Golfer Tiger Woods says he's "infinitely" happier now than he was just before his private and professional life exploded into scandal a year ago.
"I'm so much better now because of this past year," he said during a frank, 26-minute telephone interview Thursday morning on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" show. "It's been very difficult for a lot of people, especially those closest to me, but I'm better for it."
On Thanksgiving night last year, Woods crashed his car outside his Florida home, an event that led to revelations of numerous extramarital affairs and liaisons and ultimately to divorce from his wife, supermodel Elin Nordegren. Woods took several months off from golf while undergoing psychological therapy.
"The worst part of it was those closest to me, the ones I loved and cared about so much, were the ones most hurt by my behavior," Woods said. "(But) I feel so much better, and everything is in so much better perspective now."
He said he would tell his children the truth about what he did, "eyeball to eyeball," when they are old enough to understand.
"They were feeling the effects of it, unfortunately, and I was responsible for it," he said.
Woods said he learned how "strong and resilient" his closest friends are.
"If you're lucky enough to have three people in your life that you're very close to, you're very blessed," he said.
He said he's been gratified by how the public has treated him since his return to the game.
"Actually, people have been more respectful and thankful and want to see me actually get back out there and do well," he said. "... It's amazing the kind of reception I get, how positive it is."
He said he is "infinitely" happier now than he was before the scandal broke.
"I was doing things that morally I knew inside I shouldn't be doing, and when you go against your core values and how I was raised as a person, you're going to struggle with that. ... I wasn't the person I used to be, the person my parents raised me to be, and I knew that."
Getting back out on the golf course at the Masters tournament in April helped him move forward, he said: "When it came down to tournament time, all the stuff I'd been going through just went away."
Although he has a new, "more balanced" perspective on life, he's still determined to be the best golfer he can be and to break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major victories.
"I have the same drive to get better. That's an everyday process. I can get better as a player and as a person, and that's what I'm trying to do," Woods said.
"I need to play better!" he added with a laugh.
As another Thanksgiving approaches, Woods said he's most thankful to have his children and have the opportunity to "teach them something new every day," as his father, the late Earl Woods, did with him.
"He always tried to teach me something. Each and every day would be life lessons, whatever they may be. I try to do the same thing with my kids, and it's just a blast."