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Tiger Woods pleads guilty to reckless driving, avoids jail

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Tiger Woods pleaded guilty Friday to reckless driving in a deal that will keep him out of jail as long as he stays out of trouble, resolving charges from an arrest last spring in which he was found passed out in his Mercedes with prescription drugs and marijuana in his system.

Woods spoke only briefly during a hearing at a Palm Beach County courthouse, answering questions from a judge about his plea agreement. Prosecutors dropped a driving under the influence charge for the superstar golfer, and the judge warned him to behave.

“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, 41, nodded. He did not make any statement during the hearing or outside the courthouse.

Woods will enter a diversion program and spend a year on probation and pay a $250 fine and court costs. He has already met some of the program’s other requirements, completing 50 hours of community service at the Tiger Woods Foundation, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said.

Aronberg didn’t say specifically what Woods did with the charitable group, but said he met the terms of the deal. Woods also attended a workshop where victims of impaired drivers detail how their lives were damaged.

Aronberg said most DUI offenders do not qualify for the diversion program because they have a prior record or were in an accident. About 2,500 first-time offenders have graduated from the county program since it began four years ago.

“This is designed for first-time offenders, where the person made a one-time mistake and they’re going to overcome it,” Aronberg said. “Mr. Woods was treated like any other defendant in his situation.”

Since he was intoxicated with prescription drugs and marijuana, according to court records, he will also be required to undergo regular drug tests. Woods is also not allowed to drink alcohol.

Woods arrived at the courthouse in a black sport utility vehicle, wearing sunglasses and a dark suit with no tie. Police officers surrounded him as he walked down a hallway inside the courthouse and they ringed the inside of the courtroom during the high-profile proceeding.

Woods was arrested about 2 a.m. May 29 when officers found him unconscious in his Mercedes, which was parked awkwardly on the roadside and had damage to the driver’s side.

It’s not clear how he damaged the car. Officers checked the area but didn’t find that he had hit anything. He was about 15 miles from his home.

Woods had the active ingredient for marijuana, two painkillers — Vicodin and Dilaudid — the sleep drug Ambien and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in his system but no alcohol, according to a toxicology report released in August. He completed a drug treatment program in July.

Woods has said he had been self-medicating to relieve the pain from his fourth back surgery and insomnia.

The DUI arrest was the first time Woods had been in trouble since Thanksgiving weekend 2009, when he plowed his SUV into a tree and a fire hydrant outside his then-Windermere, Florida, home. That led to revelations that he had multiple extramarital affairs and a divorce from his wife Elin Nordegren, the mother of his two children. He spent 45 days in a Mississippi clinic where he was treated for an addiction.

Woods’ 79 PGA Tour victories and 14 major titles both rank No. 2 all-time. He has not competed since February because of his back injury and is not expected to return this year. His last win was in August 2013.

Woods has said his back is improving. Even though he has been a non-factor on the PGA Tour, Forbes Magazine lists Woods as the 17th best-paid athlete in the world in 2017, making $37 million, almost exclusively from endorsements.

•••

ARMOUR SHOOTS 68 TO TAKE ONE-SHOT LEAD AT SANDERSON FARMS

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Ryan Armour and Tyrone Van Aswegen are threatening to break up the young men’s monopoly at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

The 41-year-old Armour shot a 4-under 68 in Friday’s second round to take a one-shot lead over Van Aswegen at the Country Club of Jackson.

Armour has never won on the PGA Tour and has only four top 10s in 104 career events. He made four straight birdies on the back nine and finished just before a wave of thunderstorms swept over the Country Club of Jackson and suspended play for the day.

There were 30 players still on the course when play ended. They’ll finish their second rounds on Saturday in what’s expected to be much colder weather. Armour, who grew up in Ohio, said he’s used to playing in less than ideal conditions.

He’s at 10-under 134.

“No matter if it’s cold or hot, if the scores are going crazy, just give yourself as many opportunities as you can to be successful,” Armour said.

Armour or Van Aswegen, 35, would be the oldest winner at Sanderson Farms since Woody Austin in 2013. Cody Gribble, Peter Malnati and Nick Taylor were all in their 20s when they won over the past three years. So were Scott Stallings, who won in 2012, and Chris Kirk in 2011.

Armour has been on the PGA Tour off and on since 2007, but never had consistent success, bouncing between the Web.com and PGA Tour. He didn’t play in any PGA Tour events from 2011 and 2014 and didn’t even qualify for the Web.com Tour in 2013.

He spent much of that time around his home course in Florida, catching up with family and making adjustments to his game.

“I knew if I was going to get back going, it had to happen then,” Armour said.

He got his Web.com card back in 2014 and eventually made it back to the PGA Tour last season. He had to go to the Web.com Tour Finals to get his card back for this season and finished second in the first Finals event last month. Now he’s brought that form to Mississippi.

Van Aswegen, winless in four years on the PGA Tour, shot the low round of the day, a 7-under 65. He tied for ninth at the Safeway Open earlier this month in Napa, California.

The South African started on the back nine and was 3-under before a double bogey on No. 16. He rebounded with seven birdies over his final 10 holes.

“I had to just make a decision to keep going,” Van Aswegen said. “If you don’t do that, your round is toast. I was pretty happy to rebound after that. I had some luck along the way, too, so that was nice.”

Vaughn Taylor shot 66 and was two shots back, along with Seamus Power, who had two holes left to play in the second round on Saturday.

Dru Love, the son of Davis Love III who is playing on a sponsor’s exemption, shot 67 and was four shots back. His father shot 72 and was likely to miss the cut.

___

Follow David Brandt on Twitter: https://twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

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