Finchem gets 1-year contract extension, plans to leave early

By Doug Ferguson
Published on

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Tim Finchem has signed on for one more year as the PGA Tour commissioner, even though he plans to leave at the end of this year.

Finchem's contract was to expire on June 1. The PGA Tour board recently gave him an extension until June 2017 that he said would allow him more time to work on projects to develop more structure to the worldwide nature of golf.

"The length of the contract is really a placeholder," Finchem said Sunday at the Dell Match Play. "I wouldn't anticipate staying that long."

Finchem, who turns 69 next month, was appointed PGA Tour commissioner in 1994, when Tiger Woods was about to start college and Greg Norman was No. 1 in the world. He negotiated the first of three television contracts shortly after Woods won his first major at the 1997 Masters, and prize money has soared. He also used Woods' popularity to launch The First Tee with hopes of broadening golf's appeal to youth.

Jay Monahan was appointed deputy commissioner two years ago. Earlier this week, Monahan received the additional title of chief operating officer. Finchem said Monahan already has been running the day-to-day operations of the tour, and that it was important for a transition plan to be in place.

Monahan still would have to be appointed by the board.

"The great news is not that I may step aside, but that our succession plan is working exceedingly well," Finchem said.

Finchem is chairman this year of the World Golf Foundation, and one of his goals is to measure interest and growth in the game and find new ways to get more people playing. He was vague on details except to say that tours around the world need to collaborate to better tap into the corporate marketplace.

The latest TV contracts for the PGA Tour were 10-year deals with CBS Sports and NBC Sports so that they would be concurrent with the 15-year deal the tour previously signed with Golf Channel. All TV deals expire in 2021.

Finchem said the tour might start this year working on the next extension, especially with more digital platforms available.

"My plan would be — and that assumes I can make progress on my projects — to step aside at the end of this year," he said.

He said he could work for five more years except that he feels the time is right for new leadership.

"Jay is ready," Finchem said.