Tiger Woods, the man who spent a lifetime saying nothing, suddenly couldn’t say enough today as he turned his first press conference since scandal struck into a fully-fledged confessional.
“Whatever I did, I lied to myself, I lied to others and just because I was winning golf tournaments, that doesn’t mean a thing,’’ he said, like a high court justice delivering a damning verdict on himself.
“The way I was thinking caused so much harm to the people that I love and care about most on this planet.”
These were extraordinary words to hear from a man who has over the years come to embody the purest, most unapologetic essence of the competitive instinct, but then again this was an extraordinary day in the 76-year history of the Masters at Augusta National.
Woods has played a significant part in that history, not least by becoming the first African-American golfer to win here, as he did in 1997.
But on Tuesday, he took his talent for making news away from Augusta’s verdant fairways and inside, to a cramped, sparse room with temporary seating off to the side of the club’s main press centre.
The golfer had spoken from the raised platform here countless times in the past, but never in an atmosphere of such febrile anticipation or, for that matter, amid such overwrought security arrangements.
Augusta likes to think of itself as Fort Knox with a spiffy clubhouse but it outdid itself this time around, with the audience of 120 journalists counted in and counted out.
Needless to say, the folks from the National Enquirer and TMZ.com, the two celebrity gossip news outlets that started and fuelled the scandal that had brought Woods to this moment, were nowhere in sight, being about as welcome in this citadel of Southern manners as a pair of frayed Levi’s.
Woods, sporting a goatee, arrived as scheduled, at 2pm local time.
He was accompanied by Craig Heatley, an Augusta member and chairman of the Masters’ media committee.
The golfer looked every inch like his old Herculean self, his muscles bulging beneath the regulation Nike shirt.