updated 02/19/2010 AT 11:35 AM ET
•originally published 02/19/2010 AT 11:10 AM ET
Tiger Woods publicly apologized Friday morning during a televised press conference, acknowledging that those gathered had supported him and now had cause to be critical of him.
“I want to say to each of you simply and directly: I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible, selfish behavior,” Woods, 34, said from a simple lectern at the TPC Sawgrass golf course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. “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 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,” he explained, adding, “My real apology will not come in the form of words, but my behavior over time. We have a lot to discuss. What we say to each other will remain between the two of us.”
During his 15-minute remarks, the golfer explained that he sought in-patient therapy beginning in late December, where he received “guidance for the issues I’m facing.”
“I had a lot of time to think of what I have done,” he said. “My failures have made me look at myself in a way I never wanted to before.”
Elin Didn’t Attack Me
Sober and contrite in tone, Woods also took time to clear up speculation around his bizarre car accident on Nov. 27. “I have a lot to atone for,” he said, “but there’s one issue I really want to discuss. Some people have speculated that Elin somehow hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night. It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that: Elin never hit me that night or any other night. There has never been [any] domestic violence in our marriage. Ever.”
Praising his wife’s “enormous grace and poise,” the embattled athlete said he hoped the media would focus its attention on him and his indiscretions – not his wife or children.
“The issue involved here was my repeated irresponsible behavior,” he said. “I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is 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. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries a married couple should live by. 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.”
A Controlled Statement
Though Elin was noticeably absent, the golfer delivered his remarks in front of a handpicked audience including his mother, Kultida, who was seated in the front row. Reading his prepared statement slowly, and in a tense, measured tone, Woods said he will return to therapy and continue to seek treatment.
Before Friday’s remarks, some in the golf community criticized Woods’s timing. Simultaneously, his professional golf colleagues were competing in this year’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Marana, Ariz., a tournament that Woods has won three times. But Woods’s reps apparently contacted the PGA commissioner Thursday to inform him that the golfer would be making his statement on Friday, as the scheduling coincided with a break from his sex rehab treatment.
“I recognize I have brought this on myself,” Woods said toward the end of his remarks. “And I know above all, I am the one who needs to change. I owe it to my family to become a better person.”