Police: Woods asleep at wheel; alcohol not involved
Police found Tiger Woods asleep at the wheel on the side of a six-lane Florida road in the dark of morning, the engine running and his right blinker flashing. His speech was slow and slurred, though there was no alcohol in his system and he didn’t know how far away he was from home.
The details contained in a police affidavit released Tuesday did little to clear up the curious circumstances of his whereabouts on Memorial Day morning, only to confirm Woods’ statement that he had not been drinking before being arrested for suspicion of DUI.
Police described Woods as “cooperative as much as possible,” saying he had trouble keeping his eyes open.
The affidavit was released a day after Woods spent nearly four hours in the Palm Beach County jail on a DUI charge. His mug shot from the jail provided a stark illustration of how much Woods’ mystique has been shattered since his decade of domination that golf had never seen.
In a statement Monday evening, Woods attributed the arrest to an “unexpected reaction” to prescription medicine.
“I understand the severity of what I did and I take full responsibility for my actions,” he said.
Woods has not competed in four months, and he had fusion surgery on his lower back — his fourth back surgery since April 2014 — on April 20 that will keep him off the PGA Tour for at least the rest of the season.
He told police he had taken several prescriptions.
The affidavit said Woods failed a sobriety test on the side of the road because he couldn’t keep his balance or follow instructions. Breath tests, however, showed no alcohol in his system. Police said Woods agreed to a urine test.
Wearing black athletic shorts and a white T-shirt, Woods told police he had returned from playing golf in Los Angeles. Woods said on his website last week that he would not be able to twist his back for three months because of his surgery.
The report said Woods changed his story on where he was coming from and where he was going. His car was parked in a direction headed the opposite way from his home on Jupiter Island.
The affidavit listed four medications including Vicodin that Woods reported taking. He told police he was recovering from surgery. Before the four back surgeries, Woods had four surgeries on his left knee dating to his freshman year at Stanford in 1994.
Painkillers are generally prescribed after such surgeries, and many carry warnings to avoid driving while taking them. Other medicines, including over-the-counter allergy medicine or anti-anxiety medicines, can also cause drowsiness and include warnings about driving.
The FDA warning for Vicodin says it “may impair the mental and/or physical abilities required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks such as driving a car or operating machinery; patients should be cautioned accordingly.”
The report said Woods was “extremely sleepy,” and the officer observed it was hard for Woods to keep his eyes open and to walk.
“I didn’t realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly,” Woods said in his statement.
Woods is scheduled to be arraigned July 5 in Palm Beach County on the DUI charge. Police also cited him for improper parking. The report said his Mercedes was parked on the right side of the road with the engine running, the brake lights on and the blinker flashing. He was alone.
Woods has not been seen at a golf tournament since he opened with a 77 at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February, 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 has 79 career victories on the PGA Tour, second only to Sam Snead. He has won 14 majors, the last one the U.S. Open in 2008 at Torrey Pines just one week before his fourth knee surgery, which sidelined him for nearly nine months.
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.