Nothing will ever match the shock of learning about Tiger Woods’ encounter with the police in 2009 and the subsequent revelation of his serial philandering, but Monday’s mugshot following his arrest for driving under the influence certainly comes close.
Back then the reaction was one of utter disgust. This time it is hard to look at his harrowing image and not feel overwhelming sadness that the addiction he once had to greatness has been replaced by one for self-destruction.
The man who inspired the crusade for fitness in golf and was arguably the greatest athlete of his generation looking like just another deadbeat is an image so jarring it will not be easily erased from the mind.
What on earth must have gone wrong to reduce a near billionaire to this state is almost too difficult to contemplate.
To think, for a decade and more he and the tennis player Roger Federer ran parallel lives. To see them up close was to witness two athletes who were the epitome of health and wellbeing.
Here were two men taking their chosen sports to a new level, teasing each other every time they won a major, finding love and having children.
Now they offer such a startling contrast that they stand as testaments as to how to do things right and wrong.
And so, a week after issuing a statement detailing his determination not to screw up - his words - after his latest back operation, Woods has done precisely that once more. ‘It’s the best I’ve felt in years,’ he said in the prepared release, seven days before the photo showing him at his absolute worst.
For years, the rumours have swirled about his addiction to painkillers to relieve the suffering caused by his various injuries. After crashing into the fire hydrant near his home on that fateful Thanksgiving eight years ago, the witness who pulled him from the car - he or she was never identified - told officers he had been prescribed two drugs and had been drinking.
While we do not know the circumstances behind this latest arrest, the shocking photo will only add substance to the belief that Woods’ inability to recover from various back surgeries and play professional golf again has wreaked a devastating psychological toll and a search for answers that has led him down a catastrophic path.
This week the PGA Tour visits Muirfield Village and a tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus, who must have thought he would be spending his dotage talking about Tiger closing in on his all-time majors record, not his stroll down the hall of infamy.
In Dubai in February, at what might well prove to be his last competitive appearance, Tiger spoke in graphic detail of the weeks spent being unable to move as he sought to recover from each operation in turn.
Imagine what that must have been like for a man who, a decade earlier, was so fit he trained with Navy SEALS when he was not training for his own sport.
Actually, that mugshot tells us all we really need to know about what it was like. It speaks vividly of a deeply troubled soul with seemingly no Plan B as to what to do for the rest of his life.
Woods’ statements are still lapped up by the American media but it was interesting that last week’s supposed progress report following fusion surgery on his back in April was met with blithe indifference in Britain.
Nobody believes a word any more, and this latest descent into the nine circles of Hell shows why.
Woods said in his statement that he was not able to twist and turn for two months and there was no chance of him playing again this season, but he has certainly not lost the ability to make us squirm.
He spoke of dedicating himself to his rehab but it seems clear that the next few months must also be spent undergoing rehab of a different kind. The PGA Tour should insist on it.
No doubt we will get another mea culpa of sorts at some point, just as we did eight years ago, but it really is time, at the age of 41, for Woods to just come out and tell the truth. After all, the years of obfuscation and denial have clearly done him no good whatsover.
In the hours after his arrest, there was no comment from new sponsors TaylorMade and Bridgestone, his manager, Mark Steinberg, or the PGA Tour. In the case of three of them, they are probably in a state of shock like the rest of us.
It would be no surprise in the next few days to see Bridgestone and TaylorMade activating release clauses that are always inserted into lucrative sporting contracts covering unbecoming behaviour.
In any case, the likelihood of him playing again has gone downhill since he struggled to complete 18 holes in the first round in Dubai before withdrawing after a desperate 77.
It has plummeted still further following this latest episode, and a picture that hints at so many demons and offering a vision of the American dream gone grotesquely askew.
The son of a Green Beret who served two tours of Vietnam, the fact the arrest should happen in the early hours of Memorial Day in the United States, when the nation honours its military, simply added to the sense of poignancy.