Tiger Woods court hearing: Golfer pleads guilty, enters DUI program

Tiger Woods arrives at the North County Courthouse in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on October 27, 2017. Tiger Woods is expected to plead guilty "in abstentia" to a charge of reckless driving in connection with his May arrest for DUI. A long-awaited plea deal, that would allow Woods to enter a DUI diversion program, is expected to be approved by Palm Beach County Judge Sandra Bosso-Pardo at a hearing at the North County Courthouse in Palm Beach Gardens.

Tiger Woods arrives at the North County Courthouse in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on October 27, 2017. Tiger Woods is expected to plead guilty "in abstentia" to a charge of reckless driving in connection with his May arrest for DUI. A long-awaited plea deal, that would allow Woods to enter a DUI diversion program, is expected to be approved by Palm Beach County Judge Sandra Bosso-Pardo at a hearing at the North County Courthouse in Palm Beach Gardens.

Golf legend Tiger Woods arrived early at the North County Courthouse on Friday where he pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless driving to escape a more serious charge of DUI in connection with his arrest in May when Jupiter police found him asleep at the wheel of his damaged Mercedes.

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The 41-year-old Jupiter Island resident emerged from a black Chevy Tahoe wearing a charcoal jacket and dark sunglasses about a half hour before his 1:30 p.m. hearing. He entered the courthouse with his attorney Doug Duncan. After a brief appearance before County Judge Sandra Bosso-Pardo, Woods did not address reporters outside the courthouse.

Photographed on Wednesday watching his beloved Dodgers get handed a defeat by the Houston Astros in Game 2 of the World Series in Los Angeles, there was speculation Woods might not attend the hearing, opting to let Duncan speak on his behalf.

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As part of the DUI diversion requirements, Woods agreed to participate in various programs and abstain from illicit drugs and alcohol during a 12-month probationary period. If he performs successfully, next year the drunken driving charge will disappear. Further, a judge will withhold adjudication of the misdemeanor reckless driving charge, allowing him to get the record sealed.

Woods has been treated like anyone else, except for all the media attention his case has received, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg told the media after the hearing.

Woods had no alcohol in his system when arrested at 3 a.m. on May 29 on Military Trail south of Indian Creek Parkway, but attributed his dazed and confused condition to prescription medicine he was taking after his fourth back surgery in April. With his speech slurred and his stance unsteady, arrest video showed Woods unable to follow a Jupiter police officer's instructions.

He apparently has embraced a key part of the treatment program -- one that requires participants to get help for substance abuse.

In posts on his Twitter account weeks after his arrest, Woods said he was “currently receiving professional help to manage my medications and the ways that I deal with back pain and a sleep disorder.”

Weeks later, on July 3, he tweeted: “I recently completed an out of state private intensive program. I will continue to tackle this going forward with my doctors, family and friends.”

Toxicology reports obtained by ESPN showed he had narcotic painkillers Vicodin and Dilaudid, along with the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, and the sleeping aid Ambien in his system at the time of his arrest. It also showed his blood contained THC typically linked to marijuana use.

Over the years, Woods has held charity golf tournaments that have raised millions to create educational opportunities for youth throughout the world. This month, for instance, he hosted an exclusive three-day golf tournament in Pebble Beach, California, to raise money for the Tiger Woods Foundation.

Other requirements of the program include attending a DUI school and meeting with families who have lost loved ones to drunken driving.

Since his arrest, the golfing world has rallied around Woods, who snared unfavorable headlines in 2009 when he got in a single-car wreck in Windermere, a luxury town between Orlando and Walt Disney World.

He was hospitalized with a sore neck and cut lip and was charged with careless driving after he drove over a fire hydrant and into a tree. But the real injury was to his reputation when a string of women emerged, claiming they had affairs with the married golfer. He underwent treatment for sex addiction and divorced Elin Nordegren, the mother of his two children, after nearly seven years of marriage.

The crash also derailed his legendary golf career. With 14 major PGA titles, second only to icon Jack Nicklaus, Woods hasn’t won a major since 2008. His last tournament win came in 2013.

Still, his recent Twitter posts indicate he is planning a comeback thanks to what he called successful back fusion surgery in April to end years-long debilitating spasms and leg pain.

Last week, he posted a video of himself practicing, labeling the long, low drive “the return of the stinger.” His agent recently told ESPN surgeons had cleared Woods to return to the links.

Fellow golfing greats said they are hoping Woods can put the episode behind him.

“Tiger’s a friend,” said Nicklaus, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, shortly after Woods’ arrest. “He’s been great for the game of golf. He needs our help. I wish him well.”

Staff writer Sarah Peters contributed to this story.