The mug shot is so jarring, you have to look at it again just to make sure you saw that right. The once-great Tiger Woods was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence early Monday morning at the age of 41. The very public demise of one of the greatest athletic icons of this or any generation is there in that photo for all to see -- sad, horrifying, unacceptable, shocking.
Woods, the rich, powerful, popular American cultural rock star who should metaphorically be on top of his game in every way -- even if the game itself, golf, the sport he once dominated, now eludes him – has come apart once again in the most public way possible.
During Thanksgiving weekend in 2009, there was the run-in with the fire hydrant in front of his Florida home, which quickly cascaded into a jaw-dropping personal scandal that ended his marriage and changed forever the way many golf fans look at him.
This is worse. Gone from the game for months on end after four back surgeries, including the latest just last month, Woods allegedly drove his car while under the influence, according to the police, endangering himself and anyone else who was on the road in the middle of the night in Jupiter, Fla.
Tiger Woods arrested in Florida on DUI suspicion
How could he possibly make that decision? How could he not call someone to take him home? Call a cab, an Uber, something? Tiger is 41. He’s not 21. He’s the father of two children. He has to know better. He has far too much to lose, even if he never hits another golf ball.
How sad is this? How troubling? For those of us who have been critical of him over the years, as I have, this is unexpected, and it's terrible. No one would want to see Tiger Woods in a police mug shot.
What happened to the young man we all thought we knew, the one we saw in another photo in 1997, the most famous photo of Tiger there is? Only 21, pumping his fist, roaring in triumph after winning his first major tournament, the 1997 Masters?
Where has he gone?
What a stunning contrast these two photos are, taken 20 years and seven weeks apart. They chart the rise and fall of a man who had it all, then watched it crumble away, all of it self-induced.
We thought it was bad when he couldn’t play golf anymore. We had no idea.
Follow Christine Brennan on Twitter @Cbrennansports