"Nothing's changed, going to go out there and try to win this thing," a goateed Woods said with a smile.
That you can take to the bank. Whether anything else about Woods, who threw himself at the mercy of the court of public opinion, has really changed upon his return to golf is a much more dubious notion, one that can't be answered in 35 minutes in front of a microphone or by four (most likely) rounds of golf at a major tournament.
Woods's answers about the infidelity scandal, about his relationship with alleged performance-enhancing drug provider Dr. Anthony Galea and about how he will live his life moving forward are subject to skepticism because Woods has fooled us before. It's hard to blindly accept at face value the veracity of Tiger 2.0 when the original Tiger turned out to be so deceitful.
If you want to believe that Tiger can change his stripes after 45 days in a Mississippi treatment center, then you will. If you're prone to believe that a man who admitted that he "lied to a lot of people, deceived a lot of people, kept others in the dark, rationalized, and even lied to myself" is simply continuing his inveterate dishonesty to pave a smoother path back to golf, then you will.
The reality is that we don't know Tiger Woods or any other athlete. We only know the two-dimensional image that they allow us to see, the same two-dimensional image, albeit it retooled to be more contrite and less arrogant, that Woods flashed yesterday at Augusta. The third dimension of Woods, the one we've come to know through racy text messages and TMZ exposes, shocked us all. Never saw it coming.
This time, he might really be telling the truth when he says that his treatment with Dr. Galea consisted only of platelet-rich plasma injection therapy, known as "blood spinning" to help heal his surgically-repaired left knee and a previously undisclosed torn Achilles' tendon in his right foot.
"He never gave me HGH or any PEDs," said Woods. "I've never taken that my entire life. I've never taken any illegal drug, ever, for that matter."
This could either be another Tiger Tale from a man who we already know cheated -- on his wife -- or the honest to goodness truth from the game's greatest golfer, who has too much respect to cheat the game he was groomed to dominate from a young age.
It's easy to believe Woods when he talks about the pain of missing his son's first birthday. It's a little harder to believe him when he claims that winning golf tournaments is irrelevant compared to the damage he caused to his friends and family. That's the right thing to say, but it's hard to fathom coming from Woods, who grew up with Jack Nicklaus's accomplishments tacked up on his bedroom wall.
Not to mention such a statement looks like a complete contradiction when he's playing at the Masters without his wife, Elin, being present, and Woods revealed that two days before his February choreographed mea culpa he had begun practicing again. Then "started getting the itch" to play again. That may have been the same uncontrollable itch Woods got before he dealt with his alleged sex addiction.
Woods bristled at a questioner who dared to ask if playing the fabled tournament while he's trying to reconcile his marriage was a wise move.
"Well, I'm excited to play this week," said Woods.
Perhaps, the most unsavory answer from Woods was when he was asked about the corporate sponsors who abandoned him when the details of his secret life of lechery began to surface.
If Woods was grasping the gravity of his actions like he claimed in the press conference, then the only reference to a sponsor the golfer should have made would be the one he calls to deal with his addiction, which he said his treatment for will be ongoing.
He should have dismissed the sponsor question as irrelevant, like he did the golf tournaments he won while being unfaithful.
Instead, Woods, whose wholesome good guy image turned out to be as manufactured as the products he was hawking, reverted into pitchman mode, making one wonder if that was what he was doing the whole time.
"Hopefully, I can prove to the other companies going forward that I am a worthy investment," said Woods. "That I can help their company, help their company grow and represent them well. I felt like I was representing companies well in the past, but then again I wasn't doing it the right way because of what I was engaged in."
Yup, Tiger Woods Inc., is open for business again folks.
The question is are you buying what he's selling the second time around?
...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.