Tiger Woods to return to therapy

 

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. --- Tiger Woods re-emerged into public life Friday, issuing another apology for his infidelity at a closely scripted event and affirming he will play golf again -- he's just not sure when.

 

Speaking before a small group at the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse and a massive television audience, one of the world's most-recognized athletes repeatedly told his family, sponsors and fans -- in essence, everyone connected with him -- that he was sorry for his behavior.

"I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did was not acceptable," said Woods, looking composed and speaking in a steady voice. His wife, Elin, was not with him.

As for coming back to the PGA Tour, Woods said: "I do plan to return to golf one day. I just don't know when that day will be. I don't rule out it will be this year."

Like Woods' career itself, the event demanded attention.

The golfer talked for 13 1/2 minutes at the clubhouse, home of the PGA Tour. About 40 people were in the room, including his mother in the front row. All sat quietly as Woods, a billion-dollar brand, spoke from behind a lectern backed by a blue curtain. He used the word "sorry" three times and "apology" twice.

When he finished, Woods hugged his mother and she whispered in his ear.

"I said 'I'm so proud of you. Never think you stand alone. Mom will always be there for you and I love you,'" Kultida Woods said.

Admitting he felt he "deserved to enjoy the temptations" that came with his fabulous success, Woods said he is solely responsible for his actions.

"I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior," he said.

Woods said he was in treatment for 45 days and will return for more therapy today, adding he has more work to do to resolve his personal problems.

Woods had not talked in public since he drove his SUV into a tree outside his home in Florida on Nov. 27, triggering shocking revelations about his serial infidelity.

As for his marriage, he said: "Every one of these questions and answers is a matter between Elin and me, issues between a husband and wife."

"As Elin pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words," Woods added. "It will come from my behavior over time."

In Sweden, Elin's father, Thomas Nordegren, saw Woods' confession.

"I watched it but I have nothing to say right now," Nordegren told The Associated Press. Elin's mother, Barbro Holmberg, declined to comment.

Friday's event was tightly controlled, with only a few journalists allowed to watch Woods live. The confession became a major television event with the networks breaking in to show it.

"I think that since Day 1, people that know him and people that don't know him, what I've heard from most people is mainly, I mean there's some anger in some corners, but mainly it is a sense of sadness," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said."He's an American hero. And he's had his issues."

 

Transcript of Tiger Woods' statement

Good morning, and thank you for joining me.  Many of you in this room are my friends.  Many of you in this room know me.  Many of you have cheered for me or you've worked with me or you've supported me.

    Now every one of you has good reason to be critical of me.  I want to say to each of you, simply and directly, I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in.

    I know people want to find out how I could be so selfish and so foolish.  People want to know how I could have done these things to my wife Elin and to my children.  And while I have always tried to be a private person, there are some things I want to say.

    Elin and I have started the process of discussing the damage caused by my behavior.  As Elin pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time.  We have a lot to discuss; however, what we say to each other will remain between the two of us.

    I am also aware of the pain my behavior has caused to those of you in this room.  I have let you down, and I have let down my fans.  For many of you, especially my friends, my behavior has been a personal disappointment.  To those of you who work for me, I have let you down personally and professionally.  My behavior has caused considerable worry to my business partners.

    To everyone involved in my foundation, including my staff, board of directors, sponsors, and most importantly, the young students we reach, our work is more important than ever.  Thirteen years ago, my dad and I envisioned helping young people achieve their dreams through education.  This work remains unchanged and will continue to grow.  From the Learning Center students in Southern California to the Earl Woods scholars in Washington, D.C., millions of kids have changed their lives, and I am dedicated to making sure that continues.

    But still, I know I have bitterly disappointed all of you.  I have made you question who I am and how I could have done the things I did.  I am embarrassed that I have put you in this position.

    For all that I have done, I am so sorry.

    I have a lot to atone for, but there is one issue I really want to discuss.  Some people have speculated that Elin somehow hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night.  It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that.  Elin never hit me that night or any other night.  There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage, ever.  Elin has shown enormous grace and poise throughout this ordeal.  Elin deserves praise, not blame.

    The issue involved here was my repeated irresponsible behavior.  I was unfaithful.  I had affairs.  I cheated.  What I did is not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame.

    I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in.  I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply.  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 to go far to find them.

    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.

    I've had a lot of time to think about what I've done.  My failures have made me look at myself in a way I never wanted to before.  It's now up to me to make amends, and that starts by never repeating the mistakes I've made.  It's up to me to start living a life of integrity.

    I once heard, and I believe it's true, it's not what you achieve in life that matters; it's what you overcome.

    Achievements on the golf course are only part of setting an example.  Character and decency are what really count.

     Parents used to point to me as a role model for their kids.  I owe all those families a special apology.  I want to say to them that I am truly sorry.

    It's hard to admit that I need help, but I do.  For 45 days from the end of December to early February, I was in inpatient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I'm facing.  I have a long way to go.  But I've taken my first steps in the right direction.

    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.

    Some people have made up things that never happened.  They said I used performance enhancing drugs.  This is completely and utterly false.  Some have written things about my family.  Despite the damage I have done, I still believe it is right to shield my family from the public spotlight.  They did not do these things; I did.

