JULIUS MASON: Ladies and gentlemen, we are in Studio 8H at the renowned home of Saturday Night Live where you will hear about a new chapter in sports history and entertainment.
But first, we have some very special guests joining us that I'd like you to meet.
- Representing the Metropolitan PGA Section, President Heath Wassem, and Executive Director, e Robson.
- Also, some are our friends from NBC including President of Programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, Jon Miller.
- Representing the LPGA board of directors, President Mike Trager, Roberta Bowman, and Chief Teaching Officer and President of the LPGA foundation, Nancy Henderson.
- Many leaders from KPMG are also with us, including Deputy Chairman and Chief Operating Officer, Scott Ozanus. Board of Directors Management Committee and Women's and Diversity Advisory Boards, thank you all for joining us today.
It's now my pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, to call upon the Chief Executive Officer of The PGA of America, from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, please welcome Pete Bevacqua.
PETE BEVACQUA: Thank you, Julius, what an honor it is for us to be here at 30 Rock today with our great friends from NBC and the Golf Channel. This is really just a culmination of a few months of wonderful conversations.
As many of you know, PGA of America started in New York City and so to be back here today, for us to be able to announce this really unprecedented partnership to create the KPMG Women's PGA Championship for our organization is a dream come true.
When we started conversations with the LPGA and then obviously NBC and the Golf Channel and of course KPMG, everything just came together so smoothly and so quickly because we really all shared a vision: For the benefit of the women's game.
And for The PGA of America, we have a twofold mission. We are all about serving our members and growing the game and for us, this is a major step in supporting the women's game. We believe in that. We believe in diversity in the sport. We believe in inclusion in the sport.
And what's powerful to us is the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, one of the majors in women's golf, is not just going to be a success on the golf course at the major championship level but it's going to be more of that. It's going to be a celebration of women's golf and women in business, and you'll hear more about this from Mike, and of course from John about the Women's Leadership Summit we will conduct each and every week of this championship, inviting women leaders from politics and industry and sports to really talk about issues that confront women in the work force certainly on and off the golf course.
Then you add on top of that the fact that we are going to start this in June of 2015, June 8 through June 14, three hours of live coverage on Thursday and Friday on the Golf Channel; three hours of live coverage on Saturday and Sunday on NBC, being only one of two women's events on major network television, and then to have it at Westchester Country Club.
Now I'm partial, I'm from Westchester, New York and was born and bred in Bedford and know and my good friend, e Robson so well for the last 25, 30 years. But to take this event to a golf course that's so historic like Westchester Country Club, this takes it to a whole new level.
I think the players will be excited. It's a wonderful test of golf. There's such a championship pedigree to Westchester Country Club. And we can't do enough to thank our good friends who are here with us today from Westchester Country Club, tomorrow row sat oh the club president and our good friend the PGA director of golf, John Kennedy. They certainly deserve a round of applause.
So Julius, I know I speak for Ted Bishop, our president, our officers, our board of directors and our 27,000 men and women professionals who make up The PGA of America, it's a special day for our organization.
JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much, Pete. Now, ladies and gentlemen, right up the road from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida is Daytona Beach, and from Daytona Beach, right now, please welcome the Commissioner of the LPGA, Mr. Michael Whan.
COMMISSIONER WHAN: While I was reading my Twitter account over here, and I realize this may be the worst kept secret over the last couple hours, but good news tends to travel fast. And based on the Tweets and what I'm seeing from players and text messages in.
We talk a lot about "elevate" inside the walls of the LPGA, which is how do we elevate the exposure of the best female golfers on the planet. How do we elevate the opportunities for women to work within this game, even if they are not playing, but how can they coach and teach and be club managers.
And elevation as my father used to say takes finding partners that think bigger than you do and I'm excited to tell you that I feel like we've created the dream team for women's golf up here on this stage.
When I first called Pete and do what I typically do, which is started selling, as Stacy's knows, right from the minute I'm selling out of the gun. He said whoa, whoa, whoa, I'm already there, let's meet halfway.
