'Arrogant' Tiger Woods says 'alcohol was not involved' in DUI arrest
- Woods says didn't know medications affected him so strongly
- Apologises to family, friends and fans for incident
Less than a decade ago he was among the most admired and best loved sportsmen in the world, with a fortune in excess of $1 billion.
Yet on Monday Tiger Woods' life hit a new low - after he was arrested for "driving erratically, all over the road" in the early hours of the morning and charged with driving under the influence.
Police sources told gossip website TMZ that the former sporting hero was “arrogant,” when an officer smelt alcohol on his breath – and refused to take a breathalyser test.
His refusal led to automatic arrest, and the 14-time major winner then suffered the humiliation of having his dishevelled-looking mugshot released by police - a far cry from the days in which he was held up as a role model.
He insisted that he had not been drinking alcohol, and the incident had been the result of "an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications".
Woods was arrested early on Monday near his Florida home, spending nearly four hours in a county jail before being released.
The 41-year-old former world number one golfer was stopped by police in his 2015 Mercedes at around 3am local time. His team have not responded to TMZ’s reports that he was driving “erratically” and refused to take a breathalyser test. The site reported that Woods’ entourage spent Monday morning telephoning the police station repeatedly, to try and find out whether the police had dashcam video footage of the incident.
He was charged at 7.18am but police would not release further details – although they did publish his mugshot, showing a wide-eyed and dishevelled Woods staring blearily at the camera.
The golfer was released at 10:30am, and a member of his team arrived to collect the vehicle.
Woods' girlfriend of a year, 33-year-old Texas based personal stylist, Kristin Smith, reportedly was told of his arrest while out shopping at a Neiman Marcus department store in Dallas.
Eyewitnesses told TMZ that Miss Smith, who was previously married to a Dallas Cowboys American football player, received a phone call and "went crazy," repeatedly saying: "I knew it, I knew it."
The site reported that she began crying, then bought $5,000 worth of merchandise and left.
In a statement Woods said: "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 the fans. I expect more from myself too.
"I will do everything in my power to ensure 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 Sheriff's office for their professionalism."
The arrest comes at a testing time for Woods, who in 2009 became the first athlete to earn $1 billion, according to Forbes.
Woods, a 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.
He withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic at the start of February due to back spasms.
"I could no longer live with the pain I had," he said.
"We tried every possible non-surgical route and nothing worked. I had good days and bad days, but the pain was usually there, and I couldn't do much. Even lying down hurt.
“I had nerve pain with anything I did and was at the end of my rope."
After the surgery, he told his supporters that the surgery had been a success and he hoped to return to the sport.
Woods said in an update last week on his website that the fusion surgery provided instant relief and that "I haven't felt this good in years."
Woods won his last major - the US Open - in 2008, but was forced to take leave from the sport after admitting to cheating on his then-wife, Swedish model Elin Nordegren.
In November 2009 he got into his Cadillac Escalade at 2:25am the day after Thanksgiving, racing out of the driveway and crushing hedges before hitting a fire hydrant and smashing into a tree.
Woods was never charged with driving under the influence, but a slew of women then came forward to claim they had had an affair with the golfer.
He eventually was cited for careless driving and fined $164 (£128). Miss Nordegren filed for divorce in August 2010.
In 2012 Woods began dating Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, but that relationship ended in May 2015, with Vonn describing it as “living in a fishbowl”.
Woods, who has two children with Miss Nordegren – a nine-year-old daughter, Sam, and son Charlie, seven – has tried to rehabilitate both his reputation and his golf career.
Woods had been hopeful of playing in this year's Masters tournament, on the 20th anniversary of his first win at Augusta in 1997.
But he lasted only five minutes in a practice session designed to prove he was fit to take part.
His manager, Mark Steinberg, dismissed fears at the time that Woods’s career could be over. “He’s not done,” said Mr Steinberg, while admitting there is no timetable for a return.
Woods said he cannot twist for three more months, and he is concentrating only on short-term goals.
"There's no hurry," he said. "But, I want to say unequivocally, I want to play professional golf again."
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