Tiger Woods has been hospitalised after rolling his car in a serious California road accident, suffering multiple leg injuries.
Firefighters and paramedics had to use the ‘jaws of life’ to free the golf legend from his vehicle, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department statement said. Woods was driving alone. He was rushed to hospital by ambulance with serious but non-life threatening injuries.
“The deputies at the time [of attending the accident], they did not see any evidence of [drug or alcohol] impairment, anything of concern,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said, adding that a full investigation could take weeks to complete.
The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs and Woods’ SUV was totalled, coming to rest on its side. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people driving above 120km/h in the 70km/h zone and has seen fatal crashes there.
“I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said.
Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby corrected an earlier report that the ‘jaws of life’ were used to free Woods. Instead, a tool was used to pry open the windshield in order to pull Woods free via the front of the car.
Golf reporter Luke Elvy said that Woods, already struggling after a fresh round of back surgery, may have suffered broken legs in the crash. Helicopter images of the crash showed Woods’ SUV heavily damaged and the airbags deployed, lying off the road on a hillside.
Golf Digest was given a brief statement from Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, which said that Woods had suffered “multiple leg injuries”.
“He is currently in surgery,” Steinberg told Golf Digest, “and we thank you for your privacy and support.”
TMZ obtained audio of the 911 dispatches from the scene of the accident, in which a responder reports: “We have a rollover with someone trapped.”
TMZ also reported that Woods was seen in an “agitated and impatient” state before leaving his hotel at about 7am local time in the SUV and “took off fast”.
Woods was midway through the filming of a golf-related show and TMZ quoted an anoymous crew member who witnessed his departure from the hotel. It was also claimed that Woods nearly hit the director’s car while driving out of the hotel property.
“On February 23, 2021, at approximately 7.12am, LASD responded to a single vehicle roll-over traffic collision on the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Ranchos Palos Verdes,” the Sheriff’s Department statement said.
“The vehicle was travelling northbound on Hawthorne Boulevard, at Blackhorse Road, when it crashed. The vehicle sustained major damage.
“The driver and sole occupant was identified as PGA golfer, Eldrick ‘Tiger’ Woods.
“Mr Woods was extricated from the wreck … by Los Angeles County firefighters and paramedics, then transported to a local hospital by ambulance for his injuries.”
A PGA Tour friend of Woods, fellow major winner Justin Thomas, spoke in a virtual press conference after the accident and was visibly shaken.
“It hurts to see one of your closest friends get in accident and man, I just hope he’s all right,” Thomas said. “I just worry for his kids, I’m sure they’re struggling.”
Thomas later wrote on Twitter: “Sick to my stomach right now. Praying for @TigerWoods and hoping for an amazing recovery. Thinking about his entire family and team, as all of us are sending our best wishes. We know TW is a fighter. Get well soon.”
Australia’s former US Masters winner Adam Scott said that the accident was another bleak reminder that ill-fortune could strike anyone.
“It’s sickening,” said Scott, per PGA Tour media. “He’s our hero out here. You think guys like Tiger and Kobe Bryant are untouchable, but they’re not. I just hope he’s all right.”
US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau wrote on Twitter: “Heartbroken and shocked to hear about @TigerWoods accident today. My thoughts and prayers are with him for a full recovery.”
The 2013 US Open champion, Justin Rose, tweeted: “We know how tough you are, we’ve seen it a hundred times. Hoping and praying you’re ok my friend.”
The PGA Tour released a statement saying: “On behalf of the PGA Tour and our players, Tiger is in our prayers and will have our full support as he recovers.”
Icons of other sports also offered well wishes.
“Fight @tigerwoods like the champion you are for your kids and the world. Love and prayers,” boxing legend Mike Tyson wrote on Twitter.
NBA great Magic Johnson wrote: “Everyone send your prayers out to Tiger Woods! He was just in a bad car accident. Let us all pray for his speedy recovery.”
Woods, 45, hosted the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational over the weekend. He was then participating in a Golf Digest/GOLFTV content shoot.
Earlier on the day of the accident, Woods was seen on social media with NBA legend Dwyane Wade at Rolling Hills Country Club. He reportedly accompanied Wade on course but did not hit any balls, barring putts, due to his back problem. One image also showed him in a golf cart with actor David Spade.
Woods had been in doubt to compete in the year’s first major, the US Masters in early April, due to his back issue. He won the last of his 15 major championships at Augusta National in 2019.
Masters chairman Fred Ridley said in a statement: “Tiger Woods is part of the Augusta National family, and the news of his accident is upsetting to all of us. We pray for him, for his full recovery and for his family during this difficult time.”
It remains to be seen what impact the car crash will have on Woods’ career.
Woods, who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from December 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019.
This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation.
The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorship, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months.
In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder.
– with AP
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