‘Lucky to survive’
Tiger Woods faces long recovery from serious injuries in car crash
LOS ANGELES — Golf champion Tiger Woods was hospitalized in Los Angeles on Tuesday with severe leg injuries suffered when his car careened off a road and rolled down a hillside, requiring rescue crews to pry him from the crash wreckage, authorities said.
The injuries were not life-threatening, but the sheriff’s deputy who was first on the scene, Carlos Gonzalez, said it was “very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive”.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said there was no evidence of driver impairment when Woods was assessed at the scene, and no blood samples were drawn by investigators after he was rushed by ambulance to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
Woods, one of the world’s most celebrated sports figures, was the sole occupant of the car when it crashed about 7:12 am near the suburban community of Rolling Hills Estates, the sheriff ’s department said.
Sheriff’s deputy Gonzales said Woods, still wearing his seat belt, was “calm and lucid” when he arrived on the scene. The deputy said he immediately recognized the golfing great after Woods told him his name was “Tiger”.
Woods was initially listed as being in a serious but stable condition, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby told reporters.
A statement posted on Woods’ official Twitter account late on Tuesday said he had undergone a “long surgical procedure” on his lower right leg and ankle and was “awake, responsive and recovering in his hospital room”.
Open, or compound, fractures of his tibia and fibula bones were stabilized with a rod, and screws and pins were used to stabilize other injuries to his foot and ankle, Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer and interim CEO of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center said in the tweet.
It was not immediately clear what effect the accident might have on Woods’ career.
The 45-year-old, who has endured a series of back and knee injuries in recent years, is considered the greatest golfer of his generation. He is the only modern pro to win all four majors in succession, taking the US Open, British Open and PGA Championship in 2000 and the Masters title in 2001, a feat that became known as the Tiger Slam.
In a statement to Golf Digest magazine, Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg,
said the winner of 15 major championships was undergoing surgery.
The cause of the accident was under investigation, though the sheriff said weather was not a factor.
Video footage from the scene showed Woods’ dark gray 2021 Genesis sport utility vehicle (SUV) badly crumpled and lying on its side near the bottom of the hillside, its windows smashed.
Woods’ vehicle swerved across the median strip into an oncoming lane then struck a curb and a tree as it plunged off the road and down an embankment, Villanueva said, adding “there were several rollovers” before the SUV came to rest. The sheriff said the steep and winding stretch of road “has a high frequency of accidents”.
The sheriff also said the distance the vehicle traveled before leaving the roadway, with no visible skid marks, pointed to the car “going at a relatively greater speed than normal”.
The two-lane road curves through upscale LA suburbs, and the northbound side that Woods was driving on descends steeply enough that signs warn trucks to use lower gears. The speed limit is 45 mph (72 kph).
Fire department officials said emergency personnel pulled Woods from the vehicle through the front windshield after the glass and its surrounding frame were cut out and removed.
Woods’ success on the greens elevated him to worldwide fame, ushering in an era of multimilliondollar endorsements and lucrative appearances. As the first African American to achieve major golf stardom, Woods also helped transform the sport itself, broadening its appeal far beyond golf’s traditional domain of white, male and middleclass enthusiasts.
He was also a major influence on a modern generation of golfers that included such pros as Australian former world No 1 Jason Day, who has said he read a book about
Woods and sought to copy the American’s rigorous work ethic.
Filming TV show
Woods, who had his fifth back surgery in December and has undergone several knee operations, hosted the PGA Tour’s annual Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club last weekend but did not compete.
He was seen at Rolling Hills Country Club on Monday with actress Jada Pinkett Smith, retired basketball star Dwyane Wade and comedian David Spade. Golf Digest reported Woods had been filming for a TV show in which he was giving on-course instruction to the three celebrities.
News of Woods’ accident sent shock waves through the sports world.
“Praying for my brother @TigerWoods as we all anxiously await more news,” retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez said on Twitter. “Thinking of him and his entire family.”
“I am sick to my stomach,” fellow PGA Tour golfer Justin Thomas said during a news conference.
The PGA Tour issued a statement from its commissioner, Jay Monahan, which read: “We are awaiting further information when he comes out of surgery . ... Tiger is in our prayers and will have our full support as he recovers.”
US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau was among players at a World Golf Championships event in Florida who were stunned, tweeting he was “heartbroken”.
“He’s one of the most impressive human beings I’ve ever met and I think he’ll come back just fine,” DeChambeau said. “He’ll do everything in his power to come back.”
DeChambeau noted the fabled comeback of Ben Hogan, who was involved in a 1949 car crash but won six of his nine major titles after the injuries.
California-born Eldrick “Tiger” Woods turned professional in 1996, and since then has virtually redefined golf.
Woods held top spot in the world rankings for a record total of 683 weeks, winning 14 major championships from 1997 to 2008.
After a series of injuries and personal issues derailed his career, Woods claimed his 15th major title at the 2019 Masters. Only Jack Nicklaus, with 18, has won more majors.
“Barbara and I just heard about Tiger’s accident, and like everyone else, we are deeply concerned,” tweeted Nicklaus.
“We want to offer him our heartfelt support and prayers at this difficult time. Please join us in wishing Tiger a successful surgery and all the best for a full recovery.”
Tuesday’s accident was not Woods’ first auto-related mishap.
Woods crashed his car into a tree and fire hydrant in a late-night accident in 2009 at his luxury Florida home that led to revelations of extramarital affairs and ultimately his divorce from former model Elin Nordegren in August 2010.
In 2017, Woods blamed a reaction to prescribed medications for an arrest near his Florida home when he was found asleep at the wheel of his car with the engine running in traffic and was charged with driving under the influence. He later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and was placed on probation for a year.