Did Tiger Woods Ace the Public Apology?

Many public apologies fall short, but in as he does it on the golf course, experts said Tiger Woods drove his apology farther than the rest.

Many officials have admitted wrongdoing in recent years, including singer Chris Brown and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, yet family therapists have not been so impressed by their performances. But some said Woods' statement may be the exception.

VIDEO: Tiger Woods apologizes at a press conference in Florida.
Tiger Woods' Press Conference Apology

Woods made his points clear today in his first public event and apology in months since the media uncovered a series of extramarital affairs in November.

"Every one of you has good reason to be critical of me," Woods said early on. "I want to say to each of you, simply and directly, I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in.

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

VIDEO: ESPNs Mike Tirico on Tiger Woods Apology
Is Tiger Woods' Apology Enough?

Beverly Engel, a marriage and family therapist and author in Texas, gave Woods a positive review based on a transcript, not the live performance.

"I would rank him pretty high," Engel said. "He's making it abundantly clear that she [Woods' wife] didn't do anything. It wasn't marital problems. He's not leaving any opening at all to even consider that she was at fault in any way. That could make her feel a lot better."

But after reviewing many of mea culpas in the news, therapists and psychiatrists questioned whether most of such public declarations are real apologies.

Click Here for a full transcript of Tiger Woods' apology.

A case in point is South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

Sanford disappeared for days on end last spring while his staff thought he was on the Appalachian Trail. But soon the world discovered Sanford had actually been in South America cheating on his wife.

He later held an extended press conference to explain his whereabouts and apologize.

According to therapists, there are key elements to an effective apology and common ways to duck out of really saying you're sorry.

"In real life, an apology goes, 'I did X,'" said Stanton Peele, a social psychologist and attorney based in New Jersey. "No apology by a public figure ever does that."

Therapists Say Not All Apologies Will Make Amends

Instead, Peele said, public "apologies" may express regret, but are often not true apologies, since they violate their first rule by not saying what was done wrong.

Instead, he said, the goal of the statements seems to be to "separate yourself as much as possible from your actions to escape any obligation of acknowledging responsibility."

When Sanford addressed the public after news of his affair broke, he took 1,200 words -- talking about his career, his wife's role in his career, his friends and going camping -- before he got around to addressing what he actually did. He even apologized to the people who live in South Carolina and believe in God before he said what he actually did.

Sanford made the point, "There are moral absolutes, and that God's law indeed is there to protect you from yourself. And so the bottom line is this: I've been unfaithful to my wife. I developed a relationship with a -- which started out as a dear, dear friend from Argentina. It began very innocently, as I suspect many of these things do, in just a casual e-mail back and forth, in advice on one's life there and advice here.

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