Published: Apr 05, 2010 7:50 PM EDT

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Tiger Woods says "nothing's changed" on the golf course and he still expects to win the Masters in his return to competition after a devastating personal scandal.

Tiger Woods began his comeback with an extraordinary 35-minute news conference at Augusta National on Monday, taking full blame for the personal failings that led to revelations of multiple extramarital affairs.

Woods refused to say why he spent 45 days in rehabilitation, but says he intends to continue with his treatment. He also said he received five stitches in his mouth after the infamous Thanksgiving night car crash outside his home, but stressed that he's not addicted to prescription drugs.

While his wife, Elin, won't be joining him at Augusta, Woods still believes he can win his fifth green jacket after a five-month layoff.

Tiger Woods has apologized to his fellow golfers for being bombarded with questions about his private life, and says the reception of the Augusta National fans "blew me away."

Woods also revealed Monday that he had five stitches in his mouth after the infamous Thanksgiving night car crash that exposed details of his sordid private life. Woods played a practice round with Fred Couples, and Jim Furyk joined them at the 13th hole. The crowd gave a tepid but respectful response, and Woods even stopped to sign autographs on the way to the practice range.

He was on the course early today to start a practice round with Fred Couples in advance of this week's Masters, which marked his return to golf.

During today's practice round, there was an occasional shout of "Welcome back, Tiger." And Woods turned to acknowledge the fans with a nod and a smile. It's something he rarely did before the sex scandal that sent him to the sidelines amid intense public scrutiny and some ridicule. Woods hooked his opening tee shot toward the ninth fairway and hit another. He walked briskly, chatting with Couples as fans lining the fairways took pictures of every step.

 

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