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Finchem stands up for Woods

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Iain Carter | 22:15 UK time, Thursday, 17 December 2009

At last, someone in authority has been prepared to take questions pertaining to Tiger's troubles. Silence has been broken and golf has a voice.

It is a shame it is a monotone, but you can't have everything, and this is Tim Finchem, the PGA Tour's Commissioner, we are talking about.

Predictably, the answers weren't exactly dynamite and most could have been anticipated ahead of his traditional year-end teleconference, one that surely attracted a record numbers of listeners.

Finchem managed to deliver a rare dose of good news to the beleaguered Tiger Woods, perhaps the first that's gone the way of the world number one since his family life imploded three weeks ago.

Woods may have suffered a fall from grace unparalleled in the history of golf, but his behaviour has not been deemed "unbecoming" by those who run the Tour he has dominated for more than a decade.

And who can blame Finchem from taking this view. As he acknowledged, the Tour and Tiger need each other. Furthermore, Finchem's smooth legalese found a skilful form of words to exonerate the man who remains his most important player.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem poses with Tiger Woods after his win in the Bridgestone InvitationalPGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem poses with Tiger Woods after his win in the Bridgestone Invitational

"The PGA Tour has never, to my knowledge in our history, taken a situation in someone's personal life and dealt with it from a disciplinary matter or considered it conduct unbecoming as it relates to our regulations," Finchem said.

"Our regulations relate to conduct unbecoming that's either in the public arena or law enforcement arena."

Many will support Finchem's view that this is a domestic situation that is no business of those who provide the means to Woods' day job.

Others will wonder how behaving in a way that has led the world's best player to be the subject of a barrage of lurid tabloid headlines is anything other than "unbecoming".

Pay your money and take your choice. More curious was the way Finchem dismissed any worries over Woods' apparent association with a doctor who admits to using human growth hormone and who is under investigation by the FBI.

"The only thing we know is that there was a procedure reported. I haven't been directly involved in it, but our anti-doping people have looked at it and they've concluded that there's nothing about that procedure that would trigger any violation of our anti-doping policy," Finchem said.

The procedure concerned is the perfectly legal platelet-rich plasma therapy which means taking blood, subjecting it to a spinning technique and then re-injecting it into the affected part of the body. "There's no reason for me to be concerned because I have no information to trigger concern," Finchem added.

The first bit is understandable, the second less so - and here's why. There is no evidence of Woods misusing treatments and potentially dodgy substances, but there is a link between him and someone who is under investigation for such practice - and that surely prompts "concern".

This has set off another frenzy of rumour and speculation, and Woods finds himself at the centre of it. His marriage falls apart, he admits infidelity and all of a sudden it's open season. Before he knows it, he's being labelled a potential drug cheat. And all because that bothersome knee is giving him more jip (and that's the real story by the way).

Shouldn't there be sufficient concern to have this properly looked into? Shouldn't the Tour, the one that administers anti-doping, be making a thorough check on this situation so that Woods can be properly exonerated? He would have nothing to fear, after all.

This is Finchem's theory on why there is no need for any concern. "The reason for that is we spent a year reaching out to players, working with them on understanding the details of our anti-doping policy, the elements of that policy and we got back virtually 100% support for those policies, including Tiger.

"So they've taken it very seriously... I have no reason to have concern with respect to him and a doctor that's used HGH (human growth hormone) with whatever patients for whom it's not an illegal drug."

HGH can be used legally but breaches the Wada code on anti-doping. How would this response go down in other sports? Golf shouldn't view itself any differently if it has the need for an anti-doping programme.

There is a perception that Woods' celebrity status helped him with the Florida State Attorney in the aftermath of the crash that set off the chain of events that have left the golfer at this low ebb.

Such a view of preferential treatment doesn't do anyone any favours, especially with an image to rebuild, and Finchem's comments, which sweep the matter under the carpet, smack of him misguidedly "giving the kid a break", as Woods' manager Mark Steinberg might say.

To be fair to Finchem, he otherwise did a good job of trying to diffuse the crisis that surrounds Woods and the potential knock-on effects for golf. He was robust in his view that the game can still prosper in the indefinite absence of its biggest name.

