Tiger Woods Apologizes For Affairs

Golfer Tiger Woods held Friday his much anticipated public apology, saying he'll return to golf but not specifying when. It was his first public appearance in three months and Woods used it to acknowledge cheating on his wife, take responsibility for his actions and said he was still in treatment for his behavior.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Tiger Woods was once one of the easiest sells in all of professional sports. But scandals and his refusal to talk about them have eroded his value as a pitchman, to say nothing of his future as a golfer. Well, today Woods broke his silence in a short speech in Florida.

NPR's Mike Pesca was as close as non-invited guests were allowed to be.

MIKE PESCA: Golfers are allowed to carry 14 clubs in their bag and they choose the right one depending on the lay of the ball and the distance to the tee. For three months, Tiger Woods has been in the deep rough. So, the man who routinely ensorcells the golf world with amazing strokes had to just start hacking. First matter of business: apologize unambiguously.

Mr. TIGER WOODS (Professional Golf Player): I want to say to each of you, simply and directly...

PESCA: And here he came closest to choking up.

Mr. WOODS: ...I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in.

PESCA: The you in question was an assemblage of family and employees in a room at the 77,000-square-foot clubhouse at the TPC at Sawgrass golf course. Though no questions were allowed, there were to be six reporters on hand, but only the three from the wire services chose to attend. Vartan Kupelian, president of the Golf Writers Association of America, explained why none of his nearly one thousand members were there.

Mr. VARTAN KUPELIAN (President, Golf Writers Association of America): All we would have been in that room is props. We didn't want to be props. We'd be standing in the room giving credibility to this entire process. There was no point in being a prop.

PESCA: Kupelian would have been one of the writers allowed in the room. ESPN's Bob Harig would have been another. Even though he was one of the few members of the Golf Writers executive board who voted against the group's boycott, Harig was under no illusion about the nature of today's event.

Mr. BOB HARIG (Reporter, ESPN): This wasn't a news conference. This is a staged choreographed deal.

PESCA: And indeed the familiar tropes of public figures asking forgiveness were all met, from acceptance of blame...

Mr. WOODS: I recognize I have brought this on myself.

PESCA: ...to a statement of humility.

Mr. WOODS: I don't get to play by different rules.

PESCA: Woods went on to mention that he was in therapy but he didn't say for what. Woods also invoked religion, which is usual, but he spoke about a faith shared by less than one percent of Americans.

Mr. WOODS: Buddhism teaches to stop following every impulse and to - and to learn restraint.

PESCA: Woods left open the issue about when he would return and he didn't approach specifics about any of the women who have come forward to claim, and in some cases document, the trysts. PGA Tour President Tim Finchem later said that was fine with him.

Mr. TIM FINCHEM (President, PGA Tour): Personally, what else do we need to know at this point?

PESCA: The person whose name Woods invoked 10 times during the speech, his wife Elin, was not in attendance. But Kultida Woods, Tiger's mother, was. The two hugged for a long moment when Woods concluded. The embrace of fans and sponsors will be harder earned in the months ahead.

Mike Pesca, NPR News, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

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