LOS ANGELES – Tiger Woods was in the driver’s seat of a wrecked pickup truck that rolled and ended up on its side on a steep highway in suburban Los Angeles on Tuesday morning, with his seatbelt still fastened and both legs seriously injured. name – “Tiger” – to the deputy sheriff who had poked his head through a hole in the windshield.
“At that moment, it clicked in my mind and I immediately recognized him as Tiger Woods,” Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Carlos Gonzalez said Tuesday. The car accident was another setback for Woods, the preeminent golfer of his generation who has spent the past decade in a cycle of injuries, self-inflicted personal problems and a DUI arrest. Each time, he returned to the field and won. Even at 45, Woods is among the most recognized sports figures in the world and is the sport’s biggest draw. His victory at the 2019 Masters was seen as a momentous comeback and further solidified his reputation for toughness and clutch performances. Briefly on Tuesday, the world stood still and worried that Woods might be seriously injured or worse. When it became clear that his life was not in danger, the obvious question arose: Can he play golf again? “As if his body hadn’t held out long enough,” said Jon Rahm, the world’s No. 2 player, from the Workday Championship in Florida. “I just hope that she can get out of the hospital after recovery and that she can still play with her children and have a normal life.” His agent said Woods underwent surgery on his leg and the injuries were described as serious. No charges were filed, police said there was no evidence that he was incapacitated and no one else was injured. It was the 10th surgery for Woods, who has suffered from knee, back and neck problems for more than a decade. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend to host the Genesis Invitational tournament that ended Sunday, and then to film content for his sponsor, Discovery-owned GOLFTV. He was not playing while recovering from a fifth back surgery on December 23. Woods was alone in the truck when he hit an elevated median, crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. Police said Woods was alert and able to communicate when firefighters opened the front windshield to remove him. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the airbags deployed and the interior of the truck remained largely intact, “giving him a cushion to survive the crash.” There was no immediate evidence that Woods was affected. Authorities said they checked for any alcohol odors or other signs that he was under the influence of a substance and found none. They didn’t say how fast he was driving. The accident occurred around 7:15 a.m. on a downhill stretch of a two-lane highway through upscale suburbs. Gonzalez, the first to get to the accident, said he sometimes catches people going over 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and crashes are common. “I will say that it is very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Thoughts and prayers have come from everywhere: Jack Nicklaus and Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson and former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, who played golf with Woods and awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019. Woods, who shares With Sam Snead holding the PGA Tour record of 82 career wins, he had said during the Genesis Invitational television broadcast that he was waiting for one more trial of his December 23 microdiscectomy surgery before knowing if he could expand on his work. When asked about playing the Masters April 8-11, Woods replied, “God, I hope so.” Woods has led the sport since his record-breaking Masters victory in 1997 as a 21-year-old, winning at the most prolific pace in modern PGA Tour history. He is solely responsible for the increase in television viewership ratings, which has led to huge increases in prize money. He was afraid he would never play again until his lower spine fusion surgery in April 2017. He returned a year later and won the 2018 Tour Championship. It was his first major in 11 years. The previous one was the US Open in 2008 in Torrey Pines, on a left leg with torn knee ligaments and a double stress fracture. He underwent reconstructive surgery a few days later. Woods last played on December 20 at the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event in which players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12 years old. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter, Samantha. The news put a damper on the World Golf Championship in Florida, where Woods was eligible to play. “My stomach hurts,” said Justin Thomas, No. 3 in the world and among the youngest players Woods has hugged. “It hurts me to see one of my closest friends have an accident. Man, I just hope he’s okay. “This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV hit a fire hydrant and crashed. against a tree. That was the beginning of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with several women. Woods lost significant corporate sponsorships, went to a rehab clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017 , Florida police found him asleep at the wheel of a car awkwardly parked on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and later said he had an unexpected reaction to prescription drugs for his back pain. Later, Woods pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic for help with prescription drugs and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Ch ampionship in Japan in the fall of 2019, and has cut its playing schedule in recent years due to injuries. In addition to his back surgeries, he has had four surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after winning the 2008 US Open.