World number-one golfer Tiger Woods of the United States met with the press on Monday ahead of the first major tournament of the year - the Masters in Augusta, Georgia. It was Woods' first open press conference since last year's car crash, reports of marital infidelity and time in a rehabilitation facility.
At a 35-minute news conference at Augusta National, Woods took full responsibility for the personal failings that led to extramarital affairs with more than a dozen women. He admitted to making "some incredibly bad decisions" and that "hurt so many people."
"I lied to a lot of people, deceived a lot of people, kept others in the dark, rationalized and even lied to myself," said Tiger Woods. "You know, when I stripped that all away and started realizing what I had done, the full magnitude of it, it's pretty brutal. I take full responsibility for what I have done."
In talking about the November 27 car accident at his Florida estate that sparked the scandal, Woods said his injury required five stitches in his mouth. He denied being addicted to prescription drugs. And he refused to discuss the 45 days he spent in rehabilitation, but indicated that he plans to continue with his treatment. Woods also spoke about the most difficult aspects of the past few months.
"Having to look at myself in a light that I never wanted to look at myself," he said. "That was difficult. How far I got astray from my core morals that my mom and dad taught me. I had to really take a hard look at myself. And the other, other difficult part in the last few months has just been the constant harassment to my entire family."
Woods has not played in a professional tournament since his serial adultery was revealed to the public, but he played practice rounds at Augusta National on Sunday and Monday. The golfer had been concerned about the way he would be received by fans, but he said he welcomed the positive reception.
"That first tee, I'm looking forward to it," said Woods. "I haven't looked forward to that tee shot in a long time. Not like this. It feels fun again you know, that is something that has been missing."
Woods also said he plans to be more respectful of the game when he returns.
"I'm actually going to try to not get as hot when I play," he said. "But then again when I'm not as hot, I'm not going to be as exuberant either. I can't play one without the other. I've made a conscious decision to try to tone down my negative outbursts. And consequently, I'm sure my positive outbursts will be calmed down as well."
Tiger Woods said his wife, Elin, will not be at the Masters with him. But he said he still believes that he can win the tournament for a fifth time.