AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods, acknowledging he has “acted terribly,” says he has to become a better man in the future.
In his first unrestricted meeting with the media, the star golfer said his fall from grace, like the death of his father and the birth of his children, had shown him what really matters.
“It’s not about the championships, it’s about how you live your life,” he told a news conference at the Masters. “And I hadn’t done that the right way for a while. I need to change that. Going forward, I need to be a better man than I was before.
“Just because I’ve gone through treatment doesn’t mean it stops.”
Woods said his double life had taken a toll on his golf, despite his many successes.
“I won numerous tournaments over the last couple of years but I wasn’t having anywhere near the amount of fun. Why? Because look what I was engaged in. Living a life where you’re lying all the time, life’s not fun. That’s where I was. Now that’s been stripped all away and here I am and it feels fun again.”
Woods also revealed he had five stitches in his mouth after the infamous Thanksgiving night car crash that exposed details of his sordid private life.
“I acted terribly, poorly, made just incredibly bad decisions, decisions that have hurt so many people close to me,” he said.
Asked how he kept his other life a secret, he said: “I fooled myself as well. I lied to a lot of people, deceived a lot of people.”
And he said his success on the golf course pales to the mistakes he has made.
“Winning golf tournaments through all of this is irrelevant compared to the damage I’ve caused.”
Still, he said he planned to try to go out this week “and win this thing.”
Woods seemed to grow in confidence as the 40-minute news conference went on, often calling reporters by their name.
Asked what the most difficult thing has been recently in his fall from grace, he replied: “Having to look at myself in a light that I never wanted to look at myself, that was difficult. How far I got from my core fundamentals, the core morals that my mom and dad taught me.”
He said the other difficult part was “the constant harassment” to his family.
Woods, who said his wife Elin will not join him at the Masters, also thanked the fans for his reception Monday during a practice round.
“Coming into today I didn’t know what to expect with regards to the reception. I tell you what, the galleries couldn’t be nicer. It was just incredible. The encouragement I got, it blew me away, to be honest with you, it really did.”
Asked about his injuries following the car crash in November, Woods said he had “a busted up lip and pretty sore neck. That was it.”
Woods said he did everything “to the letter of the law” in terms of dealing with the authorities.
Earlier, Woods walked onto the first tee to awkward silence from about 500 fans as he began a practice round with Fred Couples.
The fans gradually warmed up to him, with the occasional shout of “Welcome back, Tiger,” coming from the gallery.
Woods turned to acknowledge the fans with a nod and a smile — something he rarely did before a sex scandal made him the source of so much ridicule.
It was his first time playing before a gallery since Nov. 15 when he won the Australian Masters.
Woods teed off about 8 a.m., just as the gates to Augusta National opened.
Woods hooked his opening tee shot toward the ninth fairway and hit another. He walked briskly, chatting with Couples as fans lining the fairways took pictures of every step.