For only the second time since his post-Thanksgiving car crash that led to the revelation of his string of affairs, Tiger Woods addressed the media on Monday, as he prepares to make his return to golf at the Masters this week. And this time he even took questions!
CRAIG HEATLEY: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon, and a very warm welcome to you all. My name is Craig Heatley and I'm the chairman of the Masters Media Committee. It's my pleasure to welcome everyone to Augusta National Golf Club and to the 2010 Masters Tournament.
I would also like to welcome Tiger Woods, our four-time Masters Champion. This is Tiger's 16th Masters Tournament.
Tiger, we are delighted to have you here with us, and what a beautiful day out there to start Masters week. Are there any comments that you would like to make before we invite questions from the floor?
TIGER WOODS: Sure. Well, today I got a chance to play with Craig there -- or, sorry, Craig; Freddie, and then Jim joined us on the 13th hole, and it was just what a great day today.
Coming into today, I didn't know what to expect with regards to the reception, and I tell you what, the galleries couldn't be nicer. I mean, it was just incredible. The encouragement that I got, it was just -- it blew me away to be honest with you, it really did. And the people here over the years, I know they are extremely respectful, but today was just something that really touched my heart pretty good.
I would also like to I guess make another little comment before we start. I know that the players over the past few months have been bombarded with questions by all of you and the public, as well, and I would like to tell all of the players, hopefully after today, after answering questions at this press conference, the players can be left alone to focus on the Masters and focus on their game, not only for this week, but going forward, as well. And certainly apologize to all of them for having to endure what they have had to endure the past few months.
A lot has happened in my life over the past five months, and I'm here at the Masters to play and compete. And just really excited about doing that. I missed the competition. I missed seeing the guys out here. A lot of my friends, I haven't seen in a while. It was great to play golf again with Freddie and Jim, two of my best friends out here, and I played with Mark yesterday for nine holes and I'm playing with him again tomorrow, as well as Steve Stricker.
So it's been just an incredible experience so far here at the Masters.
Q. Tiger, you said in some recent TV interviews that everything was in the police report, but the police report didn't contain what was it about the injuries that sent you to the hospital. Can you tell us what they were?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I had a busted-up lip and a pretty sore neck, and that was it.
Q. And secondly, in the five --
TIGER WOODS: It required actually five stitches in my lip.
Q. From the five weeks from the accident until you went into therapy, why didn't you speak to the police, any of your corporate sponsors or the media that have covered you year-round?
TIGER WOODS: I did everything to the letter of the law. The lawyers gave me advice and I followed that advice, and again, I did everything to the letter of the law.
I did talk to my sponsors, and people that -- who I was close to at the various companies, but mainly I spent a lot of time with my family.
Q. What's been the most difficult thing for you to deal with these past few months, and how have you dealt with it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, probably two things. I think one being -- having to look at myself in a light that I never wanted to look at myself; that was difficult.
How far astray I got from my core fundamentals and the core morals that my mom and dad taught me; and having to break all that down, and as I said in the interview, with all of the denial and rationalization; to cut through that, I had to really take a hard look at myself. And that's what I started finding strength and peace.
And the other is the -- the other difficult part I think over the past few months has just been the constant harassment to my family. My wife and kids being photographed everywhere they go; being badgered, that's tough. That's tough on them, because it's really hard for us to heal and try and get through this as best we can.
Q. You said in February that when you returned to the game that you wanted to show more respect for the game; in what way are we going to see sort of differences out there between the ropes and outside the ropes?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, great question. I'm actually going to try and obviously not get as hot when I play. But then again, when I'm not as hot, I'm not going to be as exuberant, either. I can't play one without the other, and so I made a conscious decision to try and tone down my negative outbursts and consequently I'm sure my positive outbursts be will calmed down, as well.
Just trying to be more respectful of the game and acknowledge the fans like I did today. That was just an incredible reception today for all 18 holes, and show my appreciation for them. I haven't done that in the past few years, and that was wrong of me. So many kids have looked up to me and so many fans have supported me over the years. Just wanted to say thank you to them, especially going through all of this over the past few months, it really put things in perspective for me and how much I have appreciated -- or underappreciated the fans in the game of golf.