And literally a week later we met halfway and started talking about this.
Then we said, what if we brought KPMG and NBC to the table and see if they like our idea. And the truth is they didn't like our idea; they took off with our idea.
And John took this idea to go so far outside the yellow ropes. And Mike together with Jon Miller, started saying what if we promoted this and gave this the kind of exposure that not only in the States, but worldwide, that the women's game may not have seen in a long, long time.
etween purse size, business opportunity, venue opportunity, and what's going to happen from a television partnership perspective, this is going to elevate women's golf.
At the end of the day we always talk in the LPGA about, we use the term, think like a founder, which means do anything, anything, today to leave the game better for the next generation of women than you found it. Because you're playing golf, because 60 years ago a bunch of women got together and made that commitment.
And I can think of no better time than to act like a founder than sitting up on this stage and telling you about an event that's going to be with us for the next hundred years that's going to elevate not only the best female golfers on the planet but female employees in the world of golf.
And if you think that won't impact the future of this game for young women, I'm just telling you as a commissioner who has been all around the world, you're wrong. This is what makes a difference.
To John's credit, he understands the same thing is true in a board room and it's true on an 18th green, which is: Mentors and leaders beget mentors and leaders.
For us that's when this event became so much more than a golf tournament. Maybe "Dream Team" is overused but in my little world, I'm going to stick with Dream Team because I haven't seen a team think bigger about women's golf than we have in the last six months and I'm proud be to part of it.
JULIUS MASON: Thank you. Elevating women's golf and acting like a founder, Michael Whan, well done.
Right here in New York, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the global chairman of KPMG, Mr. John Veihmeyer.
VEIHMEYER: I can't tell you how proud I am to be here today on behalf of everybody at KPMG, most of whom I've already heard from in the last hour and a half.
We are so excited about what we are launching here, and for us to be part of this KPMG Women's PGA Championship is just incredible from our standpoint.
We have gotten I think a firsthand taste of how valuable golf can be from a business standpoint with our relationship with Phil Mickelson that started two years ago and obviously our relationship with Stacy that we forged two years ago.
As I like to take credit for it, she went to No. 1 in the world right after we signed on (laughter) but that actually gave us a great introduction to the team that we're sitting here with today. And I think Mike said it really well, and I just want to thank all of our great partners here and Jon Miller at NBC Sports, as well.
This is one of those ideas, as Mike described, that kept feeding on itself, and what started out, as can we create a really unique women's major golf championship. That's absolutely going to happen because you have all the right partners to make that happen and we are totally committed to it.
But we have an opportunity to do something more, and it was really fun to see that Pete, Mike, Mike, John, all had the same vision of: You know what, how do we move something from just a week long, great event for golf to something that can be much more impactful in terms of something that KPMG is absolutely committed to in terms of advancing and empowering women.
The concept of doing the Women's Leadership Summit on site at the tournament, the week of the tournament; attracting 300 or so senior women leaders across business, politics, sports, coming together to network, learn and maybe most importantly to talk about how we grow that next generation of women leaders and how do we develop that young talent.
That summit will then feed into using the proceeds from the championship itself a year long effort in the community to continue to build that next generation of women leaders. We are going to do that through mentoring programs, skill building programs, anything we can do to build confidence in young women that looking at great role models like Stacy and senior women business leaders, they can achieve whatever they want to achieve over the course of their career.
That's the mind set we want our young women in. We view the championship tournament as a platform on which we will build a year round program and have demonstrated year round commitment from the leaders up here on this stage to really make a difference in terms of how we advance and empower women in this country.
So we couldn't be more excited about it. I wanted to thank everybody for coming together and making this dream a reality, and we are really looking forward.
I know Pete, you said it today, but we are not viewing this as a three year or five year. This is something that's going to transform a lot of dimensions both inside the ropes and outside the ropes, and this is a very long term commitment on the part of KPMG, so we are looking forward to it.
