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Page last updated at 22:52 GMT, Friday, 19 February 2010

Golf world waits on Tiger Woods comeback after apology

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Tiger Woods news conference in full

Tiger Woods' emotional apology has been largely well received by the world of golf despite his admission he did not know when he would return to playing.

Woods talked publicly for the first time on Friday since his private life hit the news in November.

Sir Nick Faldo responded: "It was a pretty expansive apology... but the question of when he is going to play golf is still up in the air."

Sergio Garcia and Mark O'Meara were among those to offer Woods support.

"He's sincere by what he's saying," said O'Meara, a close friend of Woods. "Tiger is a very protected individual - he doesn't really show a lot of emotion a lot of times. Today was a step in the right direction."

I'm just looking forward to seeing him back here. The only thing that we can do is welcome him with arms wide open when he comes around

Sergio Garcia

In a frank 13-minute address to a select gathering at PGA Tour headquarters in Florida, Woods apologised to his wife, friends and family as well as his fans.

"I was unfaithful, I had affairs and I cheated. What I did was unacceptable," he said.

Woods, 34, told the hand-picked attendees he had spent 45 days in therapy and claimed he still had "a long way to go" to overcome his problems.

But although he said he would return to the golf course, he did not say when this would happen.

"I do plan to return to golf one day," said the world number one. "I just don't know when that day will be."

Although reaction to Woods' statement has been largely positive, Faldo said the timing of it had overshadowed this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play in Arizona, which began on Wednesday and continues to Sunday.

The tournament sponsor, Accenture, was the first to drop Woods from its advertising after the revelations about his affairs, and some golfers had assumed that Woods' decision to speak on Friday was timed to hit back at the company.

BEN DIRS' BLOG

Woods claimed the timing of the announcement simply allowed him to return to therapy on Saturday, but Faldo told BBC Radio 5 live: "I don't buy that. The timing of this was quite amazing. I can't believe that a man in a white coat behind a desk tells him what to do."

Many of the players competing in Arizona took time out to watch Woods' statement on television.

"I saw a little bit but I was trying to get ready for my day," Garcia told 5 live.

"I think that he's finally come around and said what he felt, and what he needed to say, and now it's up to them to get it all sorted out with his wife and family.

"I'm just looking forward to seeing him back here. The only thing that we can do is welcome him with arms wide open when he comes around."

England's Oliver Wilson was another sympathetic to the plight of the world number one.

"I thought he was very sincere, I'm glad he's come out and finally said something, but at the end of the day I find it hard to believe that people get so involved in other people's lives," said Wilson.

I purposely didn't watch it because I didn't want to have to talk about it today

Ian Poulter

"If everyone just concentrated on their own lives and made sure they did the right thing, and let Tiger get on with his life, we could all move on.

"It's been going on for months now and it's too long. We want him back on the course, we want him to sort his life out, and let's all get on with our own lives."

And Open champion, Stewart Cink, said: "I was moved by how difficult it seemed to be for him.

"I've got a couple of good friends that have gone through the alcohol abuse programme and similar steps are taken in the healing process where you have to make amends to the people you've hurt.

"You have to start the bridge to the other side and I think that's where Tiger is."

Fellow Englishmen Paul Casey and Ian Poulter went out of their way to avoid watching the whole statement by Woods as they concentrated on their matches.

"I was trying to prepare for my round this morning," said Casey. "I watched a little bit, but before I comment I think I should look at the whole thing and go away and think about it."

Poulter added: "I purposely didn't watch it because I didn't want to have to talk about it today, and I think that's made it a little bit easier for me to concentrate today.

"I've got to go out there and play golf, I don't need any distractions. I think everybody wants him to come back out on the golf course and do what he needs to do, so we're waiting for his return."

PGA Tour chief, Tim Finchem, admitted that despite Woods' transgressions, golf would continue to suffer in his absence and he looked forward to his return to the fairways.

"He does increase significantly the number of people that watch on television and that plays into our long-term relationship with our television partners and the value of television rights," he said.

"But I think, in this case, the good news from today is that he plans to return. He could return as early as this year and he clearly has taken the first very visible step on the road to that return."

Reflecting on Woods' statement, Finchem added: "My personal reaction was that his comments were heartfelt. He clearly recognises that there has been serious impact to a wide range of individuals and organisations.

"Since day one there has been anger in some quarters but mainly there is a sense of sadness that he's an American hero and he's had these issues."

Woods' major sponsor, Nike, was quick to back the player soon after his public apology.

"Tiger has apologised and made his position clear," said a company statement. "Nike fully supports him and his family. We look forward to him returning to golf."



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see also
Tiger Woods: Celebrity under pressure
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Repentant Woods sorry for affairs
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Els criticises Woods media timing
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Faldo urges Woods to make return
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Woods must show humility - Watson
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Nicklaus warning for absent Woods
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