AUGUSTA - Framed in history on the same wall as Arnie, Jack, Couples and Phil, there stood Tiger Woods, Augusta's newest legend slipping into his green jacket with the help of Nick Faldo after blasting the competition at the '97 Masters. Wearing his blazingly red Sunday duds, ‘that' Tiger sported a thin face, a full head of hair, and an innocent toothy grin that was taking grasp of the golfing world.
‘That' Tiger looked on from the back right wall of Augusta National's interview room as today's Tiger addressed the media for the first time since his self-inflicted sex scandal surfaced more than four months ago. ‘That' Tiger seemed very distant Monday.
‘This' Tiger, his face now fuller and his hair receding as he prepares for his 16th Masters Tournament Thursday, showed remorse and regret for his actions.
"Earlier in my career, I was at peace, and I've had some great years," Woods said Monday. "Unfortunately, what I've done over the past years has been just terrible to my family. And the fact that I won golf tournaments I think is irrelevant...Living the right way is more important than championships."
Questions the Question
In the 35-minute interview, Woods answered 36 questions from a pool of 206 reporters, and for much of Monday, the topics of those questions were fodder for discussion. Ultimately, Woods responded openly to most questions, including one about his relationship with Dr. Anthony Galea, who was arrested with performance-enhancing drugs in his possession.
"He never gave me HGH or any PEDs. I've never taken any illegal drug my entire life," he said. "(He gave me) PRP, platelet-enriched plasma treatments, where they draw blood from your arm in a centrifuge and spin the plasma into the entries."
Only when a reporter got aggressive, asking "should you be returning to the game so soon instead of working on your relationship" did Woods get defensive, saying "Well, I'm excited to play this week."
When the interview was over, over 50 media members had their hands raised to ask additional questions.
From the Course
Woods played a practice round Monday morning alongside '92 Masters champion Fred Couples, with Jim Furyk joining the pair for the final five holes. For much of 18 holes, Woods struggled off the tee, was sharp with his irons, and had patrons cheering at every stop.
"The gallery really reached out to (Woods)," Furyk said after their round. "Men, women, and kids, everyone was extremely positive."
Augusta National is well-known for its hospitality, but Woods was still surprised by the reaction.
"The encouragement I got, it really blew away. Today was just something that touched my heart."
Pairings for Thursday's opening round of the 2010 Masters are scheduled to be released Tuesday.
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