JULIUS MASON: Growing the next generation of women leaders, thank you very much.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, a real treat we are pleased to have with us from Woodlands Texas, the No. 2 ranked player in the world, Stacy Lewis.
STACY LEWIS: Well, I can't tell you how excited I am to be here today. When John came to me with this idea a few months ago, I was through the moon. I was so excited. I think I called every week asking, "When can we announce it? When can we announce it?"
I'm so happy that we are finally here. I just have to say thank you to all these guys on this stage. It really is visionary that we are here today; to get all of these parties together, and there was a lot of moving parts to make all this happen. But it's pretty amazing we are here.
Just on behalf of the players, I think this is going to be for the players, it's something we needed. It's something we needed for a long time. It's that announcement that puts us up on the next level. I think we are going to look back in a few years and say, 'remember when,' before this tournament; and I think things are going to be changed.
One of the things I'm excited about is the network TV on the weekend. That's one thing, the Golf Channel is great, we get our golf fans there. But until we get outside of the golf and we get our fans that don't watch the golf fans, get them into our sport and they see us, they see what great athletes we are, that's when we go to the next level. So that's what this tournament is going to do.
You know, playing the best golf courses in the country, that's something we've been fighting for for a long time. Everything with this tournament is what we have been looking for.
So I'm excited that it's coming, and I'm excited to be here today and be a representative of all the players.
JULIUS MASON: We are all excited about network TV on the weekend, Stacy, thank you very much.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, from Orlando, Florida, the president of NBC golf media, which also includes Golf Channel, Mike McCarley.
MIKE McCARLEY: Thanks, everybody, and welcome to 30 Rock. This studio is really special for all of the people who work in this company and especially the people like Jon and I who worked in this building for so long.
Saturday Night Live is one of the most progressive television shows in the history of the medium, and one of the reasons it's been so successful is that over the last better half of the last half century, it's almost 40 years old now, it's reinvented itself.
And I think that's a lot of what we are here to talk about today, is we are taking an event, a championship event with a lot of great history, and we are rethinking it and we are refreshing it and we are adding a lot of components to it that I think is going to make it more relevant, make women's golf more relevant, make the game more inclusive for years to come and that's something that we can all be very proud of.
The PGA of America is an increasingly progressive organization. They are doing a lot of exciting things. They are authentic to the game of golf, but they are also leaders in thinking through what the game looks like in the future, and I think this is a great example of that.
Mike and I have been working together for the last few years, and with the teams at the LPGA and NBC and the Golf Channel; since Golf Channel has become part of the NBC Sports group, the ratings for the LPGA have increased nearly 50 percent, which in a few short years is quite an accomplishment and speaks volumes to the quality of play and some of the young talent coming up on the LPGA Tour, represented very well here by Stacy.
So we are really looking forward to this. There are two female leaders within our company who are going to be very involved in this process. One is Molly Solomon, who is the Executive Producer at Golf Channel. Many of you probably remember here from her time here working for NBC Olympics. But she is the first and only female executive producer of any sports network in the country, and she couldn't be here today because she's overseeing our NCAA coverage that just concluded last night in Hutchinson, Kansas.
And then Regena O'Brien, who is our marketing chief, is going to be the person that really marshals the resources of our entire company to make this what we all know it can be. And it's not just a golf event. It's the women's summit and what the entire week is going to become, we think can be incredibly powerful and we are really excited to get started next June.
JULIUS MASON: Mike McCarley welcoming us to 30 Rock.
It's not every day you get a chance to hang out with the world No. 2 golfer, so why don't we take advantage of that.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage the LPGA's communications chief, Kraig Kann, for a bit of a surprise, how about a little fireside chat with Stacy Lewis.
KRAIG KANN: I tell you what, your opening monologue was absolutely tremendous. You've basically bone through you all my questions. You did a great job.
