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Tiger Woods’s DUI arrest a stark reminder of where his life is right now

May 29, 2017

It’s not—as the various credible news sites have it—a pretty timeline. Tiger Woods was arrested on a DUI charge in Jupiter, Fla., on Memorial Day at around 3 a.m., booked at a Palm Beach County jail at 7:18 a.m. and released under his own recognizance around 11 a.m. By high noon, his mug shot was all over the internet.

Woods lives up the road from Jupiter on the secluded barrier beach of Hobe Sound, but his restaurant, the Woods Jupiter, is in Jupiter, a beachside almost suburban in the northern tip of Palm Beach County. He was pulled over, according to local news reports, near the intersection of Military Trail and Indian Creek Parkway, about three miles south of his restaurant and further from his home. It was not immediately known whether there were passengers in the car.

Many police in Jupiter and sheriffs in Palm Beach County know the many famous golfers who live there and their watering holes, too. They work the Honda Classic each year and many other golf events and big-ticket parties, both public and private.

The mug shot, not surprisingly, shows Woods as you have never seen him before. It is disturbing. In it, the iconic golfer, 41, a single father of two children, wears a white T-shirt and he looks bloated, exhausted and unkempt. DUI in Florida is a state crime, according to a state government website, triggered by “impairment of normal faculties or unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above.” The broad terms cover both drunk driving and impairment by drug use. A first offense typically does not carry any prison time. Woods spent eight hours in custody on Monday. There is no known record of him ever being arrested before.

In his playing prime, Woods spent his Memorial Day weekends playing in Jack Nicklaus’s Memorial tournament, which Woods has won a record five times, most recently in 2012. In Woods’s California youth, growing up as the son of an Army colonel who knew many who died in Vietnam and other wars, Memorial Day presumably had in his house its intended and serious meaning.

But his Memorial Day arrest, at a time in his life when he is recovering from surgery, is a stark reminder of where Woods’s life is right now. On his website on May 24, in a posted short first-person essay that was unusually personal, Woods wrote, “As for returning to competitive golf, the long-term prognosis is positive. 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 continued: “But, I want to say unequivocally, I want to play professional golf again.

Presently, I’m not looking ahead. I can’t twist for another two and a half to three months. Right now, my sole focus is rehab and doing what the doctors tell me. I am concentrating on short-term goals.”

Every chance he gets, Woods talks about the role he plays in his the life of his son and daughter and what it means to him. It’s moving and telling. But few 41-year-old men want to be a fulltime dad and nothing else. Woods used to have golf to fill his time, to give him drive, to let him exercise his vast competitive urge. For now, anyway, he doesn’t. Still, the time must be filled. Tiger Woods faces the challenge we all do: how to fill that time productively. The answer to that difficult question for him now seems more pressing.