Finchem Weighs In on State of the Tour
By Torleif Sorenson on 8/29/13

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and Tiger Woods.
Two of the most powerful people in the game.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem didn't give a formal "State of the Tour" speech, but over the last couple of days, he has weighed in on three news items involving the Tour.

In the wake of Fox Sports landing the USGA's television contract, Finchem told Doug Ferguson of the AP that the Tour and Fox had "robust" conversations about getting a piece of the Tour’s last three television contracts came up, before scheduling conflicts forced the network to withdraw from consideration.
"We just never got to an arrangement, but we know they have an interest," he said. "We had serious, robust conversations in the middle of two of the negotiations in the last three. One of the main issues with them is scheduling. I mean, they have a lot of baseball. They have a lot of NASCAR. They have stuff, given the way Fox is set up. And we really like our two-network arrangement right now, anyways."
The Tour's current television partners are CBS and the co-owned NBC Sports and Golf Channel. That contract runs through 2021.

Given the timing of the USGA championships, it is more logical that Fox Sports chased those instead of the tour. The USGA contract calls for 146 hours of coverage on Fox, including a minimum of 70 hours of the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open, and the U.S. Senior Open.

And as much experience as Fox Sports has in televising the NFL, Major Leage Baseball, car racing, etc., Finchem said that they have some homework ahead of them:
"It's going to be a work in progress. They've got to build a capability there, working with the USGA, and I'm sure they will. They're professionals. They do an excellent job in producing the other sports that they have. I'm sure they'll get the talent together to do a good job for the USGA, but it will be interesting to see what happens when that lines out. When they get certain people in certain positions, we'll find out."
Recently, Finchem knocked down rumors that the PGA Tour was interested in acquiring the European Tour. But in a conversation with Golf Channel's Jason Sobel, Finchem said that he would like to see the relationship between the North American and European tours grow over time, rather than suddenly forcing a relationship:
"Having strong tours in areas that either have or have the potential to have a lot of golf generated is in everybody's interests. And that's one of the things we're focused on. We have virtually everybody playing our Tour right now. Is that necessarily the best model, given what these other tours need to generate? I think we need to pay attention to that.

"If it's 10 years or 15 years, I think we're still headed in the right direction. So I don't feel like this is a situation where we have to fix anything. Things are moving very well."
Finchem also said that a new sponsor for the Tour's Tampa stop has not been retained, but refused to say if the Puerto Rico Open would be moved to replace the Tampa stop. Some published reports had the tour imposing a September 1 deadline for keeping the Tampa event.

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Image via Flickr, Keith Allison

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