Highlights from PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem's year-end teleconference with national and international media on Thursday:
On whether what is known about Tiger Woods' conduct off the course rises to the level of conduct unbecoming a professional, and therefore subject to disciplinary action: "Historically, the PGA Tour has never to my knowledge taken a situation in someone's personal life and dealt with it from a disciplinary matter or considered it conduct unbecoming as it relates to our regulations. Our regulations relate to conduct unbecoming that's either in the public arena or law enforcement arena."
On Woods' association with Dr. Anthony Galea, who treated him with what is called platelet-rich plasma therapy (to speed healing from his knee surgery), is under investigation in the U.S., according to this New York Times story, for allegedly supplying athletes with performance-enhancing drugs, and has acknowledged his own use of human growth hormone (HGH), a substance banned by the PGA Tour: "The only thing we know is our anti-doping people looked at it (the platelet therapy) and there is nothing about that procedure that would trigger anything in our anti-doping policy. There are a lot of doctors linked to HGH, but there's no reason for me to be concerned, no information to trigger a concern."
On the impact Woods will or won't have on golf going forward: "Step back and look at last 13 years. Tiger Woods has been an incredibly positive asset and impacter for the PGA Tour. He's been good for the game of golf, and I think the PGA Tour and the game of golf have been good for Tiger. We anticipate that the mutually beneficial relationship will continue when (the time) is right."
On the "doom and gloom" scenario many have predicted for the PGA Tour in the wake of the Woods' revelations and his hiatus from the game: "Some pundits will say Tim's trying to spin this and spin that, but facts are facts. I just want to mention two or three things. I've been answering questions about...tournaments Tiger doesn't play for 13 years. Tiger plays about 16 [tournaments, on a tour with 47 events]. How'd the other tournaments make it? The reason is there's real value to sponosrship, to television and there's a tremendous charitable commitment. If you consider that the top six charitable generators, the top six tournaments, Tiger hasn't played in...most in the last five years, yet they're generating millions and millions of dollars to charity, because they sell."
On whether the controversy will have an impact economically for the PGA Tour: "We've written a ton of business in the last two weeks. I don't see corporate America backing away from golf over Tiger's issues. At the end of the day, after all the media scrutiny, if he can successfully deal with all those issues and come back and play golf, that's a positive thing."
On finding new sponsors and renewing existing sponsorship agreements in a difficult economy: "At the end of October, we had already concluded seven major pieces of business, including an Accenture extension (as the sponsor of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship) through 2014, Zurich in New Orleans (the Zurich Classic) through '14, Bridgestone (the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational) through '14, Travelers (Travelers Championship) through '14." Finchem further noted that BMW has agreed to continue to sponsor the BMW Championship through 2014. "If you'd asked me in January where we'd come out at the end of the year, I would not have anticipated that level of commitment," he said.
-- John Strege