Reuters - Mon, 05 Apr 22:00:00 2010
Tiger Woods took full responsibility for the marital infidelities which led to his startling fall from grace and admitted he had lied and deceived a lot of people.
"I lied to a lot of people, deceived a lot of people," the American world number one, who sported a goatee and wore a gray, yellow, pink and white-striped shirt and black trousers, told a packed news conference.
"I fooled myself as well. The full magnitude of it, it's pretty brutal."
Speaking before his comeback to competition at the Masters on Thursday, Woods said his Swedish wife Elin would not be attending the tournament.
He also pledged to give the game more respect in the future and said he would to try to tone down his occasional bad language and emotional outbursts out on the course.
Woods has not played professional golf since winning the Australian Masters on November 15 following revelations that he had had a string of extra-marital affairs.
"Coming into today I didn't know what to expect with regards to the reception," Woods said. "I tell you what the galleries couldn't have been nicer.
"The encouragement, it blew me away," added Woods who made noticeable efforts to engage with the fans. "The people here over the years are extremely respectful but today was something that touched my heart pretty good."
Woods played 18 holes in practice with 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples earlier in the day, and the pair were joined for the last six holes by 2003 US Open champion Jim Furyk.
Asked about his occasional temperamental on-course behaviour, he replied: "I'm going to try to not to get as hot, but that means I won't be as exuberant.
"I made a decision to try and tone down my negative outbursts and be more respectful of the game."
The 14-times Major champion also promised to focus much more on his life away from the course.
"It's not how much you win championships, it's how you live your life," he said. "I need to be a better man going forward than I've been before.
"If I win major championships along the way, so be it, but I want to help people along the way."
Woods spoke for 35 minutes in his first news conference since his private life unravelled at the end of last year.
The 34-year-old made a carefully managed public appearance with family and friends at US PGA Tour headquarters on Februray 19, saying he was sorry for cheating on his wife and that he was undergoing therapy.
He finally took questions from the media in two five-minute interviews with the Golf Channel and ESPN last month.
The scandal around Woods erupted after he crashed his car outside his Florida home in the middle of the night in November, a bizarre incident that triggered a storm of media speculation over his private life.
The minor accident led to a parade of women alleging affairs with the golfer.
The 2010 Masters starts on Thursday.