Also, I found him to be humble but not humiliated. There was no Jimmy Swaggert "I have sinned" emotional display. I've always felt that Tiger might emerge from this disaster as a better golfer because he's no longer worried about pinging text messages and cell phones ringing. He looked, in a word, relieved today.
He might just win this thing on Sunday.
I gotta fly, y'all. Stay tuned to Golf.com throughout the week, and check me out on Twitter.
Phew! What did you all think?
My instant reaction: The real news Tiger made was confirming his treatment with controversial doctor Anthony Galea, but saying that it was for plasma-related treatment -- that he has never used any kind of performance-enhancing drug.
So ends the presser. More in a minute!
Thoughts on your playing partners, and the traveling circus? "It's not as bad here. It's gonna be a lot more at ease this week than most. If there's one week you would rather have a pairing given the circumstances, it would be this week."
Tiger, how are you gonna feel on Thursday? "That first tee, I'm looking forward to it. It feels fun again. That's been missing. I won numerous tournaments over the last few years, but I wasn't having fun. Why? Because I was lying all the time. That's not fun. Now, it feels fun again."
Was there a time before therapy when you thought you needed help? "No, I was not in that frame of mind. I hadn't hit far enough on the botton to make myself look at what I've done. Once that happened, I went to rehab."
Tiger's expectations for his play this week? "Nothing's changed... I want to go out and try to win. I hope to get my feel back quickly. I hope I get that back relatively quickly..." What about the first tee on Thurs.? "I'm looking forward to it. As for my peers, everyone's been great. It's amazing how many hugs I've gotten, and it's only Monday... I'm surprised by how well-received I've been."
Tiger dodges an Ambien question. Were you using it the night of the car accident? "Well, it's in the police report. I wa fined $186 bucks." I wish the writer had followed up and made Tiger say, "I'm not answering."
Tiger: "When my father was sick and passed away, it put things in perspective... what I've done here, it's not about championships. It's about how you look at life. I'd gotten away from that. Going forward, I need to be a better man. Just because I've gone through treatment, doesn't mean [treatment] stops. I'm trying to get better and stronger [as a man]. Along the way, I want to help more people who haven't learned how to help themselves."
You control things tightly. There were a lot of reports of loose ends you left, text messages. Was there an element of you that wanted to get caught? "I don't know. I acted terribly, poorly. So many bad decisions. That's enough."
How did you fool so many people? "I fooled myself. I lied, deceived, kept others in the dark, and even lied to myself. When you strip all that away, realize what I'd done, the full magnitude of what I've done is pretty brutal."
Tiger: "Elin will not be here this week."
When did you decide to seek treatment? "Because of the time frame [of going to therapy] I missed my son's first birthday. I vowed never to miss another one. That was very hard that day and something I regret and probably will for the rest of my life."
Tiger, at your Feb presser, you suggested you might not come back for a long time, and here you are? "In Feb., I had no intention of playing and coming back. I started hitting more balls, Hank came down, and it felt like old times with Hank. I got that itch to come back and play. I didn't come back earlier because I wasn't ready physically to play. I needed more time. Hank [Tiger's swing coach] has been working with me, and here we are. I've had a lot of support [from my family.]"
Tiger says he has better balance. "I lost [that balance]. I lost myself and my life in the process." He suggests he could have been a better player had he had balance, and not been leading a secret life.
Tiger, you said you felt entitled? How could you rationalize that in your mind? (I have no idea what that question meant.) Tiger: "I was in total denial. I lied to myself, lied to others. Just because I was winning golf tournaments doesn't mean a thing." Did you only realize that AFTER it became public? "After I went to treatment. They started stripping that away."
Tiger, why did you pick Dr. Galea? "He's worked with a lot of athletes." Are you still in rehab? "I was in there for 45 days to take a hard look at myself. I'm a much better person. I have to still continue with my treatment. That's not going to stop in the near future." What was the treatment for? "That's personal."
Tiger, ever been addicted to Ambien or prescription drugs? "I've taken it when my Dad was sick, and when he died. That was a tough time. I took it to help me sleep." But he says he never received treatment, implying that he feels he wasn't addicted, though he didn't explicity answer the question.
Tiger, what's your take on the 24-hour negative coverage? "I've read the articles, people have been critical. What I did was wrong. A lot of you in here are my friends and will always be."
