LOS ANGELES (AP) – In a career filled with remarkable returns, Tiger Woods faces his toughest recovery of all.
Woods was crossing a fast downhill stretch of road through the coastal Los Angeles suburbs when his SUV struck a sign, crossed an elevated median and two oncoming lanes before tipping onto an embankment, stopping on its side. .
The airbags are deployed. A sheriff’s deputy poked his head through a hole in the windshield to see Woods, still wearing his seat belt, sitting in the driver’s seat.
The accident resulted in “significant” injuries all along her right leg which included rods, pins and screws during what has been described as “lengthy surgery” at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer, said Woods had broken tibia and fibula bones on his right leg in several places. These were stabilized by a rod in the tibia. He said a combination of screws and pins had been used to stabilize additional ankle and foot injuries.
A statement about his Twitter account said he was awake, responsive and recovering.
“I will say it’s very lucky that Mr. Woods was able to make it out alive,” said Carlos Gonzalez, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy who was first on the scene after a neighbor. called 911.
“Like his body hasn’t held up enough,” said Jon Rahm, world No. 2, of the Workday Championship in Florida. “I just hope he can be released from the hospital after his recovery and that he can still play with his children and lead a normal life.”
The one-car crash was the latest setback for Woods, who has at times seemed unstoppable on the golf course with his 15 major championships and record-breaking 82 PGA Tour wins. He is one of the world’s most recognizable sports figures and, at 45 with a reduced schedule compared to nine previous surgeries, remains golf’s biggest draw.
He won the 2008 US Open with torn knee ligaments and two stress fractures in his left leg. His personal life imploded on Thanksgiving weekend in 2009 when he was caught having several extramarital affairs, and he returned to win his 11th PGA Tour Player of the Year award and achieve number 1.
And then after four back surgeries that kept him from playing golf for almost two years, he won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time, a victory that is among the big comebacks in the sport.
Now it’s no longer a question of when he will play again – the Masters is in seven weeks – but if he will play again.
No charges were laid and police said there was no evidence he was weakened.
Woods was in Los Angeles this weekend as host of the Genesis Invitational tournament at Riviera Country Club. Monday and Tuesday had been set aside for Discovery-owned GOLFTV for Woods to give celebrity gambling tips. A tweet on Monday showed him in a cart at the Rolling Hills Country Club with comedian David Spade. He also worked with NBA great Dwyane Wade, who posted a video on his Instagram account.
Woods was heading to Rolling Hills on Tuesday when the crash happened.
“It was a great day,” Wade said Tuesday night on Turner Sports, where he is a studio analyst. “And I woke up today so proud to be able to post this moment to the world, like a little bit of our moment together. And I took a nap, and I woke up to the news. So, you know, like everyone out there, my thoughts and prayers are all directed to his loved ones.
Thoughts and prayers have come from everywhere – Jack Nicklaus and Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson, and former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Woods played golf with the two of them and Trump awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019 after perhaps his great triumph – the Masters after undergoing four back surgeries.
Woods underwent a fifth back operation, a microdiscectomy, on December 23, just three days after playing the Cabin Crew Members Championship with his son Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter, Samantha.
The news put the brakes on the World Golf Championships in Florida, where Woods could play if he was healthy.
“My stomach hurts,” said Justin Thomas, world No. 3 and among the young players Woods embraced. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends have an accident. Dude, I just hope he’s okay.
The accident happened at around 7:15 a.m. while he was driving his courtesy vehicle from the Genesis Invitational through the upscale suburb. Gonzalez says he sometimes surprises people exceeding 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and crashes are common.
Police said Woods was alert as firefighters forced the front windshield to pop him out. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the airbags did deploy and the SUV’s interior remained largely intact, “giving it a cushion to survive the crash.”
Authorities said they checked for any alcohol smell or other signs that he was under the influence of a substance and found none. They didn’t say how fast he was driving.
This is the third time Woods has been involved in an auto investigation. Most notorious was the early morning hours after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV hit a fire hydrant and hit a tree. It was the start of shocking revelations that he had cheated on his wife with several women.
In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep while driving a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medication for his back pain. Woods then pleaded guilty to reckless driving and showed up to a clinic for help with prescription drugs and a sleep disorder.
Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in the fall of 2019 and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years due to injuries. In addition to his five back surgeries, he had four surgeries on his left knee.
He was asked on the CBS Sunday show in Riviera to recover from his back surgery in time to play the Masters and Woods replied, “God, I hope so. I have to get there first.
Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. AP Basketball editor Tim Reynolds reported from Miami.
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