Tiger Woods last night admitted he is “nervous” about the reception he will receive when he makes his competitive return at the Masters in two weeks time. "It would be nice to hear a couple claps here and there," he said.
However, in the first interviews Woods has given to the media since the news of his marital indiscretions broke four months ago, the world No 1 refused to reveal any more details about the car crash in November which led to his world falling apart.
“It’s all in the police report,” said Woods. “Beyond that everything's between [his wife] Elin and myself and that's private.” Yet there will doubtless be eyebrows raised by his response to how he lost control of the car. “That’s between Elin and myself,” he said.
Woods spoke to two television stations yesterday lunchtime at Isleworth, the golf club which is situated on the same gated community as his Orlando home. ESPN and the Golf Channel were both granted sit-downs and there were no restrictions on the questions asked, although there was a time limitation of five minutes.
Woods confessed to “doing some pretty bad things in my life" and said "I was living a life of a lie”. He talked of the “strength” he had garnered from his treatment and his return to Buddhism, but explained how his rehab was still ongoing. How that will affect his golf schedule for the year is yet to be discovered.
“I find that bothersome because I like to know what I’m going to be doing,” he said. Woods did not confirm any tournaments he be teeing it up in, including The Open and the Ryder Cup. But he did claim the only reason he is not playing the Masters warm-up at Bay Hill this week is because his game “is not yet ready”. “I am starting to get my feel back,” he said
Woods also expressed how “excited” he was to be returning to the professional fairways. He has not played since winning in Australia on November 15 and has only been practicing since emerging from two months of rehab three weeks ago. "I'm excited to get back and play, I'm excited to get to see the guys again," he said. "I really miss a lot of my friends out there. I miss competing. But still, I still have a lot more treatment to do, and just because I'm playing, doesn't mean I'm [going to] stop going to treatment."
But he is apprehensive about the reaction he will receive at Augusta, despite the Masters’ reputation as the most controlled environment in professional golf. "I'm a little nervous about that to be honest with you,” he said. “It would be nice to hear a couple claps here and there. But I also hope those claps are for birdies, too.”
Meanwhile, Steve Williams yesterday revealed he has told Woods “I’ll be there” to caddie for him at Augusta. There was speculation the Kiwi would lose his job after declaring in a recent interview he would have “blown the whistle” on his employer if he had not known about his affairs. Yesterday Woods claimed that none of his entourage knew about his secret life, although there will inevitably be continued skepticism.
It does seem, however, that one recent addition to Team Tiger is walking away. Kelly Tilghman, the Golf Channel reporter, enquired whether Ari Fleischer, the former press secretary of President George W Bush, would be present at the interview. She was informed that Fleischer was “withdrawing his services” from the Woods camp as he was becoming “too big a part of the story”.