Tiger, are you nervous? "To be out there in front of the people, I've done horrible things, for the fans to want to see my play golf, that felt good... I usually focus on shots. Today was different. I took it in more than I have in a long time." Can you keep your competitive edge? "Come game time, it might be different. In practice rounds, I want to acknowledge the fans more."
Tiger, why did you have Dr. Galea come to your house? Tiger: "He did come to my house. He never gave me HGH. I've never taken any illegal drug, ever. I had PRP, plasma treatments. They draw blood in your arm, and [it helps] with injuries. As you know, I had knee surgery, and I a [plasma] injection for my knee." Sounds like he's saying Galea treated him to help with his knee injuries.
Tiger, how did you live a secret life? How will you be now? "I was at peace [earlier in career]. What I've done in past years has been terrible to my family. THe fact that I've won has been irrelevant. I've caused pain to my wife, mom. I have to explain this to my kids. I did it. I take full responsibility."
Tiger, how will you be different on course? Tiger: "I want to get less hot... to tone down my negative outbursts, just be more respectful of the games, and acknowledge the fans, and show my appreciation for the fans. I haven't done that in the past few years, and that was wrong of me. So many fans have supported me... thank you to them. I have under-appreciated the fans."
What's been most difficult? "Having to look at my self in a different light... Having to break down my core morals... to cut through the denials and rationalization." Sounds like talking points from his Feb. presser. He also rips "constant harassment" and his family being "badgered."
If you're not watching, TW still has the goatee, and wears a striped shirt. Question from writer, about Thanksgiving night injuries. Tiger: "I had a busted up lip and a sore neck, and that was it." Why didn't you talk to police? "I did everything to letter of the law. I followed lawyers' advice. I talked to my sponsors, people I'm close to."
Tiger to fellow players: "Hopefully after today... you can be left alone to focus on the Masters... I apologize to all of them for what they've had to endure."
His voice cracked, and he called Fred Couples "Craig." He looks nervous. The reception I got from the gallery "blew me away." "Today... really touched my heart pretty good."
No limits on questions. Tiger takes his seat. This could go about 40 minutes, we're told.
Back in November, when the scandal broke, a crisis management expert who has repped some BIG names told me that the worst thing Tiger could do is to stand in a room full of writers and take open questions on the scandal. "He's used to being told how great he is, not about sex and scandal. This kind of Q&A would NOT go well. It could be a disaster."
We're about to find out.
Three minutes to Tiger!
Is there anything you can't bet on? Bookmaker.com is reporting odds on Tiger dishing on the following during highly anticipated Q&A:
-That he'll admit to paying Elin to remain married.
-That he'll admit to using performance-enhancing drugs.
-That he'll confirm the existence of a sex tape.
-That he'll admit to sleeping with other new women. 1:49PM
Tiger update! Golf.com's David Dusek watched Tiger play a practice round with Fred Couples today. Some 144 days after TW's last competitive round, Dusek reports that Tiger looked sharp, with little signs of rust.
Speaking of Allred, after Tiger's presser, ex porn star/alleged Woods mistress Joslyn James -- Allred's client -- is giving a rebuttal. "Rebuttal," by the way, is James' most popular film.
Pardon that time lag. Gloria Allred's been texting me all day. Apparently, I'm the only person in America she doesn't represent.
Two topics/questions I would love to hear Tiger take today (as posed by scribe Hank Gola): 1. Can you clarify your relationship with and the treatment you received from Dr. Galea? Were you aware of his alleged connection to performance-enhancing drugs? Why did you contact Dr. Galea in particular?
2. Can you tell us again if anyone in your inner circle or management team had any knowledge of what was going on or was involved in it?
To my knowledge, no journalists at Augusta have been told any topics will be off the table at today's Q&A. Here's a fine piece from the NY Daily News' Hank Gola, offering the questions he wants Tiger to address today.
I'm here live-blogging the golf world's equivalent to the moon landing. (T-minus 27 minutes...) Comments? Questions? Post away, Golf.commies.
Happy Masters week, everyone. The moment has come at looooong last. After months of worldwide tabloid speculation, an anxious world waits and wonders: How will Charl Schwartzel do in his first Masters?
Oh yeah, and Tiger's giving a press conference. That, too.