It's a pleasure to be sitting up here. One of the best things about any job, aside from fending off media rumors and stories that may break before we actually get to announce the news is spending time with players like Stacy Lewis, and everybody on the LPGA, who as you just heard, really takes ownership of public relations and promotion and celebrates not only the LPGA Tour, but the game of golf. So you're a wonderful ambassador.
Nine wins on the LPGA, two major championships, Vare Trophy for low scoring, you were the Player of the Year a couple years back. You've accomplished almost everything could you possibly accomplish, except to be an ambassador for a great championship like this, and now it's there.
So we have heard all the "what" is. Tell me, why. Why, inside of you, is this so special to Stacy Lewis?
STACY LEWIS: You know, I've been a person, I've always said since I came on Tour, I want to leave the Tour in a better place. I've said it since I've gotten on Tour. I've done that slowly, whether it's hanging out with little kids or doing it on a smaller scale.
But this is really doing it at a bigger scale. This is something that is going to change the Tour. It's going to change women's golf. And that's really it's kind of progressed for me over the years, coming into more of this leadership role and realizing that we can make a difference outside of golf, and this is what this is going to do. We are going to reach outside of golf a little bit, and that's one of the things with this tournament I'm moment proud of.
KRAIG KANN: Talking about the state of women's golf, I don't think there's any player on the LPGA who has seen her rise with the way the LPGA has grown over the last few years and right there with it, former No. 1, very close to being No. 1 right now, can get there at any moment, could happen this week, right?
What is what's so special about the state of the wedge's game right now, from your perspective? We have heard what everybody here thinks.
STACY LEWIS: I think obviously the economy turn has helped a loss
KRAIG KANN: By the looks of your shirt and hat
STACY LEWIS: Worked on it, too.
But it's just really cool to see the players really get it. The players are taking ownership of the Tour. They understand what sponsors are looking for when they show up at a tournament, and players are playing great golf. We have eight Americans in the top 16 in the world
KRAIG KANN: Good job with the stats
STACY LEWIS: Thank you. So that certainly doesn't hurt. But it's really cool. My first year on Tour, we had 23 tournaments, and now we have 32, and that's this is my sixth year.
So it's pretty amazing in a short period of time how far we have come, and you know, we were talking today that now Mike has got sponsors calling him instead of him begging for phone calls.
KRAIG KANN: That's pretty good. Pretty good.
Mike McCarley probably doesn't know this but I'll share a little inside story. Stacy Lewis is a part was a part she was made part of an LPGA players’ communications committee, and she was one of the first players that I asked to be on this committee to help us generate new ideas.
Truth be told, Stacy is one of the players that sent me the most e mails, called me the most and has the biggest reach out. I know a couple things about you: No. 1, you're a fantastic player, No. 2 you have great passion for everything you do, and No. 3, you always have an opinion.
STACY LEWIS: Yes.
KRAIG KANN: Okay. You always have an opinion. And one of the things you used to talk about was, TV, TV, TV, TV. This is pretty good.
STACY LEWIS: I think when you got the job, I think that was the one thing I said that hasn't changed. But the TV part is huge.
Like I said before, it's going to be it's really going to be unbelievable for us. To be talked about while other sports are on NBC, and just to have those previews running into it, so people know what's going on. Half the time people don't know when we are playing. Just to have that help from a broader market is going to be huge.
I'm excited. I just think I've been wanting to tell all the players and I haven't been allowed, and so I'm excited to get back tomorrow or this afternoon and get a reaction.
KRAIG KANN: Perfect segue to my last question, which is just this picture right here of everybody sitting on this stage, that's a message in and of itself. It's a visionary message.
What's the message you're going to go deliver to the players at the ShopRite LPGA Classic this week?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know if I have to deliver any message. I think this says it.
I think The PGA of America's commitment to doing a long term deal, KPMG is long term. The commitment here from everybody on the stage, I think that's a statement in itself. This is not a one or two year thing and let's see how it goes. This is going to be lasting. I really do believe it's going to change women's golf here in the next few years.
KRAIG KANN: Everybody on this stage is fortunate to be a part of this announcement, to be a part of this championship and also to spend time working with great players like you. You will make this championship great for the future. Thanks for coming up here.
