Q. I do want to ask you a financial question because he left open the possibility of sitting out the full year since he didn't say exactly when he would be back. Have you started to think about the financial implications of that for the TOUR? You've talked in general about that, but specifically ad rates and things like that if he would sit out all four major tournaments this year.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Candidly there aren't any direct implications in the short‑term, and when I say short‑term, I mean in the next year or two. I think that the real impactor on the PGA TOUR is a longer question as it relates to overall television ratings.
As we've seen when he was out after his father's passing, when he was out with his injury in 2008, most of that season, the PGA TOUR ‑‑ as a matter of fact 2008 we had a record year financially both with respect to prize money and dollars to charity. The PGA TOUR has not been negatively impacted in any significant way.
However, he does generate a significant increase in the overall interest in the sport, no question, and he does increase significantly the number of people that watch on television. And that plays into our long‑term relationships with our television partners and the value of television rights.
Boy, that must have been painful to say.
Q. Today he was obviously very insulated, but everyone said sooner or later that's not going to be the case when he does come back. How difficult might it be for you to make sure that his escapades in the past are not the focus of the coverage and also to insulate him and I guess the TOUR?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, let me answer that in two parts. One part is in terms of the insulation. There's been a lot of discussion about the format today and his not taking questions from the press, and I think I should remind everyone that ‑‑ and I just checked this data yesterday, it's kind of interesting,
Oh yes, the Commish was on ASAPSports all day counting Tiger press conference transcripts, not letting the VP of TigerWatch handling this vital task...
he's played in 249 professional golf tournaments; he's had over 1,100 press conferences, visits to the pressroom, scrums out on the golf course during that period of time; he has done the Oprah Winfrey Show; he's done 60 Minutes. So he has had a major interface with the media. And when he returns to the game, that interface will continue. So I think the concerns in that area should just be put on hold until he comes back.
Why do I think interface will be defined as "a scrum attended by credentialed media as selected by the Tiger Writers Association of America, a group dedicated covering the life of Tiger Woods free of GWAA boycotts"?
As for the timing, Finchem is sticking to the rehab-supersedes-sponsor-needs story. Excuse me, "in patient therapy."
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, we have to do a lot of media discussion. But not significantly. Again, he's been out before. I think the focus on the issues surrounding his leaving is a distraction to the game, there's no question about it. Dealing with the fallout is a distraction. There was no good time to do what's happened today without it distracting from what we're doing on the golf course in Mexico and certainly in the World Golf Championship event, the Accenture Match Play, this week. So there are those things.
As for not taking questions today...
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think there's three pieces to that. First of all, the format of not taking questions, everybody has an opinion on that, and we all want to see, particularly in this country, an individual in any circumstance be subjected to difficult scrutiny and questioning.
And somebody asked me yesterday what we would have done. We always try to make everybody happy. That's what we do. We want to cater to the media and make sure everybody is happy.
But I think given the history of his involvement with the media, which is enormous, and the subject matter here, and where he is in dealing with his issues, and this being part obviously of the therapy that he's receiving, I didn't think it was inappropriate. And candidly, I'll just be honest, personally, what else do we need to know at this point?
Well Tim, we've been told the tabloids and even the New York Times have been issuing false reports (that magically keeps turning out to be true), so shouldn't we address those false accusations?
The second part of your question is why here. We were asked to provide our clubhouse as the site for this for several reasons: One, he wanted to communicate with a number of individuals and organizations, including the PGA TOUR directly, so that was appropriate; secondly, he's a member of the PGA TOUR. I can't imagine any player who's a member of our TOUR who asked for a press conference at any of our clubhouses around the country that we would say no to; and thirdly, I would just say that we had the logistical capability to assist to make this happen, and we were pleased to do it because we are dedicated all day long and want to be supportive to Tiger through this process.
Again, John Daly and Jim Thorpe, are you listening?