- The Washington Times - Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger Woods apologized publicly Friday for his infidelity and asked for forgiveness, but said his future in pro golf remains uncertain.

“I am deeply sorry for the selfish, impulsive behavior I engaged in,” Woods said in his first public appearance since news of his infidelity broke during Thanksgiving weekend. “I have let you down. … I was wrong. I was foolish.”

The 34-year-old Woods spoke before a TV camera for about 13 minutes at the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse, the PGA’s headquarters, in Ponte Verdra Beach, Fla.

About 40 people attended the carefully staged event, including Woods’ mother, whom he hugged at the end of his announcement. His wife, Elin, was not seen.

Woods acknowledged cheating on his wife and that he is undergoing therapy, but gave no timeline for his return to professional golf.

“I do plan to return to golf one day,” said Woods, the game’s dominant player. “I just don’t know when that day will be. I don’t rule out it will be this year.”

Though Woods apologized to his wife, two children, other family member, fans, business partners and others, he at times attacked the media and veered strangely off message.

He told reporters to leave his family alone and said whether he reconciles with Elin is a private matter. Woods also chastised the media for following his daughter to school and for accusing him of using performance-enhancing drugs and his wife of battery on Thanksgiving night, when he crashed his sport utility vehicle into a tree and the first revelations about a sex scandal began to unravel his life.

“It angers me. … Elin never hit me that night or any other night,” said Woods, dressed in a dark blazer and neatly pressed, lavender-colored dress shirt. “I had affairs and I cheated. What I did was unacceptable, and only I am to blame. … I hope you find room in your heart one day to believe in me again.”

Near the close of the speech, Woods talked about being raised as a Buddhist and having strayed from those beliefs.

“In terms of words, the speech was very powerful,” said Jason Maloni, of Washington, D.C.-based Levick Strategic Communications, which helped baseball pitcher Roger Clemens after allegations of steroid use. “But I was disappointed with his need to scold the media. Who was thinking performance-enhancing drugs? Where did that come from?”

Mr. Maloni, chairman of Levick’s sports and entertainment division, also said Woods not taking questions and the hand-picked audience was a bad idea.

“I was aghast,” he said. “The last time I saw something that orchestrated was the space shuttle takeoff.”

Mr. Maloni said Woods’ next step should be to return to golf.

“That’s his greatest asset,” he said. “Get out there and perform.”

Since joining the PGA tour in 1996, Woods has won 71 tournaments including 14 majors, four short of the record held by Jack Nicklaus.

His rise and fall have had a large financial impact.

Woods’ tour earnings are listed at $92.3 million. Though he still has endorsement deals with such major companies as Nike Inc., Woods has been dropped by Accenture and AT&T. And professional golf has suffered from lower TV ratings since last fall.

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