Tiger Woods has been taken to the hospital with serious injuries to both legs after a car crash in which his vehicle suffered “major damage”.
The Los Angeles county sheriff’s department said it received a call about a “single vehicle roll-over collision on the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes” at 7.12am local time on Tuesday. Photos of the crash site showed Woods’s badly damaged SUV at the bottom of an embankment in hilly terrain.
Woods had been driving a 2021 Genesis GV80 northbound on Hawthorne Boulevard when he drove into the center median, into the southbound lanes, struck a tree and rolled the vehicle over several times, said Alex Villanueva, the Los Angeles county sheriff, at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
The crash is still under investigation. Carlos Gonzalez, the first Los Angeles county deputy to respond to the scene, noted that this “specific stretch of roadway is one of our trouble spots”. Deputies have often caught motorists speeding here, sometimes at up to 80 miles per hour.
Gonzalez said Woods was responsive and coherent when he arrived on scene, and was able to tell him his name. Though his injuries were visible, Woods appeared to be in shock and unconcerned with them, Gonzalez said.
“I’ve been doing this for a while. I’ve seen fatal traffic collisions,” Gonzalez said. “It was very fortunate that Mr Woods was able to come out of this alive.”
Authorities previously reported that Woods had to be extricated from the vehicle by the jaws of life, but fire department personnel were able to remove him with the help of an ax and Halligan tool, said Daryl Osby, the Los Angeles county fire chief.
Though the car sustained major damages and the airbags had deployed, Woods was conscious when deputies arrived on scene. “There was no evidence of impairment at this point in time,” Villanueva said, when asked if Woods was under the influence at the time of the crash.
He was transported to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center by ambulance, where he is in “serious” condition and is being treated for his injuries, authorities said. His injuries are not thought to be life-threatening. Woods was the only person involved in the vehicle at the time of the accident
Woods’s manager Mark Steinberg told Golf Digest that the 45-year-old “was in a single-car accident this morning in California where he suffered multiple leg injuries. He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support.”
Later reports said that Woods had suffered compound fractures, an injury that usually leaves bones protruding from the skin and requires antibiotics to prevent infection.
Woods had been in California for a video shoot and had attended the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational over the weekend. Woods has not competed this year after undergoing back surgery in January.
Justin Thomas, a fellow major champion and friend of Woods, expressed concern when told about the news on Tuesday.
“I’m sick to my stomach,” Thomas said at a press conference for the WGC-Workday Championship. “You know, it hurts to see one of your … closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right. Just worry for his kids, you know. I’m sure they’re struggling.”
The PGA Tour released a statement shortly after news of the crash broke. “We have been made aware of Tiger Woods’ car accident today,” read the statement. “We are awaiting further information when he comes out of surgery. On behalf of the PGA Tour and our players, Tiger is in our prayers and will have our full support as he recovers.”
Jack Nicklaus, the 18-time major champion and lone name above Woods on the all-time leaderboard, said he was “deeply concerned” by the news in a statement.
“Barbara and I just heard about Tiger’s accident, and like everyone else, we are deeply concerned,” Nicklaus said. “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.”
In 2017, Woods was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Florida after he was discovered passed out in his car. He later pled guilty to reckless driving over the incident. In 2009 he was involved in another crash near his home in Florida, which led to news that he had been unfaithful to his wife. The fallout led to Woods losing sponsors and he took an extended break from golf to address issues in his private life.
The 2017 arrest was seen by many as a turning point for Woods, whose career had slumped since the days when he was one of the most successful athletes on the planet. Less than two years later a rejuvenated Woods won the Masters, his first major championship since the 2008 US Open.
A recent HBO documentary explored Woods’s relationship with his late father Earl, and the golfer’s struggles to cope with his worldwide fame and the scrutiny that came with it.
Authorities said that a second car accident occurred nearby while authorities were responding to the Woods crash, most likely a case of someone trying to see what was happening. No one was injured in that crash, Villaneuva said.