February 2010: Tiger Woods; No Apology Needed

Tiger Woods on February 19th, 2010 making his apology speech in teh Sunset Room at TPC Sawgrass.

Tiger Woods on February 19th, 2010 making his apology speech in the Sunset Room at TPC Sawgrass. Photo Credit: Golf.com

Tiger Woods apologized February 19th, 2010 for his irresponsible and selfish behavior.

“I want to say to each of you—simply and directly—I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in,” he said.

In his somber speech at TPC Sawgrass, home of The Players Championship, he put his life into perspective and shared the direction he plans to pursue.

“I once heard—and I believe it’s true—it’s not what you achieve in life that matters; it’s what you overcome,” he said.  “Achievements on the golf course are only part of setting an example.  Character and decency are what really count.”

Apology received, no further apology needed.

Tiger revealed more personal insight than ever before in two unscripted, riveting interviews with The Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman and ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi on March 21.

How did someone so powerful in life, yet so powerless to stop himself, finally hit rock bottom and start on an upward path?

“You strip away the denial, the rationalization, and you come to the truth—and the truth is very painful at times,” Woods said.  “And to stare at yourself and look at the person you’ve become…you become disgusted.”

“As a person, it’s hard to believe that was me, looking back on it now.”

Tiger is trying to get back to his roots, recalling something his father once said that rung hollow to him until now: “In order to help other people, you first have to learn how to help yourself.”

So Tiger is taking the time to help himself.

He is on the road to recovery through a process by which he realizes there is a higher power in his life other than himself.

Maybe he does not need to control everything anymore.

Having realized the implications of his actions, Tiger is progressing to the next step—no different from when he is on a golf course, hitting driver and approach iron and putting the ball into the hole.

“I’ve hurt so many people, and so many people I have to make an amends to—and that’s living a life of amends,” he said.

What can come from admitting one has a weakness?

“When you face it, and you start conquering it, and you start living up to it. The strength that I feel now, I’ve never felt that type of strength.”

Maybe that strength came from learning something from people with little wealth, position, or title in this world.

Maybe in the course of his treatment, Tiger Woods has connected with the regular people living regular lives out there.

So Tiger is stronger now and likely will become a better person.

That will likely make him a better golfer.

Imagine that—Tiger Woods a better golfer than we saw last year, winning six times.  Better than in 2008, when we saw him win the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, hobbling around on a broken leg.  Or better than in 2002, when he completed the Grand Slam, winning the four major championships in a row.

Five, if you include The Players Championship.

All that matters to Tiger Woods these days is rebuilding his marital relationship and being a good father to his two children.

Yes, there are naysayers out there—those who say this is all an orchestrated effort to deceive the public again.

Maybe we deceived ourselves into believing and expecting a human being to be perfect.

The same people who think Tiger Woods owes them something—or worse yet, that they somehow own a piece of him and have the right to sit in judgment of him.

Life is too short for most of that nonsense.

Good for Tiger to come back at Augusta National, where any out-of-line behavior— including running to get a good seat when the gates open in the morning—is punishable by revoking forever  your weekly badge privileges.

Remember that they closed the waiting list several years ago because realistically, there is little chance of a badge becoming available for the mere mortal soul.

I know a grown man who cried incessantly when he lost the badges that his father passed along to him because of the careless behavior of his friends.

Good for Tiger for focusing on what is important to him—his family and the game of golf.

Tiger’s legacy—and what he wants to do with his life—is the same as before.

“I felt that golf was a vehicle for me to help a lot of people.”

Throughout his success, Tiger has been very charitable.  While donating $3 million in Haiti relief funds makes headlines, other work such as the Tiger Woods Foundation goes on quietly behind the scenes.

Factor in the unprecedented growth of the PGA Tour and the subsequent rise in charitable donations—all because of the Tiger Woods phenomenon—and one easily concludes that Tiger Woods has donated more than his fair share.

After all, hasn’t he basically given his life to us since he putted a few balls on The Mike Douglas Show at age 2?

So maybe Tiger Woods is on the right road—though, unfortunately for the most part, his travel will be in the public eye.

Let’s get back to why we came to know Tiger in the first place—back in the fall of 1996, when he said hello to the world and won his first event in Las Vegas.

This is a farewell to the darker days of his life and a joyous hello to the brighter side of life—a life free of addictions.

Good for Tiger—and who knows?  Maybe the steps he takes in the years ahead will be a dozen majors to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18.

Fourteen plus 12—26 sounds like a nice career major total for Tiger.

Tiger Woods style—that’s good!


Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA Tour, volunteering and working part time for major golf broadcasters. He resides in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, near the PGA Tour headquarters and home of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.

He enjoys pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it. He can be reached through his Web site Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary or by e-mailing him to AndyReistetter@gmail.com.

Reistetter has authored two books—one on inspirational living called “Love, The Rest of My Life (TROML) & The Pursuit of Eternity” and the other on inspirational leadership called “The Approach.” Both books are available by e-mailing AndyReistetter@gmail.com 


Full Transcript of Tiger Woods’s Statement

FEB. 19, 2010

A transcript of Tiger Woods’s remarks at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. on Friday.

TIGER WOODS: 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’ve worked with me or you’ve 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; however, what we say to each other 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, and 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 helping young people achieve their dreams through education. This work remains unchanged and will continue to grow. From the Learning Center students in Southern California to the Earl Woods scholars in Washington, D.C., 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 didn’t 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 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’ve had a lot of time to think about what I’ve done. My failures have made me look at myself in a way I 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.

I once heard, and I believe it’s true, it’s not what you achieve in life that matters; it’s 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 45 days from the end of December to early February, I was in inpatient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I’m facing. I have a long way to go. But I’ve taken my first steps in the right direction.

As I proceed, I understand people have questions. I understand the press wants to ask me for the details and the times I was unfaithful. I understand people want to know whether Elin and I will remain together. Please know that as far as I’m concerned, every one 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 I used performance enhancing drugs. This is completely and utterly false. Some have written things about my family. Despite the damage I have done, I still believe it is right to shield my family from the public spotlight. 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 report the school’s location. They staked out my wife and they pursued my mom. Whatever my wrongdoings, for the sake of my family, please leave my wife and kids alone.

I recognize I have brought this on myself, and I know above all I am the one who needs to change. I owe it to my family to become a better person. I owe it to those closest to me to become a better man. That’s where my focus will be.

I have a lot of work to do, and I intend 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 from 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’ve 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’m making these remarks today.

In therapy I’ve learned the importance of looking at my spiritual life and keeping in balance with my professional life. I need to regain my balance and be centered so I can save the things that are most important to me, my marriage and my children.

That also means relying on others for help. I’ve 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 phone calls from 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.