AUGUSTA, Ga.—Tiger Woods is letting out information, slowly and gradually, but certainly not about the sordid antics that precipitated his long and humbling free-fall from grace.
Woods was back on familiar turf at Augusta National Monday, first playing golf for 18 practice holes, during which he said he was “blown away’’ by the friendly reception he received from a large but mostly quiet gallery. “It touched my heart pretty good,’’ he said.
Then he got back on to more familiar turf, a half-hour bob-and-weave with the press at a Q&A in which he once again admitted to doing “terrible things’’ and “living a lie’’ that hurt his family and jeopardized his marriage.
The world’s top-ranked golfer has always been guarded in his dealings with the press, or at least has been for more than a decade. Monday was no different. Other than saying he cut his lip for five stitches and “had a pretty sore neck,’’ he wouldn’t give any more information about his mysterious car crash the night of Nov. 27 – “I got (a ticket for) 166 bucks and that’s case closed,’’ he said.
Neither would he go into any of the juicy details of his many extra-marital affairs, nor say why he recently underwent 45 days of in-patient therapy – “it’s personal, thanks’’ – or whether his wife Elin was behind his decision to return to competitive golf at this week’s Masters.
Which is fine; that is his business, his and his wife’s, even though there is a 24-hour celebrity news machine that requires feeding and once again Woods didn’t give it much to digest.
But he did let a few morsels escape.
For instance, he readily acknowledges being treated by Dr. Anthony Galea, the Toronto doctor currently under investigation for allegedly prescribing or providing illegal or performance-enhancing drugs to several clients, including high-performance athletes. He said his agent had been approached by federal investigators and Woods promised “full co-operation.’’
Woods said he had a torn Achilles tendon in early 2009, while he was in rehab for what he called his fourth knee surgery, and used Galea’s blood-spinning treatments. He denied again ever taking performance enhancing drugs or human growth hormone, two substances allegedly linked to Galea, and said he used the Toronto doctor “because he has treated so many athletes.’’
Woods admitted to using both Ambien and Vicodan, two powerful prescription drugs, but denied he had ever required treatment for dependence on either. He said he used Ambien to sleep around the time his father got terminally ill with cancer, then died.
The only other revelation might have been his admission that “golf wasn’t fun any more’’ even though he was winning so often, because of the sex-driven double life he was leading away from the course.
Which is the stuff plenty of people want to know about and the stuff he simply won’t talk about.
By the way, Augusta National restricted access to the room to one reporter for each media outlet. There was a master list of those allowed to attend and reporters were checked off at the door one by one as they arrived. There was only a handful of empty seats among the 207 chairs reserved for reporters.