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Ryder captain has no fears for Tiger

Woods' career has been thrown into doubt after taking an indefinite break from competitive golf.
Woods' career has been thrown into doubt after taking an indefinite break from competitive golf.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin expects Tiger Woods to be a force when he returns to golf
  • Pavin says Woods is a 'very strong-minded individual'
  • PGA Tour chief Tim Finchem claims golf will survive the absence of Woods next year
  • Finchem believes public will generally support the world number one despite lurid revelations

(CNN) -- U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin expects Tiger Woods to find his best form when he returns to action after taking an "indefinite" break from golf following revelations about his private life.

Pavin is hoping the world number one will be available as his United States team defends the Ryder Cup against Europe at Celtic Manor in Wales next October, but has no doubt he will be a force again.

"Tiger's obviously a very strong-minded individual and I don't think he will play any differently when he comes back," he told reporters at a golf awards ceremony in London on Friday.

"He's come back from injuries and setbacks (Woods' father Earl died in 2006) and done fine."

Pavin said he was "very shocked, very surprised" when Tiger Woods' marital affairs became the focus of world media attention.

Tiger's obviously a very strong-minded individual and I don't think he will play any differently when he comes back
--Corey Pavin

"Who knows how long his indefinite leave will be," he added.

"My main concern is for his family. My view of him as a golfer is not going to change at all and my view of him as a human being is not going to change either.

"Everybody makes mistakes. I'm not going to sit here in judgment - I am the last guy in the world to do that.

"I just hope things work out for him and Elin. It's obviously an emotional time for him, but I think he's going to be fine."

Woods also found support from PGA Tour chief Tim Finchem, who believes golf will survive his self-imposed exile despite predictions of falling TV ratings and sponsorship income.

"I don't see corporate America backing away from golf over Tiger's issues," he told a teleconference on Thursday.

"I want him to come back and play, but if Tiger is out for a couple of months or eight months or a year we're going to have a successful year.

"It won't be at the same levels without our number one player, there's no question about that. No sport would be at the same level without its number one player, but I think the doom and gloom needs to go away."

Finchem also believes Woods will receive the backing of the sporting public when he decides to return to golf.

"I'm not suggesting that his popularity level is going to soar again - I don't know where that's going to be," he said.

"I think people generally are going to want him to succeed. They're going to want him to deal with his issues, they're going to want him to come back having dealt with them and I think he'll eventually find a significant amount of support."

Woods' life has been in turmoil since receiving hospital treatment after crashing his SUV into a fire hydrant outside his Florida home on November 27.

In the aftermath, he admitted infidelity in his marriage to Swedish model Elin Nordegren, and the media has been full of lurid allegations of affairs which show no sign of abating.