A passenger walks past an Accenture advertisement featuring Tiger Woods at San Francisco International AirportWoods has been dropped by Accenture

Naturally, you wouldn't expect any other view, and it was also no surprise that he emphasised that Accenture, the highest profile company to ditch Woods, has recently extended its commitment to the WGC Matchplay until 2014.

As for the player himself, well, it's reported not even his celebrity friend Charles Barkley can contact him at the moment and he remains in hiding.

Guardian golf blogger Lawrence Donegan has brilliantly compiled the 27 things we have learned in this extraordinary time since the car crash on 27 November and No 27 sums up Woods' situation perfectly. "Fame, wealth, endless supplies of free golf clubs - you might think you have everything but, trust me, you don't."

Tim Finchem is still your mate, though.


  • Comment number 1.

    One thing is very apparent to me, and that is the Tiger Woods story just won't go away. If he never comes back to play again, he will become an even bigger legend than he already is.

  • Comment number 2.

    If he never comes back to play again?? are you serious, lorus? ok, this has gone a litttle bit too far i think. OF COURSE he will be back to break nicklaus' records and firmly establish himself as he best golfer ever. this is getting ridic w/ all this talk. it's like it's open season on tiger b/c of infedelity. despite the family tour image projected around the world this IS profi sport. there are groupies at every stop. do you think it much different for these guys than footballers or american basketball players? is magic johnson less of a great champion b/c of his personal life outside of his marraige? michael jordon? rock stars? is paul mcartney a bad guy b/c maybe he hooked up w/ a groupie or 2 or 20 in his music career. would that make him a bad person subject to ridicule for that kind of personal mistake? is sir paul less marketable now? so sick of the moral high horse. this is life and things happen, but it WON"T stop tiger and we should leave this be. and ian i think it is iresponsible for you as well to fuel the fire? using the words potential drug cheat- c'mon that is awful of you. last week you are on the beeb talking about "wait and see what comes out..." what happened? has tiger failed a doping test? do i need to have MY head examined? how did i miss that? we ARE in the same biz, ian, and i say to you- tread carefully, colleague, or you may never get that personal locked in focused answer to your questions ever again. you think someone as bright as tiger won't remember what people say??

  • Comment number 3.

    Woods 'in hiding'!! Wow', what a conclusion. Woods doesn't give a rat's back side about journalists and that is why he is not giving out any info to them. Knowing this, all these gutter journalists are ganging up on him. If you Mr. Carter think that your type can have any impact on a man like Tiger, you are badly mistaken.

  • Comment number 4.

    Can everybody please let the man take care of his PERSONAL life? The golfing world should be anxious for the return of such a great player. What he does in his personal life is up to him.

    I hope he makes a quick return to the tour and with great success to shut up everybody who were ready to give the man an even harder time. I hope he will increase the prize the sponsors need to pay to use his name again in their promotions. Also they were quick to judge him.

    Come on Tiger! All the best of luck!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    of all the doctors to use, tiger goes and uses one of a million doctors, one under investigation by the FBI???

    If his behavour is of no concern to the pga CAN SOME ONE TELL ME WHY JOHN DALY GOT SUSPENDED??


  • Comment number 6.

    Re: Bart Kroesen,
    "Come on Tiger! All the best of luck!!!"... In what way does Tiger need more luck. First sportsman worth a billion dollars, the greatest golfer the world has ever seen, athalete of the decade, a beautiful family, good sponsors, countless adoring fans. Oh wait, he had a string of disgusting affairs behind his new wifes back, and in the home of his infant child. Maybe he should have had more luck in getting away with it!

    Forget the media frenzy and the way he's now being (perhaps unfairly) scrutinised. The man clearly doesn't deserve any sort of good fortune.

    Good luck to Erin and the divorce lawyers I say!!!

  • Comment number 7.


    Woods is not responsible for the tabloids. or for peoples interest in celebrities' private lives.

    give it a rest.

    I hope to see Woods back playing soon.

  • Comment number 8.

