Esteemed golf pundit John Feinstein said on the Golf Channel yesterday that Tiger Woods was pressured by the PGA Tour to play in the Players Championship, despite lingering injuries.
Both the PGA Tour and Tiger’s agent denied the suggestion that anyone was pressured.
The Players Championship and the course it’s played on are owned by the Tour.
However, even if no one explicitly asked Tiger to play this weekend – or went out of their way remind him that the PGA is one of the few organisations to support him during his scandals last year – Woods has to be aware of exactly how much he owes Tour officials.
Remember his apologetic press conference last year? That was at PGA headquarters, the same place where The Players is held this week.
And in the aftermath of his indiscretions, Tiger did promise to play in more PGA events, honour more of his official commitments, cut out the temper tantrums, and generally being more cooperative with officials and the media. That’s a bargain he hasn’t been able to uphold, mostly due to his injuries.
There’s no question that Tiger returned too quickly from his Masters injuries and probably shouldn’t have been anywhere near Sawgrass this weekend. But the PGA didn’t pressure him to return quickly. They didn’t have to.
He’s well aware of the debt he owes them … and how much he still has left to pay back.