Tiger Woods finally broke his silence by taking full responsibility for his “irresponsible and selfish” behavior and apologizing to his wife, Elin, at a press conference Friday morning.
Woods’ mother and several of his wife’s family members also attended the 11 a.m. press conference at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse in Ponte Verde Beach, Fla.
The prepared statement comes nearly three months after a Thanksgiving car crash that began the media frenzy surrounding the golfer’s infidelity. Woods did not take any questions during the conference but addressed many of the main points his fans have been wondering about.
Woods was solemn as he approached the podium in a simple black blazer and blue button-up shirt. He vaguely stated that he and Elin were working on their relationship, but made no definitive comments about a divorce.
He went on to apologize to his business partners and reaffirmed his commitment to his charities. Wrapping up the first part of the speech, Woods looked directly into the camera and said, “For all that I have done, I am so sorry.”
The tone changed quickly, however, as Woods took to dispelling rumors that have circulated in recent months. In a definitive tone, Woods addressed the allegations of domestic abuse by his wife. “Elin never hit me that night or any other night,” he said.
He commended his wife’s “grace and poise” and insisted that she deserves “praise, not blame” during this time.
“I had affairs; I cheated,” Woods said. “I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply to me. … I felt entitled.” Woods expressed his desire to make amends, which he said would start with never repeating the same mistakes.
Wood admitted that he’s spent most of the last couple of months in a rehabilitation facility and said that he would be returning to in-patient therapy Saturday. He said he understands people want to ask questions about what’s going on with his marriage and personal life, but reaffirmed that the matter is between him and his wife.
After vehemently denying the rumors that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his career, he went on to chastise the paparazzi for their treatment of his family, citing an incident when photographers followed his 2-year-old daughter to school.
Woods said he would take lessons from his faith, Buddhism, to stop following every impulse and learn restraint.
He also addressed his return to golf saying, “I do plan to return to golf one day; I just don’t know when that will be. I don’t rule out that it will be this year.”
Following a few more apologies, Woods finished his statement and made a bee line for his mother. After an emotional hug, he gave hugs and handshakes to Elin’s family and exited the conference room.
Initial reactions to the statement were mixed. Tiger-related posts were popular trending topics on Twitter throughout the speech and continued long after it ended.
“I feel he believed everything he said while he was apologizing,” said Kofi Ellison, a junior majorin in biology at Howard University. “I don’t think it’s anyone’s business but his wife and kids’ but the apology seemed sincere to me.”
Sophomore chemistry major Clarice Carthon disagreed. “I don’t think it was a sincere apology,” she said. “I believe it was just a speech to appease certain groups of people, like his corporate sponsors.”
The impact of Woods’ statement on his tainted public image and endorsements remains to be seen.