Back to you, Julius.
JULIUS MASON: Just a hunch, Stacy, I think you're going places, kiddo. (Laughter).
Ladies and gentlemen, it's time now for a Q&A session.
Q. Pete, can you just talk about how big it is to the PGA to now have a women's major in the fold and why it means so much now with the LPGA on the rise?
PETE BEVACQUA: Yeah, absolutely. It's critical for us to grow the game. And when we started talking about this internally with our officers and with our board, it was an easy decision.
We believe that the future of golf, a critical, beyond critical component of that, is women. And what can we do as an organization with our scope and our sphere of influence in this industry to grow the game in that regard?
And that's why the conversations with Mike and the LPGA and John were really so effortless. And I see this in many ways as an extension of conversations we've had with NBC that really started in the fall when we renewed our relationship of The Ryder Cup through 2030, so much of that time was spent speaking with Jon, speaking with Mark Lazarus, speaking with Mike McCarley and saying, that's the easy part. Now what can we do together to grow the game.
We believe in golf. We would love to grow the game. How do we get the energies of these organizations together and point them in one direction to grow the game.
And what's exciting for us, our mission is to serve our members and grow the game. We are going to have sports for our women LPGA professionals and LPGA club professionals, much like the PGA Championship. They will play into this championship, and for us, that's a critical component.
Q. Your involvement with Mickelson, with Stacy and now this event, can you talk a little bit about why golf is a good business tool for KPMG?
JOHN VEIHMEYER: Our first real introduction was through Phil, and I have to say we got a little lucky on that one. We ended up with not only one of the greatest golfers in the world, but clearly the most popular golfer on the men's tour.
Phil has been incredible in terms of helping us broaden and deepen our relationships with senior executives in the business world, and what more we got familiar with what we could do through Phil, we felt there was a big gap in our association with golf, and that was not having someone on the women's tour representing us as well.
So we made a conscious decision to form a relationship with someone. We spent some time really evaluating who we would like that to be, and with the accounting and finance major background that Stacy has didn't hurt (laugher).
And lo and behold, we end up we knew we were getting a very talented golfer. We actually didn't know we were getting someone who a year later would be No. 1 in the world.
But all of that is the icing on the cake, because the cake is the type of person that Stacy is; and the way she interacts when we put her with senior women executives from our clients and other organizations that we are trying to build relationships with. It's almost magical what happens when very successful women business leaders, who have had to overcome challenges that, frankly, I didn't have to overcome as my career was advancing.
And to get to hear Stacy's story of how she overcame scoliosis as a teenager and to rise to become the No. 1 player in women's golf, and the amount of resonance that those two stories have: A business leader who has overcome all kind of obstacles and impediments to achieve what she has achieved, listening to Stacy talk about what she had to go through to achieve what she's achieved, it's really fun to watch that happen, and it all happens around golf.
And golf, I don't care what you read or what you say, as near as I can tell, the people we are trying to get close to are as excited about golf today as they have ever been. The interest is huge.
I will tell you, when we run an event with Phil or Stacy, we are about five times over subscribed, and our biggest challenge is how do we deal with the people we can't get into the event.
So golf has been a great platform for us. Frankly, we wouldn't be part of this conversation today if it had not been for our relationship with Stacy and our introduction to Mike, in particular, at the LPGA over the last couple years, and certainly what our relationship with Phil has done in terms of meeting Pete, and actually, frankly Mike, because Phil and I have been on set at Golf Channel a few times.
So it all came together and the exciting part is we are marrying up golf, which has huge, I think, overlap with what our audience from a business standpoint; but we are also able here to do something much, much more, which is to have it tie directly into one of our strategic priorities as a firm, which is to figure out how do we continue to figure out how to advance women across all dimensions of business and other fields. So it's a home run for us.
JULIUS MASON: Well done. I feel a group hug coming on here in a second.
