PGA Tour Denies It Pressured Injured Tiger Woods To Enter The Players
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem Friday morning shot down a suggestion that the Tour pressured Tiger Woods to enter The Players this week despite having injuries to his knee and Achilles, saying "The idea that we would pressure him to do anything is ludicrous." Finchem added, "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" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 5/13). IMG's Mark Steinberg on Thursday said it was "absolutely inaccurate" to suggest the Tour pressured his client to enter the tournament. Sportswriter John Feinstein "ignited a mini-firestorm Thursday by declaring on Golf Channel that the PGA Tour had 'pressured' Woods to enter" The Players. Feinstein's comment "drew vehement denials" from Steinberg and PGA Tour Exec VP/Communications & Int'l Affairs Ty Votaw. Votaw said the Tour was "surprised" by Feinstein's comment, adding, "It's simply not true. He couched his opinion as a factual statement that was not based on fact. I can categorically deny that anyone was pressured to play in this tournament" (USATODAY.com, 5/12). Feinstein Friday said he spoke with Votaw via e-mail Thursday, and Votaw "categorically denies that the Tour put any pressure on Tiger Woods to play.” Feinstein: “So they say they put no pressure on him. There are players who believe that he was pressured to play." Golf Channel's Charlie Rymer said players "feel pressure to play events," and that Woods "might feel pressure even to play events, but why not? That's natural" ("Live From the Players Championship," Golf Channel, 5/13).
FEINSTEIN'S ORIGINAL COMMENTS: The reaction stems from Feinstein's comments Thursday morning following Woods' withdrawal from The Players when he said he believed the PGA Tour "called in their chit from last year when (PGA Commissioner) Tim Finchem turned the clubhouse here over to him for his Tiger-and-pony show, his first public appearance after the accident and wanted him to play here because this is a big-deal event for the Tour. I think Tiger was trying to do the right thing by being here and showing that support for the Tour.” Feinstein: "I think Tiger was trying to do the right thing by being here and showing that support for the Tour. ... His first priority should have been to say to the Tour, 'Look, I understand why you want me there. I need to make sure I'm 100 percent'" ("Live From the Players Championship," Golf Channel, 5/12).
LIFE WITHOUT WOODS: Finchem Friday said Woods being an active member of the PGA Tour "helps us a lot," but noted he is "not worried" about a potential extended absence. Finchem said, "The story now is the young players and whether Tiger's going to come back to play like he used to. Those are good stories. If he's healthy and playing, those stories will underpin a lot of interest in the sport. So he doesn't have to come back and dominate like he did. He needs to play." Finchem did say is he concerned about "where his injuries are going to go, and he doesn't know what the answer to that is, and we won't know for a while." Finchem: "But it's important because the fans want to see whether this guy can come back to the stage he was on" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 5/13).