Tiger Woods discusses life changes

Updated: November 18, 2010, 7:19 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Tiger Woods, in an interview Thursday on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" and in a first-person essay posted Wednesday by Newsweek, is opening up about his efforts to regain perspective and balance in his life after the car accident a year ago that sent his life into a tailspin.

On "Mike & Mike" and in the Newsweek op-ed piece, titled "How I've Redefined Victory," Woods talked about how much his life was out of balance and his priorities were out of order a year ago, when he acknowledged extramarital affairs that cost him three major endorsements and eventually led to his divorce from Elin Nordegren.

In a half-hour interview with "Mike & Mike" hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, Woods, sounding relaxed and occasionally laughing, said he's an "infinitely" happier person now than he was a year ago, even though the events that brought him to where he is now were difficult and painful.

He said his children are now his top priority and that he's been pleasantly surprised by the support of his fans and close friends.

"[I'm] just more clear, more clear about my perspective, who I am, where I want to go," he said. "It's amazing how much better I feel internally each and every day."

That followed the publication of his essay, in which he closed: "I'm not the same man I was a year ago. And that's a good thing."

In the past two years, Woods said on the radio interview, he was frustrated and angry on the golf course.

"I wasn't happy with who I was," he said. "I was doing things morally, inside, I knew I shouldn't be doing."

Woods said he still wants to pass Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major titles, though he added with a laugh, "I have to play better," to reach that goal. But getting better on the golf course, he added, starts with self-improvement.

"I still have the same drive to get better, no doubt. That's an each and every day process," Woods said. "But I can't get better as a player if I don't get better as a person."

Woods' essay was published shortly after he started actively using his Twitter account with the following message: "What's up everyone. Finally decided to try out twitter!"

"It's a positive step for him," said Mark Steinberg, his agent at IMG. "He's making the effort to do some things different."

Steinberg said it has not been decided if Woods will make an appearance on television during the next few weeks.

On "Mike & Mike in the Morning," Woods said one of the surprises of the past year has been how supportive fans have been at tournaments and in public.

He said he has been amazed by the positive reception. "Everybody just wants me to do well," he said.

In his op-ed in Newsweek and in his "Mike & Mike" appearance, Woods touched on how he had drifted from the values he had grown up with and how the past year, while difficult for him and his loved ones, had given him much-needed perspective and made him a happier person.

"Golf is a self-centered game, in ways good and bad. So much depends on one's own abilities. But for me, that self-reliance made me think I could tackle the world by myself," Woods wrote. "It made me think that if I was successful in golf, then I was invincible. Now I know that, no matter how tough or strong we are, we all need to rely on others."

As things fell apart, Woods wrote in the Newsweek piece, he was hesitant to examine how he had "been conducting my personal life in an artificial way," drifting away from the values with which he had been raised.

"At first, I didn't want to look inward," Woods wrote. "Frankly, I was scared of what I would find -- what I had become. But I'm grateful that I did examine my life because it has made me more grounded than I've ever been; I hope that with reflection will come wisdom."

Woods At first, I didn't want to look inward. Frankly, I was scared of what I would find -- what I had become.

-- Tiger Woods

Woods expanded on that theme on "Mike & Mike" when asked about the Nike ad that aired during his comeback, in which his late father, Earl Woods, is heard asking him what he had learned.

"I just wasn't the person I used to be, I wasn't the person my mom and dad raised me to be and I knew that," Woods said of what he was trying to communicate through that ad. "I was leaving that life behind."

In Newsweek and on "Mike & Mike," Woods said his two children have become the priority in his life. "They mean everything to me now," he said on "Mike & Mike."

Woods described how he spends some evenings alone with his children, and that's helping him appreciate what he had overlooked.

"Giving my son, Charlie, a bath, for example, beats chipping another bucket of balls. Making mac and cheese for him and his sister, Sam, is better than dining in any restaurant," he wrote.

Asked on "Mike & Mike" what he'll tell his children someday when they're old enough to understand, Woods said he would tell them "absolutely the truth."

"I will have to earn the trust and respect of my kids over time," he said.

Woods, who lost his No. 1 ranking two weeks ago to Lee Westwood, recently returned from two weeks of tournaments in Asia and Australia, where he posted consecutive top-10s for the first time this season, but didn't come close to winning either event. By failing to defend his title in the Australian Masters, it marked the first time in his career he went a calendar year without a win.

The Chevron World Challenge, to be played Dec. 3-6 at Sherwood Country Club, will be his final tournament of the year.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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