This was ‘quintessential’ Tiger

Tiger Woods takes a question from a reporter during Monday afternoon's press conference at Augusta.

Tiger Woods takes a question from a reporter during Monday afternoon's press conference at Augusta.

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Babineau: Woods will be in the mix Sunday

Jeff Babineau reacts to Tiger Woods’ Monday press conference at the Masters and says he expects Woods to be in the mix on Sunday.

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Well, it wasn’t exactly 34 minutes in the church confessional, now was it? But in his first expanded news conference since his SUV – and his life – came to an abrupt crashing halt on Nov. 27, Tiger Woods was his quintessential self: Sometimes defiant, sometimes intentionally vague and every once in a while surprisingly enlightening.

The nugget about missing his son Charlie’s first birthday because he was in rehab? Well, the guy may have 14 majors, but you only get one time in life to watch your young son turn 1. That’s something the uber-private Woods would not have offered up in earlier stages of his career. Because missing that birthday enlists hurt, shame, embarrassment and ultimately, great regret. This is a guy who seldom allows a glance past the armor.

He also divulged that he tore his Achilles jogging in December 2008, an injury that further derailed his comeback from the shattered knee upon which he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and shed a tiny shard of light on his questionable association with Dr. Anthony Galea, who has been charged with smuggling drugs, including HGH, across the Canada-U.S. border. We played alphabet soup for a while, as he told us he had PRP injections in his LCL.

He seemed ready for the doctor/medical questions, and said he was drawn to Dr. Galea because he has worked with other athletes, giving Woods some level of comfort. Woods adamantly added he never has taken HGH or any PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs) in his life. Let’s hope not. One huge scandal at a time, please.

Woods was vague about whether his wife, Elin, had a hand in his decision to return to golf, and about his inner circle, which has not changed amid all of Woods’ off-course turmoil. Instead, he covered all with blanket appreciation for all the support he has been receiving.

Woods also apologized to other players, which was overdue. After all, in Woods’ silence, his fellow competitors have been left to speak about a subject they know very little about the last four months.

Ernie Els, who watched Woods’ conference from the clubhouse grille room, working on a club sandwich and chips, was asked if he felt a sense of relief when Woods was done speaking.

“Yeah,” he said. “I do. It’s been difficult. We don’t know anything, and it’s all speculation. You can only put your foot in your mouth, to be honest.”

Els, who was highly critical of Woods’ timing when the World No. 1 scheduled his initial public statement in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., the week of the WGC Match Play, ran into Woods on the grounds at Augusta last week and the two were able to clear the air.

Like everyone else, the Big Easy looks on this shocking Tiger escapade and just wants to move on. For everyone’s sake.

“This is for him,” Els said about Woods, nodding in the direction of the TVs that all were tuned to watch him inside the Augusta National grille, “to get things off his chest and move on.”

Ah, yes, to move on. Wouldn’t that be ideal. Rumor has it there might even be a tournament on the National grounds this week.

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