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Knives are out for Tiger

AUGUSTA, April 4- Tiger Woods will face his first extended public questioning over a devastating sex scandal on Monday in a dramatic start to a tension-packed comeback week of golf at the Masters.

Reporters from around the world will have the chance to seek details about the early morning crash last November that sparked revelations Woods had cheated on wife Elin, a former Swedish model, with more than a dozen women.

"I tried to stop and I couldn’t. It was horrific," Woods said last month. "I’ve done some pretty bad things. I take full ownership of it. I did it."

Woods apologized by way of postings on his website, a statement broadcast worldwide in February and two five-minute March television interviews, where he detailed regret and humiliation in an epic mea culpa for all to see.

"I was living a life of a lie," Woods told ESPN in March. "I was doing a lot of things that hurt a lot of people. I’m as disappointed as everyone else in my own behavior because I can’t believe I actually did that to the people I love."

Now, iconic former role model and billion-dollar endorsement pitchman Woods is fighting to put the gossip firestorm behind him by ending a layoff of nearly five months at the controlled atmosphere of Augusta National Golf Club. Related article: Tiger can come back strong: rival

"It’s going to be a huge event, and I think one of the positives from Tiger’s perspective (is) doing his press conference Monday and getting it out of the way, for his sake and everybody’s sake," South African star Ernie Els said.

Woods will take questions from a jam-packed interview room mainly featuring golf writers rather than a tabloid media with little interest in the year’s first major golf championship before Woods’s revelations of infidelity in December.

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"It makes it a bit more E! Entertainment, doesn’t it?" said Irishman Padraig Harrington, a three-time major champion seeking his first Masters title.

Mark O’Meara, a former Masters champion, expressed hope his friend Woods can begin to close the conversation about the scandal and revive interest in golf that has dimmed in his absence.

"He has made a mistake and he has come forward and really taken full responsibility," O’Meara said.

"Now that he has come clean and he is trying to get better, you have to respect that. You don’t respect what happened, but we have to let the guy move forward."

Previews of some likely answers by Woods came during the TV interviews last month.

Woods cited police reports when pressed for details about his vehicle crash last November, in which he paid a minor fine, and said certain details about his relationship with his wife will remain private between the two of them.

Questions about his temptations and his lack of personal control — a stark contrast to the intimidating figure Woods cut on golf courses over the final crucial holes when leading — figure to produce the most damaging answers should Woods be willing to provide a rare glimpse into his personal life.

Golf inquiries will be the easiest of all for 14-time major champion Woods as he resumes pursuit of the all-time record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus.

Given that only Ben Hogan — in 1951 and 1953 — has won the Masters as a season debut, and that those who have seen Woods practice in the past month have raved about his form, Woods’ bid to win a fifth career Masters will be high drama.

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"He’s hitting it longer than before," warned India’s Arjun Atwal.

"I don’t see anybody hit the ball like he does," said John Cook. "That’s vintage. I don’t see anybody beating him."

Kenny Perry, the 2009 Masters runner-up, expects to see the best from Woods and wants to see the public forgive his indiscretions.

"I think he’s going to come back and play great," Perry said. "He has got a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. I think it’s going to make him stronger."

Perry said he hoped Americans would forgive Woods and give him another shot. "We need to stand behind him," he added.

Even if spectators avoid distracting heckling, Woods faces the possible loss of his once-omnipotent aura on the back nine when leading in the final rounds.

"I don’t think he’s going to be the bad guy," South African Retief Goosen said. "He’s going to be 99.9 percent the good guy. There’s only going to be that .1 percent that is going to make comments.

"That’s probably going to make him feel a little bit like the rest of us," he added.

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