Golf legend Tiger Woods is “awake, responsive and recovering” in the hospital after undergoing extensive surgery to treat serious injuries he suffered to both legs in a major car crash, his team said in a statement late Tuesday.
The star underwent “a long surgical procedure” to treat his “significant orthopaedic injuries,” which required a rod to be inserted into his tibia and screws and pins to be used in his foot and ankle, the statement said.
Woods was traveling at “a relatively greater speed than normal” through the Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes neighborhoods, near Long Beach, when his car sustained “several roll overs,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at an afternoon press conference.
Woods, who was the sole occupant of the vehicle, “was able to communicate and he was conscious” when first responders arrived, but he “was not able to get up,” Villanueva said, adding that there were no “skid marks” or evidence of “braking” at the scene, where Woods had hit the center divider, a curb, and a tree.
“There was no evidence of impairment. There was no effort to draw blood, for example, at the hospital,” Villanueva told reporters. “No evidence of impairment at this point in time.”
Nonetheless, he said, an investigation has been opened into the crash that could take “days to several weeks” to wrap up.
“Any time there are injuries, an extensive investigation is required,” he said.
LASD Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, the first to arrive on the scene, described the star as “lucid and calm” immediately after the crash but “not able to stand under his own power.”
“I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” he said.
The sheriff’s department initially said the car sustained such major damage that crews needed to use “jaws of life” hydraulic machinery to pry open the wreck and pull him out. However, a spokesperson later said that was incorrect.
While the sheriff's department did not offer specifics on Woods’ injuries, a source cited by the Los Angeles Times said he suffered a shattered ankle and two leg fractures, one of them a compound fracture.
The sheriff’s department said there were no signs the star was impaired, and a deputy who was the first on the scene described him as “lucid and calm.”
Footage aired on MSNBC showed the badly damaged car lying on a grassy hill several feet from the roadway.
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg told The Daily Beast in a statement that Woods suffered multiple leg injuries in the single-car crash. “He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support,” he said.
Unidentified law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times that Woods was traveling “at a high rate of speed” when he lost control on a curvy stretch of Hawthorne Boulevard, crossed a center divider, and rolled several times. He had to be extricated through the windshield, sources said.
Woods has been in Southern California for the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational, a golf contest at the Riviera County Club that benefits Woods’ foundation. The SUV he was driving appears to have a Genesis Invitational decal on the driver’s side door.
Woods hadn’t competed in the Genesis Invitational due to his recent back surgery. The 45-year-old underwent his fourth microdiscectomy procedure, to remove abnormal disc material, and his fifth back surgery in late December after years of persistent back issues. He has also had persistent knee injuries and underwent two surgeries in 2008.
Just two days ago, he said he was hopeful of recovering in time to compete in the Masters in seven weeks.
Woods blamed his persistent back pain and insomnia for a DUI arrest near his Jupiter Island, Florida home in 2017.
A toxicology report said Woods had five different drugs in his system at the time of the arrest: hydrocodone, an opioid pain drug; hydromorphone, another type of painkiller; alprazolam, an anxiety drug like Xanax; aolpidem, a sleep drug like Ambien; and delta-9 carboxy THC, which is found in marijuana.
He pleaded guilty to reckless driving and had to go to DUI school, perform community service, pay a $250 fine, and complete a yearlong diversion program.
It was Woods’ second serious crash while in the public eye. Two days after an infidelity scandal erupted in 2009, he crashed his Cadillac Escalade SUV into a fire hydrant and a tree outside his Florida mansion at 2:30 a.m. His then-wife Elin Nordegren had to pull him from the car.
He was treated for minor facial cuts and received a ticket for careless driving. He later completed 45 days of therapy.
In the wake of the crash, a tsunami of information about Woods’ private life came out, including that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women.
The revelations cost the golf legend several major sponsorships, and he didn’t return to the sport for five months.
Just days ago, Woods was photographed on the golf course for a friendly round with former Miami Heat basketball legend Dwayne Wade. The last time he competed professionally, however, was on Dec. 20 at the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida—where he played alongside his 11-year-old son, Charlie. The pair finished seventh.
After hosting the Genesis Invitational over the weekend, Woods was set to do a two-day shoot for Golf Digest/GOLFTV, according to Golf Digest. In the shoot, Woods gave on-course lessons to a number of celebrities—including Wade and David Spade. Woods didn’t arrive to the second day of shooting on Tuesday morning.