the overall size of our cost structure in a variety of different ways over the last three years. We've had a lot of success. Some of that has included early retirements for some people. That's just the fact of life. Other companies have done it. I think we've tried to do it in a smart way without hurting the muscle and strength of our staff, but we have done some of that. We have accelerated some retirements. But I think we're sort of through that phase of things, and we've brought in some new talent, too, at the same time. So we'll see what develops. But again, we've been saying this for three years, but it's really about you have to plan for the worst and hope for the best and deal with reality, and that's what we've done. And what we haven't done and don't anticipate having to do unless the economy really fell to pieces is say, okay, here's a head count and we're going to reduce X number of positions or something. We're not going down that road.
Q. Do you know definitively how many people are no longer with us?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I don't know if we've released it, but it's not a huge number. But there are a number of people you're familiar with. Most of them are people that were within striking distance of retirement, probable retirement.
Q. A couple questions: When do you plan to release the '11 schedule?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Soon.
Q. How many tournaments do you anticipate not having title sponsors going into -
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Probably three or four would be my guess, although all tournaments are funded. So we're pleased with that. And we have some more announcements to make, and we have a number of discussions. So that number could change.
Q. When you say all of them are funded, are you going to -
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We're not moving to a different business model, but we have a couple situations where there's sufficient funding in the marketplace to carry us into title positions. Title position definitely continues to be our long-term business model and we're going to stick with it, but since -- one of the things that's happened in this environment, this takes a tremendously extended period of time to bring conversation to a transaction, and at least thus far where we have had those gaps, they've been able to get covered by other kinds of measures in the community.
Q. Are you subsidizing any of those that don't have title sponsors?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Not at this point.
Q. And lastly, can you give us an update on the designated tournament proposal for next year? And do you have a sense at all that tournaments that might be eligible to be a designated tournament don't necessarily want it because of the stigma that might be attached?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We are in the process of discussing it with tournaments, I don't want to speak for the tournaments and players. We're looking at different ways to accomplish what we want to accomplish. One way is the rule that's on the table. There are some other ways that we might go to to get to the same place, but it would be premature of me to guess what those might be. But we're discussing different models with sponsors and with players.
Q. Is that likely to happen next year?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, we will do -- we will go to one of these models next year for sure. What model it is, whether it's a rule, whether it's a requirement, whether it's a process that everybody supports, we're a few weeks away from doing that. Probably won't come to a head until the November 15th board meeting.
Q. You were talking about the sponsorship/business model question. Could you explain just generally how the television contract limits tournaments from going beyond the title sponsor or business model?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: They are not limited to go beyond the -- you mean in terms of the tournament contract?
Q. My understanding is that the television contract doesn't allow tournaments to do something very much beyond the title sponsorship business model. They can't take three titles and put them together.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Our agreements with the network -- we have a title. We don't have a title and a second title and a third title. We don't do that.
Q. So then if you're like Memphis, you're completely limited in what you can or cannot do to try to get a title?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, no, you can do lots of things. You can have local presenting positions and things that they've done that's worked for them. You just can't have a title -- you can't have multiple corporate entities in the title, official title, of the tournament. No, you can have one and that's all, and we're not going to change that.
Q. This is the second time this event hasn't had Tiger and has had the Ryder Cup on the horizon in four years. How does that impact this event in terms of buzz in your opinion?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: The second time we haven't had Tiger?
Q. Yes, and the Ryder Cup is coming up next week.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, it's bad news and good news. You don't have the No. 1 player playing, that's never good news. But then you have the ability to -- for stardom to develop for other players, which is very difficult when the No. 1 dominating player is taking up so much of the media focus and television focus of the telecast. We saw that happen in 2008 with Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas. We saw it happen earlier in the year and actually sometimes in the middle of the year when Tiger wasn't playing so well and other players played better and got more attention. That's in our long-term interest. So it's short-term questionable, long-term good.
Q. What about the timing of bumping up of the Ryder Cup because a lot of people are really getting jacked up for that?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, it worked well in '08. I think a number of players, Phil Mickelson, certainly have been very vocal on the fact that the guys are coming into the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, as the case may be, having played hard and played often and their games are in really good shape, and in his view that's really helped win the Cup in both competitions now three years in a row. He attributes a lot of our success now in the fall to the positioning of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. It makes sense to me. I also think that candidly the camaraderie among the seven or eight players who typically overlap has been accentuated because they play every year in team competition and because they have more experience in those formats, especially young players. I think that's been positive. That may not play out next week; we'll see. But I think it's a good year to bet on the Americans.
Q. Do you envision the Doral event being among the three or four that won't have a sponsor?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: No.
