Finchem: Tour did not pressure Woods to play

Tim Finchem during The Players Championship.

Tim Finchem during The Players Championship.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Commissioner Tim Finchem had little to say as Tiger Woods limped off the course at TPC Sawgrass and to his white Mercedes-Benz. It was the second consecutive year that Woods has withdrawn from The Players Championship.

But on Friday morning in an interview on CNBC with Darren Rovell, Finchem addressed reports that he or the PGA Tour pressured Woods to play this week.

“It’s always important for Tiger to be part of the Tour, because he’s Tiger Woods, but the idea that we would pressure him to do anything is ludicrous,” Finchem said. “We don’t pressure any player to play any tournament. In this case, the suggestion is somehow he was hurt and we got him to play anyway. Tiger doesn’t enter a tournament unless he thinks he can win. I was with him on the range Tuesday; I watched him hit balls for a while. He played and practiced that day, he practiced Wednesday hard and he tweaked it yesterday. So non-issue.”

Whether the Tour pressured Woods to play may be a non-issue, but there still is the issue of what’s next for the Tour.

At the beginning of 2011, Finchem seemed to realize that a large number of successful players on the PGA Tour are younger than 30. Finchem and his staff have made a considerable effort to promote those players.

“We had a significant uptick in the interest and enthusiasm about young players and their performances in ’10,” Finchem said to the media at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January. “Which led us to conclude that we really ought to focus a lot of energy on that, which we are doing this year. That’s a very positive thing, I think, if that continues.”

Finchem continued that mantra during his interview with Rovell on Friday.

“Over the last year and a half that he (Tiger Woods) hasn’t played that well, it’s opened up the gates for a lot of young players to get some exposure,” Finchem said. “And candidly, when we see our ratings up across the board, people are interested to see Bubble Watson, and they got excited about Lucas Glover last week and Nick Watney at the top of the leaderboard this week, so these guys are getting known and becoming stars and for the long term, that’s very important, as well.”

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