Woods: I was a 'disgusting' person

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The Independent US

He blamed himself. He said sorry to his wife, his mother, his children, his friends, and his fans. He admitted having become a “disgusting” person. And in the manner of a man who has recently spent plenty of time on a psychiatrist’s couch, he talked about how he’d conquered “self denial,” found God (or Buddha), and is making sure it won't happen again.

Almost four months after Tiger Woods stopped being the world’s greatest golfer and became a universal punch-line for jokes about marital indiscretion, he continued his tightly-controlled journey back into the limelight, giving not one but two short and thoroughly revealing interviews to American sports networks.

“A lot has transpired in my life. A lot of ugly things,” he said, with splendid understatement. “I’ve done some pretty bad things in my life. It all came to a head. But now, after treatment, after going for in-patient treatment for 45 days…I’m getting back to my old roots… I’m living a life of amends, working at it each and every day.”

Like everything else in Tiger country, both before and after his spectacular fall from grace, the conversations with ESPN and The Golf Channel were painfully stage-managed. Each was cut short after exactly five minutes, and broadcast simultaneously at 7.30pm, as the nation’s law-makers were preparing to vote on the headline-grabbing healthcare reform bill.

Yet despite the effort to bury bad news, the puffy-eyed Woods succeeded in serving-up a series of fascinating insights into both his previous failings, and his current state of mind as he prepares to make a professional comeback on the rarefied fairways of Augusta at the Masters in two-and-a-half weeks time.

“You know what? I did it,” he confessed, about his multiple affairs. “I’m the on who did those things. Looking back at it now, with a clear head, I do get it. Because you know what? That was just disgusting behaviour, and it’s hard to believe that was me, looking back on it.”

Speaking on the verandah at Isleworth, his home golf club near Orlando in Florida, Woods said extended treatment at a sexual addiction clinic had made him realise that he’d been “living the life of a lie” before news of his infidelity was first made public.

“Stripping away denial and rationalisation, in treatment, you start coming to the truth of who you really are. That can be really ugly. But then again, when you face it and start conquering it, up to it, the strength that I feel now, I’ve never felt that kind of strength.”

Woods refused to discuss the exact events that led to the late night car crash outside his Florida home on November 27th, saying it was “all in the police report,” but did confess to having cheated on his wife, Elin, on several occasions.

“Just one is enough,” he said. “And obviously that wasn’t the case. I’ve made my mistakes… I quit meditating, quit being a Buddhist. And my life changed upside down. I felt entitled, which I’d never felt before, and consequently I hurt many people, by my own reckless attitude and behaviour.”

Asked why, if he’d intended to cheat on his wife, he’d got married in the first place, Woods replied: “Because I loved her. I loved Elin with everything I have, and that’s something that makes me feel even worse. That I did this to someone I loved that much.”

Woods was dressed in olive-green kit emblazoned with the logo of his sponsor, Nike. He also wore a white string bracelet, which he said was a piece of Buddhist jewellery that gave him “protection and strength.”

The interviews were arranged by Ari Fleischer, George Bush’s former press aide, who has been handling the golfer's PR but said last night that he'd decided to quite to prevent his role becoming a distraction in advance of Augusta.

Apropos of how he'll be greeted by golf fans at that tournament, Woods added: “I’m a little nervous about that to be honest with you… It would be nice to hear a couple of claps here and there. But I also hope they clap for birdies too.”

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