AUGUSTA, Ga. -- For years, Tiger Woods deceived himself, his wife, his mother, his in-laws, his children, his friends, his sponsors, his peers, his entourage, his fans, the media and even his mistresses. So while I'd love to jump headfirst into the new Tiger Pond of Trust, it's going to take more than Monday's 34-minute news conference to make me a full believer.
I want to believe, I really do. It's in our DNA to see someone's better angels, to take the leap of faith from distrust to trust. And no one in sports, with the possible exceptions of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, has suffered more from a crisis in character than Woods.
Somewhere between 2:02 p.m. and 2:36 p.m. Eastern, inside the main interview room of the Augusta National media center, Woods peeled off another layer of his secrets. He wasn't happy about it, but, to his credit, he also wasn't reluctant about it.
There were 48 questions. But there weren't 48 answers. At times, New Tiger reverted to Old Tiger -- that is, he laid up on the truth. He hit a 3-iron when he could have, should have, hit driver with his explanations and words.
Monday is the day we discovered that Woods tore his right Achilles late in 2008. It's the day he admitted he took the painkiller Vicodin and the sleep aid Ambien. It's the day he denied ever taking human growth hormone or performance enhancing drugs. And it's the day he detailed his relationship with Dr. Tony Galea, a Canadian sports medicine specialist who is under investigation by federal authorities for possibly supplying athletes with PEDs.
It was more than we had ever heard from Woods -- which is a pleasant change -- but there are still gaping holes in his story. We have the beginning and the middle of an explanation, but not an end.
"I've lied and deceived a lot of people, and a lot of people didn't know what I was doing, either," said Woods.
Exactly. Woods has a long and creepy history of deception. He didn't live a secret life; he lived a dozen of them. It took 16 months before we found out about the torn Achilles. It took weeks before we found out that federal investigators have contacted his agent about Woods' medical relationship with Galea. It took years and years before we found about the mistresses. Isn't it fair to wonder what else Woods hasn't mentioned from his past?
I don't need or want details of his affairs, or an Elin/marriage update. But I needed more than the brush-off he gave to the Ambien-related question involving his car crash. I needed better than, "I did everything to the letter of the law," when asked why he didn't speak with Florida law enforcement investigators last December. And I definitely needed better than Woods saying he's learned the importance of perspective after the death of his father, the birth of his children and now the implosion of his personal life and carefully crafted public image.
Huh? If anything, Woods has shown an inability to learn from his mistakes. You can't rent perspective. Either you buy into it or you don't.
Woods says the sex scandal and its fallout have created seismic changes in his life. Geez, I hope so. If it doesn't, nothing will.
What a strange day. I've never been to a news conference like this one. You received a ticket stub with your name and registration number. The two sets of double doors leading into the interview room opened at 1:15 and were closed at 1:50. Three uniformed security personnel triple-checked your name off a master list and another Augusta National security executive examined your ID tag as you walked in.
Behind the elevated stage was a door with a small window on it. Every so often you'd see another security guard stare suspiciously through the opening, as if the 200 or so reporters in the room might steal the club silverware.
There were two microphones on the table, as well as two water bottles and six cups. On the wall facing the stage were a set of photographs, including one from the 1997 Masters, when a 21-year-old Woods became the tournament's youngest champion. That seems like 1897 now.
Those early years of his career, before he committed serial infidelity followed by serial lying, were the years, he said, "I was at peace." Peace and Woods haven't been in the same tee box for who knows how long. He says rehab has made a difference, but, sigh, he wouldn't even say what kind of rehab program he completed.
"That's personal, thank you," he said.
People want to believe in Woods. That much was evident as he played his Monday morning practice round. The patrons were polite, supportive, but I thought a little more subdued than usual. It was as if they didn't quite know what to do with Woods.
They cheered when he, Fred Couples and Jim Furyk skipped their shots across the pond on the par-3 16th hole. They greeted him with applause when he stepped onto the 18th green.
"The encouragement that I got, it was just -- it blew me away, to be honest with you, it really did," Woods said. "And the people here over the years, I know they are extremely respectful; but today was just something that really touched my heart pretty good."
Honesty -- what a concept. Woods has gone from baby steps to fuller steps, but I'm still not prepared to take that full Tiger plunge. Let's see if he actually acts differently on and off the course. Let's see how this federal investigation into Galea shakes out. Let's see if Woods can sustain this personal transformation.
Talk is cheaper than an Augusta National pimento sandwich. Time for Woods to prove the actions match the words.
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at email@example.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here.