Tiger Woods has had surgery for multiple fractures of his right leg after a car accident that a Los Angeles police officer said he was “very fortunate” to have survived.
The golfer was “awake and responsive” after the operation to insert a rod into his tibia and stabilize his ankle with pins, according to a statement by his TGR foundation on Tuesday night.
Carlos Gonzalez, the first LA county deputy to respond after Woods’ car went off the road in a single-vehicle accident, said the sports star had been “calm and lucid” despite being trapped inside his vehicle. Woods was removed from the crash by firefighters, and his vehicle suffered “major damage”.
Woods was transported to the nearby Harbor-UCLA medical center by ambulance and underwent surgery for “multiple leg injuries” after the incident early on Tuesday.
Woods had been driving a 2021 Genesis GV80 northbound on Hawthorne Boulevard when he drove over the center median, into the southbound lanes, struck a tree and rolled the vehicle several times, said Alex Villanueva, the Los Angeles county sheriff, at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
Photos of the crash site showed Woods’s badly damaged SUV at the bottom of an embankment in hilly terrain.
The crash is still under investigation. Gonzalez noted that this “specific stretch of roadway is one of our trouble spots”. Deputies have often caught motorists speeding here, sometimes at up to 80mph, which would be nearly double the locally reported speed limit. 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,” the deputy added. “It was very fortunate that Mr Woods was able to come out of this alive.”
Woods was the only person in the vehicle at the time of the accident and was conscious when deputies arrived on scene. While the cause of the crash has not yet been determined, Villanueva said Woods’ vehicle was “going at a relatively greater speed than normal”. When asked if Woods was under the influence at the time of the crash, Villanueva said there was “no evidence of impairment at this point in time”.
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 axe and Halligan tool, said Daryl Osby, the Los Angeles county fire chief.
Responding to the news, former US president Barack Obama tweeted: “Sending my prayers to @TigerWoods and his family tonight – here’s to a speedy recovery for the GOAT of golf. If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s to never count Tiger out.”
Tennis great Serena Williams tweeted: “Love you big brother ... but We will get through this @TigerWoods.”
Justin Thomas, a fellow major champion, expressed concern for his friend: “I’m sick to my stomach … 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.”
Jack Nicklaus, the 18-times 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.”
The PGA Tour released a statement shortly after news of the crash broke, saying: “On behalf of the PGA Tour and our players, Tiger is in our prayers and will have our full support as he recovers.”
Woods had been in California to film a TV programme for Discovery and Golf Digest, featuring the former NBA player Dwyane Wade and the actor David Spade. He also attended the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational at Riviera over the weekend. He has not played competitive golf this year after undergoing back surgery last month.
In May 2017, Woods was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Florida after he was discovered passed out in his car. He later pleaded guilty to reckless driving over the incident, and said his condition was caused by prescribed medications.
Woods was also involved in another crash in 2009 near his home in Florida, which led to news that he had been unfaithful to his then wife, Elin Nordegren. The fallout led to Woods losing sponsors and he took an extended break from golf to address problems 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.
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.