Q. You won a lot of golf tournaments over the last five years living a completely secret life; how were you able to do that? And secondly, do you feel -- what kind of golfer do you feel you'll be now going forward without having this secret?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think how I was earlier in my career, I was at peace, and I've had some great years. Unfortunately what I've done over the past years has been just terrible to my family. And the fact I won golf tournaments I think is irrelevant. It's the pain and the damage that I've caused, you know, my wife, my mom, my wife's family; my kids going forward are going to have to -- I'm going to have to explain all this to them.
You know, that's my responsibility. I did it. And I take full responsibility for it, and as I said, winning golf tournaments, I think through all of this is irrelevant compared to the damage I've caused.
Q. You've been known as a great proponent of drug testing on the PGA TOUR, as you probably know Dr. Anthony Galea was arrested with performance-enhancing drugs in his possession and as you know Dr. Galea said he's been to your to your home four times. Why did you feel it was necessary to have this particular doctor tore come to your home and what did he specifically do for you?
TIGER WOODS: Okay. Well, Christine, he did come to my house. He never gave me HGH or any PEDs. I've never taken that my entire life. I've never taken any illegal drug, ever, for that matter.
I had PRP, platelet-enriched plasma treatments, and basically what that is that that they draw blood from your arm spin it in a centrifuge and spin the plasma into the entries. As you all know, 2008 I brew out my ACL and part of my reconstruction with my LCL, it wasn't reacting properly, it was a little bit stuck. And so I had the PRP injection into my LCL.
And then in December, I started to train, start running again and I tore my Achilles in my right leg. I then had PRP injections throughout the year. I kept re-tearing it throughout the year and throughout the summer. I used tape most of the year to play, and so -- I also went to hyperbaric chambers after the injections to help drive in the -- it does help you heal faster and did everything I possibly could to heal faster so I could get become on the golf course going through the PRP injections.
Q. What were you anticipating today to be like for you and how nervous are you sitting here?
TIGER WOODS: Sitting here, not that nervous, no. As far as getting out there, I was definitely more nervous. That first tee, I didn't know what to expect, I really didn't, Steve. It's one of those things where I've never been in this position before. To be out there in front of the people where I have done some things that are just horrible, and you know, for the fans to really want to see me play golf again, I mean, that felt great, that really did.
Usually I kind of focus on placements of shots and getting ready, but today was a little bit different. I kind of took it in a little bit more, sort of more than I think I have in a long time, and it felt really good.
Q. You touched on it with Scott a little bit but usually have tunnel vision when you play, and I saw you out there engaging with the fans; will you be able to keep your competitive edge as high as it was and also be more engaging with fans?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think come game time it might be a little different. I'm obviously going to try to get the ball in the hole as best I can but during the practice rounds, I think just acknowledging the fans and their support for me, especially what has transpired in my life, for them to still cheer for me is just incredible, it really is.
Q. You and the rest of us discovered a lot of media we didn't know existed until the accident. I just wondered your response to the mainstream media, which was a lot more critical, obviously, than it had been; were you surprised, or did you sort of expect that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I was surprised at the mainstream media. I think it's also the times have changed, as well. With 24-hour news, you're looking for any kind of news to get out there.
I know a lot of my friends are in here, and I haven't seen them, I haven't talk ed to them, but I've read their articles, and of course they have been critical of me. They should, because what I have done was wrong. But then again, I know a lot of them -- I know a lot of you in here are my friends and will always be my friends.
Q. It's been reported you took prescription drugs, Ambien and Vicodin, can you speak to when you started taking them, how you needed them for tournament golf if you did and if you ever became addicted to either one of them or received treatment?
TIGER WOODS: I've taken them, yes, I've had some, as everyone knows, pretty interesting knee situations over the years. I've had, what, four operations now on my left knee. Then last year with my torn Achilles, it hurt quite a bit at times. And yeah, I did take that, and I took most of the time I was on the Ambien was when my dad was sick and when my dad died; that was a tough time in my life.
So that's when I was still taking some of those things to help me sleep. And that's about it.
Q. Have you ever received for it --
TIGER WOODS: No, mm-hmm.
Q. How is your knee, and does it still give you pain on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?
TIGER WOODS: You know, my knee feels great. The only time it doesn't feel good is when a front comes through; that's when most people realize it, arthritis in there when you get a little older. But other than that, it feels great. It's strong. It's explosive again, which is great, and now my Achilles is good now, so I'm training like I used to years ago.
