Woods: 'I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted'

Once his only concerns were putts and pars. Now it's all about apologies and amends

The blue backdrop, the bare podium, and the respectful audience gave it the air of a presidential press conference. Except that presidents generally take questions. And instead of geopolitics, the newsflash that stopped the world spinning for almost 14 minutes yesterday was this: Tiger Woods has given up extra-marital sex.

"I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated," said Woods, as American broadcast networks in the US scrambled their schedules to ensure live coverage of the event at the headquarters of the PGA tour in Florida. "I have a lot to atone for."

In front of an audience mostly family, friends, and associates, Woods did not say when he would return to the game that made him famous. But as well as the admission that he had been a bad person was a promise that the future would be different. "It's now up to me to make amends," he said. "And that starts by never repeating the mistakes I've made."

The volume of sales on the New York Stock Exchange dropped noticeably as traders paused to watch the golfer speak. Helicopter shots showed us Woods driving away when it was all over, as commentators more usually employed analysing politics gave their verdicts. If the rush of revelations about the carnal liaisons of Woods after he crashed into a fire hydrant in November had verged sometimes on French farce, this, gasped George Stephanopoulos of ABC, was "one of the most remarkable public apologies ever by a public figure".

It was one of the oddest, for sure. Woods, whose looks are more puppy than serial philanderer, seemed all beaten up, as well he might, discussing his serial sexcapades with his mother in front of him and his wife very notably absent: Elin may or may not end up standing by her man, but she was not there yesterday. The repentant philanderer did not cry, but looked like he might.

He did offer news. He has been in sex rehab since the end of December and, after a brief break to see his family (and us), he will return to the clinic today. "I have a long way to go," he explained. We are not likely to see him swinging an iron any time soon. "I do plan to return to golf one day, but I don't know when. I don't rule out that it will be this year."

As he shifted his prepared pages from right to left, he had more to share, including some complaints about what the press has got wrong. He has never used performance-enhancing drugs (the performance, we assume, being that on the green) and Elin never went after him with a nine-iron. "There have never been episodes of domestic violence in our marriage, ever," he insisted, looking long and hard into the camera.

Clearly, he was talking to more than one audience. He was addressing not just the media, his hostility towards them undimmed, to judge by his decision to allow only three wire reporters into his confessional chamber as more than 100 more watched on TV from a nearby hotel. He was also talking to his fellow golfing professionals, and the people, and above all, Elin herself. So he wanted us to know she had responded to their crisis with "grace and poise" and no one had the right to criticise her for what had happened. "What I did was unacceptable and I am the only person to blame," he said. "My real apology to her will not come in form of words, it will come with my behaviour over time. We have a lot to discuss. However, what we say to each other will remain between the two of us." Will they part? He was not saying.

Indeed, there was much that Woods did not say and will not say, if he can help it. He did not allow questions because he knows what would come. How many women was it exactly, Tiger? When did it start? Have you fathered children out of wedlock? Have you paid for women to remain silent? And on, and on, and on.

Woods did, however, allude to a general state of mind that, he says, led him to such recklessness. "I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply," he said. "I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that 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. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn't have far" – his speech broke – "didn't have to go far to find them."

Apparently, Buddhism, the religion he grew into, will help guide him now. "Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security," he said. "It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught."

The words seemed sincere. Certainly, he demonstrated that in 14 minutes it is possible say sorry and express remorse and contrition in many ways. "I recognise I have brought this on myself ... Today, I want to ask for your help. I ask you to find room in your hearts to one day believe in me again ... I was wrong. I was foolish ... I know I have severely disappointed all of you."

But did it work? Probably. Americans do not forgive their politicians quickly. But the hill to forgiveness is usually less steep for celebrities.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices