Finchem gets worked up early

January 05, 2010

KAPALUA, Hawaii -- PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem decided to host a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort before heading back to the U.S. mainland. He might be wishing he'd have skipped his own appointment.

Finchem was asked a series of pointed questions ranging from Tiger Woods (of course), to the tour schedule, to more Woods (naturally), to the future of this week's SBS Championship, to the political climate in Washington, and then back to you-know-who for good measure.

It was a difficult press conference, and to his credit, he didn't shy away from an interrogation-like glare, and he willingly took more questions after a media official tried to adjourn the proceedings.

But at one juncture he was clearly agitated. More accurately, he was ticked, and this reporter, who has covered golf since 1986, had never seen that in the commissioner. Andrew Both of the Australian Associated Press got under his skin with questions about Woods and his association with Dr. Tony Galea, who reportedly assisted Woods' recuperation after reconstructive knee surgery, but who since has come under scrutiny for alleged links to athletes and the use of HGH (human growth hormone), a banned substance.

ANDREW BOTH:    You were asked about Tiger's relationship with Dr. Tony Galea (in a Dec. 17 teleconference). You said you had no concerns, that comment was?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  No, what I said was that I was not involved in evaluating it myself.  That our antiâ¿¿doping team, which includes internal people and external people, had reviewed the procedure that was given to Tiger in media reports, and they had no concerns that that procedure violated our antiâ¿¿doping policies.  That's what I said.

BOTH:    You also said, according to the transcript, I have no reason to have any concern.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  Because of that report, I had no reason.

BOTH:  That comment was widely panned by a number of doping experts including the head of WADA (Dr. Gary Wadler of the World Anti-Doping Agency), who accused you of having your head in the sand?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  Was he talking about the procedure or the possibility of using HGH?  I had no report that they said anything about me having my head in the sand.

BOTH:  Well he said, I quote, unquote, 'as a doping expert, when I hear in the same question, blood spinning HGH and activision, I tend to straighten up and have a better look, at least you look into it?'

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  I appreciate his advice. I will stand by the response I gave during the press conference (in December).  I had no reason to be concerned about the procedure that was reported. I'm not so sure that that's inconsistent with what he said.  I'm not suggesting it is, but I will stand by my response.  Do you have another question?

BOTH:   You don't think maybe you could have phrased it differently?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  I'm not going to play word games with you.  I answered your question.  If you have another question I will try to answer that one.

BOTH:   That's all I have on that.

--Dave Shedloski