Q. If I could just follow-up on Chris's question, there are a lot of doctors who do blood spinning, and what was it that prompted you to go to or have Dr. Galea come?
TIGER WOODS: Well, he's worked with so many athletes. That's also one of the reasons why I saw Dr. Whiten for my eyes is he's on a lot of different athletes and there's a certain comfort level to that when a person has worked with athletes.
Q. You said earlier that you were in some form of a rehab; can you talk about are you still in rehab and what you were in there for?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I was in there for 45 days and it was to take a hard look at myself, and I did, and I've come out better. I'm certainly a much better person for it than I was going in.
Does that mean I'm ever going to stop doing that? No. I've got to still continue with my treatment. And that's going forward. That's not going to -- sorry, that's not going to stop in the near future for sure.
Q. What's that for?
TIGER WOODS: That's personal, thank you.
Q. Federal investigators have contacted some of the other athletes who have worked with Dr. Galea; have they contacted you as part of that investigation?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, they actually contacted Steiny, and full cooperation, whenever they need me, but as of right now they have not asked for my time.
Q. You said in your statement that you felt entitled over the years. I assume that wasn't the first time you thought that but how were you able to rationalize that while you were engaging in that behavior and still play such winning golf?
TIGER WOODS: Explain that again? Sorry?
Q. You said you felt entitled to what you were doing before, at the same time how were you able to rationalize that in your mind while it was going on?
TIGER WOODS: Well, that's part of the problem I had, is the way I was thinking was not correct. And as part of where I was at, I was rationalizing and denying and in total denial at times. Whatever I did, I lied to myself, I lied to others, and just because I said -- just because I was winning golf tournaments doesn't mean a thing. The way I was thinking caused so much harm with the people that I love and care about the most on this planet.
Q. Did you only realize that after it became public?
TIGER WOODS: After I started going to treatment, that's when they started stripping all of that away from you.
Q. Your behavior, personal life before Thanksgiving, do you think it negatively impacted your play on the course at all? Could you have been playing better had you had more discipline in your personal life?
TIGER WOODS: I would like to say yes. I would be -- certainly would have had -- I would be more centered, more balanced, and that's where I'm headed towards. That's what I'm working towards each and every day.
I meditate religiously again like I used to, going back to my roots with my Buddhism with my mom. I need to do these things the way I used to do it. And unfortunately I got away from that, and I just lost that and unfortunately also lost my life in the process.
Q. The story about the doctor you were working with has been out there for several months, and it led to some assumptions that you just denied, obviously people writing or speculating that you might have been doing performance-enhancing drugs, why not talk about that sooner to get that put aside? And you referenced your Achilles was that two months before you came back to golf last year?
TIGER WOODS: Okay, why didn't I come out; because I haven't done any interviews, first of all. And when I did, you know, Kelly and Tom, I don't believe asked me those questions.
But as far as the injury, yeah, it was the week before the Chevron tournament, and yeah, so it was a couple months prior. It's also one of the reasons why when I did come back and I did start playing, I was hitting the ball so short. I couldn't push off of my right side.
And as I said, as I said to Christine, I tore it a couple more times throughout the year, and needed the injections to try and heal the wound.
Q. When you made that statement in February you gave the impression that you might not even come back this year; that you might be out for a long time. Did you genuinely believe that at the time and coming back was that entirely your decision and with the blessing of your family and your wife?
TIGER WOODS: When I gave my speech in February, I had no intentions of playing golf in the near future at all. I just had barely started practicing two days prior to that. That was the first time I hit balls.
And then I started hitting more balls and more balls and more balls and I started getting the itch again to start playing again (smiling). And Hank came down and we started working again and that felt great. It felt like old times. So much has transpired, it felt like old times to have Hank out there working on many I game and for hours and hours and hours on end, and that's when I made the decision to come back and play.
The reason why I didn't come back and play earlier than that, whether it was Tavistock Cup or Bay Hill, I wasn't ready for it. I wasn't even near physically ready to play at this level, and I needed more time.
Hank has come down quite a bit. We've come up here on two different occasions, the last two Monday and Tuesdays we have come up here to do some work on the golf course, and here we are.
Q. But was it sorely your decision or was there support from your family for that?
TIGER WOODS: I've had a lot of support, and that's been the great thing about it.
Q. There was a four-week lapse between the accident and when you entered therapy. When did you make that decision that this was something you were going to have to deal with rather than just push it into the background?
