TUCSON ? Tiger Woods' emotional mea culpa was widely welcomed Friday by a golf world hoping it marked the first step toward their superstar's return to the game.
British Open champion Stewart Cink said he was "moved by how difficult it seemed to be for him," as Woods stood in a room with some 40 people, including his mother, and told them and a worldwide television audience of millions that he was sorry for "selfish" behavior.
But Woods' first public comments since a sex scandal derailed his personal life as well as one of golf's most successful careers lacked one thing his colleagues were looking for ? the time and place of his return to professional golf.
"It has left a big question mark ? when is he going to return? We have had the apology but as golfers, we are back at square one," British golf great Nick Faldo told the Golf Channel from Tucson, where the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship was in its third round on Friday.
Many of the players competing in the Match Play watched all or part of Woods' address on television, and steeled themselves to answer the avalanche of questions about it.
"I think he said what he needed to say. And he said what he felt," said Spain's Sergio Garcia. "For me it's water under the bridge. I'm just looking forward to having him back on tour. I'm actually excited to see him back. So it's good to see that he's doing well and hopefully he gets everything sorted out."
England's Oliver Wilson hoped Woods' long-delayed public appearance would quell interest in the story.
"I'm glad he came out and said something," Wilson said. "I just think everyone should go on with their lives now and let him get on with his. I just want to get him back on the course."
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who was among some 40 people in the room, including Woods' mother, when the golfer spoke said he thought Woods delivered a "compelling commitment statement."
Woods' reputation as a family man was shattered last year after a late-night car crash outside his Florida home was followed by a string of lurid revelations about his personal life, with more than a dozen women linked to the billionaire golfer.
While scandal had tainted Woods in the minds of many, Finchem said, he believed the superstar could regain the esteem he had lost.
"There's an anger in some quarters," Finchem said. "But mainly there is a sense of sadness that he's an American hero and he's had these issues. But at the end of the day he's a human being. We all make mistakes, and when we're lucky we learn from those mistakes.... It seems to me that's the course that he is on."
Fellow golfers seemed willing to believe Woods was genuine in his apologies.
"It certainly looks sincere, what I saw," England's Paul Casey said.
Players in Tucson also shrugged off criticism of Woods' timing, saying his statement ? made a day before Woods said he would return to in-patient therapy ? hadn't taken the gloss off the elite Match Play event.
Cynics suggested it was a poke at tournament sponsor Accenture, one of the first companies to sever ties with Woods amid the scandal.
"I don't think it's been overshadowed," Garcia said. "I think there are still people coming to watch. I thought there were a lot of people out there watching us today."
Faldo, who has seen personal issues of his own become public knowledge during the course of a career that yielded six majors, said the US golf star's continuing absence would be felt, but would not be catastrophic.
"We all know what happens to the ratings, but golf goes on," he added.
Finchem, too, acknowledged that Woods' prolonged absence would affect television audience figures, which shoot up when he plays.
"He does generate a significant increase in the overall interest in the sport, no question, and he does increase significantly the number of people that watch on television.... So I don't want to minimize the long-term impact," Finchem said.