Tiger Woods has admitted that he is "nervous" about making his sporting comeback at the Masters next month in Augusta. The world No 1 has been in self-imposed exile from the sport for four months after it was revealed he had a string of extramarital affairs. Woods says he cannot wait to get back playing the game he loves, but that he has reservations about how he will be received.
"I'm a little nervous about that to be honest with you," Woods said in an interview broadcast on ESPN on Sunday evening in America, one of two television interviews aired on the same night. "It would be nice to hear a couple claps here and there." Woods, wisely, accepted the blame for all his troubles, which were first brought to the public's attention back in November, rest firmly at his feet. "It was all me. I'm the one who did it. I'm the one who acted the way I acted. No one knew what was going on when it was going on," Woods told the Golf Channel.
Woods, who said he had been "living a lie", wanted to change the way he had been behaving but had been unable to do so. "I tried to stop and I couldn't stop. And it was just, it was horrific," he added in the interview. He announced on December 11 that he would take an "indefinite break" from golf and was in a Mississippi clinic from the end of that month until early February for treatment. "I've had a lot of low points. Just when I didn't think it could get any lower, it got lower," said Woods, who added he understood the vast criticism that has come his way.
"Looking back on it, with a more clear head, I get it. I can understand why people would say those things," he said. "Because you know what? It was disgusting behaviour. It's hard to believe that was me, looking back on it now." Woods answered questions on camera for the first time since his early morning car crash last Nov-ember, which he divulged few details about, while also avoiding commenting on the state of his marriage, his stint in a rehabilitation clinic or his personal life.
He said those matters would remain private, just as he had in a statement on his website right after his crash and again on February 19 when he apologised on camera in front of a hand-picked audience but took no questions. Woods resumed practising with Hank Haney, his swing coach, last week, and Augusta National will provide Woods with one of the most tightly controlled environments in the sport when he makes his comeback next month.
Tournament organisers limit the number of media representatives and galleries traditionally are among the best behaved in sport. Even so, Sean McManus, the president of CBS Sports, whose network televises the final two rounds of the Masters, predicted it "will be the biggest media event, other than the [President] Obama inauguration, in the past 10 or 15 years." The interviews were conducted at Isleworth, the luxury gated community in Windermere, Florida, where Woods lives.
Elsewhere, Jim Furyk, Woods's good friend and rival, joked that his one-stroke victory over KJ Choi of South Korea at the Transitions Championship in Florida, his first PGA Tour title in 32 months and 58 tournaments, was unlikely to dominate any column inches as it coincided with Woods's interviews. "You know what? Tomorrow, the paper is going to read that I won the golf tournament, and I don't really care if it's a three-page spread or a little blurb in the corner of the paper because the article is about him," said Furyk.
"I won the damn thing, and it really doesn't matter to me." All Furyk cared about was winning for the first time since the 2007 Canadian Open, his longest stretch without a victory since he first joined the PGA Tour. "I think it's good for him to get his face out there and have people see him," Furyk said regarding Woods's interviews. * AP