Q. You've weathered the storm through the years of a down economy and second guessing and all sorts of ups and downs. What do you think the key to your success has been in the last couple years with the turnaround?
COMMISSIONER WHAN: That's the easiest question you can give me, so thank you; I owe you one.
It's athletes that run the Tour. It took me a long time. You come in and you think you're the top guy and I'm going to do all this education and had all these plans of where I was going to teach the athletes the importance of corporate sponsorship, because all I've ever been is a sponsor. I don't know what it's like to be a commissioner.
But I know what it's like to write a big check and sit in front of your board and justify whether or not it actually moves the needle. I was so prepared to share my knowledge and I got schooled. I walked in and I realized, these are athletes that understand this so much better than I do. When Kraig talks about a communication team, Kraig wasn't taking ideas of a communication team. The communication team came back I remember the first meeting you had, Kraig said, "I'm going to buy seven Flip phone cameras." I didn't know what a Flip phone camera was.
I said, "Why?"
"Because the players want to videotape themselves going between events and show kind of behind the scenes of the LPGA."
Now, imagine an athlete in Major League Baseball or basketball saying: Just give me a Flip camera and I'll film myself between games. It's almost unheard of. And yet our athletes do it all the time.
I think it would floor people to realize that when athletes show up for this major in 2015, the first thing they are going to get is a two sided form that talks about what's important to KPMG; what do we have to deliver for NBC; what do we have to make sure that gets done for The PGA of America. We want our athletes to understand who is writing the check and are delivering it back. I didn't come up with that idea. That was athletes saying to me: If you want us to help, tell me how to help.
I remember, the first time I heard that, I thought, that was nice of her, that was nice of her. And then people just kept saying it, and you realize they are actually asking, how can I help.
Once we gave them that help, I mean, I have said this to Stacy when she walked in, every logo on her body is a tournament. And the reason that is, is just what John talked about, is because it's not a paycheck; it's not a sponsor. They feel they have an active role in making sure they grow the business of the people that are writing them a check.
I mean, as a commissioner I sat on a panel a couple years ago now and somebody said to me, what's the most surprising part of your job?
And I said, I thought, as a fan, commissioners would spend 80 percent of their time worrying about the lifestyle and comments of the athletes, because that's what I saw. I saw commissioners worrying about what their athletes were doing. I spend zero percent of my time worrying about what my athletes are doing or saying, and I know there's a lot of commissioners who said, did you just say that, and that's true, I don't spend my time worrying about what I have to say because the reason is if you heard Stacy when this started, I shouldn't have flown to New York because she's got it.
Really, there's a lot of people that sort of get credit for turning the LPGA around, and I'm just one of them that gets that credit. But the reality of it is, it never needed turning around. We went through an economic crisis, and the athletes led this Tour 60 years ago and they still lead it today.
Q. Could you tell us about what you're looking for in future sites, and will we see the women play some of the famed venues that the men have a played in the PGA Championship?
PETE BEVACQUA: I would tell you that it's critical from our perspective, certainly from the LPGA and LPGA players' perspective, KPMG's perspective, and quite honestly NBC and the Golf Channel, as well, who is a critical part of this formula, to really take this event to the very best golf courses in the country.
And we think we are starting that off in the perfect spot for this event at Westchester Country Club, one of the great golf courses in the country, certainly one of the great golf courses in the northeast.
And what an added bonus to kick off the Women's Leadership Summit in Westchester, right down the road from Manhattan. And this event is going to rotate. We are going to take it around the country to major markets and great golf courses. Our ultimate goal is to combine the allure of a major market with the prestige of a championship golf course. That's how we are heading into this.
Q. Having played at St. Andrews, and Pinehurst this year, what does it mean to the women to play these great venues?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I think, I've said it all along, we should be playing these great golf courses. You know, there's so many courses that are going away from the male only deal and we should go play these courses.
For us, the guys get the perfect greens every week and perfectly manicured golf courses. I mean, I would love to play on those every single week. From the player's side, we are super excited about it. And just to play a course that has history, that has tradition, is famous; that people, they say the name and everybody knows what it is. That's where we should be playing.
