Tiger Woods Apologizes, Plans to Return to Rehab Before Golf

Golfer breaks silence for first time, apologizes to wife and fans.

ByABC News via logo
February 18, 2010, 5:46 PM

PONTE VEDRA, Fla. Feb. 19, 2010— -- A contriteTiger Woods apologized today for a string of marital infidelities, and said he would return to rehab for sex addiction.

"I want to say to each of you simply and directly I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in," Woods said in his first public appearance since the Thanksgiving weekend car crash that began the unraveling of Woods' shadowy sex life.

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

Woods said he planned to return to his sexual addiction rehab Saturday and said he could return to golf as early as this year.

"I do plan to return to golf one day, I just don't know what day that will be. I don't rule out that it will be this year," he said.

Wearing a blue blazer and open-collar shirt, Woods came to a podium alone. Though much of his speech centered on his wife, Elin Nordegren, and his two children, they were not in attendance.

"Elin and I have started the process of discussing the damage caused by my behavior. As Elin pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time. We have a lot to discuss; however, what we say to each other will remain between the two of us," Woods said.

Sitting in the front row was Woods' mother, Kultida Woods, and when the world's best golfer concluded his remarks he went to his mother for a long and emotional hug.

"I said, 'I'm so proud of you. Never think you stand alone. Mom will always be there for you and I love you,"' Kultida Woods told the golfer following his speech, according to the Asssiocated Press.

Woods made his act of contrition in a carefully worded statement to a small group of what his management team called "friends, colleagues and close associates," including PGA Tour Chairman Tim Finchman, from PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Though only four people were allowed in the room at the Sawgrass Country Club for Woods' 13-minute speech, millions of people watched the event live as every major network covered Woods' brief address.

No one was allowed to ask questions, and Woods made it clear he had no intention of answering any.

"Every one of these questions and answers are a matter between me and Elin," he said firmly.

Woods became embroiled in a spiraling sex scandal in November, when following a mysterious car accident over Thanksgiving, nearly a dozen women said they'd had affairs with the married golfer.

Woods said he alone was to blame for his infidelities and that his wife did not attack him on that November night.

"I felt I was entitled. … I was wrong I was foolish. I don't get to play by different rules. I brought this shame on myself," Woods said.

At another point, he said, "For all that I have done, I am so sorry. ... I have a lot to atone for."

Woods said part of therapy was to embrace his religion, Buddhism, which he said he had "drifted away from in recent years.

" Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught," he said.

A handful of reporters were allowed in the room, but they were not permitted to ask questions. Given the restrictions on the media, the Golf Writers Association of America refused to cover the event.

Before the event reporters were patted down to ensure none were carrying recording devices.