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Mark O'Meara on Tiger Woods

February 11, 2010 |  4:00 pm

Mark Mark O'Meara, longtime friend and mentor to Tiger Woods, spoke publicly about Woods for the first time Thursday, both on a conference call for the Toshiba Classic Champions Tour event and after his round at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. After a five-over first-round 77, O'Meara told the Golf Channel's Jim Gray that he felt bad for Woods but that he was ready to offer Woods forgiveness and hoped to see him  back on the PGA Tour soon.

On the conference call, O'Meara said he might have handled the situation Woods finds himself in differently.

"Whether he's handled it right or wrong, only time can decide that," O'Meara said on the conference call. "But Tiger is being Tiger. You guys have spent a lot of time with him and seen how he is."

Despite living near Woods in Florida in Isleworth, O'Meara said he hasn't spoken to him since last year's British Open. "I've tried to contact him a few times, let him know I've been thinking about him and his family. My phone is always on," O'Meara said.

And were Woods to ask his advice here's what O'Meara would tell him. "I know he wants it to be private but it's difficult to be private when he's a public figure," O'Meara said. "That's part of what's happened in our lives. Media is such a big influence. That helped make Tiger a lot of what he is."

-- Diane Pucin from Pebble Beach

Photo: Mark O'Meara competes at the Dubai Desert Classic on Feb. 5. Credit: Karim Sahib / AFP/Getty Images