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Humble Woods concentrating on winning fans

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-04-07 09:21
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AUGUSTA, Georgia - An outwardly remorseful Tiger Woods set his sights on winning back fans before a fifth green jacket as he faced a suspicious media and a sceptical public in his Augusta comeback on Monday.

Humble Woods concentrating on winning fans
Tiger Woods of the US signs autographs for fans after his practice round for the 2010 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 6, 2010. [Agencies]

Four-time Masters champion Woods was back in familiar surroundings but unfamiliar territory as he played his first public golf since his precipitous fall from grace at the end of last year amid tawdry revelations about extra-marital affairs.

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After hiding for almost five months. it was an agonizing day for the fiercely private Woods, forced to face the golf fans he had betrayed during an early morning practice round before being grilled by the world's media about his philandering.

Having shed little light on the dark double life that had transformed him from a global sporting icon to late-night television punch-line, Woods's news conference attracted a standing-room only crowd and worldwide television audience anxious for answers.

Such was the immense interest in Woods's appearance that access was tightly controlled, spots inside the 207-seat theater were limited to those with tickets that were double and triple checked at the door.

As the auditorium filled, the buzz continued to grow before falling dead silent as a smiling Woods appeared at the back entrance and made his way to the podium, stopping briefly to shake hands and receive a big hug from Ron Townsend, Augusta National's first and only black member.

Betrays nerves

Woods claimed he was less nervous confronting the media than the massive galleries earlier that day but his nerves betrayed him when he mistakenly called playing partner Fred Couples 'Craig' during his opening remarks.

But for an athlete who has often given the impression he would rather undergo root canal treatment than answer media questions, Woods found strange comfort being back in the Augusta press-room where many of the faces in the crowd were familiar ones, not the faceless and veracious tabloid media which has relentlessly hounded him.

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