Little skittish and scared Tiger Woods addressed the media for the first time since his cheating scandal broke last fall, at a golf club in Florida today, announcing, “Every one of you has a good reason to be critical of me.” The golfer continued:
“I want to say to each of you … I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in. I know people want to find out how I could be so selfish and so foolish. People want to know how I could have done these things to my wife Elin [Nordegren] and to my children. And while I have always tried to be a private person, there are some things I want to say. Elin and I have started the process of discussing the damage caused by my behavior. As Elin pointed out to me, my real apology will not come in the form of words. It will come from my behavior over time. … [But] what we say to each other will remain between the two of us.”
After the jump, highlights from the Tiger Woods press conference:
- Woods apologized to fans and friends, as well as his family. “I let down my fans. For many of you, especially my friends, my behavior has been a personal disappointment. For those of you who work for me I have let you down personally and professionally.”
- Woods denied that his wife, Elin Nordegren, hit him or hurt him in any way on Thanksgiving. “There’s one issue I really want to discuss. Some people have suspected Elin hurt or attacked me on that night. … There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage, ever. Elin has shown an enormous amount of grace in our marriage. Elin deserves praise, not blame.”
- Woods confessed that he didn’t think normal people’s rules applied to him because he’s rich and famous. “I was unfaithful, I had affairs, I cheated. What I did was not acceptable and I am the only person to blame. I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. … I ran straight through the boundaries a normal marriage should live by. … I thought that I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find [temptations]. … The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me. I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife’s family, my friends, my foundation, and kids all around the world that admired me.”
- Woods explained that he has spent 45 days at in-patient therapy since the end of December and intends to return tomorrow to continue treatment. “My failures have made me look at myself in a way I never have before. … It’s up to me to start living a life of integrity. I once heard, and I believe it’s true, ‘It’s not what you achieve in life that matters, it’s what you overcome.’ It’s hard to admit I need help, but I do.”
- Woods demanded privacy for him and his wife. “I understand people have questions. … Please know that as far as I am concerned, every one of these questions and answers is a matter between Elin and me. It is a matter of husband and wife.”
- Woods criticized the paparazzi for following his wife and children, including following his toddler daughter to school and publicly stating the school’s location. “I still believe it is right to shield my family from the public spotlight. They did not do these things, I did. … Please leave my wife and kids alone.”
- Woods fully accepted responsibility. “I recognize I have brought this on myself and I know above all I am the one who needs to change. I owe it to my family to become a better person.”
- Woods acknowledged his Buddhist faith and confessed to abandoning his faith in recent years.“Many people don’t know this, but I was raised a Buddhist and I actively practiced my faith in childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years.”
- Woods said he plans to return to golf one day. “I do plan to return to plan to golf someday, but I don’t know when that will be.”
As soon as the press conference ended, Woods appeared to sniffle, but then walked over to his mother, who was sitting in the front row, and hugged her for a long time before walking off stage.
Did you watch Tiger Woods’ press conference? What did you think?