JUPITER, Fla. (CBSNewYork) — Golf great Tiger Woods was arrested early Monday on a DUI charge in Jupiter, Florida, and spent nearly four hours in a county jail before he was released.
In a statement late Monday, Woods said medication, and not alcohol, was to blame.
Woods, the 14-time major champion who ranks second with his 79 career victories on the PGA Tour, has not played for four months. He is out for the rest of the season while he recovers from his fourth back surgery.
Woods was arrested on suspicion of DUI about 3 a.m. Monday and taken to the Palm Beach County jail, Jupiter Police spokeswoman Kristin Rightler said. He was arrested on Military Trail, south of Indian Creek Parkway.
Jail records show that Woods, 41, was booked into Palm Beach County jail at 7:18 a.m. and released on his own recognizance at 10:50 a.m. The jail released a booking photo of Woods in a white T-shirt.
Woods was reportedly driving erratically, and upon getting stopped refused to take a breath test, which automatically calls for arrest and suspension of a driver’s license. The arresting officer also said Woods was acting arrogantly, CBS2’s Otis Livingston reported.
It also is being reported that Woods’ supporters have been asking the police if the arresting officer was wearing a body camera. One can only surmise they are afraid of the video of his behavior hitting the airwaves, further damaging his once-pristine reputation.
Woods issued a statement late Monday taking responsibility for the accident, saying alcohol was not involved.
“I understand the severity of what I did and I take full responsibility for my actions.
“I want the public to know that alcohol was not involved. What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications. I didn’t realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly.
“I would like to apologize with all my heart to my family, friends and fans. I expect more from myself too.
“I will do everything in my power to make sure this never happens again.
“I fully cooperated with law enforcement and I would like to personally thank the representatives of the Jupiter Police Department and the Palm Beach County Sheriffs office for their professionalism.”
Rightler earlier said she did not have any information about whether the arrest involved drugs or alcohol.
Woods’ agent at Excel Sports, Mark Steinberg, did not immediately 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, could relate. 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 from the NCAA men’s golf championship, 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 seen at a golf tournament since he opened with a 77 at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, withdrawing 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 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.
In a statement on his website last week, he vowed to play professional golf again.
“As for returning to competitive golf, the long-term prognosis is positive,” he wrote. “My surgeon and physiotherapist say the operation was successful. It’s just a matter of not screwing up and letting it fuse. I’m walking and doing my exercises, and taking my kids to and from school. All I can do is take it day by day. There’s no hurry.”
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 after Thanksgiving in 2009, which led to revelations that he had multiple extramarital affairs.
A police report then showed that a Florida trooper who suspected Woods was driving under the influence sought a subpoena for the golfer’s blood test results from the hospital, but prosecutors rejected the petition for insufficient information.
A witness, who wasn’t identified in the report, told the trooper he had been drinking alcohol earlier. The same witness also said Woods had been prescribed two drugs, the sleep aid Ambien and the painkiller Vicodin. The report did not say who the witness was but said it was the same person who pulled Woods from the vehicle after the accident. Woods’ wife has told police that she used a golf club to smash the back windows of the Cadillac Escalade to help her husband out.
He eventually was cited for careless driving and fined $164.
Woods and wife Elin Nordegren divorced in 2010. He later had a relationship with Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn that lasted two years.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)