Finchem says he should have briefed players

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem took the blame Sunday for not

alerting his players about why Tiger Woods chose to make his first

public appearance during the Match Play Championship.

Players had to field several questions about Woods upon

finishing their matches in the opening round Wednesday, when it was

announced that Woods was to speak publicly Friday for the first

time since the Nov. 27 car accident that revealed rampant

affairs.

Most troubling to some players – Ernie Els in particular – was

the perception that Woods was getting back at Accenture, the title

sponsor at Match Play and the first company to drop Woods over the

sex scandal.

Finchem, who allowed Woods to use the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse at

PGA Tour headquarters for the nationally televised event, knew that

Woods was on a break from therapy and was to return on

Saturday.

“In hindsight, we should have pushed the thing along in a way

to got the players briefed before they went into their Wednesday

matches, some so they’re not coming out of a match and getting hit

with all these Tiger questions,” Finchem said. “We just screwed

up on that. That’s just a screw-up on my part.

“You can never communicate too much in this business, and when

you don’t, you usually pay a price. And that was a good

example.”

Els was among the most outspoken when he learned of Woods’ plans

to speak.

“It’s selfish,” he told Golfweek magazine. “You can write

that. I feel sorry for the sponsor. Mondays are a good day to make

statements, not Friday. This takes a lot away from the golf

tournament.”

Finchem said he since has spoken to Els, who lost in the second

round of the tournament.

“Once he understood the options available to us, and what we

were looking at it … I did say to him, ‘The mistake here, given

all the elements, was not getting you guys briefed.’ I take

responsibility for that. That’s my job,” Finchem said.

Woods never said specifically what therapy he was receiving or

where, although a photo that appeared to be Woods was taken last

month outside an addiction clinic in Mississippi.

He said in his 13 1/2-minute statement Friday that he had been

in therapy “receiving guidance for the issues I’m facing,” and

that he was returning Saturday. Woods did not say how much longer

he would be there.

Finchem repeated Sunday that Woods has not been suspended; there

have been questions whether Woods’ infidelity and the publicity it

generated would be considered conduct unbecoming a professional.

Finchem said Woods was free to return whenever he wanted.

But the commissioner had no idea when that would be.

“On the competitive side, we all know he’s not going to tee it

up until he feels like he can win the golf tournament,” Finchem

said.