Disgraced golf superstar Tiger Woods is sorry.
"I want to say to each of you simply and directly: I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behaviour," Mr. Woods told a roomful of relatives, friends and associates.
Mr. Woods broke his silence Friday morning at an orchestrated appearance at a Florida golf club, his first public remarks since his carefully managed image careened off course in late November when a bizarre car crash morphed into a lurid sex scandal.
"I know I have bitterly disappointed all of you. I have made you question who I am and how I have done the things I did. I am embarrassed that I have put you in this position. For all that I have done, I am so sorry. I have a lot to atone for," he said, later adding: "I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable. And I am the only person to blame. I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in."
Mr. Woods said he and wife Elin Nordegren have "started the process of discussing the damage caused by my behaviour." Ms. Nordegren was not at the event.
"As Elin pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behaviour over time. We have a lot to discuss. However, what we say to each other will remain between the two of us," he said.
Mr. Woods said he plans to resume playing professional golf, perhaps even this year. "When I do return, I need to make my behaviour more respectful of the game."
Dressed in a dark suit with an open collar blue shirt, Mr. Woods appeared to be on the brink of tears at several points during his statement, which he read at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., home to the PGA Tour. A small pool of reporters were present, but Mr. Woods did not take questions. His mother, an emotional Kultida Woods, was in the audience.
The world's top golfer said he knew his affairs - he has been linked to at least 19 women - were wrong "but I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply."
"I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled."
Mr. Woods said he now knows his behaviour was "wrong" and "foolish," saying he is dedicated to repairing the damage he caused.
"I brought this shame on myself. I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife's family, my friends, my foundation and kids all around the world who admired me. I've had a lot of time to think about what I've done. My failures have made me look at myself in a way I never wanted to before. It's now up to me to make amends and that starts by never repeating the mistakes I've made," he said.
Life changed drastically for Mr. Woods when he crashed his SUV just metres away from his Florida mansion on Nov. 27. Since then, he has been linked to 19 mistresses, fined for careless driving, separated from his wife, left professional golf, lost several endorsement contracts and sought treatment for a sexual addiction.
In his statement, which lasted about 13 minutes and 30 seconds, Mr. Woods said he had spent 45 days in inpatient therapy "receiving guidance" for his problems between late December and early February. It has been widely reported that he was in rehab for sexual addiction. He said he will resume his treatment on Saturday.
"It's hard to admit that I need help. But I do. … I have a long way to go. It's about taking my first steps in the right direction," he said. "As I proceed, I understand people have questions. I understand the press wants to ask me for the details of the times I was unfaithful. I understand people want to know whether Elin and I will remain together. Please know that as far as I'm concerned, every one of these questions and answers is a matter between Elin and me. These are issues between a husband and a wife."
Mr. Woods said he is turning back to Buddhism, noting he was raised in the religion by his mother.
"In therapy, I've learned the importance of looking at my spiritual life and keeping it in balance with my professional life. I need to regain my balance and be centred so that I can save the things that are most important to me: My marriage and my children."
Mr. Woods and Ms. Nordegren have two children, two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Sam and one-year-old son Charlie.
In his remarks, Mr. Woods addressed rumours he had crashed his SUV because his wife was attacking him with a golf club.
"There's one issue I really want to discuss. Some people have speculated that Elin somehow hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night. It hurts me that people would fabricate a story like that."
Mr. Woods said he and his wife had never physically fought, adding she "has shown enormous grace and poise throughout this ordeal. Elin deserves praise, not blame."
Addressing his supporters in the room, Mr. Woods ended his remarks by saying: "Today I want to ask for your help. I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again."
Mr. Woods then gave his mother a long hug. He also hugged others in the audience before leaving the room to the buzz of photographers' cameras.
In the earlier discussion, below, Globe Life columnist Sarah Hampson and Globe Sports' Jeff Brooke mulled Mr. Woods's sincerity and the effectiveness of his latest move.