Tiger Woods to make public apology

Updated: 2010-02-19 19:07
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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida: Superstar golfer Tiger Woods, whose stunning fall from grace late last year captivated the sports world, is set to make a public apology on Friday and speak about his playing future.

Tiger Woods to make public apology
Tiger Woods practices his swing outside his home in Windermere, Florida, February 18, 2010. [Agencies]

The world No. 1 has been in hiding since admitting in December he cheated on his wife -- his private life having unraveled after a bizarre minor car accident in the middle of the night outside his Florida home the previous month.

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Woods, the most marketable figure in sports, took an indefinite break from the game in a bid to repair his marriage, and speculation has heightened in recent weeks about the timetable for his likely return to competition.

The 34-year-old American is scheduled to make his first public appearance since the car crash when he addresses a small gathering of reporters at the headquarters of the US PGA Tour in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, at 11 am EST (1600 GMT).

"Tiger plans to discuss his past and his future and he plans to apologize for his behavior," his manager Mark Steinberg said in an email to Reuters.

"While Tiger feels that what happened is fundamentally a matter between he and his wife, he also recognizes that he has hurt and let down a lot of other people who were close to him.

"He also let down his fans. He wants to begin the process of making amends and that's what he's going to discuss."

Woods will return to sex-addiction therapy after making his statement, the Associated Press reported, citing a letter from PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem to the tour's policy board.

"As we understand it, Tiger's therapy called for a week's break at this time during which he has spent a few days with his children and then will make his statement before returning," Finchem said in the letter obtained by the AP.

Steinberg said Friday's gathering would be a tightly controlled event and that Woods, a 14-time major champion, would not answer questions. The meeting will, however, be televised.

Finchem, who will also be there on Friday, told reporters at this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona: "I'm pleased that he's going to make some comments.

No assumptions

"I'm not going to assume anything. We'd like him back as soon as possible but we want him back importantly when he's dealt with the issues he felt like he had to deal with to come back."

Woods has been widely advised by his peers and public relations experts to make a public apology before returning to competition, many of them suggesting he should go even further by appearing in a television interview.

With his squeaky-clean image torn asunder by a series of allegations over his private life, Woods reportedly got treatment for sex addiction in Mississippi. He has since returned to his Orlando home where he and his Swedish wife, Elin, are believed to be living apart.

Once he gets the apology part of his statement out of the way on Friday, Woods is expected to disclose the timing of his PGA Tour return.

Any of three tournaments appear likely -- the March 11-14 WGC-CA Championship at Doral, the March 25-28 Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando or the April 8-11 US Masters, the opening major of the year.

Sponsors and organizers have been counting the days before his return. The absence of Woods from events where he usually plays has generally driven down television ratings by 50 percent.

Woods, who is believed to be the wealthiest sports personality on the planet, was estimated to earn about $100 million a year in endorsement deals before his adultery scandal led AT&T and Accenture to drop him as a spokesman.

But Forbes magazine, which has put his total worth at $1 billion, said his remaining sponsorship deals with Nike, Electronic Arts and Procter & Gamble's Gillette brand would allow Woods to remain the world's highest-paid athlete this year.