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Tiger Woods suffers leg injuries in California single-car crash, is ‘awake, responsive, and recovering’

Tiger Woods was driving in the Rancho Palos Verdes area of Los Angeles when he was involved in a roll-over crash.
Tiger Woods was driving in the Rancho Palos Verdes area of Los Angeles when he was involved in a roll-over crash.Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

UPDATE, Feb. 24, 9:31 a.m.: Tiger Woods has rod placed in leg after suffering multiple compound fractures in car crash

Golfer Tiger Woods underwent surgery after sustaining serious leg injuries in a single-car crash in southern California on Tuesday morning, and is currently awake, responsive, and recovering in his hospital room, according to a statement tweeted out by Woods’ team early Wednesday morning.

Woods, who is tied for the most PGA Tour wins in history, was traveling in the Rancho Palos Verdes area south of Los Angeles at 7:12 a.m. PST when the rollover crash occurred.

The Los Angeles Times and ESPN, citing sources it did not name, said Woods had a shattered ankle and two leg fractures, including a compound fracture. Woods’ team confirmed the pro-golfer’s injuries in its statement, saying he underwent a “long surgical procedure on his lower right leg and ankle after being brought to the hospital.”

A neighbor called 911 after hearing or witnessing the crash. The area, officials from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department said Tuesday, has a “high frequency of accidents” due to its slopes and curves.

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There was no indication of braking before Woods crossed a center median and moved into the opposing lane of traffic. The vehicle Woods was driving, a 2021 Genesis luxury SUV, hit a curb and a tree before rolling over several times, officials said.

Woods, 45, had to be extricated from the car by first responders on the scene, the first of which arrived within six minutes after the report of the crash. He was brought by ambulance to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. He was conscious and stable at the site of the crash and could communicate with paramedics, according to officials.

“Mr. Woods suffered from significant orthopedic injuries to his right lower extremity that were treated during emergency surgery,” Dr. Anish Mahajan, Chief Medical Officer and Interim CEO at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, said in a statement. Dr. Mahajan continued that open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of Woods’ tibia and fibula bones were stabilized by inserting a rod into the tibia. “Additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle were stabilized with a combination of screws and pins,” Dr. Mahajan continued. “Trauma to the muscle and soft-tissue of the leg required surgical release of the covering of the muscles to relieve pressure due to swelling.”

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Officials said they did not see any indication that Woods was impaired.

“There was no evidence of impairment,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. “There was no effort to draw blood, for example, at the hospital.”

CNN is reporting that Woods suffered multiple compound fractures in his legs.

The first law enforcement officer on the scene, deputy Carlos Gonzalez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said that Woods was “calm and lucid” in the immediate aftermath of the crash. He was not able to stand under his own power, according to Gonzalez.

In photos from the scene, Woods’s vehicle is shown on its side with the front end smashed. Air bags appear to be deployed, and the wreckage appeared to be just off the side of a road on a hillside.

Woods was wearing a seatbelt, which might have saved his life, Gonzalez said.

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And the interior of the vehicle, which was a loaner vehicle from the company that sponsored the Genesis Invitational Woods hosted last weekend, was “more or less intact.”

That “gave him the cushion to survive otherwise what would have been a fatal crash,” Villaneuva said.

Officials said earlier that the “jaws of life” were used to remove Woods from the vehicle, but said in an afternoon press conference that was inaccurate and other measures were used.

Woods’s agent, Mark Steinberg asked for “privacy and support” after the accident, and the PGA Tour said that Woods would have the organization’s full support throughout his recovery.

“We have been made aware of Tiger Woods’ car accident today. We are awaiting further information when he comes out of surgery,” the statement read. “On behalf of the PGA Tour and our players, Tiger is in our prayers and will have our full support as he recovers.”

Masters chairman Fred Ridley also offered a statement, calling Woods “part of the Augusta National family.”

Tiger Woods hasn't played in an event since Dec. 20 as he recovers from back surgery.
Tiger Woods hasn't played in an event since Dec. 20 as he recovers from back surgery.Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

“The news of his accident is upsetting to all of us,” Ridley said. “We pray for him, for his full recovery and for his family during this difficult time.”

Golfer Justin Thomas, speaking to media during preparation for the Workday Championship this weekend in Bradenton, Fla., got emotional when asked about Woods’s crash.

“I’m sick to my stomach,” he said. “It hurts to see ... one of my closest friends get in an accident. And man, I just hope he’s all right. I’m just worried for his kids, you know, I’m sure they’re struggling.”

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Woods was in southern California participating in a “content shoot” for Golf Digest and GOLFTV, according to Golf Digest, which involved giving lessons to celebrities.

Earlier Tuesday, actress Jada Pinkett Smith posted on social media that she golfed with Woods Monday. Ex-NBA star Dwyane Wade shared on Instagram that he got a lesson from Woods earlier in the week as well.

Over the weekend, Woods served as host of the 2021 Genesis Invitational in Pacific Palisades, north of Los Angeles. But he hasn’t played since Dec. 20, when he participated in the PNC Championship with his son, Charlie, who is 11.

Shortly after that tournament, he had a fifth surgery on his back, a microdiscectomy, two days before Christmas and gave no indication when he would return.

The Masters is April 8-11, and when asked if he would be there during the CBS telecast of the Genesis Invitational, Woods replied: “God, I hope so.”

Woods turned pro in 1996 after two years at Stanford, then won the first of his 15 majors at 21, running away with the Masters in 1997 by finishing 18 under par, 12 strokes better than his nearest competitor, Tom Kite.

In 2000, he crushed the US Open field at Pebble Beach, finishing 12 under par and 15 ahead of runners-up Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez. He followed that up with victories at the British Open and PGA Championship, then won the Masters again in April 2001, to hold all four majors titles at the same time.

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He would win eight more majors over the next seven years, finishing with a playoff victory over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 US Open for his 14th major title.

Tiger Woods has dominated at Augusta like few others.
Tiger Woods has dominated at Augusta like few others.Chris Carlson/Associated Press

On Thanksgiving 2009, Woods was driving an SUV when he ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree in Florida. The incident brought about a slew of revelations regarding Woods’s marital infidelities. He spent five months away from golf, lost major corporate sponsorship, and attended a rehab clinic.

He returned to competition in 2010, but struggled as he battled various injuries. He failed to play in all four majors in the same season from 2010-12, and dropped to as low as 58th in the world in 2011.

In May 2017, Woods was found by Florida police asleep behind the wheel of a car parked on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and later pleaded guilty to reckless driving. He told authorities the incident stemmed from an unexpected reaction to prescription medication, and checked into a clinic for help with the medication and a sleep disorder.

But within two years, he had returned to the pinnacle of his sport.

In 2019, Woods ended his drought of 11 years without winning a major when he captured his fifth Masters tournament, becoming the second-oldest player to win the championship at 43.

Andrew Mahoney and Brittany Bowker contributed to this story. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Katie McInerney can be reached at katie.mcinerney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac.