Tiger Woods has spoken.
At a 16.00 GMT media event especially created to give the superstar an opportunity to address the World, he spoke of his deep regret and ‘personal disappointment’ and confirmed that he does not yet know when he will return to golf.
Speaking in the Sunset Room on the second floor of the TPC at Sawgrass, Woods emphasised his sorrow for his personal misdemeanours in the past and stated his determination to ‘regain his balance‘ both personally and professionally.
The audience of ‘friends, colleagues and close associates‘ – which included his Mother, PGA Tour Commisioner Tim Finchem and long-time friend Notah Begay – sat in silence as the World, in turn, watched and listened.
The World number one spoke candidly and honestly throughout the statement and embraced his Mother at its conclusion.
In all Woods spoke for fourteen minutes and gave a speech which revolved around key themes of regret, disappointment, heartbreak and sorrow.
The media event represented Tiger’s first public appearance since the beginning of his self-imposed exile from the game of golf in the aftermath of a car crash he was involved in on Thanksgiving Day. Nobody in the press knew quite what to expect; as Woods opened his speech with the words ‘Good Morning, and thankyou for joining me…’ – the sporting world stood deathly still.
Throughout the speech Woods seemed keen to emphasise his self-acknowledgement that what he had done, in the past, was wrong. He said ‘everyone, has good reason to be crtical of me‘, ‘I have bitterly disappointed all of you‘ and was ’embarassed to put [all of those people] in that situation‘.
He told his audience that in the past he had felt he ‘was entitled to do whatever‘ he wanted and that for all of his hard work and dedication on the golf course, he said he felt he ‘deserved’ to be able to succumb to the temptations that ‘money and fame surrounded‘ him with. He repeated ‘I had affairs, I cheated’.
He was perhaps most keen however, to strongly refute media allegations that on the night of his car crash, he and his wife Elin Nordegren had been involved in a physical fight. Woods told those watching that Nordegren deserved nothing but praise for her ‘grace and poise‘ throughout the affair.
On a similar note, Tiger distanced himself from media rumours that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs in the past and criticised the media industry for pursuing and hounding his family over the past three months. He said photographers had ‘followed his two and a half year old Daughter to school and reported its location‘ and had ‘staked out [his] Wife and pursued [his] Mum‘.
Golf seemed the last thing on Woods’ mind and devoted only thirty seconds to the game. He said ‘I do plan to return to golf one day, I just don’t know when that will be‘.
Woods thanked the well-wishers who have supported him since news of the scandal first broke and looked and referred to the future on a number of different occasions. He told of how somebody had once told him ‘it’s not what you achieve in life, it’s what you overcome’ and said he would be returning to the Buddhist values he was once brought up on but had quickly grown away from.
The golfer – who is arguably the greatest living sportsman – finished the event by repeating how disappointed he was that he had let down all those who had believed in him over the years; to those individuals he had one request – ‘I ask for your help, to find the room in your heart, to one day believe in me again‘.
The speech was followed by his Mother’s embrace, cuddles and handshakes to those closest to him in the room. Then, with his head down, Tiger exited the Sunset Room.
By Ross A. Fox