Tiger Woods pleads guilty to reckless driving: Opportunity to get his life together

By Dan Butcher

On Friday, Tiger Woods has pleaded guilty to reckless driving and agreed to enter a diversion program to settle a charge of driving under the influence.

Woods was arrested in May after passing out in his Mercedes on the side of a road about 15 miles from his home in Jupiter, Florida. He did not know where he was when asked by officers, and he appeared unsteady and confused during a field sobriety test, police dashboard camera video showed.

According to the toxicology report, Woods had painkillers, sleep drugs and an active ingredient in marijuana in his body when he was arrested. The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office has not said whether he had prescriptions for all the medications or medical marijuana, which is legal in Florida.

The judge warned Woods to stay out of trouble.

"This particular plea agreement has no jail time on it. However, if you violate your probation in any significant way, I could revoke your probation, and then I could sentence you to jail for 90 days with a fine of up to $500. Is that understood?" Judge Sandra Bosso-Pardo said.

Woods last won a major in 2008. A full year and half after that he had the disastrous night at his mansion followed by a self imposed exile. Once back he again ascended the World Rankings to become the number one player in the world on March 25, 2013 for the eleventh time.

In 2013, Woods experienced recurring problems with his back including tightness and spasms. On March 31, 2014 he had surgery for a herniated disk returning 12 weeks later. He has undertaken another swing change and his recovery is incomplete.

Woods has suffered an assortment of knee and Achilles tendon injuries before 2008, the last time he won a major. While his marital misfortunes cost him personally, reviewing a list of these injuries many of which took place well before his divorce suggests that it is these are also a source of his most recent woes and majors drought.

There was a time when I thought Woods was going to crush Jack Nicklaus' major wins record. Due to his personal issues and his body breaking down, I am really thinking Tiger is not going to get there now.

So much, too much, of Tiger's previous ability to win tournaments was based on a psychological game both for him and his opponents. Not that he wasn't a gifted golfer, but I would win the Masters with a 100 if all the other contenders gave up. That was a big part of it--"Tiger's in the hunt" as the commentators used to say.

Almost every one of his wins had the same signature--creeping closer and closer toward the leader day by day--literally like a tiger slowly creeping up on it's prey. Those positions at the end of each day were no accident. They were carefully calculated to give players the impression that they were being "hunted down."  That begins to work on them and they convince themselves they can't win--they panic and start to screw up.

Is Tiger ready to hang it up? He’s had his years on top, and now his body is finally catching up to him. Besides the way he plays, he has been embroiled in far too many scandals and controversies to properly focus on his game.

If he did have some piece of mind, perhaps he could re-think his swing so as to not traumatize his left knee and back. In any event, the handwriting is on the wall. The guy has made millions and had has a phenomenal record on the course. Now, he needs to kick back, chill out, and mellow out and get his mind in the correct place.

Then and only then will he be able to stage a comeback.

Tiger has made hundreds of incredible shots throughout his career that were much more about a great mind than a great swing – his miraculous chip-in at Augusta comes to mind.

I know it’s an unflattering and unfair comparison, but sometimes Tiger reminds me of Mike Tyson. A man who’s raw power and animal hunger to win made him so feared by opponents that when he finally lost a step, and his opponents lost their fear, he didn’t really know how to approach a fight as an underdog.

I believe this personality trait also is the reason his come-from-behind record is not as impressive as most of his other statistics.

Tiger’s adoring fans are a fickle sort. He is a hero today, then it’s on the next Michael Jordan tomorrow. What Tiger has never been able to do is get people to love him for the ages like they did and still do to Arnie and Jack.

Great golfer. Lousy husband. Decent father, but at 39 and some serious back problems that I think he never quite let heal properly, he's a long shot at best. I'm not saying he can't make it happen but aside from the physical ailments, mentally he is not the same person he was 5 to 10 years ago. You know, back when he was a bad boy but a great golfer.

That lifestyle fueled his confidence and his golf game like nitro-methane dragster fuel. And, as other golfers who faced him said, when he was in the tournament it was game over.

Tiger has lost his focus and his game now. If, and that's a big if, if he gets his confidence back, his pre-2009 attitude back, gives his back time to really heal and get strong again, he just might do it.

Tiger came to the PGA Tour for the kill shot and got it, but may have sacrificed something else in the long run that he may come to treasure one day only to find it gone. Hey, don’t misunderstand me, golf without Tiger is a tremendous void. I just wish he would have shown a little more or a lot more class on the way up.

Some day, he may wish he did too.