As he moves into middle age, a reflective Tiger Woods says the pain of his marriage break-up will never leave him and concedes he does not know how much longer he will take to the golf course.
Woods, 41, has opened up about the breakdown of his marriage to Elin Nordegren in a new book, their split coming after he was exposed in 2009 as having been a serial cheater.
He touches on the subject when recalling the events that have shaped his life since claiming his maiden US Masters in 1997.
“My daughter, Sam, born 2007, and son, Charlie, born 2009, are the lights of my life. The closeness we share brings me the greatest pleasure,” Woods said.
“Their mother, Elin Nordegren, and I were so much in love when we married in 2004. But I betrayed her. My dishonesty and selfishness caused her intense pain. Elin and I tried to repair the damage I had done, but we couldn’t.
“My regret will last a lifetime. Still, Elin and I are devoted to our kids, and we have become best friends as we care for them. It’s all about the kids for us.
“Along with moving into middle age, for me comes an even deeper appreciation for how much my parents have meant in my life. Being a father makes me think about my dad even more.”
Woods’ father Earl, who mentored his son, died in 2006.
In what could be construed as a memoir, Tiger Woods – Unprecedented, The Masters and Me, the fallen superstar whose golfing career appears all but over through injury discuses his plight.
“It became difficult for me to make the swings I wanted after my back surgeries. The first, in 2014, kept me out of the Masters that year. The back pain necessitating that surgery came during my back swing as I turned behind the ball,” he said.
“But I chose to ignore it and swing through the ball. Did my relentless desire to keep going, no matter how much I was hurting, contribute to more physical problems? I don’t know, but I again chose to push hard.
“I’ve paid a price. I had my second back surgery in September 2015 and a follow-up procedure in the same area of my back a few weeks later. This time I wasn’t going to return to competition too early. I ended up taking more than a year off. I missed competing, but, finally, I had taken the advice my doctors gave me.
“This doesn’t mean that I regret my decision to keep going hard. I can live with the choices I made.”
Woods also opens up about Fuzzy Zoeller’s racially charged comments after Woods’ victory at Augusta National in ’97.
Zoeller sparked headlines when he claimed Woods might consider serving “fried chicken” at the 1998 Champions’ Dinner “or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve”.
Woods has rarely discussed the comments but writes in the book: “His comments had a racist twinge. Would it matter if he meant what he had said as a joke? If he had it sure didn’t come across as funny.”
A 14-time major winner, Woods hasn’t played a competitive round since early February and withdrew from this week’s Masters because of back problems. When his time is officially up, he says he will continue to dedicate his energies to the Tiger Woods Foundation.
“Still, I don’t know how much longer I’ll play … I think of TGR as chapter two of my career. This doesn’t mean I’m retiring but I am continuing to plan for my life and legacy after I stop playing,” he said.
“A final thought: I lived in ’97 for that moment when I had to perform. Maybe I don’t live as much for that now, but I still crave competing. But I also realise that, physically, I can’t necessarily do what I want to do. And I know I’ll miss it when I’m done playing tournament golf. My parents told me it was OK for me to fail, as long as I gave it everything I had. I have given it everything I have.”