Tim Finchem talks more Tiger Woods

May, 15, 2011

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem reiterated Sunday that he in no way pressured Tiger Woods to compete in the Players Championship and that he has since contacted the injured golfer to wish him a speedy recovery.

Finchem met with reporters before the final round of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass to discuss a variety of topics, but Woods was at the top of the list.

The former No. 1 player in the world withdrew from the tour's signature event Thursday after just nine holes and 42 strokes, citing knee and Achilles problems that had kept him out since the Masters.

When Woods acknowledged that he did not begin practicing until Monday and that his two nine-hole practice sessions before the tournament were his only time on a golf course since shooting 67 during the final round at Augusta National on April 10, it seemed to some that he was playing as a favor. In the past, Woods would have almost never shown up to a tournament with so little preparation.

That led to speculation that perhaps the PGA Tour and specifically Finchem applied some pressure to get him to play in the $9.5 million tournament.

The suggestion seemed to annoy Finchem during a CNBC interview on Friday and again when it was brought up Sunday.

"I don't twist players' arms and as far as Tiger being hurt, that's a decision he has to make, and I had no information that he wasn't ready to play golf,'' Finchem said. "I don't think anybody did. I don't think he did. I was on the range with him for a half an hour on Tuesday. He was hitting it really well. He went and played nine holes and didn't have a problem. He played the next day, he didn't have a problem. He stayed on the range that day, he didn't have a problem.

"So it's all nonsense as far as I'm concerned.''

Finchem said he has not heard from Woods, and it is unclear what course of action is necessary for the injuries to heal and for him to get back to playing golf.

Woods has started just six tournaments this year on the PGA Tour and including a European Tour event in Dubai, he has played just 20 rounds in stroke play events. (Woods was knocked out after just one round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play.)

Finchem does not deny that he hopes Woods returns to form, but insists that his absence from the top of leaderboards -- he is going on 20 months without a win on the PGA Tour -- has had a benefit to the game in terms of other players getting attention.

Woods has 71 PGA Tour victories and is going on three years since his last major win at the 2008 U.S. Open.

"I want to see him come back and win,'' Finchem said. "I want him to win all the records, and I don't have any reason to believe he won't do that. There's nothing that tells me he won't do that, medical things aside.

"But it's also good for the long-term health of the tour to have exposure on these other guys, and we just need to take advantage of that.''

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.

Bob Harig | email

ESPN Senior Writer




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