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A sorry apology from Woods? Not in this view

Tiger Woods during ESPN's coverage Friday. Photo: Ed Bark

Despite what some of the media vultures might think, it took real courage to do what Tiger Woods did Friday morning.

Yes, his live apology was tightly controlled, with no questions permitted. But in doing it his way, Woods did it the right way. He apologized repeatedly to his family, his friends, his fans. And as his mother looked on stoically from a front row seat among invited guests, Woods said emphatically, "I brought this shame on myself. It's up to me to start living a life of integrity."

Television's rag mags -- Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, Extra, etc. -- and innumerable gawking, gossiping web sites can still have their fun poring over Woods' many mistresses and whether his wife, Elin, will ever forgive him. But they won't get their pound of flesh from the admitted perpetrator.

"Please know that as far as I am concerned, every one of these questions and answers is a matter between Elin and me," Woods said before pointedly scolding those in the media who directed their glares on his immediate family.

They "staked out my wife and they pursued my mom," he said. His two-and-a-half-year-old daughter's school also was identified.

"Please leave my wife and family alone," Woods almost pleaded.

He did address some of the more pointed reports and rumors in the months since the exhaustively covered Thanksgiving night car crash and the facial wounds Woods sustained.

"Elin never hit me that night or any other night," Woods said emphatically. "There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage. Ever."

His wife, who hasn't been seen with him since the incident, has shown "enormous grace," Woods added. "Elin deserves praise, not blame . . . I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable. And I am the only person to blame."

Near the end of his 14-minute statement, Woods said he will leave for more therapy Saturday. He plans to "return to golf one day. I just don't know when that day will be."

Above all, "I need to regain my balance and be centered so that I can save the things that are most important to me -- my marriage and my family," Woods said.

His final words -- "I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again" -- were punctuated with a long hug from his mother, Kultida, who also patted her son on the shoulder.

Yes, that may well have been pre-planned, too. But with the whole world watching, every movement will be dissected and analyzed for telltale body language and what did or didn't happen. Had Woods simply walked off, pouncers immediately would have damned him for bypassing his mother.

Before Woods' appearance, ESPN golf analyst Andy North was asked about the wall-to-wall network coverage of it.

"We have people flying planes into buildings, and that's not nearly as important as a guy reading a statement. I don't get it, really," he said, referring to Thursday's tragedy in Austin.

That's more than a little disingenuous. Particularly when North among many others is perfectly willing to yap about Woods until his employer dismisses him.

Another ESPN analyst , former Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly, initially ridiculed the "odd setup" for Woods statement, in which a blue curtain served as backdrop. "It looks like a magic show or something."

Afterwards, though. Reilly was full of praise for Woods: "I really thought it was excellent . . . It was a Tiger I've never seen before. He really accomplished something today, I thought."

On CBS, golf analyst David Feherty described Woods as "a creature unlike any other" who finally emerged from behind a "force field" that long had been "impenetrable" during his many successes on the PGA tour.

Feherty also predicted that Woods and his wife will reconcile.

Whether they do or not of course isn't only their business. But Woods is absolutely right in his decision to not go public about who he slept with, how Elin found out and all the other attendant juice that has so many media outlets slobbering.

Friday's appearance -- or performance if you will -- was convincing to this eye witness. Woods seemed to speak from the heart, knowing full well that some will continue to drive a corkscrew through it.

He doesn't owe any further mea culpas to Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer or Dr. Phil. I hope he never goes that route. His sole goal should be to remake himself for the sake of his family and loved ones.

"For all that I have done, I am so sorry," Woods said. "I have a lot to atone for."

It's time to stop throwing stones and let him get on with it.