Today, on Friday February 19, 2010, Tiger Woods made a public apology to a group of close friends and family. At the PGA headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida Tiger stepped to a podium with people like his mother, long time friend and former college roommate Notah Begay, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, and a handful of others. Also said to be there were his wife and other good friends like Michael Jordan. Yet these individuals did not sit in the room where Tiger gave his speech, you could tell he was with friends and family while presenting.
The speech itself was very scripted. Tiger read from a stack of papers and the speech lasted just over thirteen minutes. Tiger expressed his apologies to his sponsors, friends, family, and fans. Tiger also said that he has been receiving and will continue to receive rehabilitation for his actions. To the average person you would assume that Tiger meant every word of what he said.
Tiger left the stage by hugging his mother, shaking hands with the majority of the front row (where Tim Finchem was sitting and was the only person who did not get up once Tiger was finished speaking) and then gracefully walked out of the room. Then came hours of “experts” expressing their thoughts on the speech. Basically, when this was all said and done it was something that Tiger had to do. He has no choice but to apologize to a nation demanding answers.
Below you will find the presentation word for word as well as a video of him speaking. This was a tough day for Tiger Woods, and Tiger fans all over the world. I feel sorry for the man to have to go through all of this, and I know that once he does in fact return to the golf course everything will go back to normal. Tiger is, and always will be, a professional golfer and very well the best player to ever play the game.
“Good morning and thank you for joining me. Many of you in this room are my friends. Many of you in this room know me. Many of you have cheered for me, or you worked with me or you supported me. Now every one of you has good reason to be critical of me. I want to say to each of you simply and directly I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in.
I know people want to find out how I could be so selfish and so foolish. 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 behavior. As Elin pointed out to me my real apology to her will not come in the form of words. It will come from my behavior over time. We have a lot to discuss and however what we say to each will remain between the two of us. I am also aware of the pain my behavior has caused to those of you in this room. I have let you down. I have let down my fans.
For many of you, especially my friends, my behavior has been a personal disappointment. To those of you who work for me I have let you down personally and professionally. My behavior has caused considerable worry to my business partners. To everyone involved in my foundation, including my staff, board of directors, sponsors, and most importantly the young students we reach, our work is more important than ever. Thirteen years ago my dad and I envisioned in helping your people achieve their dreams through education. This work remains unchanged and will continue to grow. From the learning center in southern California to the Earl Woods scholars in Washington DC, millions of kids have changed their lives and I am dedicated to making sure that continues. But still, I know I have bitterly disappointed all of you. I have made you question who I am and how I could have done the things I did. I am embarrassed that I have put you in this position.
For all that I have done I am so sorry. I have a lot to atone for but there is one issue I really want to discuss. 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. Ever. Elin has shown enormous grace and poise throughout this ordeal. Elin deserves praise, not blame.
The issue involved here was my repeated irresponsible behavior. I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable and I am the only person to blame. I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong but I convinced myself that normal rules did not apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that 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 of the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame I didn’t have to go far to find them. I was wrong, I was foolish; I don’t get to play by different rules.
The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me. I brought this shame on myself. 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. I have had a lot of time to think about what I have done. My failures have made me look at myself in a way I never wanted to before. It is not up to me to make amends. That starts by never repeating the mistakes I made. It is up to me to start living a life of integrity.
I once heard, and I believe its true, “It’s not what you achieve in life that matters, its what you overcome. Achievements on the golf course are only part of setting an example. Character and decency are what really count. Parents used to point to me as a role model for their kids. I owe all those families a special apology I want to say to them that I am truly sorry.
It’s hard to admit that I need help. But I do. For forty-five days form the end of December to early February I was in in-patient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I am facing. I have a long way to go but I have taken my first steps in the right direction.
As I proceed I understand people have questions. I understand the press wants to ask me details of the time I was unfaithful. I understand people want to know whether Elin or I will remain together. Please know that as far as I am on concerned everyone of these questions and answers is a matter between Elin and me. These are issues between a husband and a wife. Some people have made up things that never happened. They said that I used performance-enhancing drugs. This is completely and utterly false. Some have written things about my family. Despite the shame I have done I still believe that it is right to shield my family form the pubic light. They did not do these things. I did.
I have always tried to maintain a private space for my wife and children. They have been kept separate from my sponsors; my commercial endorsements. When my children were born we only released photographs so that the paparazzi could not chase them. However, my behavior doesn’t make it right for the media to follow my two and a half year old daughter to school and to report the school’s location. They staked out my wife and they perused my mom. Whatever my wrong doings for the sake of my family please leave my wife and kids alone. I recognize I have brought his on myself and I know above all I am the one who needs to change. I owe to my family to become a better person, I owe those close to me to become a better man. That is where my focus will be.
I have a lot of work to do and I tend to dedicate myself to doing it. Part of following this path for me is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age. People probably don’t realize it but I was raised a Buddhist and I actively practiced my faith form childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years. Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security; it teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught. As I move forward I will continue to receive help because I have learned that’s how people really do change.
Starting tomorrow I will leave for more treatment and more therapy. I would like to thank my friends at Accenture and the players in the field this week for understanding why I am making these remarks today. In therapy I have learned the importance in looking at my spiritual life and keeping a balance with my professional life. I need to regain my balance and be centered so that I can have the things that are important to me; my marriage and my children.
That also means relying on others for help. I have learned to seek support from my peers in therapy and I hope someday to return that support to others who are seeking help. I do plan to return to golf one day 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 behavior more respectful of the game. In recent weeks I have received many thousands of emails, letters, and people expressing good wishes. 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 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. Today I want to ask for your help. I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again. Thank you.”