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WOODS 'A LITTLE NERVOUS' ABOUT RETURNING

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March 23, 2010 12:13AM
Tiger Woods walks to the 16th green during the second round of the 2008 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Photo:REUTERS

Looking jaded and despondent, world number one golfer Tiger Woods finally faced questions on Sunday about the sex scandal that turned him from the biggest brand in sport to the disgraced target of hundreds of jokes. Woods is apprehensive about the reception he will get from the fans at next month's U.S. Masters when he returns to the PGA Tour from self-imposed exile.

Last week, however, Woods announced he would be making his comeback at the April 8-11 Masters, the opening major of the year and an event he has won four times before at one of his favourite venues.

'I don't know. I'm a little nervous about that to be honest with you,' he said on Sunday about his return to the genteel surrounds of Augusta National where media numbers and the allocation of tickets for spectators are tightly controlled.

'It would be nice to hear a couple of claps here and there. But I also hope they clap for birdies, too.

'Playing is one thing,' added Woods, who finally faced questions from the media in two five-minute interviews with the Golf Channel and ESPN. 'I'm excited to get back and play.

'I'm excited to get to see the guys again. I really miss a lot of my friends out there. I miss competing.

'But I still have a lot more treatment to do and just because I'm playing, doesn't mean I'm gonna stop going to treatment.

Uncertain schedule
Woods, who has been trying to salvage his marriage to his Swedish wife Elin, said his playing schedule for the rest of this year remained uncertain.

'I don't know what I'm going to do,' added the 14-times major champion who was sidelined for eight months until last February while recovering from reconstructive knee surgery.

'Last year I didn't know because of my knee; it was still uncertain. And this year, with all the things that I've done I don't know what I'll be doing either.

'That to me is a little bit bothersome, too, in a sense that I don't like not knowing what to do, but what I know I have to do is become a better person and that begins with going to more treatment.' Earlier this month, there had been widespread speculation he would come back for next week's Arnold Palmer Invitational or the private Tavistock Cup, both near his home in Orlando.

'I wasn't ready to play in Tavistock or play in Bay Hill,' Woods said.

'I started too late with my preparation. (Coach) Hank (Haney) and I are starting to work now and start to get it going.

'I'm starting to get my feel back. I know how to play the golf course and that helps a lot,' he added referring to Augusta National. 'I just got to play it.' Woods acknowledged 'living a lie,' saying he alone was responsible for the sex scandal that caused his shocking downfall from global sporting icon to late-night TV punchline.

'It was all me. I'm the one who did it. I'm the one who acted the way I acted. No one knew what was going on when it was going on,' Woods said.

Woods admitted that four months of nearly nonstop public ridicule had caused him shame.

'It was hurtful, but then again, you know what? I did it,' he told the Golf Channel.

'And I'm the one who did those things. And looking back on it now, with a more clear head, I get it. I can understand why people would say those things.

Because you know what? It was disgusting behaviour. It's hard to believe that was me, looking back on it now.' A number of news outlets had submitted requests to the Woods camp for interviews. Both ESPN and the Golf Channel were notified late last week that Woods would agree to a five-minute interview on Sunday afternoon with no restrictions on questions. CBS was also offered an interview, but turned it down.

'Depending on the specifics, we are interested in an extended interview without any restrictions on CBS,' spokeswoman LeslieAnne Wade said.

The interviews were conducted at Isleworth, the gated community in Windermere, Fla., where Woods lives. Golf Channel's Tilghman said Woods' wife, Elin, was not present and 'it's still in question whether she will attend the Masters.' Woods had asked that the interview not be aired until the PGA tournament being played on Sunday was finished. Golf Channel spokesperson, Dan Higgins declined to speculate whether release of the embarrassing text messages influenced the timing of the interview.