ORLANDO, Florida—Expressing remorse for times when "I didn't think normal rules applied," Tiger Woods apologized Friday to his mother, friends, business associates -- and by extension, the world -- for the affairs that have put his marriage on the rocks and his illustrious career still on indefinite hold.
"I know I have bitterly disappointed all of you," he said in a 13.5-minute speech before a private gathering at the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse.
"I have made you question who I am and how I could have done the things I did. I'm embarrassed that I put you in this position. For all that I have done, I am so sorry."
Woods also confirmed that he has spent 45 days undergoing inpatient therapy for sex addiction and that he'll return Saturday for continued treatment. While expressing a desire to return to competitive golf, he left any specifics unanswered.
"I do plan to return to golf one day. I just don't know when that day will be," he said. "I don't rule out that it'll be this year. When I do return, I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game."
To all but his closest inner circle and those treating him, Friday marked Woods' first sighting since the wee hours of Nov. 27, when he crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant and tree outside his Isleworth driveway.
A dazed Woods was rushed to the hospital, then went into seclusion upon his release. The accident came hard on the heels of a National Enquirer report that Woods was carrying on an affair with Rachel Uchitel, a New York City events planner who reportedly had accompanied the golfer to the Australian Open in November.
In the days that followed, more than a dozen women came forward or were identified in tabloid reports as having affairs with Woods. Until Friday, Woods' only response came in three brief statements issued on his website.
"I was unfaithful," Woods admitted Friday. "I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable, and I'm the only person to blame. I stopped living by the core values I was taught to believe in."
Woods' mother, Kultida, was seated near the end of the front row to hear her son's remarks. Also among those in attendance were PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and fellow tour pro and Stanford roommate Notah Begay III.
Noticeably absent was Elin Woods, the golfer's wife.
"Elin and I have started the process of discussing the damage caused by my behavior," Woods said. "As Elin pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words. It will come in my behavior over time.
"What we say to each other will remain between the two of us. I'm also aware of the pain my behavior has caused those of you in this room. I have let you down, and I have let down my fans."
Woods also took time to chastise the tabloid media not for reporting his foibles but for tailing his wife and young children. The couple has a 2½ year-old daughter, Sam, and 1-year-old son, Charlie.
"My behavior doesn't make it right for the media to follow my 2½-year-old daughter to school and report the school's location," Woods said. "They staked out my wife and they pursued my mom.
"Whatever my wrongdoings, for the sake of my family, please leave my wife and kids alone."
Woods also denied speculation that he has used performance-enhancing drugs -- a rumor stemming from the arrest of a Canadian doctor, Tony Galea, who used a radical blood treatment to help Woods recover from knee surgery last year.
Though the setting was private, Woods' words quickly spread worldwide. ABC, CBS and NBC all broke into regular programming to carry the speech. ESPN and Golf Channel provided extended coverage.
"I don't know the extent to which the American public generally allows him the opportunity to demonstrate where he's headed in a credible way," Finchem said, addressing a phalanx of worldwide media who watched the speech from a hotel ballroom a mile away from the Sawgrass clubhouse.