By Jeff Labrecque
Updated April 05, 2010 at 07:07 PM EDT

Tiger Woods faced the golf press after a practice round at Augusta National Golf Course, telling a packed media center that he was touched by the warm embrace of the Masters’ crowd and rival players, that he’s never taken performance-enhancement drugs, and that his wife, Elin, would not accompany him at this week’s Masters tournament.

Woods seemed genuinely happy to be there, addressing his friends in the press by their nicknames and saying that facing them didn’t make him nervous. But he refused to answer what his inpatient treatment had actually been for, claiming “That’s personal. Thank you.” He tersely answered that his wife would not attend the tournament, and he only slightly addressed the Thanksgiving car accident that initiated his downfall. He admitted he had received five stitches in his lip from the accident, but wouldn’t speculate whether the crash was caused by his prescription drug use.

Except for the one question about his wife’s plans for the tournament, the reporters avoided any mention of the golfer’s marriage, the events that may have led up to the car accident, or his mistresses. Woods did discuss how his treatment had kept him from his family, including causing him to miss his son’s first birthday. “That hurt,” he said. “That hurt a lot.”

Looking forward, Woods seemed confident he could regain his place at the top of the game, but he insisted his trials had shifted his priorities: “It’s not about the championships. It’s about how you live your life.”