    " Others will wonder how behaving in a way that has led the world's best player to be the subject of a barrage of lurid tabloid headlines is anything other than "unbecoming"."

    I wonder how behaving in ANY way has led the world's best player to be the subject of a barrage of lurid BBC blogs. I don't think any of this is our business and I would appreciate it not being shoved in my face everytime I go online thank you very much.

  • Comment number 9.

    Mr Carter please stop using this poor headline grabbing phrase "Woods may have suffered a fall from grace unparalleled in the history of golf" Has he? According to the rankings he is still No1. In fact during his previous lay off he remained No1. That says something. What is worse in golf. Cheating (score card alterting a la monty your buddy) or bedding a few birdies.

    As for your ramblings about Tiger's association with a certain Doctor that is tabliod journalism if ever I read it. Another poor article by a poor journalist.

  • Comment number 10.

    All journalists (excluding Mr. Carter of course) can take a hike!! Tim Finchem is spot on and his statement was designed to appease his number 1 attraction and also the sport’s sponsors. I say to all the sanctimonious Tiger bashers out there to keep adding fuel to his fire; hopefully we’ll soon witness the 3rd coming. And were he not to come back, history will still be kind to him even if those who love watching "The top 100 shocking stories ever in sports” or whatever they’ll want to call it, may never want to forget. Sure golf will live on long after Tiger, but without him it can never be the same or better. His off green antics has done even more to boost the profile of the game than anything he’s achieved on the greens and proves that it's not only Formula 1, Boxing or Football that does glamour, sex, rock and roll. Personally, I couldn't give a French Connection UK what Tiger does in his spare time and he should be commended for achieving all he has done on the greens even with such distractions…. imagine what he’d have achieved if he hadn’t. I don’t know anyone who’s ever bought a razor or watch under the pretext that Tiger’s face is on the advert, but if those products have helped him in anyway with regards to the dalliances he alleged to have had then I’ll definitely be rewriting my Xmas wish list this year. Remember, anyone seeking role models for themselves or their offspring should look to religion or their own parents for that rather than a capitalist inspired vision. The only time I’ve wanted to be Tiger Woods is when I play golf or at my forthcoming Xmas/New Year's eve party!!

  • Comment number 11.

    Bet Kelly Tilghman and Fuzzy Zoeller are having a good ol' chuckle at all this. Tiger left them swingin' in the wind when he could have spoken out. And Finchem finally goes some way to demonstrating that no-one is bigger than the PGA Tour.

    Not just Mrs. 'let's renegotiate the pre-nup if i'm staying' who is going to expect more from Tiger in the future.

    And no, not Tiger bashing. Think the guy can beat and deserves to beat Jack's record. If anything, morality put to the side for a second, it actually makes Tiger a bit more interesting!!!! He's right up there with Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney in the 'i have nothing of significance to say' school of sports PR.

  • Comment number 12.

    The five premium US TV sports (Basketball, Baseball, Grid Iron, Ice Hockey and Golf) have been under suspicion for interesting legislation regarding monitoring of performance enhancing treatments and supplements. Side effects suffered by those athletes 'illegally' enhancing their performance, can include rash, uncharacteristic decision making which may explain recent stories and scandals surrounding numerous stars in cash rich US sports. While no-one is suggesting that particular sports stars' recent actions are linked to unsporting practice, it is in the interest of the large sports governing bodies to protect their interests.. You don't send a naughty child up to their room if people have paid to come see them!

  • Comment number 13.

    If Woods was renamed Fulvio and his sport was cycling the association with the doctor under investigation by the FBI might cost him his job, result in a ban or make him unemployable - if he is super clean then he'd not have anything to worry about from an investigation to clear things up.

  • Comment number 14.

    With all due respect this seems like a rather naive blog. To bring up that Tiger may have received preferential treatment by the Florida State Attorney due to his fame seems alas unfortunately naive. Afterall a brief mid noughties bout of fame for the band Good Charlotte sung about the benefits of having a certain Johnny Cochraine as your legal representation. The same character being portrayed in several cartoons highlighting his representation of seemingly guilty stars (OJ, Michael Jackson) and seeing them walk away scot free. Tiger isn't the first celeb to get preferential treatment and wont be the last.

