Tiger Woods found asleep at the wheel, say police

Tiger Woods pulled out of the Dubai Desert Classic due to back spasms prior to the second round. His surgery last month has a typical six-month recovery period.
Tiger Woods pulled out of the Dubai Desert Classic due to back spasms prior to the second round. His surgery last month has a typical six-month recovery period.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
PHOTO: REUTERS

He says mix of medication to blame when cops found him asleep in car; July 5 court date

NEW YORK • The fall of Tiger Woods has taken its latest and perhaps most serious turn, with confirmation that the golfer was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of possibly drugs in Florida in the early hours of Monday.

As a police mugshot of the former world No. 1 gained huge traction online - his face puffy and eyes the epitome of sadness - the epic career heights when the 41-year-old won 14 Major championships and broke records with stunning regularity never seemed so far away.

Woods, once a sporting phenomenon, is now making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Yesterday, the police said that he was asleep at the wheel but had no alcohol in his system when officers spotted his car along a Florida road. The car's engine was running and its lights were on.

The report added that officers woke up Woods, who had "extremely slow and slurred speech" and told them he took several prescriptions. Woods was also confused and asked how far he was from his Hobe Sound home.

Officers said Woods was co-operative but failed a sobriety test. Breath tests showed no alcohol in his system, and Woods also agreed to a urine test.

Woods' arraignment in Palm Beach County court on a DUI charge is scheduled for July 5.

  • Injury woes

    Most would believe that Tiger Woods' troubles began with his 2009 sex scandal. But actually, his biggest struggles started after his 2013 Player of the Year season. In early 2014, he underwent his first back surgery, and it has been downhill since.

    MARCH 2014

    After a slow start to the year, Woods injures himself during the Honda Classic and he subsequently skips the Masters for the first time to undergo back surgery. Loses No. 1 spot to Adam Scott in May.

    FEBRUARY 2015

    Struggles to get his season going, and after pulling out injured from a tournament at Torrey Pines, says he will take another break from competition.

    SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

    Woods has microdiscectomy to remove a spinal disc fragment pinching a nerve in his back, with follow-up surgery to ease lingering discomfort.

    FEBRUARY 2017

    Back spasms prompt Woods to withdraw from the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic, cutting short his return from a 16-month injury layoff.

    APRIL 2017

    After missing the Masters, Woods announces he had yet another surgery to alleviate pain in his back and leg.

    MAY 2017

    Woods arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Jupiter, Florida.

    AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

In a statement issued on Monday night, he said that alcohol "was not involved" in his arrest.

"I understand the severity of what I did and take full responsibility for my actions," he said. "What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications. I didn't realise the mix of medications had affected me so strongly."

Whatever he took, for most part of yesterday the talk was of his police mugshot, which spoke of greatness squandered, a cultural hero's decline and mortality.

In the mugshot, which digital media website Mashable described as "pretty depressing", Woods' eyes are half-open and appear unfocused. Bags of loose flesh sag under them and he appears aged.

USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan wrote: "How sad is this? How troubling? What happened to the young man we all thought we knew, the one we saw in another photo in 1997, the most famous photo of Tiger there is? Only 21, pumping his fist, roaring in triumph after winning his first Major tournament, the 1997 Masters?Where has he gone?"

Woods' downfall has been gradual but consistent - much of it by his own hand. His father, with whom he was extremely close, died in 2006. ESPN wrote the "death of his father set a battle raging inside".

Three years later, his then wife Elin Nordegren chased him from their house with a golf club, after she learnt of his serial infidelities. His golf game never recovered.

Woods was once not only a dominant golfing figure - he has claimed 79 PGA Tour titles and was world No. 1 for an unprecedented total of 683 weeks - but an individual who transcended sport.

At the time of his near eight-hour spell in a police cell on Monday, he was ranked 876th in the world with his last Major success arriving almost nine years ago.

Only last week, he issued an upbeat statement in which he insisted he "unequivocally" wants to play competitive golf again as he recovers from his latest back surgery.

"I haven't felt this good in years," he said. "The long-term prognosis is positive... All I can do is take it day by day. There's no hurry."

Extra time out of the public spotlight has probably never looked so appealing.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2017, with the headline 'No alcohol, claims Tiger'. Print Edition | Subscribe