Los Angeles: Golfer Tiger Woods was seriously injured when his SUV overturned and ended up on his side in the Los Angeles suburbs, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be shot through the windshield and his agent said he was having leg surgery.
Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed shortly before 7:15 a.m. Tuesday, and no other cars were involved, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said. He was vigilant as firefighters forced open the front windshield to get him out, said Christopher Thomas, a spokesperson for the county fire department.
The footage showed the SUV from its side, with its front end heavily damaged, just off a road near a hill. An ambulance took the 45-year-old to a hospital, authorities said.
“Tiger Woods was in a single car accident this morning in California, sustaining multiple leg injuries,” said manager Mark Steinberg. “He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support.”
The cause of the wreckage was unclear. The two-lane road winds through the upscale suburbs of Los Angeles, and the north side Woods was driving on descends steeply enough that signs warn trucks to use lower gears. The speed limit is 45 mph.
Barbara Ferraro, a councilor for the Rancho Palos Verdes community, said the road where Woods crashed is not twisty like the other stretches, but is steep and not far from a gravel track for trucks that stood in front of the next traffic light.
“It’s easy to pick up speed,” Ferraro said. “ Even if you don’t accelerate, unless you actually put the brakes on, you will pick up speed. ”
Woods was in Los Angeles this weekend as host of the Genesis Invitational tournament at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was due to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has approval. A tweet on Monday showed Woods in a smiling cart with comedian David Spade.
According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV set was ongoing lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at the Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories with Sam Snead, is recovering from the Dec. 23 lower back surgery. It was his fifth back surgery and the first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, giving him a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019.
He’s been wearing the sport since his record-breaking Masters win in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific pace in PGA Tour history. He is particularly responsible for the surge in television viewing, which has led to huge increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport.
The SUV he was driving on Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players of the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, although it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event.
Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time.
He last played on December 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are matched with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12 years old. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter.
During the Sunday broadcast on CBS of the golf tournament, Woods was asked about the possibility of playing the Masters April 8-11 and said, “God I hope so.” He said he felt a little stiff and had another test to see if he was ready for more activities. He wasn’t sure when he would play again.
Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others have expressed hope that Woods will recover quickly.
“My stomach hurts,” Justin Thomas, the world’s No. 3 golfer, said at the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Fla. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends have an accident. Dude, I just hope he’s okay.”
The crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV from the brush onto the hillside. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff investigators inspected it and took pictures. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and transported on Tuesday afternoon.
This is the third time Woods has been involved in an auto investigation. Most notorious was the early morning 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. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi, and didn’t return to golf for five months.
In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep while driving a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested for DUI and later said he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medication for his back pain. Woods then pleaded guilty to reckless driving and showed up at 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. The operation on Tuesday would be its 10th. He has already had four surgeries on his left knee, including major reconstruction after winning the 2008 US Open, and five back surgeries.
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