    I do hope, for the sake of golf, for the sake of all Tiger's (ex)fans that he isnt found to be a drugs cheat as well. As a one time admirer I have been shocked by recent revelations and they have eroded much of my faith in Tiger and questioned my support of him almost beyond repair, the only thing that could make things worse now were if he was found to be a drugs cheat.

  • Comment number 15.

    The drugs claim is a complete non story. Does WADA allow the use of methadone, adrenaline, cannabis...I'm sure you would have a really hard time finding any athlete in any sport who's doctor does not provide any of these substances a few of their other patients. Should they all then be investigated?

    As many have already said, Woods is not the most perfect human being (who is), but the reason I watch, and will continue to watch Tiger is because I appreciate the stunning display of golfing skills he has.

    I have 2 young sons and they love Tiger Woods, they don't read the news, they don't have any insight into his lifestyle, but they love him because of his golf. I agree with PremLyfe, if you are looking for a role model then look to someone you fully know and understand.

    That is all.

  • Comment number 16.

    He screwed up YES, but everyone makes mistakes. Lets just remember he cheated on his smoking hot wife, but he never killed anyone!

  • Comment number 17.

    This blog has very seriously turned into a judgmental version of tmz, very poor show BBC.

    Slipping into outright rumour-mongering and horribly snide little pieces like this. Like has been said already, another very poor article from a very poor journalist.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hammett96 you make many valid points aobut role models and being perfect. However if you have paninstakingly built a reputation for being squeaky clean in order to have a portfolio of global corporations that pay you for that image so that they can sell their products then you'd better make sure the myth and the reality matchup. If not then you leave everything open to question and potential ridicule - hence the current circus.

    On the point about potential drug-abuse for performance gain - I don't think you can simply dismiss it, but it'd be an easy one to investigate and clear up, so why not do so rather than leave things open to question? Why not be totally transparent if there is nothing to worry about? Sweeping it under the carpet does Woods and Golf no favours.

  • Comment number 19.

    Concern = Journalist muck raking

    How desperate for a Woods story were you to bring up the doctor thing?

    Spinning blood is now allowed either? Taking blood out and putting back in is doping? Whether it's spun or half a pint for today's mountain stage.

    However without evidence and given the sport no wonder the authorities are not anxious to turn over rocks.

  • Comment number 20.

    Look Iain Carter! I am not sure what you think your doing by writing this dross. The man is the absolute best there has ever been. He has won everything in the game and has taken the level of professionalism up several notches. The aside of all that is he has become an ambassador for the game. He has had sponsors flock to him and pay huge sums to be associated with him and all because he is the world best golfer. His perfect lifestyle has been of benefit to him and his sponsors but that’s not why I want to watch him on TV.

    You continue to drag the dirty laundry of this fantastic player into the public domain on what I though was a BBC blog not some weekly celeb spam magazine!

    Blog about golf or go somewhere else and “report” this rubbish.

    More than expect this to be moderated but someone must say it!

  • Comment number 21.

    Good article, Iain.

    In your spare time are you a lookalike for Quentin Tarantino by any chance? Spitting image mate.

  • Comment number 22.

    My statement "if he never plays again" is still a possibility. In my opinion he should have gotten back on the horse as soon as possible. The longer he stays away, the greater the pressure will be on him when he does come back. If he thinks this will affect his normal focus, which is one of his greatest strengths, then maybe he won't think it's worth coming back to fail.

  • Comment number 23.

    Mr Carter just can't help himself. Did Tiger Woods cheat on you? I have come to the conclusion that your disdain and dislike for Tiger is unparalleled.
    FACT- The guy messed up, admitted it and is trying to work things out with the person he exchanged vows with. Why can't you gutter journalists let it be?
    Did he commit murder? Let's get some perspective here!

    There has only ever been one perfect person who walked this earth.

    Tiger will recover from this and will return a better person.

  • Comment number 24.

    'Unbecoming' Mr Carter. Now lets face it. If a C Mongomerie could have achieved such feats with females and get noticed, people may be impressed.
    As it is a Tiger and you don't belong in the same sentence.

