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With his speech, Tiger Woods did what he had to do, and he did it on his terms

Tiger Woods stood before selected family and friends on Friday morning at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, looked directly into one of two pool cameras allowed and said the words many wanted to hear.

"For all that I have done, I am so sorry,'' Woods said.

Speaking for the first time since a Thanksgiving night car accident and revelations of repeated infidelity, Woods apologized for his behavior over the past two years. In his 13 minute prepared speech, Woods touched on his poor choices off the golf course, his efforts to regain the trust of his wife, Elin, and his plans to return to therapy on Saturday.

"The issue involved here was my repeated irresponsible behavior,'' Woods said. "I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated.''

This is what Woods had to do, and as always, he did it on his terms. He took no questions from the assembled crowd, which included his mother, Katilda, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and college roommate Notay Begay. There were also six pool reporters, but they could ask no questions.

Woods did a good job of getting out his message, while at the same time making it clear it was a private matter and would not be discussed again in the near future.

"I have a long way to go, but I'm taking my first steps in the right direction,'' he said. "I understand people have questions. Please know that as far as I'm concerned every one of these questions and answers is between Elin and me.''

As for his return to golf, Woods made it sound as if this year might be in doubt. And it definitely looks like any of the tournaments in the Florida swing, including the Transitions Championship, as well as the Masters in April are not on his calendar.

"I do plan to return to golf one day, I just don't know when that day will be,'' Woods said. "I don't rule out that it will be this year. When I do return, I need to make my behavior more respectful to the game.''

Woods also addressed accusations of steroid use, "This is completely and utterly false,'' and his rededication to Buddhism.

But the main point of his message was forgiveness. He knows the general public thinks lesser of him, and he can't rewrite the past. He brought that up many times as he apologized to family, business associates, sponsors and fellow PGA Tour players.

He wants us to give him a second chance. He promises to be a better person, family man, golfer.

"Today I want to ask for your help,'' Wood said. "I want to ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again.''

Now it's up to the public to decide.

As Woods finished his speech, he came off the podium and hugged his mother and a few friends. Then he disappeared through a blue curtain and back into seclusion, to return at an unknown time, supposedly as a changed man.

With his speech, Tiger Woods did what he had to do, and he did it on his terms 02/19/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 19, 2010 1:07pm]
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