Byline: Tamara Lush Associated Press
MIAMI, Fla. -- In the theater of American public apologies, it's common for celebrities to invoke their faith.
Disgraced golf superstar Tiger Woods did it Friday, in fact, with a twist. He cited the role of Buddhism in his life -- and will look to it to help him recover from serial infidelity.
"People probably don't realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years," Woods said during Friday's televised apology, his first public appearance in nearly three months.
It was Woods' most direct reference to his beliefs yet.
In a few previous interviews, Woods said he had practiced meditation and had attended temple with his mother. He has credited her, and her Thai Buddhism, with giving him the focus needed on the golf course and throughout his life.
His latest comments reflected the Buddhist teachings about desire, craving and attachment -- and balance.
"In therapy I've learned the importance of looking at my spiritual life and keeping in balance with my professional life," Woods said. "I need to regain my balance and be centered so I can save the things that are most important to me, my marriage and my children."
Religion often comes into play for public figures seeking redemption from scandal before the cameras. Bill Clinton invoked God when he asked for constituents' forgiveness, as did South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. But in this country, the religion in question is typically Christianity.
In January, Fox News analyst Brit Hume said Woods should turn to Jesus to deal with his sins. Woods' statement on his religion seemed to some as sort of a rebuke to the public debate stoked by Hume over Buddhism versus Christianity.
"He was reaffirming his own family's tradition," said Robert Thurman, a professor of Buddhist studies at Columbia University. "It was nice to see him standing his ground in the sense that Buddhism is a minority religion."