Commissioner Tim Finchem said Thursday that he doesn't expect the Tiger Woods sex scandal to have a deleterious effect on the PGA Tour, that he expects Woods to return but doesn't know when, and he doesn't think Woods' behavior falls under the Tour's disciplinary umbrella.
Finchem's traditional year-end teleconference took on an edge Thursday with considerable questioning about Woods' personal problems and what their effect may be on the game. While saying that Woods' problems - which have caused him to take an indefinite leave from the game - can't be a good thing, he was resolute that the "gloom and doom" predicted to beset the Tour isn't justified.
"I know some pundits will try to say Tim is trying to spin this and spin that, but facts are facts," Finchem said. "I've been answering the question about what we do with the tournaments Tiger doesn't play for 13 years. How is it that the Tour has 46, 47 events, Tiger plays in 16, how do the other tournaments make it happen? Scratching of heads.
"The reason is value. There's real value to sponsorship. There's real value to television, and there's tremendous charitable commitment.
"We've written a ton of business over the last two weeks. I don't see corporate America backing away from golf over Tiger's issues."
As for Woods' return, Finchem said he has not spoken to him. "I've respected his privacy in this matter, " he said.
He also said: "I want him to come back and play . . . If Tiger is out for a couple of months or eight months or a year, we're going to have a successful year."
On the subject of any Tour discipline for Woods, Finchem said: "It's never been seriously considered that these matters in his personal life are subject to our tournament regulation."
Just so he didn't paint the whole picture rosy, Finchem said: "I'm not saying that I think everything is fine. We're in a down economy. It's hard to sell. And having the No. 1 player in our sport not play is not a positive thing, and it does hurt television ratings. But I look at it in reverse. I look at Tiger spiking ratings off of a significantly solid base when he plays . . . and I want that spike."