In an interview with CNBC’s Darren Rovell on Thursday morning, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem spoke publicly for the first time since the Tiger Woods scandal broke out. As he answered questions regarding the impact of Tiger’s sabbatical, he presented a cheery and optimistic portrait for the Tour’s future — because, you know, the Tour had a record-breaking year in 2008 when Tiger was out for 2/3 of the season and they have guys like Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas. In a bout of valiance, Finchem attempted to convince us that, despite what we may believe, TIGER IS NOT BIGGER THAN GOLF.
And, of course, he implied the media has exaggerated the potential strife the Tour may endure without Tiger in the picture. So, back to the real issues — look at the numbers! Business has been flourishing! Our exciting new sponsorship deals! The phenomenal job we’ve done with our charitable contributions!
Apparently the PGA Tour is recession-proof and Tiger-recession-proof. He’s either delusional or just thinks we’re stupid.
Here’s the video of the interview:
Afterward he joined writers on a conference call to continue his patronizing, everything-is-okay campaign and answer questions. Here are some highlights:
Q. I guess would you be concerned that this is a doctor linked to HGH?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, there’s a lot of doctors linked to HGH. There’s no reason for me to be concerned because I have no information to trigger a concern. I only have what you just said, and that doesn’t trigger a concern in my mind. And 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 reason for our anti-doping policy, the elements of that policy, and we got back virtually 100 percent support for those policies, including Tiger. So they’ve taken it very seriously. We’ve had a vigorous testing program. I have no reason to have a concern with respect to him and a doctor that’s used HGH with whatever patients for whom it’s not an illegal drug. I have no reason to have any concern, no.
He failed to mention the numerous loopholes. Here’s one of the biggest: The PGA Tour can use its discretion whether or not to punish a player for producing a positive drug test.
Q. That Saturday Night Live skit, did that amuse you at all, or did that annoy you?
FINCHEM: I’ve always been a Saturday Night fan, and it’s kind of flattering, although I didn’t think the guy did me very well. He got the tie right, but the thing that I told our folks here I wanted to do is have this press conference on video and then have all of our — have a blank wall behind me, and as I’m talking, people are coming in and putting up the logos of our sponsors until the wall is falling down from so many logos because we have about 90 sponsors, but they didn’t think that would go over that well. However, they did present me with an honorary flask, and I’m enjoying that.
He has a sense of humor, too. Strangely enough, I thought the CNBC interview resembled an SNL skit (can’t wait for this week’s edition!).
Q. There’s been some suggestions that this has kind of been a peek into a seedy side of the PGA TOUR, that there are parties and things going on that people have never been aware of. How do you respond to that?
FINCHEM: Yeah, I saw somebody showed me some blog that made references to that. You know, I just laughed. You go out to a PGA TOUR event, and I’ve been going to them for 23 years, you’ll find more group activity in the fitness truck than you will anywhere else. The notion that players are out there partying is absurd. It’s just absurd.
“Some blog” — he means the Daily Beast, a reputable and well known website, which has done excellent reporting on the story.
FINCHEM: The competition at this level — people ask me over the years, how do you keep drinking and drugs out of the sport. Actually, we don’t. The sport keeps drinking and drugs out of our sport. You can’t play at this level and have those kinds of issues. These fellows are athletes. If you look at what a couple of inches on a putt means two or three times a year in terms of how you’re going to finish the year and compete, players take it seriously. They’re focused on physical fitness. These are family people. They come to us already 95 percent college educated. We just don’t have any of those issues.
Family people with college degrees don’t drink or do drugs or cheat. Never. They spend their spare time working out — just take a look at the physique of the average Tour player. And, you know, it’s not the worst thing in the world for people to know or think that golfers are having some fun every once in a while.
I have many more thoughts, but I’ll keep it at that right now. More important things await — like the Gawker Holiday Party.