Woods' biggest punishment is personal

GERARD GALLAGHER, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 9:00 PM ET

Among the scarce revelations in Tiger Woods' press conference Monday was this: During the 45 days he spent in rehab, the golfer missed his son's first birthday.

When all of this is over, when there are no more questions to be asked and avenues to be explored, that may very well count as the biggest punishment for his infidelities.

For a son who relied so much on the guidance of his father, Woods wasn't there to shepherd his own boy into the second year of his life. And while his son won't remember that absence, there will likely be photographic evidence that it occurred.

It will be pixilated proof that Woods, who has two children with wife Elin, was not a very good husband -- and, by default, not a very good father either.

"I'm going to have to explain all this to them," Woods said during his press conference at Augusta National.

Woods spoke to the media for 34 minutes -- the longest we have seen him since the Nov. 27 car accident that touched off his sex scandal. We will hear from him at least two more times this week in post-round interviews at the Masters. If he makes the cut, we will hear from him four times.

Woods talked about several topics Monday that he hadn't touched on before.

He answered questions for the first time about the Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections he received from Dr. Anthony Galea, who is under investigation in a drug case.

Woods said he underwent the PRP treatment -- in which blood is spun in a centrifuge and injected into an injury -- following his knee surgery in 2008. He said he also received the treatment after a previously-undisclosed right Achilles tendon tear he suffered while he began to train again that December.

But Woods denied receiving prohibited substances from Galea, who visited the golfer at his house in Florida.

"I've never taken that my entire life. I've never taken any illegal drug ever, for that matter," Woods said.

Woods said he chose Galea because the doctor had worked with so many other athletes and that there is "some comfort level to that." He said his agent, Mark Steinberg at IMG, has been contacted by federal authorities about the doctor.

Woods pledged his own cooperation, but said: "As of right now, they haven't asked for my time."

The Achilles injury -- Woods said he tore it a couple more times in 2009, even as he won seven tournaments worldwide -- stood out as the biggest new piece of information to come out of the press conference.

His answers with regard to Galea were predictable and, as far as we know, honest. There is no other reason to suspect Woods, a longtime proponent of drug testing in golf, has cheated.

But he will continue to receive questions about Dr. Galea as that story moves forward. And there are those who will choose never to believe Woods' answers on the subject.

It is a distrust he has rightly earned -- a distrust that will follow him for the rest of his life. It will forever be his own personal gallery of incredulous spectators.

As Woods proclaimed Monday that golf feels fun again since he's not "living a lie" anymore, he stepped out of the steely persona he's inhabited for more than a decade and, for the first time this writer can remember, downplayed the importance of breaking Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships.

Woods, who is 34, has captured 14 majors.

"It's not about the championships, it's about how you live your life," Woods said. "I have not done that the right way for a while. I can be a better man going forward."

It was at least the third time in the last two years that the focus on Woods has been on off-course issues. Each story has outlasted its welcome to the point that we longed to get back to the business of talking about golf again.

For fans, the sport is what has always mattered the most. Any second spent talking about the game is worth two seconds spent talking about the Tiger Woods Story.

For instance, there's this: Did you know that Ian Poulter has a new pair of FootJoys?

Back to the business of golf indeed.


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