PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem applauded Tiger Woods’ statement Friday, calling it good news for the Tour.
Finchem, speaking in a question-and-answer session with reporters, said Woods’ words were “heartfelt” and a clear sign that the world’s No. 1 golfer is focused on getting his personal life turned around.
“He clearly recognizes that there has been serious impact to a wide range of individuals and organizations,” Finchem said in a 17-minute interview session. “I thought it was particularly telling that he specifically addressed parents of children, the parents being individuals who had encouraged their children to look at him as a role model, and he specifically referenced that.
“But overall my take was that he is very focused on these issues. He’s taking the steps that he and whatever professional assistance he’s receiving suggest and that he’s committed to the course that he laid out, and I thought it was a compelling commitment statement.”
Woods talked for about 14 minutes from the clubhouse at the TPC Sawgrass, home of the PGA Tour. About 40 people were in the room, including his mother, with an untold number watching around the world as he made his public confession.
Admitting he felt he “deserved to enjoy the temptations” that came with his success, Woods said he is solely responsible for his actions. “I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior,” Woods said.
Finchem said he has received mixed reaction since Woods’ traffic accident Nov. 27 triggered shocking revelations about serial infidelity.
“There’s an anger in some quarters, but mainly there is a sense of sadness that he’s an American hero and he’s had these issues,” Finchem said. “But at the end of the day, he’s a human being. We all make mistakes. We all have made mistakes. And when we’re lucky, we learn from those mistakes and we get to be better people. And it seems to me that’s the course that he is on.”
Finchem called Woods’ statement good news because the famed golfer plans to return to the Tour and could be back this year.
Although Finchem said Woods’ absence might not have an immediate impact on the Tour, he added a prolonged leave could affect the Tour’s long-term relationship with television partners.
“He clearly has taken the first, very visible step in the road to that return,” Finchem said. “So all of that pleases us a great deal.”
Finchem said Woods had given him no indication when he might return.
“My sense is that … he will play when he’s ready and when he thinks he can compete,” Finchem said. “But he has prioritized clearly now over the last three months getting to a certain point in the issues he’s dealing with before he wants to take that step, and only he can make that decision.
“But I have no timeline in my own mind as to when that would be.”
Finchem also defended Woods’ decision not to take questions and indicated he could be subjected to “any range of questions” upon his return to golf.
“Everybody has an opinion on that, and we all want to see, particularly in this country, an individual in any circumstance be subjected to difficult scrutiny and questioning,” Finchem said. “But I think given the history of his involvement with the media, which is enormous, and the subject matter here, and where he is in dealing with his issues, and this being part obviously of the therapy that he’s receiving, I didn’t think it was inappropriate.
“And candidly, I’ll just be honest, personally, what else do we need to know at this point?”