KAPALUA, Hawaii – The first event of the PGA Tour season in Hawaii is usually a relaxing and optimistic occasion. That's typically reflected in commissioner Tim Finchem's annual State of the Tour Address in the Kapalua press room. On Tuesday, it was a battle for the commissioner to maintain any feeling of relaxation based on the line of questioning from several of the game’s most intrepid reporters.
Finchem made it clear in his opening comments that he was not interested in revisiting the Tiger Woods drama that he addressed worldwide just a few weeks ago. But once the pleasantries were exchanged in the form of the traditional tournament related topics, the interrogation inevitably commenced.
Have you spoken to Tiger? Was the Tour involved in any way in the decision for Tiger to step down as host of the AT&T National? Is sponsorship suffering because of the uncertainty of when the game's top player will return?
Finchem did his best with all of his responses, although at times he was curt and stern. He reiterated that many sponsorships would be renewed, prize money and charitable dollars would be up in 2010 and the Tour would continue to respect Woods' request for privacy. But this wasn't enough for detail hungry reporters.
One particularly heated exchange revolved around the topic of steroids and Dr. Anthony Galea (the doctor who treated Tiger Woods during his recovery from knee surgery). While the commissioner stood by his decision not to probe the medical history of his top player, he came under fire for 'having his head in the sand.'
It is a tough time, but Finchem wants the world to know the PGA Tour has survived and thrived without the presence of Woods and it will continue to do so. While the game misses and greatly anticipates the return of its No. 1 player, business is not suffering in the short term.
In an interview with Finchem afterward (that will air Thursday on Golf Central between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. ET) we discuss numerous issues including the fallout of AT&T and Accenture severing ties with Woods. They have sponsored high profile events on the PGA Tour for years. Are these relationships now in jeopardy?
Following a turbulent offseason, the 2010 season has finally arrived but the questions from 2009 continue to linger.