TIGER WOODS: Well, probably just prior to Christmas I made the decision to enter rehab. And having spent Christmas Day with my family was just incredible and then having to go off from there into treatment; that was a very difficult time, because what people probably don't realize is that because of the time frame of it, I missed my son's first birthday. And that hurts. That hurts a lot. I vowed I would never miss another one after that. I can't go back to where I was. I want to be a part of my son's life and my daughter's life going forward and I missed his first birthday. I mean, that was very hard that day and something I regret and I probably will for the rest of my life.
Q. Will Elin and the kids be joining you this week at the Masters, and if not, is that a sign that she's not ready to support you yet and should you be making this return so soon to the game?
TIGER WOODS: Elin is not coming this week, no.
Q. So should you be returning to the game so soon with -- time repairing your relationship?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm excited to play this week.
Q. Will you keep your time, your management team intact, and how much did they actually know about everything that was going on?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I certainly have everyone around me. I've lied and deceived a lot of people and a lot of people didn't know what I was doing, either. So I've had, again, a tremendous amount of support, as well, from others on the outside, and it's been a difficult time, but also I'm actually surprised how much support I've gotten, as well.
Q. We've come to know you as a guy who controls things around you pretty tightly, whether it's this or everywhere around your life, and with all of the reports that have come out with seemingly a lot of loose ends with things you did, whether it be text messages or whatever those things be, it leads to wonder why you would leave so many loose ends, and is there almost some element of you wanted to get caught?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. All I know is I acted just terribly, poorly, made just incredibly bad decisions, and decisions that have hurt so many people close to me. That's enough.
Q. How did you fool so many people for so long?
TIGER WOODS: You know, Tom, I fooled myself, as well. As I said, I lied to a lot of people, deceived a lot of people, kept others in the dark; rationalized, and even lied to myself. And when you strip all that away, you start realizing -- when I strip down all of that away and start realizing what I had done, the full magnitude of it, it's pretty brutal.
I take full responsibility for what I've done, and I don't take that lightly.
Q. What does this do to your legacy?
TIGER WOODS: Well, my dad -- it's amazing how he says things that comes back. In order to help people, you have to first learn how to help yourself, that's what he always used to say. I never understood that. When I was in treatment, I wrote that down; I looked at it every day, and learning how to help myself, I can therefore, I can help more people going forward, infinitely more, than I did prior to all this.
Q. In light of the off-course pressure that you've been experiencing, how important is the support that you have on the first tee when it's just you and your caddie, Steve Williams and what influence will he have on your four day at the Masters?
TIGER WOODS: Well, to have Stevie back, it's tremendous. It really is. He's a great friend, always has been and always will be. We are honest with one another. We've had a long talk, and it was a great talk, as well.
It's great to have him on the bag. He's excited to get back and compete again. He's been doing really well racing-wise. He won the New Zealand Championships. But also, this is another part of his life that he loves to do. He loves to be back here at Augusta, and for us to go back out there as a team together, it feels good.
Q. Do you feel the same way about your pursuit of Jack Nicklaus's records, about winning golf tournaments, or does that have to take a different perspective now considering what happened in November?
TIGER WOODS: You know, when I -- when I went through that period when my father was sick and my father passed away, it put things in perspective real quick. And when my kids were born, again, it put it in perspective. And then what I've done here, it puts it in perspective; it's that it's not about championships. It's about how you live your life.
And I had not done that the right way for a while, and I needed to change that. And going forward, I need to be a better man going forward than I was before.
And just because I've gone through treatment doesn't mean it stops. I'm trying as hard as I possibly can each and every day to get my life better and better and stronger, and if I win championships along the way, so be it.
But along the way, I want to help more people that are -- that haven't quite learned to help themselves, just like how I was.
Q. Did Ambien play a role in the car crash? You were described by the witnesses as mumbling, snoring, obviously sockless and according to the police hospital record, you were admitted as a possible OD?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the police investigated the accident and they cited me 166 bucks and it's a closed case.
Q. Obviously the treatment is about improving yourself and getting back to the Masters and about improving golf, but from a Tiger Woods perspective, you've built an industry around yourself and a lot of companies got behind you. When they dropped you, and some of them did pretty quickly, others took a while; what was your thought about them dropping you and as you approach more victories and more majors, some sponsors will want to get back on board. What do you tell those sponsors when they want to support you about why they should get behind you?
