I couldn’t help but feel badly for Robert Woudstra, chief executive officer for Farmers Insurance, a company that not only pinch-hit as sponsor at the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines in San Diego earlier this year, but also one that will continue in that role for the next four years.
That is, of course, great news for the tour considering the battered U.S. economy and the absence of its top star. The tour called a teleconference on Monday afternoon to make the sponsorship announcement, but Tiger Woods, as he usually does even when he isn’t present, was the centre of attention.
The pre-conference buzz was that this might be the word that all of golf has been waiting for in regards to the return of the Tiger after the sex scandal that rocked his world and the entire game for that matter. As one caller mentioned, Woods’ return is shaping up to be the event of the decade.
Of course, there will be a run on media credentials wherever his return takes place and it will pose a huge challenge for whatever event gets the distinction.
Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said on Monday he doesn’t know when Woods will return and I tend to believe him. If Finchem was absolutely certain that Woods was returning at next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, the tour might have held off on the Farmers Insurance announcement so it wouldn’t get buried.
Finchem also stated that he has been assured that he will get some kind of warning from Team Tiger when the big event will take place, but added he wasn’t sure how much notice he would receive. He did promise to make it known soon after finding out himself.
It’s a question that is buzzing throughout golf, including the industry, these days and wherever Tiger returns, I think he will wait until the last moment to make his intentions known. Therefore, if it’s next week at Bay Hill, we’ll know on Friday afternoon.
I talked about this subject with former PGA Tour player Richard Zokol the other day and wrote this piece for Sun Media yesterday. Have a look here.