That's what we are going to get with this tournament.
Q. Why give up LPGA in the title of the major?
COMMISSIONER WHAN: That's a good question. I would say that in the process of evolving this major, there were two things that we struggled with. One was Rochester has been a home for almost four decades and the fans there are unbelievable.
But we have known for a while in our negotiations that Wegman's that that tournament was going to need to make an adjustment and credit to Wegman's, they gave us years to think about how to transition and it was really classy. If you can pick a perfect title sponsor, it would be somebody that would give you 40 years of commitment and when they know it's going to wind down, they give you plenty of time to make sure you transition.
When Pete and I started talking about this from the beginning, one of the things we talked about is, if the PGA Championship is going to be involved with it we want to call the PGA Championship. I did kind of a bye and high five at the same tame. He said, what was that? I said, losing the LPGA Championship is tough; but change is tough. But also adding Women's PGA Championship is prominent, its powerful and it sends a message that we are not just evolving this championship; we are elevating it.
I think if you don't either believe that or understand that, hang on for 2015, Westchester Country Club, because you are going to see what I talked about in the beginning: You're going to see elevation.
I think the name actually fits, if you will, what's going on. We are taking 60 years of history, we are certainly not throwing that away. You will see all the history and tradition of the LPGA Championship if you come or watch this on TV. We are respecting that, and you will see that throughout the venue. But the name will become slightly different and so will the championship.
I said this to Stacy when I saw her this morning: One thing that's true in golf is change is tough, it creates some anxiety, but if you're not willing to change, you're the same tour as you were in 1950, and I'm not going to be the same tour in 2017 that we were in 2014.
We are going to be bold enough to make changes that allow us to think really big. As you heard Stacy talk about, we want to be bigger and better, and to do that we are going to take some steps that give us the ability to do just that.
Q. After 38 years in Rochester, and it's been arguably your best market in community support and with a corporate sponsor. I understand that money talks and you're going to the big markets, but what about the markets you've left, maybe in the last five or six years, long standing, steady tournaments that really supported the LPGA and now Rochester goes by the board. Can you address that aspect of this?
COMMISSIONER WHAN: I apologize in advance, because I think we caught like every third word, but I think I got enough based on where you're from and your question, which is leaving a market like Rochester.
First comment I would make is, I personally am not committed to leaving Rochester. I am committed to getting back to Rochester.
I think if you look at our history and even in the sort of short term that I've been at the LPGA, we have tried hard to get back to markets we were at before, whether it's Toledo or Hawai'i or Alabama. Markets that had gone away because of sponsorship funds or whatever the issue, but getting back to where we know we have an aggressive fan base.
The reality of Rochester is, it's expensive, as John knows, to put on an event of this size. And Wegman's to their credit had given us quite a head start lead and said, we think we can do this through 2015, maybe at the outside, 2016; but if you want to think about transition and come back to us when you think you have the right transition plan which to me, if you draw me the perfect type of sponsor, that's how you handle transition and they handled it just that way.
The reality of it is, we are not running away from Rochester. We are not leaving Rochester. We knew from a financial perspective it was not feasible to stay long term in Rochester. We did shop quite a bit in terms of alternatives. But once we knew that was inevitable, we started talking about what's next which led to the conversations with Pete and then John and then Mike and Jon Miller.
And I would tell you that do I have a desire, do 190 players on the LPGA players have a desire to play in Rochester on a regular basis? Of course we do. But this was never about having the choice of, do we stay or do we go. We knew we were going to have to transition and that's a financial reality.
But I also think it's a reality to say, if you look at our history, even if it doesn't happen overnight, we tends to be committed to getting back to the markets that have been good to us. And that doesn't mean we have gotten back to all of them. I sure wish we were back at Corning and I wish we were back at Springfield, but a lot of those markets that thought we weren't coming back were wrong.
