During a 15-minute press conference at TPC Sawgrass, the home of the Professional Golf Association Tour, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, the sportsman spoke to a select, invitation-only group of friends, peers and journalists.
With his mother seated directly in front of him and wife Elin Nordegren nowhere to be seen, a stoic Woods said, “Many of you in this room are my friends, many in this room know me, many of you have cheered for me, worked with me or supported me. Now, every one of you has good reason to be critical of me… I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behaviour I engaged in.”
Woods cheated on his wife with a string of mistresses. The National Enquirer exposed the first, Rachel Uchitel, in November, and the news of the golfer’s infidelity prompted others – including porn stars and waitresses – to come forward.
He told those gathered at the press conference that he and Nordegren “have started the process of discussing the damage caused by my behaviour.”
He added, “As Elin pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words. It will come from my behaviour over time.”
Woods went on to apologise to his business partners and employees, accepting his behaviour was “a personal disappointment” to them, before adding, “I have made you question who I am and how I could have done the things I did. I’m embarrassed that I have put you in this position. For all that I have done, I am so sorry.”
The press conference took an angry turn when Woods discussed the media’s spotlight on his family following the news of his disgrace last year.
Addressing reports he crashed his car into a tree while attempting to escape an angry, golfclub-wielding Nordegren on Thanksgiving night last year (Nov09), Woods snarled, “Some people have speculated that Elin somehow hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night. It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that. Elin never hit me that night or any other night. There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage.”
He then defended his wife and praised her for her “enormous grace and poise throughout this ordeal.”
Woods also attempted to explain how he justified his cheating ways to himself: “I knew my actions were wrong but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply… I thought only about myself… I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled.”
He also apologised to parents who have used Woods as a role model for their kids, stating: “I owe all those families a special apology.”
The sports star then briefly addressed the 45 days he spent in rehab from late December (09), explaining he was in “in-patient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I’m facing,” adding, “I have a long way to go.”
His anger reared up again as he reprimanded the media for hounding his family while he was receiving treatment, accusing journalists of making up stories about him. The defiant golfer raged, “Some people have made up things that never happened; they said I used performance-enhancing drugs. This is completely and utterly false.
“Some have written things about my family. Despite the damage I have done, I still believe it is right to shield my family from the public spotlight… My behaviour doesn’t make it right for the media to follow my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to school and report the school’s location. They staked out my wife and they pursued my mom… Please leave my wife and kids alone.”
Woods revealed he has returned to Buddhism in a bid to fix his problems, explaining he was raised a Buddhist and the faith’s teachings had become useful to him in recent weeks – since the news of his infidelities broke.
He said, “Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security; it teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught.”
Woods closed the press conference by telling those gathered he was determined to save his marriage and look after his children after completing his rehab, adding, “I do plan to return to golf one day, I just don’t know when that day will be. I don’t rule out that it will be this year.”
Refusing to take questions from the media, Woods asked his fans and friends to “find room in your heart to one day believe in me again,” before stepping down from the podium and giving his mother a long hug.
He then personally thanked family and friends seated in the front row of the press conference before exiting.
It was the disgraced sportsman’s first public appearance since he went into hiding after announcing a hiatus from golf and public life following the news of his infidelity in November (09).
He resurfaced at a sex addiction clinic in Mississippi last month (Feb10) after a reported trip to South Africa.