Tiger Woods granted his first interview since his November car crash – and subsequent sex scandal – admitting that he has "done some pretty bad things" in [his] life and that he was "a little nervous" about his upcoming return to professional golf in April.
"I was living a life of a lie, I really was," a sober-sounding Woods told ESPN at Isleworth, a golf club near his Windermere, Fla., home. The five-minute interview aired Sunday night during SportsCenter. He also gave five minutes to the Golf Channel.
"Stripping away denial and rationalization you start coming to the truth of who you really are and that can be very ugly," he said.
Part of the recovery process was acknowledging his indiscretions both to his family and to the public. On Feb. 19, Woods appeared at press conference during which he apologized for his behavior during a 13-minute speech. "My real apology will not come in the form of words, but my behavior over time," he said at the time.
During Sunday's interview, the golfer said making that public statement has ultimately given him strength. "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," Woods said.
The Low PointsApologizing to his wife Elin and mother Kultida about his multiple affairs was one of the "low points" for Woods.
"I hurt them the most," he said Sunday. "Those are the two people in my life who I'm closest to – and to say the things that I've done truthfully to them was very painful."
As for Elin's reaction, Woods said, "She was hurt. Very hurt. Shocked and angry – and she had every right to be."
Woods also confirmed that he sought treatment at a clinic from Dec. 31 through Feb. 11, and that he underwent family counseling for a week in following his public statement in February. He did not, however, specify the type of treatment he was receiving.
"It was really tough to look at yourself in a light you never want to look at yourself," Woods said. "That's pretty brutal."
'I Didn't Know'But why not seek help sooner? Said Woods: "I didn't know I was that bad."
Regarding the fact that he had multiple affairs, Woods said, "just one is enough."
Recently, the scandal-ridden golfer confirmed he would be returning to competitive golf at the Masters tournament in Augusta, Ga., on April 8. "I'm a little nervous about that, to be honest with you. It would be nice to hear a couple claps here and there," Woods said.
"[But] I'm excited to get back and play, I'm excited to get to see the guys again," Woods said. "I really missed a lot of my friends out there. I miss competing. But still, I still have a lot more treatment to do, and just because I'm playing, doesn't mean [I will] stop going to treatment."
Surmises Father's ReactionIn his comments to the Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman, Woods said that, despite reports to the contrary, his inner circle was not aware of his misdoings – "I kept it all to myself" – and that he is not yet finished with therapy.
"As far as my schedule going forward," he said. "I don't know what I'm going to do. What I know I have to do is become a better person, and that begins with more treatment."
Asked how his late mentor and father Earl might have reacted to what has come to light over the past four months, Woods said, "He'd be very disappointed in me. We would have numerous long talks. And that's one of the things I miss – I miss his guidance."
Surmising what Earl Woods might say, his son said: "Can't say it on air, but he would have been very direct and basically say, 'You need to get your life headed in the right direction again.' "
With additional reporting by STEVE HELLING