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Tiger Woods vows to change in golf, life

Tiger Woods smiles as he addresses members of

Tiger Woods smiles as he addresses members of the media during a press conference prior to the 2010 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2010 in Augusta, Georgia. Photo Credit: Getty/Harry How

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Tiger Woods did make a few revelations Monday, saying that he played last season with a torn Achilles, never took illegal drugs, did take five stitches in the infamous SUV crash and won't be accompanied at this Masters by his wife. Maybe the stunner of the bunch, though, was that he never did have fun in winning tournaments and living a dissolute life.

"When you live a life where you're lying all the time, life is not fun," he said during his first news conference since the November SUV crash and the resulting mushrooming scandal.

He pledged to be a better person - and a different, more relaxed one on the course - while trying to be the same unparalleled golfer who has won 14 major championships. He insisted that he has those priorities in order now. "I'm trying as hard as I possibly can each and every day to get my life better and better and stronger, and if I win championships along the way, so be it," he said.

The news conference lasted 35 minutes and covered various topics. It was much anticipated, with special credentials issued by Augusta National officials. It followed Woods' first public practice round since the spiraling revelations about his personal life and reported multiple infidelities began late last year.

Although he was not given the raucous rock-star roars he usually receives during practice rounds, the reception was respectful and positive - free of incidents or any overt heckling - as he played with Fred Couples and, for the final five holes, Jim Furyk. The mood in the group was light and the talk almost all golf-related.

Woods was effusive afterward. He had been nervous about how people would receive him. He responded by making eye contact, occasionally speaking with fans, often tipping his cap. "The encouragement I got, it blew me away to be honest with you, it really did," he said during the news conference. "Today was something that really touched my heart pretty good."

As he had in his public apology and pair of five-minute interviews, he repeatedly rebuked himself for his behavior. He spoke softly, looking his questioners in the eye and addressing some by name.

For the first time, he acknowledged having received five stitches after the crash in the early morning after Thanksgiving. He denied that Ambien, which he reportedly had taken that day, contributed to the accident. "Well, the police investigated the accident and they cited me 166 bucks and it's a closed case," he said.

Yes, he did acknowledge having been treated by Dr. Anthony Galea, who is under investigation for possession of illegal performance-enhancing drugs and dispensing them to other high-profile athletes, but it was for platelet-enriched plasma treatment to help him recover from knee surgery and a torn Achilles. The latter injury had been a secret until Monday. "I've never taken any illegal drug, ever, for that matter," he said.

He said, without elaborating on the state of his marriage, that his wife Elin will not be at the Masters. Woods was at his most emphatic when he spoke of being in rehab in February - and he wouldn't say what he was rehabbing, replying, "That's personal, thank you" - and of missing his son Charlie Axel's first birthday.

"That hurts. That hurts a lot," he said. "I vowed I would never miss another one after that."

He also vowed to be more respectful of the game by not being so demonstrative after his poor shots, or his good ones. "I can't play one without the other," he said.

Monday, he declared he is ready to try. "That first tee, I'm looking forward to it. I haven't looked forward to that tee shot in a long time, not like this," he said. "It feels fun again."

So how well can he do after being out for five months? "Nothing's changed," he said. "I'm going to go out there and try to win this thing."

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