KAPALUA, Hawaii, January 10 – Tiger Woods should have a strong 2012 season, one that will help secure US PGA finances and lift golf globally ahead of its 2016 Olympic return, US PGA commissioner Tim Finchem said.
At the season-opening Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, Finchem said that strong showings by Woods last year in Australia and by ending a two-year win drought at last month’s World Challenge are a good omen for the new season.
“I know how hard his work ethic has been the last year and a half,” Finchem said. “I sense that his confidence is coming back on greens — not that he’s ever said there’s any problem with his confidence, but he’s putting better and striking the ball well.
“So I would look for him to have a very solid year this year and that’s a good thing for us.”
Woods plans to open his season later this month at Abu Dhabi and play his first US PGA event next month at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Television contract extensions signed last year, a set of rising young stars and commitments to the US PGA this season by England’s Lee Westwood and reigning US Open champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland will join a return to form by Woods in helping boost the US PGA as well as golf in general.
“The two main reasons we are excited about the season are this continuing growth of enthusiasm and excitement about the young players coming up (and) we are close to a point where we can really look out and see our future from a business and sponsorship standpoint for a good number of years,” Finchem said.
“Unless something changes, we seem to be handling a less-than-full-out economic situation, at least in the United States, in reasonably good form. We are making progress and going, maybe not the same rate we were during the great economy but a solid growth rate.
“(We have) the opportunity to help grow the game globally leading up to the 2016 Olympics, when golf will re-enter the Olympics in Rio. We are seeing solid growth in the game around the world and certainly the development of golf going to the Olympics is going to help fuel that.”