Tiger Woods said he’ll look at his commitments to his children before deciding which U.S. PGA Golf tournaments to play in 2011 other than the four major championships.
Woods said PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem has asked him to play more events during the 2011 season as the world’s top golf circuit nears the end of its television contracts.
While Woods went winless this season for the first time in 14 years as a professional, his efforts to win won’t override his desire to be with his two children as he adjusts to life as a single father. Woods and Elin Nordegren share custody following their divorce.
“There are a lot of things that we’re trying to adapt to, our new living conditions,” Woods said during a news conference yesterday at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California, site of this week’s Chevron World Challenge. “That’s most important. We’re trying to figure all that out, and then obviously I still want to play golf at a high level and win golf tournaments. It’s about getting a balance and trying to find what the right balance is going forward.”
Having Finchem pressure him to play more events isn’t new, said Woods, whose 281-week run atop the Official World Golf Ranking ended Nov. 1, with England’s Lee Westwood taking over.
“He’s done that every year since he’s been a commissioner,” said Woods, whose last PGA Tour win came at the 2009 BMW Championship, 14 months ago. “So that subject hasn’t changed.”
Golf World magazine on Nov. 23 reported that Finchem is “reaching out to Woods to play more than he normally does” in the first quarter of the season.
Finchem is under pressure to improve television ratings prior to April’s Masters Tournament as the tour begins to negotiate new television contracts, the magazine reported, citing people it didn’t identify. The tour’s network television agreements expire after the 2012 season.
“I’ve read that and it surprised me,” Woods’s agent, Mark Steinberg, said in an interview. “I talk to Tim and the tour every week, so I was surprised by that as well.”
Steinberg said Woods’s family will be a big factor in his 2011 playing schedule.
“We haven’t finalized the whole schedule yet, but we’re getting pretty close,” Steinberg said. “There’s a new dynamic to factor in and that’s the children.”
Off the golf course, Steinberg has been trying to rebuild Woods’s brand. Over the past six weeks, the agent said he’s had discussions with companies about endorsement agreements with Woods, who lost sponsors including Accenture Plc and Procter & Gamble Co.’s Gillette razors following a November 2009 car accident that led to his admission of extra-marital affairs.
“The response has been very encouraging,” Steinberg said. “A number of the companies that I’ve talked to are interested in hearing about the redemption side of things and about how he has gone through the rehabilitation process.”
Steinberg said he’s finalizing an endorsement agreement with an Asian-based company and also is close to getting a sponsor for Woods’s golf bag. Woods’s charitable foundation has been on his bag since General Motors Co.’s Buick brand ended its agreement with the player in 2008.
Steinberg declined to identify the companies he’s spoken with or the industries they’re in.
“It’s too premature to get in depth about any of them,” Steinberg said. “Companies we have done business with in the past, regardless of where the company is based, they do business almost all over the world. I would expect that to be the case.”
While a recent poll said Woods’s endorsement future hinges on his ability to win again, Steinberg said a survey conducted by Woods’s IMG management agency revealed that the golfer has strong appeal, regardless of how many titles he wins.
“We went to a very targeted demographic and the feedback that we got was quite strong,” Steinberg said. “There was a very positive response as to how companies would view an association with Tiger. I can’t say that I was surprised, but it’s still refreshing.”