TIGER WOODS: Do you want me to answer the first part or the second part? You did a long-winded one, Bro.
The first part is do I understand why they dropped me? Of course. I made a lot of mistakes in my life. And I totally understand why they would do that.
And then going forward, hopefully I can prove to the other companies going forward that I am a worthy investment; that I can help their company, help their company grow and represent them well.
I felt like I was representing companies well in the past, but then again, I wasn't doing it the right way, because of what I was engaged in.
Q. Golf-wise, what are your expectations this week?
TIGER WOODS: Nothing's changed, going to go out there and try to win this thing. (Smiling).
Q. I think you would agree that putting has cost you a couple of green jackets in recent years. After playing here all of these practice rounds, are you more concerned with putting this week, or are there other parts of your game that concern you?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the fact that I haven't really played at all, that's a little bit concerning. I'm hoping I get my feel back quickly, you know, feel for the game, feel for shots, feel more how my body is reacting and what my distances are going to be. I hope I get that back, you know, relatively quickly. You know, maybe hopefully the first hole.
But if not, please hope it's the second hole. But that's what I'm looking forward to. I'm looking forward to getting out there and doing that.
Q. I was curious, you talked about your nerves a little bit, how do you expect that will be Thursday, a little different, obviously, since it matters; and then you talked about the fans being so supportive, when you met with your peers can you tell us who that was and how that went?
TIGER WOODS: The fans were incredible. I'm looking forward to the first tee and teeing off. You know, that's getting out there and doing what I've done for a very long time and I'm looking forward to that.
As far as my peers, everyone's been great. It's amazing how many hugs I've gotten from the guys. This is only Monday. So I've seen the guys here yesterday and today and then a couple of times that I've been up here prior to this, some of the other players have been up here, as well. I'm actually surprised by that, how well received I've been.
Q. Why did you not feel the need to do what you were doing now a few months ago?
TIGER WOODS: Because I was -- what do you mean, a few months ago? What was a few months ago, exactly?
Q. This year, January -- all right. December?
TIGER WOODS: Which one? (Laughter).
Q. Let's say December?
TIGER WOODS: December, because I wasn't at a right place for it. And in January, I was in rehab.
Q. You've talked about the importance of your therapy and the rehab and that process. Was there a time prior to that that you thought you needed therapy and you gave some consideration of going to rehab --
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. And you tried to quit whatever --
TIGER WOODS: No, I was not in that position. I was not in that frame of mind. I was not in a place where -- I had not hit far enough on the bottom to make myself look at what I've done and what I was engaged in, and not until then; and once that happened, then I went to rehab.
CRAIG HEATLEY: We are going to take me more questions, ladies and gentlemen.
Q. Are you planning on playing in The Ryder Cup this year?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as of right now, I'm not on the team, am I? (Laughter) I'm not on the team point-wise. So I have a long way to go.
Q. Would you like to play?
TIGER WOODS: Would I like to play in it? If I qualify.
Q. After what you've been through in the last five months, what do you think some of your thoughts are going to be on the Thursday on the tee, and how tough is it to come back from the ACL?
TIGER WOODS: That first tee, I'm looking forward to it. I haven't looked forward to that tee shot in a long time, not like this. It feels fun again. You know, that's something that's been missing. Have I been winning, have I been competing, have I been doing well? Yeah, I have. I've won numerous times the last few years but I wasn't having anywhere near the amount of fun. Why? Because look at what I was engaged in. When you live a life where you're lying all the time, life is not fun. And that's where I was. Now that's been stripped all away and here I am. And it feels fun again.
Q. What was tougher -- this or ACL?
TIGER WOODS: I would have to say this emotionally and the ACL physically by far.
Q. What are your thoughts on your playing partners this week, any extra pressure they might be under?
TIGER WOODS: You know, of all tournaments, I think this is the one tournament where it's not as bad. The media is not allowed inside the ropes. You don't have like at the U.S. Open and British Open, we have over a hundred people inside the ropes that are moving around.
It's going to be a lot more at ease this week than most weeks, so I think that most of the guys -- if there's one week that you would rather have a pairing with me, considering the circumstances, it would probably be this week.
CRAIG HEATLEY: Tiger, as I said earlier, we are delighted to have you back. Good luck this week.
TIGER WOODS: Thanks, Craig. Thanks, guys.