Tuesday, April 6, 2010

'I'm amazed that fans still cheer for me' says Tiger Woods in first press conference since infidelity scandal

By Daily Mail Reporter

'I've done some horrible things': Tiger Woods speaks during a press conference at the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia

Tiger Woods will make his golfing comeback without his wife Elin at his side, he admitted last night.

He also claimed that 'nothing has changed' and he is still out to win, despite his recent troubles.

Woods, refused to answer questions about Elin, saying only that she was not with him at the U.S. Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia.

Speaking at a press conference on the eve of his return at the Masters, Woods said repeatedly that he was ashamed of what he had done to his family with his multiple infidelities.

But the four-time Augusta champion said he was happy to be returning to golf, and the welcome from the fans 'blew me away'.

The 34-year-old, who has not played competitive golf since his private life spectacularly unravelled at the end of last year, admitted that he was amazed that his fans were still cheering for him.

'Coming in today I didn't know what to expect, of course with the reception,' he said.

'The reception I received from the galleries is something that really touched my heart.'

Woods, who said golf felt 'fun' again, insisted he wanted to leave the Masters with more than his dignity. 'I am going to go out there to win this thing,' he said.

Tiger Woods walks off the driving range today with his swing coach Hank Haney before his practice round for the U.S. Masters in Augusta

Tiger looked slightly out of shape on the course yesterday next to leading British golfer Paul Casey

Wearing a baseball cap with his personal TW logo and a Nike polo shirt, Woods said he was still working on his behavioural problems after 45 days in rehab, allegedly for sex addiction. He refused to describe his treatment, saying it was 'personal'.

'I missed my son's first birthday [while in rehab] and that hurt a lot,' he said.
'I vowed to never miss another one after that. It was something I regret and I will do for the rest of my life.'

Asked why he had stayed silent for so long while his reputation crumbled, he said he had done everything 'to the letter of the law'.

Woods denied ever taking illegal drugs, but admitted he received 'blood spinning' treatments - which are controversial but not banned - to speed his recovery from a knee injury. They came from a doctor who is under investigation by the FBI.

Elin Nordegren sits with her son Charlie as she watches a tennis match between Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick in Florida on Good Friday

He admitted taking Ambien sleeping pills and Vicodin painkillers, but said he did not get hooked on them. 'Most of the time I was on Ambien it was when my dad was sick,' he said. 'When he died I took those things to help me sleep.'

Woods was cagey over the infamous accident outside his Florida mansion that helped trigger the scandal.

He admitted having five stitches in his lip and 'a pretty sore neck' but did not comment on speculation that he crashed his car after a confrontation with Elin over his cheating.

Only 180 accredited journalists were allowed into the news conference at Augusta's media centre.

It came as Woods made a surprise appearance at Georgia's Augusta National Golf Club

It has been claimed that Woods paid $10million to mistress Rachel Uchitel (left) in return for a confidentiality agreement. That revelation came as porn star Devon James (right) said ‘plenty’ more women are set to claim having flings with Woods

He will make his comeback from a self-enforced absence in the wake of the scandal that erupted last November by competing in this week's Masters, which is the first major championship of 2010, on Thursday.

He spent 10 minutes at the course's revamped practice facility, speaking briefly to British world number six Paul Casey.

Today, he played 18 holes in practice with 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples, and the pair were joined for the last six holes by 2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk.

Woods was joined by his caddie Steve Williams, whose future with Woods was in doubt early this year when he gave a TV interview claiming he knew nothing of his boss's affairs and would have blown the whistle if he had.

Woods has not played competitive golf since his private life spectacularly unravelled at the end of last year

Conspicuously, Woods' black golf bag was free of any sponsor's names, bearing only the letters 'TW' in white with 'Tiger Woods' written below.

Last week the website TMZ, which broke the news of Michael Jackson's death, claimed the golfer paid out $10million to mistress Rachel Uchitel in return for an iron-clad confidentiality agreement.

That revelation came as another mistress, porn star Devon James, claimed ‘plenty’ more women are set to claim steamy flings with Woods.

She told an Australian radio show that she has audio tapes, photos and text messages to prove her fling with him.

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