Tiger Woods: 'I have prepared my kids to find out about my affairs'
From being considered one of sport's most guarded superstars, Tiger Woods is in danger of becoming its most open.
Two days after the 14-time Major winner gave a press conference in which he admitted he was reconciled to the possibility of his career being over, a rare one-on-one interview has been published in which he delves deep into his personal life.
It was one thing hearing Woods finally recognising his mortality as a sportsman, but quite another to read him revealing that he had started preparing his children (Sam, 8, and Charlie, 6) for the day they are old enough to discover all about their father's multiple affairs.
"I've taken the initiative with the kids, and told them up front, 'Guys, the reason why we're not in the same house, why we don't live under the same roof, mommy and daddy, is because Daddy made some mistakes'," Woods says.
"I just want them to understand before they get to internet age and they log on to something or have their friends tell them something. . . When they come of age, I'll tell them the real story. . . I'd rather have it come from me, and I can tell them absolutely everything."
Woods' Q&A with Time magazine - undertaken to coincide with his 40th birthday on December 30 - has already been billed as "the most candid interview of his career".
"In hindsight, it's not how I would change 2009 and how it all came about. It would be having a more open, honest relationship with my ex-wife (Elin)," Woods says.
"Having the relationship that I have now with her is fantastic. She's one of my best friends. We're able to pick up the phone, and we talk to each other all the time. We both know that the most important things in our lives are our kids. I wish I would have known that back then."
There is a clear sense Woods feels that he is, in some way, making up for what he once famously called "my transgressions" and although the cynics will doubtless raise their eyebrows, he describes a poignant moment when his daughter found him lying on the ground in agony after he first succumbed to spinal problems.
From a competitive standpoint, Woods expanded on Tuesday's comments in the Bahamas - where he is hosting this week's Hero World Challenge - saying that if the three back surgeries he has undergone in the last two years force his retirement then he will be "satisfied" with his achievements.
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"To be in my thirties, and to have done this much? I never would have foreseen that," Woods says.
However, in the interview conducted by the respected Canadian golf writer Lorne Rubenstein, Woods did provide insight into the scale of his ambition, by denying that Jack Nicklaus' record Major haul was always a lifetime goal. It had long been believed that Woods had written "Nicklaus" and the number "18" on his bedroom wall.
"Okay, here's the major misconception that people have all gotten wrong - it's what was posted on my wall, about Jack's records," he says.
"It was not the majors, okay? There was one (major) on there. It was the first time he broke 40, the first time he broke 80, the first tournament he won, first time he won the US Amateur, the first time he won the US Open.
"It was all age-related. To me, that was important. This guy's the best of all time. If I can beat each age that he did it, then I have a chance at being the best."
Asked if Woods had beaten these records, he replies: "I beat them all."
But what chance Woods, now ranked 400th in the world, defeating the current crop?
Woods reiterates that he has no timetable for when he will return and, although it is his aim to play again, he says "I don't want to have another procedure" as he believes the previous operations have cost him "quality of life with my kids".
If the options are to go under the knife again or hang up his spikes, he will choose the latter.
"Put it this way. It's not what I want to have happen, and it's not what I'm planning on having happen. But if it does, it does. I've reconciled myself to it," Woods says.
"It's more important for me to be with my kids.
"I don't know how I could live with myself not being able to participate in my kids' lives like that. That to me is special." (© Daily Telegraph, London)