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Tiger Woods to break silence, speak to press

Tiger Woods on Friday will make his first

Tiger Woods on Friday will make his first public statement since his admission of infidelity in December. (File photo, 2006) Photo Credit: AP

The first day of the rest of Tiger Woods' epic career will be Friday, when he emerges from his self-imposed exile from golf to speak publicly for the first time since his admission of marital infidelity.

Woods announced through his agent, Mark Steinberg, that he will make a televised statement at 11 a.m. Friday from the clubhouse of the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Fla., near PGA Tour headquarters. He will not take questions from a group of hand-picked reporters and "a small group of friends, colleagues and close associates" permitted to attend.

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"This is not a press conference," Steinberg told The Associated Press. "This is all about the next step. He's looking forward to it."

It's expected Woods will offer an apology to his wife, Elin Nordegren, and to family, friends and fans. He also likely will address his past behavior, which came to light after an incident in which he crashed his SUV outside his home near Orlando, Fla., in the middle of the night on Nov. 27, as well as his plans to resume playing golf.

A statement posted on his Web site read: "Tiger plans to discuss his past and his future, and he plans to apologize for his behavior. While Tiger feels that what happened is fundamentally a matter between him and his wife, he also recognizes that he has hurt and let down a lot of other people who were close to him. He also let down his fans. He wants to begin the process of making amends, and that's what he's going to discuss."

Access to Woods' statement will be tightly controlled. Steinberg told the AP three wire services - AP, Reuters and Bloomberg News - would be invited, and he will ask the Golf Writers Association of America to pick a small group of reporters to serve as a pool. There will be one pool camera to provide live coverage via satellite to any TV network or station. The PGA Tour also plans to credential the world press at a nearby hotel, where reporters can watch the live feed.

Coincidentally, Woods' announcement comes in the middle of the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona, whose sponsor was the first to drop him after revelations about his infidelity. AT & T also dropped Woods, and Gillette suspended its relationship with him. Woods reportedly spent time at a sex clinic in Hattiesburg, Miss.

"The first time out, he's better controlling it," Padraig Harrington said from the site of the Match Play. "Over time, there will be questions. At the moment, the best thing is a more controlled environment and gradually ease his way back into it."

Woods, 34, has won 14 major titles, four short of the record set by Jack Nicklaus. Despite winning six tour events last season and the Australian Masters, the last tournament he played, Woods failed to win a major. He will be a heavy favorite if he plays in the majors this year because the first three are on venues where he has won before - the Masters at Augusta National, the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and the British Open at St. Andrews.

The Masters is scheduled April 8-11, so he will need to play soon to regain his form. Likely sites for his return include the next World Championship event March 11-14 at Doral in Miami and the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill March 25-28 in Orlando.

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