Tiger Woods: "As Elin [my wife] pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behaviour over time."
Actions speak louder than words – and Tiger has some making up to do, not just with his wife but to the whole PGA Tour. Despite the multiple apologies littering his speech, there are those in golf who will still believe there was no good golfing reason to make this statement when he did, overshadowing the first big tournament of the year after three months of resolute silence. It wasn't just yesterday, the damage was done with the announcement of the announcement on Wednesday.
"Some people have speculated that Elin hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night. It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that."
While there is no allowing for those who would like to wallow in the prurient details of his indiscretions, legitimate questions remain about the night of Thanksgiving last year when he drove his car into a fire hydrant and ended up in hospital, something that became a police matter. His refusal initially to speak to the police set the speculation in motion and led to an open house on his behaviour.
"I was wrong. I was foolish. I don't get to play by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me. I brought this shame on myself. I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife's family, my friends, my foundation, and kids all around the world who admired me."
It will be fascinating to see how far he takes the mantra of not getting to play by different rules. All his professional career, Woods has believed that it is different for him, so the little niceties around the game of signing autographs, lingering in the press room longer than the absolute minimum, not waiting to inform tournaments not run by his personal sponsors that he would be playing until the very last deadline, didn't apply. They do now.
"As I proceed, I understand people have questions. I understand the press wants to ask me for the details and the times I was unfaithful. I understand people want to know whether Elin and I will remain together. Please know that as far as I'm concerned, every one of these questions and answers is a matter between Elin and me. These are issues between a husband and a wife."
What Woods has to do is start building a relationship with the golf writers who cover him regularly. Not a good start with the boycott by the Golf Writers Association of America yesterday but when he returns to golf there will be a host of questions, not least how his knee is, how his practice has gone, what is he doing with his swing, all of which in the past were treated like state secrets.
"Some people have made up things that never happened. They said I used performance-enhancing drugs. This is completely and utterly false."
No one, at least no one credible, ever accused Woods of using performance-enhancing drugs. But while recovering from knee surgery in 2008 he was treated by a Canadian doctor, Anthony Galea, who was charged in December with trafficking illegal drugs. There has been no evidence of him using such drugs in athletes but there were doubts about his ability to work in Florida where Woods was recuperating.
"As I move forward, I will continue to receive help because I've learnt that's how people really do change. Starting tomorrow, I will leave for more treatment and more therapy. I would like to thank my friends at Accenture and the players in the field this week for understanding why I'm making these remarks today."
Ernie Els called Woods "selfish" for not waiting until Monday to make his statement, while Accenture were the first sponsors to drop Tiger. His handlers said the timing was forced and maybe this is a case where Tiger has to do what is right for him. But many in the game will be looking for him to do what is right for the game when he gets back to it.
"I do plan to return to golf, I just don't know when that will be. I don't rule out that it will be this year."
This was the big one for the golfing community. When will he be back? We still do not know and the whole tenor of the speech suggested he is a long way from having enough stability in his private life to try winning golf tournaments again. So, no Florida comeback, almost certainly no Masters. This year's US Open at Pebble Beach and the Open at St Andrews – he won there last time – suggested a massive year for Tiger in his quest to overhaul Jack Nicklaus's 18 major titles. That he will not even tee up remains all too probable.
"When I do return, I need to make my behaviour more respectful of the game."
Only a fortnight ago the five-times Open champion Tom Watson said Woods did not rank up with the very greatest in the game because of his behaviour on the course, which has got increasingly vulgar in recent years, with the swearing, spitting and club throwing. His two-day appearance at Turnberry last summer was particularly petulant. Then, there's his caddie, Steve Williams, who might like to point out spectators with cameras – not allowed on the course – to the marshals rather than ripping the offending article from around the miscreant's neck.
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