Tiger Woods’s arrest in the wee hours of Monday morning near his home in Jupiter, Fla., is another troubling development in the downfall of golf’s biggest star.
The coming weeks and months will determine to what extent his arrest and charge of driving under the influence may signal an unravelling of Woods’s personal life as well.
Woods released a statement taking responsibility for his actions, but also said the DUI arrest stemmed from “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications,” not alcohol.
Even if Woods is to be taken at his word, one of the most gifted athletes ever has been reduced to an eerie mugshot.
It has come to this.
With his statement, Woods could also be attempting to establish a defence for the charge he faces, to achieve the best possible outcome and mitigate the damage to both his personal and professional reputation.
Golf, like many other sports, has had its share of prominent athletes experiencing brushes with the law for driving under the influence.
Dustin Johnson, the current No. 1 player in the world, has a 2011 DUI arrest on his record (the DUI charge was later dismissed and he pleaded guilty to reckless driving) and reportedly failed three drug tests (one for marijuana and two for cocaine) between 2009 and 2014.
Like Johnson, Woods could emerge from this situation with just a modest legal penalty. But the former world No. 1 is now in danger of being perceived as a tragic figure at 41 — an age when he should still be a contender for PGA Tour titles if not for the physical and personal strife he has endured.
Stuck at 14
Henrik Stenson was 40 last July when he won the Open Championship, playing much the way most expected of Woods at this age. Instead, Woods’s pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major championships has been stalled at 14 since 2008.
It’s hard to believe that, when the U.S. Open tees off in a few weeks in Erin, Wisc., it will mark nine years since Woods last won a major.