  • Comment number 25.

    Don't understand how Iain Carter gets criticised for writing this. That's his job, and he's paid to add perspective. In light of the events of the past three weeks it's pretty neutral.

    Doug Barron's legal team must be enjoying all this however, with so many medical variances out there on Tour, but one person victimized, this is likely to be another dominant story in 2010, regardless of whether there's any fire to go with the Galea smoke.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    Was this blog not more of a criticism of the pga's hazy drug policy and it's commissioner? Hardly another attempt at dragging "the dirty laundry of this fantastic player into the public domain".

  • Comment number 28.

    I really wonder how many bloggers or staff in bbc and as well other media are/were virgin when they married?Cheating on wife. Don't the media staffs take paracetamol when they have fever? My lawyer takes bribes. Doesn't mean i take too.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    I can't wait until Tiger sorts himself out. I think the press are in for the Tiger wrath. I think/hope they have bitten off more than they can chew. Tiger isn't stupid unlike a lot of the other celebs they ridicule. For the sake of privacy I hope Tiger throws all his million dollar lawyers at every tabloid which degraded him and sues them for millions, which would also help pay his divorce settlement if this occurs. The press are having an easy ride at the moment and many of them don't realise the capabilities of the man they are dealing with. I don't expect to see another press conference or interview from Tiger if he returns to golf, which I have my fingers firmly crossed for.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    Speaking as a NEUTRAL in all this media circus and defenders / attackers of Tigers character etc etc all that is obvious to me is that ;
    Do I want to See him play again? - Yes
    Should his sponsors have left him? - Yes
    Does it matter to him now? - No
    Is he a dishonest person? - probably but do we really care outside the golf arena it's his business what he does in his private time (millions do the same I'm sure - how many divorces a year???).
    Is it sad that this has happened? - Yes
    Who do we feel sorry for? - Elin & Family

    As they say todays news it tomorrows chip paper...all this will be forgotten in years to come, Tiger should stand up and show the would be a shame if he did not play again but life goes on...

  • Comment number 33.

    The whole thing about this is that the PGA is scared to death of upsetting their golden child. It is a sad state of "affairs" when the PGA has lost control and when it is obvious Tiger Woods has brought the game into disrepute and goes unpunished and the likes of Daly are the soft option to suspend.

  • Comment number 34.

    Come on Tiger , six months off then show everyone why we stupidly came to care about every aspect of your life , BECAUSE YOUR A RUDDY AWESOME GOLFER !!!!

    Yes , it was foolish and yes you will lose sponsors who buy in to the whole package that is Tiger. But there is absolutly no reason why he should be punished by the golfing authorities for having an affair(s) any more than the next golfer just because he sells papers. It is his life and he has paid the price...

  • Comment number 35.

    NOW! Im 16 and Without tiger Woods i Wouldnt even Played Golf he is a Ledgend and just because hes Done Something Wrong Dont Mean Anything No Ones Perfect this Happens Everywere Remeber And Tiger Will Not Give up Golf He Will Be known as the Greastest Golfer to Ever Walk the Earth and People who thinks he a idiot For what hes Done Then Grow up and Move on he will always be My Hero until Im Dead


  • Comment number 36.

    About the drugs thingy, arn't the doctors who usually get dragged into these problems usually one which are at the very top of the sports science pyramid ? Just because Tiger worked with the guy doesnt mean he is a cheat. The usual proceedure should be followed , no more, no less.

  • Comment number 37.

    Tiger woods is the biggest sport icon in the world today. Why can't everyone get over all this and let the man go back to dominating his sport!

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    I don't think anybody has prevented Woods from coming back to play golf. His exile is entirely self-imposed and he has probably hidden himself from the public gaze lest he be photographed with the imprint of a Titleist 7 iron on his forehead. He will probably emerge from under the slimy rock under which he crawled after his self-made perfect image was shown to be the manufactured illusion that it is. The biggest bonus that Eldrick's exile has given us is that we no longer have to watch the antics of his obnoxious 'New Zealand's highest paid sports star' caddie. Since when has carrying a bag been a sport, Stevie???


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