PGA Tour ‘fine’ without Tiger

The 14-time major champion is currently taking time away from the game as he deals with form and fitness issues, and there are mild concerns that Woods could opt to retire if he is unable to resurrect his game.

Doubts have also been raised about the future of the PGA Tour without golf’s biggest draw, but Finchem is determined to allay those fears and compared Woods’ absence to that of Michael Jordan leaving the NBA to try his hand at baseball in 1993.

Finchem admitted he does not know when Woods will return to action for the first time since withdrawing from the Northern Trust Open at Torrey Pines after 11 holes of his opening round due to a back injury.

“The PGA TOUR is going to be fine,” Finchem said at a press conference on the final day of the WGC-Cadillac Championships at Doral, which Woods failed to qualify for after dropping out of the top 70 in the world rankings.

“How concerned are we about him stepping away? You know, it’s the same thing we had in 2012.??We had it for a period of time in 2009 and 2010. It’s good news and bad news.

“I mean, it’s more bad news than good news because it’s like Michael Jordan stepping away to play baseball that year. He’s your No 1 player. He’s the player that on balance fans want to watch play more than any other.

“But when you lose your No 1 player, in a time when he’s still in an age where he can really play if he can get back to that level; it’s not going to let you perform at the same level as you would with him.

“Sooner or later, it’s always going to happen. I remember how long it took for all of us, fans, media, to come to grips with Jack Nicklaus stepping away. It took years. Nobody wanted to let Jack go.

“During Tiger’s period, the PGA Tour has grown and it’s got a bigger fan base. He’s brought a lot of people to the game. That’s a contribution that he will have made whether he stops playing now or whether he stops playing in 15 years.”

Woods, who is adamant that he will not return until he feels his game is at a level where he can compete, is expected to tee up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational later this month.

But missing out on his annual visit to Bay Hill would prompt serious fears that he will not play in the Masters at Augusta.