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 the 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 get 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.