Sun fades from Tiger's woods

Sun fades from Tiger's woods
In an update last week on his website, Tiger Woods painted a picture that did not at all resemble a mug shot that would surface five days later. One month after fusion surgery on his back, Woods wrote, “I haven’t felt this good in years.” He added, “I’m walking and doing my exercises and taking my kids to and from school.”

This has always been Woods’ way, to maintain the artifice at all costs, to project a picture-perfect image of the production that is his life, with him as the lead actor. In 2008, Woods said nothing about playing with a broken leg and an injured knee that eventually required surgery until long after he won the US Open for his 14th major title. In the years since, there have been a few occasions, including his last competitive start in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in February, when he declared himself physically fine one day and withdrew the next.

The mug shot from his arrest Monday in Jupiter, Florida, would suggest that Woods is not fine — and there is reason to believe he has not been for some time.

The police report of his arrest, released Tuesday, did say that Woods showed no signs of alcohol after taking a breath-analysis test, which registered 0.000.

But as The Associated Press reported Monday, the 2009 police report about Woods’ crash into a fire hydrant near his Isleworth, Florida, home included a statement from an unidentified witness who said that Woods had been drinking alcohol earlier and had been prescribed two drugs, Ambien and Vicodin, that can have deleterious effects if mixed.

A Florida state trooper sought a subpoena for Woods’ blood test results from the hospital in 2009, but, The AP reported, prosecutors rejected the petition because of insufficient information. Woods was cited with careless driving and fined $164, though the real cost was infinitely greater: the destruction of his squeaky-clean public image and the dissolution of his marriage after the crash led to revelations of Woods’ extramarital affairs.

Eight years later, the mug shot, combined with the picture painted of Woods in the police report — sluggish, sleepy, staggering and struggling to stand on one leg or touch his finger to his nose — was too messy for any would-be enablers to swoop in and clean up or contain. And thank goodness for that, because what happened to Woods on Monday was a moment of clarity for those hoping and praying for Woods’ speedy return to competitive golf, for the people in his inner circle pre-occupied with the performer over the person, and, most of all, for Woods himself.

No longer can he pretend to be the radiant, robust, record-setting superstar who, through talent, grit and sheer will, won 105 titles worldwide in official, unofficial and team events. Woods, 41, has no choice now but to confront the vulnerability that many elite athletes widely perceive as kryptonite.

However painful in the short term it will be for Woods to acknowledge the weaknesses that make him fully human, the ones that led him to ingest a cocktail of chemicals that he said included the painkiller Vicodin, it will ultimately be his deliverance.

According to the police report, first obtained by The Palm Beach Post in Florida, Woods was found asleep behind the wheel with his car running and the brake lights on. Is there any better metaphor for his career, which has been idling on 79 PGA Tour victories for nearly four years while Woods, who has had eight operations in a little more than a decade, pumps the brakes?

The statement that Woods released Monday, while contrite, came up a few assertions short of accountability.

“What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications,” Woods said in the statement. “I didn’t realise the mix of medications had affected me so strongly.”

What he left unexplained was how he came to take multiple medications when the warnings about mixing prescription drugs are clearly marked on the bottle labels — and presumably had been elucidated by his prescription-pad-bearing physician. He also did not say how he came to be driving while medicated in the first place. If Woods can answer those questions, if only to himself, he is well on the way to setting himself free.

No prescription drug exists to relieve the pain of being a human being trapped in a marble monument that the public continues to flock to and worship. At the Memorial Tournament last week, Woods’ immortality is measured like growth marks on a pressroom wall: most Memorial wins, Tiger Woods, with five; most consecutive wins, Tiger Woods, with three; largest margin of victory, Tiger Woods, seven strokes in 2001; most career earnings at the Memorial, Tiger Woods, with $5,059,620.
But on the Muirfield Village course during the practice rounds, players who weren’t on the tour in 2013 — when Woods last won — read the police report on smartphones between shots or holes and turned Woods into the punchline of their jokes.

Jack Nicklaus, the tournament host and player whose 18 major titles Woods once seemed assured of eclipsing, said he felt bad for Woods, whom he described as a friend.

“He’s been great for the game of golf,” Nicklaus said. Later, he added: “I hope he gets out of it, and I hope he plays golf again. He needs a lot of support from a lot of people, and I’ll be one of them.”
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