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Tiger Woods makes emotional apology for infidelity

19 February 10 22:09 GMT

A tearful Tiger Woods has made a frank apology for cheating on his wife.

The world number one golfer was talking publicly for the first time since the scandal surrounding his private life erupted in late November last year.

"I was unfaithful, I had affairs and I cheated. What I did was unacceptable," said the 14-time major winner.

The 34-year-old added: "I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife's family, my friends, my foundation and kids all around the world who admired me."

Woods said he did not rule out returning to golf this year but indicated he did not as yet have a date, adding he would be undergoing further therapy for his problems on Saturday.

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

"I don't rule out that it will be this year. When I do return I need to make my behaviour more respectful to the game."

Friday's media event at PGA Tour headquarters at the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse in Florida was tightly controlled, with only a few journalists allowed access.

Woods spoke for more than 13 minutes, addressing about 40 people in the room, including his mother, friends, colleagues and close associates. His wife, Elin, was not present.

Addressing his personal issues, Woods said: "I am the only person to blame. I stopped living by the core values I was taught to believe in.

"I knew my actions were wrong but I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply. I never thought about who I was hurting, instead I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries a married couple should live by.

"I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled, and thanks to money and fame, I didn't have to go far to find them.

"I was wrong and I was foolish."

Woods claimed therapy had helped him start to deal with his problems and vowed there would be no repeat of his infidelities.

"I've had a lot of time to think about what I've done," he continued.

"My failures have made me look at myself in a way I've never wanted to before. It's now up to me to make amends. And that starts by never repeating the mistakes I've made.

"It's up to me to start living a life of integrity. It's hard to admit that I need help but I do.

"For 45 days from the end of December to early February I was in in-patient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I'm facing. I have a long way to go. I have taken my first steps in the right direction."

Woods said he and his wife were attempting to work through their problems and made an appeal for privacy.

"I know people want to find out how I could be so selfish and so foolish," he continued.

"People want to know how I could have done these things to my wife, Elin, and to my children. And, while I have always tried to be a private person, there are some things I want to say.

"Elin and I have started the process of discussing the damage caused by my behaviour. We have a lot to discuss and what we say to each other will remain between the two of us."

Woods also vehemently denied allegations his car crash was caused after Elin attempted to attack him with a golf club following revelations about his affairs.

"I have a lot to atone for but there's one issue I really want to discuss," he said. "Some people have speculated that Elin somehow hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night.

"It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that. Elin never hit me that night or any other night. There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage.

"Elin has shown enormous grace and poise throughout this ordeal. Elin deserves praise not blame."

Woods also expressed his gratitude for the messages of support he and his wife have received.

"In recent weeks I have received many thousands of emails, letters and phone calls from people expressing good wishes," he said.

"To everyone who has reached out to me and my family, thank you. Your encouragement means the world to Elin and me.

"I want to thank the PGA Tour, commissioner (Tim) Finchem and the players for their patience and understanding while I work on my private life. I look forward to seeing my fellow players on the course.

"Finally, there are many people in this room and there are many people at home who believed in me. I want to ask for your help. I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again."

Woods then embraced his mother as he left the stage.

Shocking revelations about his infidelity were triggered after he was injured when he crashed his car into a fire hydrant and a tree near his Florida home on 27 November.

Two days later, he released a statement in which he said the issue involved was "private ... and I want to keep it that way".

After missing his own tournament, the Chevron World Challenge, he released a statement following persistent allegations over extra-marital affairs.

At the time a statement to his website read: "I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart."

Amid continued allegations of affairs, several high-profile sponsors announced they were ending their links with Woods.

A further statement in which he admitted his "infidelity" followed but this month speculation of his return to golf heightened ahead of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona.

On Tuesday, it was announced Woods would make a statement on Friday but the timing - during a tournament backed by one of his former sponsors - was criticised by several leading figures in the game, among them Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia.

Woods said, however, that the timing of his apology was to allow him to return to therapy on Saturday.

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