AUGUSTA, Ga. — While acknowledging he made some “incredibly poor decisions” in his personal life, Tiger Woods still thinks he can win the Masters — even coming back from a five-month layoff.
“Nothing’s changed,” Woods said Monday during an extraordinary 35-minute news conference at Augusta National. “I’m going to go out there and try to win this thing.”
Woods entered the interview room with a smile on his face and stopped to hug one of the green-jacketed club members, Ron Townsend. Woods again took full blame for his personal failings but stopped short of providing many new details. He wouldn’t say why he entered rehab for 45 days nor would he go into specifics about his infamous Thanksgiving night car crash, other than to say it took five stitches to close a lip wound.
“All I know is I acted just terribly,” said Woods, sporting the makings of a goatee. “I just made some incredibly bad decisions, decisions that hurt so many people close to me.”
He said his wife, Elin, would not be at Augusta. His personal life fell apart after revelations that he had multiple extramarital affairs during their 5 1/2-year marriage.
Woods thanked his fellow golfers for the support he’s received since announcing his return to the PGA Tour and said he was pleasantly surprised how well the fans treated him during a practice round Monday. The outing was his first before a gallery since the sex scandal made him a tawdry tabloid fixture. He even flashed a bit of uncharacteristic charm, stopping to sign autographs — something he rarely does — while heading to the practice range to get in a few extra swings.
“The encouragement I got, it blew me away,” he said. “It really did. The people here over the years, I know they’ve been extremely respectful. But today is just something that touched my heart pretty good.”