And I feel 100 percent committed to finding a way to get back to Rochester, too. It will be in a different name and potentially a different tournament, but transition is hard. And to be honest with you, I've read a few Tweets coming in. I know it's tough, and I think I would actually be disappointed if the people in Rochester weren't disappointed and I'm glad they are.
My players have texted me about how excited they are, but also, 'find us a way to get back to Rochester as soon as you can,' which is how I feel. This is a great new announcement, and I can't do anything but thank a sponsor that brought us to a market for 40 years; we have cities that call us every day and say, just come once, and you guys have a corporate hero in Wegman's that have been bringing us for four decades. Can't do anything but high five them and say thank you.
Q. In the PGA Championship, one of the things that makes it so special are the 20 guys that qualify, the PGA club professionals through the National Championship. How will the women PGA professionals qualify for this championship and how many spots will there be?
PETE BEVACQUA: It's a good question and we are working with the LPGA to do everything we can to make this look and feel as much as we can like the PGA Championship. And that includes Kerry Haigh, our Chief Championships Officer setting up the golf course; and Bob Jeffrey, who is here with us today taking an on site role with this championship. And it absolutely includes spaces for our PGA women professionals and LPGA club professionals. So we are combining an event.
We are going to play our way into eight spots through the KPMG women's PGA Championship. We are going to be announcing those details to both of our memberships, because we need to retain that component. We felt that eight is the right number. We will evaluate that number after 2015 and see if should increase it, but we feel it's a great start in the right direction. Because for us, so much of the importance and so much of the value of this championship, in addition to growing the game, is making sure our membership is a part of it.
COMMISSIONER WHAN: Can I just add, from the LPGA's perspective, on the men's side, you have 20,000 members competing for 20 spots, and on the women's side, we'll have a little over 2,000 members between our organizations competing for eight spots, and similar, and quite frankly, a little better opportunity for both of our organizations to play together; and really at the teaching club professional level and female PGA member, this is a unique opportunity for us to spend more time together to actually play together and to play in this tournament.
As you can imagine, when you think about all that's going on to grow the game for women this whole week, a lot of the messages you'll be hearing from us are the different programs and what the members are doing that are not playing inside the ropes, provide opportunities and employment for women in this great game.
Q. Can you give me a sense of, we often hear about how the ladies like to play in Rochester and the fan support there, give me a sense of maybe what that was like, but also what the course is like. You did mention playing on top level type of courses. Just the Rochester experience.
STACY LEWIS: Well, for me, Rochester for me, I've had a great experience the last few years. I've only played at Locust Hill, so Monroe will be a new adventure for us.
Rochester has been I've stayed in housing there; it's such a really, homey I guess is the best way to describe it. Everybody has their families they stay with and certain restaurants you go to. It's just one of those places we've been going to for so long; it's just really comforting and nice to go there.
So I don't think this is a good bye from Rochester. I don't see it that way at all. The last few years, as players we have heard about Wegman's kind of trailing out, so we knew this day was eventually going to come.
As players, all we have to do, at this point we have to thank Wegman's because they have kept us in Rochester a lot longer than any other sponsor that I can think of. That's what we need to do, and the end is, we are not done with Rochester. There's too many players that love that area and there's too many fans that want us to come back.
So I think we will be back, so don't write us off yet.
Q. Can you talk about how important it is to have this tournament in the New York area, particularly at Westchester?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, we really don't have many events in this area, and I probably can count the number of times on one hand that I've played in New York in a tournament.
So to be in a big market like this, especially the first year, being close to New York, where you're close to the city, with all of the media outlets, the partnership with NBC, it's a perfect place to start. I haven't played Westchester yet, so I'm excited to get there and check it out, but I've heard really great things about it.
o you know, it's just really cool for us because traditionally we have played in the smaller markets. So for us to be in a big market like this is a huge step, and it's going to have a different feel I think for all the players.
JOHN VEIHMEYER: Stacy has already promised she will win the first KPMG Women's PGA Championship (laughter).