When PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem failed to understand a Scottish reporter’s question Sunday at the WGC-Cadillac Championship about the the tour’s drug policy, a déjà vu-type moment resulted.
“Can you repeat that?” Finchem asked the reporter. “You remind me of a guy that works for the European Tour who is our liaison on drug issues. I can never understand a word he’s saying.”
Many around the golf world are similarly baffled at Finchem’s league’s lack of transparency when it comes to drug issues.
The PGA Tour is required to announce suspensions for violations involving performance-enhancing drugs, but not positive tests involving recreational drug use. Somewhat mysterious recent leaves of absence taken by Sunday’s winner Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods have resulted in whispers and speculation but relative silence from the tour.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
On Sunday, Finchem said that’s the way it will stay.
“We don’t think the fans really want to know about most of the stuff we would be talking about,” Finchem said. “We don’t think there’s a large volume of it, and we don’t think much of it is very serious.”
According to Finchem, what fans don’t know can’t hurt them — or the tour.
“We don’t think it makes sense to go out and remind people,” Finchem continued.
Qualified golfers will face more strict standards from the International Olympic Committee when golf appears in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The sport has been absent from the Games since 1904.
RYDER CUP SNAFU
Finchem admitted that he believes he “whiffed it” on the recent PGA of America decision not to count fall events toward U.S. Ryder Cup qualification.
It was announced last week that five tournaments will not offer Ryder Cup points this year, a move that Phil Mickelson said will prevent “the bottom half of the tour a three-month start over ultimately the top guys.”
In 2013 the PGA Tour implemented a wraparound schedule that begins in October, typically a stretch when top players take time off.
“I’m not really a big fan of it,” Mickelson said about the wraparound schedule. “I think it’s very hard for spectators to understand it. I can’t understand it.
“And after playing eight out of 10 or eight out of 11 weeks, you know, the guys are going to take time off. And from the Ryder Cup standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to have points assessed on those events when none of the top players are playing … maybe we should start it in January like we used to.”
Finchem regrets the change because of the hit it gives to the status of those events.
“It’s particularly annoying to me that I missed it because we had just been wrestling with this on FedEx Cup points for the last number of years,” Finchem said. “I would like to see them included, because I think it’s good for those tournaments.”
Finchem was noncommittal on whether or not Rory McIlroy will be punished for flinging his 3-iron into a pond on the eighth hole during Friday’s second round but implied that actions would be taken based on the perceived intent behind McIlroy’s heave.
“You see the clip and see his commentary and it seems like maybe he thought about it a little, like maybe it was more premeditated,” Finchem said.
Trump National Doral owner Donald Trump returned the club to McIlroy while the world’s No. 1 player was preparing for his final round Sunday. A scuba diver retrieved the club Saturday.