    I have always tried to maintain a private space for my wife and children.  They have been kept separate from my sponsors, my commercial endorsements.  When my children were born, we only released photographs so that the paparazzi could not chase them.  However, my behavior doesn't make it right for the media to follow my two and a half year old daughter to school and report the school's location.  They staked out my wife and they pursued my mom.  Whatever my wrongdoings, for the sake of my family, please leave my wife and kids alone.

    I recognize I have brought this on myself, and I know above all I am the one who needs to change.  I owe it to my family to become a better person.  I owe it to those closest to me to become a better man.  That's where my focus will be.

    I have a lot of work to do, and I intend to dedicate myself to doing it.  Part of following this path for me is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age.  People probably don't realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years.  Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security.  It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint.  Obviously I lost track of what I was taught.

    As I move forward, I will continue to receive help because I've learned 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.

    In therapy I've learned the importance of looking at my spiritual life and keeping in balance with my professional life.  I need to regain my balance and be centered so I can save the things that are most important to me, my marriage and my children.

    That also means relying on others for help.  I've learned to seek support from my peers in therapy, and I hope someday to return that support to others who are seeking help.  I do plan to return to golf one day, I just don't know when that day will be.

    I don't rule out that it will be this year.  When I do return, I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game.  In recent weeks I have received many thousands of emails, letters and phone calls from people expressing good wishes.  To everyone who has reached out to me and my family, thank you.  Your encouragement means the world to Elin and me.
    I want to thank the PGA TOUR, Commissioner Finchem, and the players for their patience and understanding while I work on my private life.  I look forward to seeing my fellow players on the course.

    Finally, there are many people in this room, and there are many people at home who believed in me.  Today I want to ask for your help.  I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again.

    Thank you.

 

PGA Tour press release


Around 40 people including PGA tour executives, Wood's agent, his mother Kultida, sat gathered in three tiers of wooden chairs set in an arc, waiting for him to arrive. The blinds covering the three windows in the room were shut. There was total hush as all eyes turned to a break in the heavy blue drapes. Just the buzz of a helicopter overhead. Then followed his solemn apology, the text of which is already available.

After the event, Woods' mother Kultida spoke to reporters.

"You know what? I'm so proud to be his mother. Period. This thing, it teaches him, just like golf. When he changes a swing... he wants to get better... He will start getting better... it's just like that. Golf is just like life, when you make a mistake, you learn from your mistake and move on stronger. That's the way he is."

"As a human being everyone has faults, makes mistakes and sins. We all do. But, we move on when we make a mistake and learn from it. I am upset the way media treated him like he's a criminal...he didn't kill anybody, he didn't do anything illegal... They've being carrying on from thanksgiving until now, that's not right!" she said

"People don't understand that Tiger has a very good heart and soul," she said, citing the role of his foundation in helping kids and also in Thailand. "Sometimes I think there is a complete double standard... He tried to improve himself."

"The tabloids and newspapers just killed him, held him back.. To me it looked like a double standard..."

Is it the hardest thing he'll ever go through? "Yes... When you make a mistake you learn from it and move on, that's the way life is, that's a human being. We're not good, and he never claimed he was God. If anyone tells me to condemn him, I say look at yourself first.. .. I would ... look in their eyes and tell them you're not God!"

What are your emotions? "Upset... This thing is a family matter... It's not easy to be him. ... (People) go to work 8 to 5 and go home to have a life with the family. Tiger can't do that." "You have to look at human side, human make mistake, he not God."

How will Buddhism help? "Buddhism teaches you to go deep inside your soul and look through from himself, and correct the bad thing to be a good thing... When he realized, he said okay, and went back to practice Buddhism and that will make him a much better person...


Tim Finchem, of the PGA

"I thought it was a good step. I thought he did a very good job of communicating the way he thought and what he thinks about where he is.... It's good that he's taking this step as a way to return to public life, and I certainly thought that it was an effective step."

What of his return to golf? "We're supportive of whenever he comes back, whether it's three weeks from now, or three months from now, that's less important than when he comes back, he's prepared to play to resume his career in a positive way so that he's there for the long haul."

"I don't know when he is going to return, I think the important thing is that ... he is prepared to play. As he has indicated, he needs to make progress with these issues until a level that he is comfortable with."

How is the tour doing with him? "He's been out before, he was out when his father passed away a few years ago, he was out with his injury in 2008. ... Obviously in the tournaments he plays in obviously that increases the revenue significantly, plus there's this intangible ... he's the number one player in the game, and it just brings a lot of attention to the sport to have the number one player involved, whether he's playing that particular week or not, but when he's on the sidelines that's a negative. But we're performing well, as well as we did in '08 when he was out with his injuries."

Notah Begay, PGA golfer and friend of Tigers from Stanford days.

"It was just a heartfelt apology to so many different people... I was emotional and got a little choked up. Any time you see a good friend kind of suffering and taking on a tremendous amount of responsibility and having to be held accountable for actions that nobody would condone or approve, but at the same time it's a matter that should be handled privately between him and his wife."

How much does Begay expect him to change?

"It's a little bit harder than making a swing change."

"The sincerity of his remarks and the thoughtfulness in his message was very apparent."

How serious is he about remaking his life?

"It's tough to get any man in America just to go marriage counseling let alone go into a 45-day rehabilitation. Plus he's going back tomorrow, and that tells me that he's trying to learn about the issues. ... He's trying to learn about the though processes that caused the actions, so that he can cut them off next time."

 

 

 

 

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