On Monday afternoon, golf legend Tiger Woods took responsibility for his DUI arrest earlier that day. However, he claims he had not been drinking, but that his wayward driving was caused by the unexpected impact of powerful medication he took after his latest back surgery.
“I understand the severity of what I did and I take full responsibility for my actions,” Woods said in a statement to USA Today. “I didn’t realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly,” he said. “I would like to apologize with all my heart to my family, friends and the fans. I expect more of myself too.”
At about 3 a.m., Woods, 41, was arrested on the DUI charge with police on the scene claiming that they could smell alcohol on his breath. He was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail, and the mug shot from his arrest quickly went viral.
“I will do everything in my power to ensure this never happens again,” he said.
Woods, whose 79 victories and 14 major championship wins both rank No. 2 on the PGA Tour’s career list, has not competed for nearly four months. He is out for the rest of the season while he recovers from fusion surgery on April 20 in Texas.
In an update posted Wednesday on his website, he said the surgery provided instant relief from pain and he hasn’t “felt this good in years.”
His agent at Excel Sports, Mark Steinberg, did not respond to a voicemail from the Associated Press seeking comment. PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said the tour would have no comment.
Notah Begay, a roommate of Woods when they played at Stanford, empathizes with Woods. Begay was arrested for aggravated drunken driving in 2000 when he ran into a car outside a bar in New Mexico. He was sentenced to 364 days in jail, with all but seven days suspended.
“It’s embarrassing for Tiger, something that you can’t go back and change,” Begay said on the Golf Channel where he was working for the network. “I’ve been there myself. But it was a turning point in my life. Hopefully, it’s something he’ll learn from, grow from, take responsibility for and use it to make some changes.”
Woods has not been able to play a golf tournament since the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February. He withdrew the next day because of back spasms. He was in Los Angeles for the Genesis Open, run by his Tiger Woods Foundation, but he did not come to the course at Riviera because of his back. He was also at the Masters, but only to attend the dinner for past champions.
Woods, who had been No. 1 longer than any other golfer, has not been a factor since his last victory in August 2013 as he battled through back surgeries from a week before the 2014 Masters until his most recent fusion surgery on his lower back a month ago.
It was the first time Woods has run into trouble off the golf course since he plowed his SUV into a tree and a fire hydrant outside his Windermere, Florida, home in the early morning during Thanksgiving weekend in 2009, which led to revelations that he’d had multiple extramarital affairs. He and his wife, Elin, divorced in 2010.