Q. When it does come time to talk about the negotiations for the new TV contract, where does the FedEx Cup extension fit into that? Do you do one before the other? Does one need to come first? Do you do them at the same time?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: That depends on a number of factors. It wouldn't necessarily be either way. It's like a title sponsorship. It might precede it, might come after. That depends on other factors.
MODERATOR: I'll stand up and turn my chair over to a special guest. I know you have an announcement to make about this year's Payne Stewart Award.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Later this evening we're going to award our Payne Stewart Award presented by the Southern Company downtown. This is the 11th year that the honor has been given in Payne's memory. I think this year's honoree, recipient, has certainly personified the ideals that the award really represents, which include sportsmanship really, integrity, the spirit of giving back, and understanding and an acceptance of what it means to be a role model. If you look back over these last 11 years, the players who have received this recognition have all distinguished themselves through their demeanor and professional presentation, their words, their actions on and off the golf course, and we're delighted to announce that the recipient this year is Tom Lehman. Tom, would you come on up?
Let me just say that Tom, in his years on the PGA Tour, has been both a great competitor and a great sportsman. He won five PGA Tour events, I guess the most -- you might debate this, but certainly his 64 to finish out his win at the Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Anne's was very special. I personally thought his walk away win at the Tour Championship that same year was phenomenal golf. He became the first and to date the only player in history to win and be recognized as Player of the Year on the Nationwide Tour and Player of the Year on the PGA Tour. He's been a member of three Ryder Cup teams, three Presidents Cup teams and captained the Ryder Cup team in 2006. When he went to the Champions Tour, he's one of those few players that won one of his first events on the Champions Tour, and then he won a terrific competition with David Frost and Fred Couples earlier this year in a playoff for the Senior PGA championship.
Outside the ropes, Tom has been a leader on the Tour, he's served on the Player Advisory Council, he's served on the board. He has led an effort in his home area of Minnesota to raise over $5 million for the Children's Cancer Research Fund at the University of Minnesota, an event he hosted for seven or eight years. He is involved in Phoenix in a program called Match Point, which matches adults with troubled children. And I think it's most importantly a testament to his character and the way he handled and carried himself throughout his professional career that the committee of representatives from the major golf associations, the major championships and others, which is a committee that also includes all of the 13 recipients, prior recipients of this award, recommended Tom Lehman for this special commendation. Congratulations.
TOM LEHMAN: Thank you very much. It's a real honor. Thank you. You know, winning a golf tournament is one thing. You work and practice and you prepare and you go out and you give your very best, and hopefully you're the best this week and you get the trophy. An award like this, I'm not really sure how to take quite frankly, just because it's -- there's so much -- so many in some ways conflicting emotions. I think when I was told I was going to receive this award, I started thinking about my years knowing Payne Stewart, some of the most fondest memories on Ryder Cups. I think the overriding feeling that I had and I still have even sitting here right now is I really wish that this award wasn't being given out for another 30 years. It would be nice to have Payne Stewart here still. And I think the Tour -- it would be great to see where his life might have gone. His leadership, his style, his grace, his sportsmanship, his leadership qualities, his smile, his laugh, they were such a big part of the Tour, and with the friends. So to accept this award is so incredibly humbling. It's so humbling that I'm not even sure how to say thank you. There are so many people that involve themselves in the lives of other people. My parents, my wife, my kids, my friends, and it's just -- you have to be giving the award to those who have influenced me because I feel like I'm kind of on the road with them. So anyway, I appreciate this very much.
Q. Can you just give us your best Payne story?
TOM LEHMAN: You know, well, when I think of the Ryder Cup, I think of 1999 at Brookline and the celebration after we won, and him and his jalapeno pepper pants drinking tequila shots on top of the piano. I think that's one really nice memory. You know, but he -- that week, there was so much about that week that I learned about him. He talked about his father and how much he wished his father would have been at that Ryder Cup to watch him play, and he was very tearful and it was obvious that he cared very much about his family and the people around him that he loved. That week again, on Sunday, the U.S. Team really believed that we had -- if you can imagine it, the upper hand going into the singles. We felt like we were a favorite in every match but yet we were four points down, and we ended up winning, and he was the last match on the course.
And he had put the stars and stripes Uncle Sam top hat into his bag, so after all is said and done, I said, why didn't you put that hat on? It was a big celebration. Why didn't you put the hat on walking down the 18th fairway. His comment was, I couldn't do that to Monty. I thought about that, and I think that really says a lot about his idea of sportsmanship, his idea of competition, his idea of respect for your competitor, his idea of respect for the game. He couldn't do that to Monty because he didn't want to in any way show any kind of disrespect for the event and the people that he respected. So there was a lot that I learned about that, about people, about dealing with people, about having fun and about respecting the game from Payne. It was a great week.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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