Woods arrested on suspicion of driving under influence

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Tiger Woods.

Golf superstar Tiger Woods was arrested Monday in Florida on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to records from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

The 14-time major champion was booked into the Palm Beach County jail on Monday at 7:18 am (1118 GMT) after he was arrested by police in Jupiter, Florida.

He was released on his own recognizance at 10:50 am according to the documents, with a mugshot posted online showing a tired-looking and unshaven Woods.

Woods was arrested during a traffic stop around 3 am, Kristin Rightler, public information officer of the Jupiter Police Department said.

Further details of the incident were not immediately available.

Woods, 41, hasn’t played competitive golf since pulling out of the Dubai Desert Classic in February after one round because of back pain.

He had spinal fusion surgery on April 20 — his fourth surgery in three years to treat his troublesome back which has limited him to three tournament starts worldwide in the past two years.

Woods wrote on his website last week that since his latest procedure he was feeling better than he had in years and remained committed to returning to competitive golf.

“My surgeon and physiotherapist say the operation was successful. It’s just a matter of not screwing up and letting it fuse,” Woods wrote.

“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.

“But, I want to say unequivocally, I want to play professional golf again.”

Woods made his comeback in December after missing all of the 2015-16 season.

But his return quickly ran aground as he withdrew from the PGA Tour event in Los Angeles in February, the Honda Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.

He even cancelled a planned press conference at the Los Angeles tournament saying doctors had advised him to “limit all activities”.

He pulled out of the Masters in early April, missing the first major of the year on the 20th anniversary of his epic 1997 victory at Augusta National that marked his first major title and signalled a new era in the game.

Woods, once widely expected to surpass Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major championships, hasn’t won a grand slam title since the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines.

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Si Woo Kim has the talent to be a big star in his own right

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Si Woo Kim.

As Si Woo Kim walked purposefully towards the 17th tee of TPC Sawgrass during Sunday’s final round of the Players Championship, I was reminded of the opening lines from ‘Casabianca’: “The boy stood on the burning deck, whence all but he had fled…”

There could not have been a more apt description of what the 21-year-old South Korean did than Felicia Dorothea Hemans’ famous poem about the 12-year-old boy who withstood a fierce attack from Lord Nelson’s fleet in the Battle of Nile. However, unlike Casabianca, who set ablaze L’Orient in the end and died along with it so that the British forces did not get hold of the French naval flagship, Kim’s story had a much happier ending.

It really was a virtuoso performance from Kim, who became only the second Asian player to win the Players Championship (after KJ Choi in 2011), and also the youngest ever (Adam Scott was 23 when he won in 2004).

There has been a lot of talk as to how someone so young and relatively inexperienced, and someone who had not been playing even half-decent golf in the lead-up to the tournament, could master a course as tough as the TPC Sawgrass.

Kim, after all, was ranked 75th in the world at the start of the week, and in 13 starts this year, missed the cut in five tournaments and withdrew in three because of back issues.

But let’s not forget this is a guy who has already won on the PGA Tour – the Wyndham Championship last year – and he came through the Qualifying School aged just 17. In fact, because of the Tour regulations, he could not start playing until he turned 18, effectively wasting his card and a fine effort in qualifying. If his ball-striking was impressive the first three days, his ability to scramble on the Sunday was jaw-dropping. Despite missing as many as 10 greens in regulation in his round, he managed to finish with a 100 per cent scrambling record. As wind picked up and the course became firm, making birdies was never going to decide the title; but avoiding bogeys and higher numbers was the key.

Henrik Stenson.

Henrik Stenson.

Henrik Stenson won the tournament in 2009, shooting a phenomenal 66 in the final round.

He still reckons that was one of the best rounds of golf he ever played. Speaking to me earlier this year, he said: “By Sundays, Sawgrass becomes rock hard. And if you have a bit of wind, God help you. I played so well for my 66… on any other course, it would have been close to 60. Of course, I remember the birdies, but it was the bogeys that I did not make that helped.”

There were only two players in the field who shot better than Kim’s 69 (both 68s), while a number of big names fell by the wayside with big numbers. Overnight joint leader JB Holmes shot an 84, while defending champion Jason Day (r) and Justin Rose settled for 80s.

It will be interesting to see where Kim goes from here. However, there is one thing that is definitely going to slow down his career – the mandatory military service in South Korea. Kim says he is ready for it, but a period of at least 21 months away from the sport would definitely be a telling blow.

Jason Day.

Jason Day.

New on Asian Tour

The recently announced Panasonic Swing on the Asian Tour is another great step forward for the Tour.

The Japanese electronic giants are involved as sponsors of four events on the Asian Tour, and players who do well in the four tournaments will now play for a bonus pool based on their finishes.

The top-three players will share $150,000, with the winner netting $70,000.

While this may not compare to the $35 million FedEx Cup pool for the top-125 players on the PGA Tour, and the $5 million Race to Dubai pool on the European Tour for the top-10, it is a start nevertheless, and hopefully, it will grow into something big in the future.

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Raising the stakes at MENA Tour’s first 72-hole tournament in Pattana

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Prom Meesawat of Thailand.

The MENA Tour breaks new ground this week when Pattana Golf Club and Resort hosts the tour’s first 72-hole event in a perfect climax to the tour’s three-event swing in Thailand.

The air is thick with anticipation as the event, which will see the upscale resort make its debut a host venue of the tour, will carry more Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points than the tour’s usual 54-hole tournaments, further spicing up the competition.

With Thai ace Prom Meesawat joining the starting line-up for the first time, the Pattana Golf Championship, starting today, will have a strong flavour, but things could change in a hurry as he’ll go against a deeply talented field which includes a slew of potential winners.

Meesawat, a 32-year- old Hua Hin native, racked up a creditable tied 13th at the European Tour’s Hero Indian Open and tied 15th at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic this year and will be keen to keep up the good work when he tees it alongside a strong field, represented by players from 25 countries.

Thai players lead with 33 entries, including three amateurs, closely followed by England (32), India (14) and South Africa (11) in refection of the tour’s growing popularity in Thailand and beyond.

Notables in the field, who will be aiming to step up to the plate and challenge Meesawat for honours, include England’s Zane Scotland, a 10-time winner on the tour, Luke Joy, who finished runner-up at last week’s Mountain Creek Open by Golf Citizen, as well as Lee Corfield and Craig Hinton, who all have strung together impressive streaks on the tour.

English cricketer-turned-golfer Craig Kieswetter and UAE Ahmed Al Musharrekh are also in the fray, hoping to make amends for missing the cut last week, along with Spain’s Leo Lilja, the winner of the MENA Tour’s season-opening Palmeraie Country Club Casablanca Open in Morocco earlier this year.

Dubai-based Michael Harradine of Switzerland and Thailand’s Worathon Zeng will lead the challenge in the amateur division that has attracted nine entries.

Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Tour, said: “We couldn’t have asked for a better venue to stage our landmark 72-hole tournament. I am confident it will become a permanent stop on the tour.

“With an impressive portfolio of world-class courses, Thailand has already established its credentials as one of the most popular golf destinations in the world and the addition of a new MENA Tour event at Pattana will further realise the country’s huge tourism potential.”

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