December 02, 2015

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem met with Tiger Woods on Wednesday and was happy to see him alive.

''I kidded him because based on media reports I read before I came down here this morning, I thought he was actually dying. `Tiger, you're supposed to be dead.' I just saw him,'' Finchem said. ''He's alive.''

Woods, the tournament host of the Hero World Challenge, got the week off to a sobering start in a press conference Tuesday in which he said he had no idea when his back would be healthy enough for him to do anything more than walk, much less think about playing golf.

He said if his 79 wins on the PGA Tour and 14 majors is all he wins, ''I've had a pretty good run.'' He also said he wants to play again and that anything he achieves beyond what he already has ''will be gravy.''

It sparked speculation of retirement, or at least the end of a career that golf fans once knew.

Jordan Spieth, who said Woods was a major influence on him as a teenager, didn't see it that way.

''Obviously, it's frustrating for him. You can tell that,'' Spieth said. ''But I think we certainly haven't seen the end of him, even if he does say that if the sun sets on the career now, it's still good. I think we can all read between the lines there, that he's ... I think he's still got some really good years left out of him.''

Adam Scott didn't see the press conference and said he can only hope that Woods recovers.

''We don't want Tiger checking out of the game any time soon,'' Scott said.

Scott first played a practice round with Woods on the Sunday before Woods headed off to Pebble Beach for the 2000 U.S. Open, which he won by 15 shots. Scott once said that round nearly persuaded him not to turn pro. He wonders if the next generation will have any appreciation of Woods at his peak.

''It's hard to explain to Jordan coming out now how he (Woods) was just so much better than everyone at that point,'' Scott said. ''We're all quick to forget that sometimes.''

The Australian offered another example of the Tiger effect, this time related to apparel.

''He inspired all of us to play golf like he did, and it was kind of at that point a transition from having a wardrobe full of Shark clothes to Nike swooshes,'' he said.

Finchem said his take in seeing Woods was that he was frustrated by not being able to do anything, which included water sports.

''He's like any of us. He's going stir crazy,'' Finchem said. ''He's kind of matter-of-fact about it. He's kind of a matter-of-fact guy.''

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TOURNAMENT POLICY: PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said the board has approved a new policy that will require players to compete in new tournaments starting with the 2016-17 season. That doesn't mean adding tournaments to the schedule, rather playing one where they haven't been in the previous four years.

More details were expected later in the week, but Finchem said it would apply more to the younger players. It would not have an effect on lifetime members (Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, Vijay Singh) or players at the end of their careers, presumably age 45 or older.

He also said players who already have a full schedule wouldn't be asked to do more.

For everyone else?

''We think it changes the culture a little bit,'' Finchem said. ''An expectation that, depending on how many you're playing, you do move your schedule around a little bit. I think it's reasonable. It's fair. You'll find some players who don't like it, but generally speaking the players I think are understanding of it and supportive of it.''

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TRANSITION: Adam Scott referred to this year as one of transition. Off the golf course, he celebrated the birth of his first child. In the bag, he tinkered with different shafts and golf balls. Inside the ropes, he started the year with a new caddie and went back to an old one.

And yes, the putter.

Scott gets a lot of attention for having to switch from the broom-handled putter when the rule that outlaws an anchored stroke takes effect Jan. 1. He tried to switch early in the year, then went back to the long putter that he anchors to his chest and putted terribly.

Now he is back to the short putter that he broke out at the Presidents Cup, and his results have been reasonable.

Scott is not nearly as concerned as what he hears from everyone else. What often gets overlooked is that he won 18 times around the world - including The Players Championship and the Tour Championship - with a short putter.

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