LOS ANGELES (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) – Tiger Woods, who suffered severe injuries from a solo car crash after his SUV rolled over in steep terrain near Los Angeles, is currently awake and recovering, according to the hospital treating the golf star.
The 45-year-old American had “significant orthopaedic injuries to his right lower extremity that were treated during emergency surgery,” Harbor-UCLA Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Anish Mahajan said in a statement posted to the athlete’s Twitter account.
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 stabilised with a rod, and screws and pins were used to stabilise other injuries to his foot and ankle, Dr Mahajan, the interim CEO of the hospital, said in the tweet.
It was not immediately clear what effect the accident might have on his career.
Woods was travelling on a winding, downhill road that has been the scene of frequent accidents, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
Video footage from the scene showed his dark grey 2021 Genesis sport utility vehicle 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 also said the distance the vehicle travelled before leaving the roadway, with no visible skid marks, pointed to the car “going at a relatively greater speed than normal”.
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.
There was no evidence he was impaired and blood was not drawn to determine if he was, Villanueva said. A neighbour reported the accident.
Woods was conscious when first responders arrived and extricated him from a Genesis GV80 using an axe and other tools.
Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who responded to the scene, said he asked Woods his name and when the athlete identified himself, “at that moment, I immediately recognised him”. The deputy said Woods was wearing a seatbelt and that airbags had been deployed. He was not able to stand on his own.
“It’s very fortunate that Mr Woods was able to come out of this alive,” he said.
Genesis, Hyundai Motor Co.’s luxury division, is the sponsor of the PGA Tour tournament where Woods served as a host. The event was held last week in Los Angeles at the Riviera Country Club.
“This morning, Genesis was saddened to learn that Tiger Woods had been in an accident in a GV80,” the company said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Tiger and his family at this time.”
Citing law-enforcement sources, the Los Angeles Times said Woods had to be removed through the windshield.
Since turning pro in 1996, Woods has been one of the most successful golfers in history, winning some 106 tournaments, including 15 of the Majors. He has long been a spokesman for Nike Inc. and served as an inspiration to young players, particularly given his Black, Asian and Native American background. The athlete was recovering from recent back surgery.
Woods’ life has also had its share of upheaval and scandal, including a 2009 car accident in Florida and another 2017 arrest after being found passed out behind the wheel. He was the subject of a two-part documentary that aired on HBO last month.
“We are following the news around Tiger and our thoughts and heart are with him and his family at this time,” Nike said in a statement.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan also said he was monitoring the situation. “On behalf of the PGA Tour and our players, Tiger is in our prayers and will have our full support as he recovers,” he said.
Before the crash, Woods was participating in a two-day shoot for Golf Digest/GOLFTV, according to the publication. It involved Woods giving golf lessons to celebrities, such as Dwyane Wade and David Spade, at Rolling Hills Country Club.
The first day of the shoot was Monday, Golf Digest said. Woods never arrived at the course for the second day.