Woods says he'll continue to get help
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Missing his smile and aura of invincibility, Tiger Woods finally showed his face to a waiting world Friday and apologized again for cheating on his wife, without revealing the scope of his infidelity or when he will return to golf.
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Standing at a podium before a presidential-blue backdrop in a hushed room of his closest associates, Woods stumbled a few times as he read a 13½-minute statement. He offered no new details of what happened or what's next, except that he was leaving Saturday for more therapy.
"I have made you question who I am and how I could have done the things I did," Woods said.
Woods' wife, Elin, did not attend his first public appearance since he crashed his car into a tree outside their home three months ago, setting off shocking allegations of rampant extramarital affairs.
"I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated," Woods said. "What I did was not acceptable."
Woods alternately looked into the camera and at the 40 people in the room, raising his voice only to deny that his wife ever hit him and to demand that the paparazzi leave his family alone. Beyond that, there were stretches when Woods -- with his formidable business empire -- could have been reading from a tough corporate report.
He entered the room alone. When he finished, he stopped for a long embrace with his mother, Kultida, who said she whispered in his ear, "I'm so proud of you. Never think you stand alone. Mom will always be there for you, and I love you."
Regaining trust and support from everyone else might not be so easy.
Woods already has lost two corporate endorsements -- Accenture and AT&T -- and he has gone from being perhaps the most famous athlete in the world to a punch line in nightclubs and on talk shows.
"It's now up to me to make amends, and that starts by never repeating the mistakes I've made," Woods said. "It's up to me to start living a life of integrity."
Woods left therapy on Feb. 11 and has been spending time with his two children and his mother -- but not his wife -- in Orlando, Fla., according to a person with knowledge of Woods' schedule. The person, not authorized to release such information, spoke on condition of anonymity.
Woods did not say how much longer he would be in therapy, only that "I have a long way to go."
Pool photos were released Thursday of Woods hitting golf balls on the practice range.
"I do plan to return to golf one day," Woods said. "I just don't know when that day will be. I don't rule out that it will be this year. When I do return, I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game."
"I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in."
"[My wife] Elin and I have started the process of discussing the damage caused by my behavior. As Elin pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time."
"I have made you question who I am and how I could have done the things I did. I am embarrassed that I have put you in this position. For all that I have done, I am so sorry."
"I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did was unacceptable and I am the only person to blame."
"I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn't have to go far to find them."
"I was wrong. I was foolish. I don't get to play by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me. I brought this shame on myself. I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife's family, my friends, my foundation, and kids all around the world who admired me."
"Elin never hit me that night or any other night ... Elin has shown enormous grace and poise throughout this ordeal. Elin deserves praise not blame."
"Some people have made up things that never happened. They said I used performance-enhancing drugs. This is completely and utterly false."
"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. When I do return, I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game."
"Today I want to ask for your help. I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again."
• Full transcript of statement
Just as unpredictable is the future of his marriage. Woods said he and his wife have started discussing the damage he has done.
"As Elin pointed out to me, my apology to her will not come in the form of words. It will come from my behavior over time," Woods said. "We have a lot to discuss. However, what we say to each other will remain between the two of us."
After an embrace with his mother, Woods hugged the two women who sat on either side of her -- Amy Reynolds, formerly of Nike who now works for Tiger Woods Design, and Kathy Battaglia, who is Woods' administrative assistant at ETW Corp.
He made his way down the front row and greeted others -- his chief financial officer, Web site administrator, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and Notah Begay, who played with Woods at Stanford and withdrew from the PGA Tour event in Mexico.
Begay said Woods had a long, tough recovery ahead of him -- not only at home, but before thousands of fans behind the ropes.
"It's a little bit harder than making a swing change," Begay said.
Woods remained composed throughout the statement, pausing briefly before the first of several apologies. At times, however, he looked into the camera almost on cue. Begay said he got choked up listening, and felt Woods' words were sincere.
"This is as emotional as I've ever seen him in public," Begay said.
The only employee not on the front row was Bryon Bell, Woods' friend from junior high who now is president of his design company. Mark Steinberg, Woods' agent at IMG, sat in the last of three rows with 14 PGA Tour executives.
"He's an American hero. And he's had his issues," Finchem said. "At the end of the day, he's a human being. We all make mistakes. My personal reaction was that his comments were heartfelt. He clearly recognizes that there has been serious impact to a wide range of individuals and organizations."
Some of the eight players at the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona watched the coverage before the third round.
"From a guy that's done a lot of tough things in golf over the years, it was probably one of the most difficult things he's ever had to do," British Open champion Stewart Cink said. "And it was something probably that's going to help him along the way of healing."
In Sweden, Elin's father, Thomas Nordegren, saw Woods' confession.
"I watched it but I have nothing to say right now," Nordegren told The Associated Press. Elin's mother, Barbro Holmberg, declined to comment through her spokeswoman.
Jesper Parnevik, who introduced Woods to Elin Nordegren in 2001 and has been highly critical of the player since the scandal broke, declined comment to ESPN through his management agency, IMG, on Friday.
Friday's event was tightly controlled, with only a few journalists allowed to watch Woods live. The confession became a major television event with the networks breaking in to show it.
Certainly, no other PGA Tour player could command this kind of attention.
But Woods has always been special on the course and in popular culture. Television ratings double when he is in contention, which has happened a lot on his way to winning 71 times on the PGA Tour and 14 majors, four short of the record held by Jack Nicklaus.
Nicklaus watched the announcement, but a spokesman said he would have no comment.
Most of the associates left the room when Woods finished speaking. Among those who stayed were Mrs. Woods, who rarely gives interview but in this case said, "I would like to talk."
She said her son has a "good heart and good soul" but made a mistake. Mrs. Woods, raised in Thailand, also claims the media showed a "double standard" by keeping the sex scandal in the news for so long.
"Some of media, especially tabloid, hurt my son bad," Mrs. Woods said. "He didn't do anything illegal. He didn't kill anybody. But he try to improve himself. He try to go to therapy and help. He change that and making better. When he go do all this thing, he will come out stronger and a better person."
Woods said part of his rehab would include a return to his Buddhist faith. Woods said his mother raised him as a Buddhist, and he practiced his faith "until I drifted away from it in recent years."
"Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security," Woods said. "It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously I lost track of what I was taught."
The companies that have stuck most closely by Woods, Nike Inc. and Electronic Arts Inc., reiterated their support.
"Tiger has apologized and made his position clear. Nike fully supports him and his family. We look forward to him returning to golf," the company said in a statement.
EA Sports president Peter Moore said: "It was good to see Tiger address the public today, and we're supportive of his focus toward family and rebuilding his life."
Veronica Siwik-Daniels, one of Woods' alleged mistresses and a former pornographic performer, watched the event with her attorney in a Los Angeles radio studio. She said she wants an apology for the unwanted attention the scandal has brought her.
"I really feel I deserve to look at him in person, face to face, in the eyes because I did not deserve this," she said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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