Woods gives first interview since crash

Updated: March 22, 2010, 12:43 PM ET
ESPN.com

Tiger Woods took questions from reporters for the first time in four months Sunday, saying "I've done some pretty bad things in my life" and that he doesn't know what kind of reception he'll get when he returns to competitive golf at the Masters.

"I'm a little nervous about that to be honest with you," Woods told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi, who asked him what he expects when he returns to golf on April 8 following an auto accident which led to an indefinite leave from professional golf and an admission of multiple affairs. "It would be nice to hear a couple claps here and there."

Woods conducted two interviews Sunday afternoon at Isleworth, the golf club near his home in Windermere, Fla. In addition to ESPN, Woods spoke with the Golf Channel. The interview was offered to ESPN with no restrictions on questions, but with a five-minute time limitation, plus an agreement to hold it for airing on television beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Woods hasn't been questioned by reporters since he was involved in a one-car crash outside his Florida home in the early-morning hours of Nov. 27.

He declined to answer questions about the specifics of the accident.

"Well, it's all in the police report," he said. "Beyond that everything's between [wife] Elin and myself and that's private."

Woods I was living a life of a lie, I really was. And I was doing a lot of things ... that hurt a lot of people. And stripping away denial and rationalization you start coming to the truth of who you really are and that can be very ugly. But then again, when you face it and you start conquering it and you start living up to it, the strength that I feel now ... I've never felt that type of strength.

-- Tiger Woods in interview with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi

He also wouldn't get into specifics about his infidelity, though he did tell Rinaldi that "just one is enough ... and obviously that wasn't the case."

After his auto accident, Woods admitted to infidelity and said Dec. 11 he would take an "indefinite break" from golf. Woods spoke publicly for the first time Feb. 19, when he confessed to cheating on his wife. But he didn't take any questions after his 13-plus-minute statement.

"I hurt a lot of people, not just my wife," he told Rinaldi on Sunday. "My friends, my colleagues, the public, kids who looked up to me. There were a lot of people that thought I was a different person and my actions were not according to that. That's why I had to apologize. I was so sorry for what I had done."

He was in a Mississippi clinic from Dec. 31 until Feb. 11, then went to an Arizona clinic for a week of family counseling after his Feb. 19 statement.

He didn't say what he was in treatment for, but did say "It was really tough to look at yourself in a light you never want to look at yourself, that's pretty brutal."

Woods denied that any of his associates were involved in his off-the-course affairs. "It was all me," he told the Golf Channel. "I'm the one who did it. I'm the one who acted the way I acted. No one knew what was going on when it was going on.

"I'm sure if more people would have known in my inner circle, they would have stopped it or tried to put a stop to it. But I kept it all to myself," he said.

Woods told ESPN's Rinaldi that he didn't seek addiction treatment sooner because "I didn't know I was that bad." He said he married Elin in 2004 "because I loved her" and that his wife was "shocked," "hurt," and "angry" when he told her of his actions.

He called telling his wife and his mother among his lowest points.

"I hurt them the most," he said. "Those are the two people in my life who I'm closest to and to say the things that I've done, truthfully to them [was] very painful."

In his interview with the Golf Channel, Woods talked about his father, Earl, who died in 2006.

"He'd be very disappointed in me," Woods said. "We'd have numerous long talks and that's one of the things I miss," Woods said. "I wish I could have had his guidance through all this, to have him help straighten me up. I know he would have done it."

He also told the Golf Channel that he will eventually talk to his children about what has transpired in his life.

Asked how well the world knows him, Woods told ESPN's Rinaldi: "A lot better now. I was living a life of a lie, I really was. And I was doing a lot of things, like I said, that hurt a lot of people. And stripping away denial and rationalization you start coming to the truth of who you really are and that can be very ugly.

"But then again, when you face it and you start conquering it and you start living up to it, the strength that I feel now," he said, "... I've never felt that type of strength."

Woods returned to practice when he got home from Arizona. Swing coach Hank Haney joined him last week. Woods announced on March 16 that he would return at the Masters, a tournament he has won four times (most recently in 2005).

For his return to public life, Woods enlisted the help of former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who had recently worked with Mark McGwire on his return to organized baseball -- and his acknowledgement that he had used steroids. Fleischer acknowledged in an e-mail to The Associated Press that he had been working for Woods and had decided to withdraw.

Woods, who will have been idle for 144 days, said he is ready to return to golf.

"I'm excited to get back and play, I'm excited to get to see the guys again," he said. "I really miss a lot of my friends out there. I miss competing. But still, I still have a lot more treatment to do, and just because I'm playing, doesn't mean I'm [going to] stop going to treatment."

Woods last played on the PGA Tour in the Tour Championship on Sept. 28, 2009, where he finished second. Woods won the Australian Masters in Melbourne on Nov. 15 for his 82nd worldwide victory.

Jim Furyk, who won the rain-delayed Transitions Championship on Sunday, was given a transcript of Woods' comments as he walked in to address the media. Woods' interview was shown at about the time he was finishing off his win (which came 90 minutes after the scheduled finish of the Transitions event).

"I wish him well," Furyk said. "... I think it's good for him to get his face out there and have people see him. They are going to make their judgments, but I think it allows him to kind of move on and get focused for the next thing."

CBS was offered a chance to interview Woods, but declined because of the five-minute time limit restriction. CBS Sports spokeswoman LeslieAnne Wade told The Associated Press that CBS would be interested in an extended interview with Woods "without any restrictions."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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