"This is not Tiger’s issue, but a Tour management flaw."

That inevitable commentary you've been waiting for that analyzes the strange relationship between Tiger and the PGA Tour?

Naturally, just as she did with the technology issue, you finally get to read about it in provocative and fresh fashion from the New York Times' Selena Roberts.

Either way, Tiger is in charge. How do you please the host with the most? No event is cheap. As it is, the Tour donates about $240,000, according to tax documents, to Tiger’s Target World Challenge, an unofficial event. To co-sanction official Tour stops, PGA officials supplement the purses. The AT&T National and Deutsche Bank could run the PGA about $8 million this year, according to industry experts.

The payoff for Tiger is tucked in the pocket of his charity. Last year, his foundation received an estimated $1.5 million from the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Is there a money trail to Tiger’s heart? What’s wrong with buying Tiger’s affection, anyway?

It contradicts every tenet of golf’s righteous culture of integrity. “This is golf,” Finchem said repeatedly during an interview last week, as if the sport’s virtue inoculates it from scrutiny.

The PGA Tour doesn’t drug-test, because that would imply a steroid problem exists. Who knew willful ignorance was a marketing strategy? The Tour applies this see-no-evil approach to glaring conflicts of interest, too.

Whoa. Roberts didn't get the memo that you are no one in golf unless you have a conflict of interest!

More tough stuff...

Tiger has played only five events in four months. This weekend’s Byron Nelson is not among them. For years, Tiger played out of deference to Nelson. Now Nelson is dead and Woods is a no-show.

Woods is a schedule recluse, the J. D. Salinger of golf.

It's okay Damon Hack, Tiger'll talk to you again sometime this century! When you've won your Pulitzer, retired from the Times and write lucrative books!

As disturbed as Roberts is by Tiger's selective schedule, it's the PGA Tour she blames.
Now Woods is a Beltway power broker. He already legislates to the PGA.

“It’s only leverage if you use it as leverage,” Finchem said, adding, “I don’t have a concern about that.”

And Tim it's only murder if you kill someone!

But Tiger does exploit his sway, if passive-aggressively. Other voices are ignored on issues, but a suggestion by Tiger is processed as a demand. In 2000, Tiger complained that the Tour was taking financial advantage of him, that Finchem ignored him. Voilà, Finchem and Woods met and love was in the air.

Tiger wanted a shortened season. Tiger received a FedEx Cup race that ends in September. Tiger wanted a tournament like Jack’s. Tiger received the D.C. gala, which was delivered, as desired, with a reduced field of 120 to enhance its prestige, and, as Woods mentioned, to speed up play.

Don't forget driver testing.

Wasn’t Tiger supposed to bring inclusion to the game? Instead, the Tour is more polarized than ever, between the haves and the have-nots. Several tournament officials say privately that they are tempted to barter for Tiger with a donation, but others refuse to abandon their community aid.

“You have to ask, how long is Tiger going to be out there?” said Dave Kaplan, the tournament director for the AT&T Classic in Duluth, Ga. “Is it till he’s 50 or 35? Who knows? If he catches Jack Nicklaus, does he say, ‘That’s it’? And you’d hate to think it, but Tiger, like anyone, could get hurt tomorrow. Stuff happens.”

Stuff makes it a lateral hazard for the Tour to wrap itself in one player. The Tiger Boom could vanish as quickly as the dot-com high. Sports wither all the time, from American pro soccer after Pelé, to boxing after corruption, to a National Hockey League with a puny television deal.

For the Tour to empower Tiger above all is to create a petri dish for an abuse of fame, to lose the ability to tell its rock star no, to sanction its own tumble from virtue.

This is not Tiger’s issue, but a Tour management flaw. What is best for Tiger is not necessarily a 2-foot gimme for those below. It was, after all, a tiny turtle squeezed beneath the pond king that, with a wiggle, toppled Yertle.