Golfing champion Tiger Woods was hospitalized in Los Angeles on Tuesday with severe leg injuries suffered when his car swerved off a road and rolled down a steep hillside, requiring rescue crews to pry him from the wreckage, authorities said.
The injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told a news conference hours later, adding that Woods was conscious and “able to communicate” when rescue personnel arrived.
The sheriff said there was no evidence of impairment when Woods was assessed by emergency workers at the scene, and that no blood samples were drawn by investigators after he was rushed by ambulance to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
Sheriff’s deputy Carlos Gonzales, who was the first to reach the wreck, described Woods, who was wearing his seatbelt, as “calm and lucid,” and said he recognized the golfing great after Woods told the officer his name was “Tiger.”
The full nature and extent of Woods’ injuries remained unknown, and it was not immediately clear what effect the accident might have on the future of his career.
Woods, 45, who has endured a series of back and knee injuries in recent years, is considered the greatest golfer of his generation. He is the only modern pro to win all four major golf titles in succession, taking the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship in 2000 and the Masters title in 2001, a feat that became known a the Tiger Slam.
Woods suffered serious injuries to both legs in Tuesday’s wreck and was initially listed in serious but stable condition, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby told reporters. CNN reported Woods sustained compound fractures to his legs.
SURGERY AND ‘MULTIPLE LEG INJURIES’
In a statement given earlier to Golf Digest magazine, Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, said the winner of 15 major championships, was undergoing surgery for “multiple leg injuries.”
The cause of the accident was under investigation, but the sheriff said there was no indication that the driver was under the influence of any substances or that weather was a factor.
Video footage from the scene showed Woods’ dark gray 2021 Genesis sport utility vehicle badly crumpled and lying on its side near the bottom of the hillside, its windows smashed.
Woods, one of the world’s most celebrated sports figures, was the sole occupant of the car when it crashed about 7:12 a.m. near the suburban communities of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes, the sheriff’s department said.
Story updated with statement from Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg:
“Tiger Woods was in a single-car accident this morning in California where he suffered multiple leg injuries. He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support.”https://t.co/z7kdbXOmLZ
— Daniel Rapaport (@Daniel_Rapaport) February 23, 2021
Woods’ vehicle swerved into the roadside curb, struck a tree, and “there were several rollovers” before the SUV came to rest, Villanueva said. The sheriff said the stretch of roadway, known for its sloping terrain and curves, “has a high frequency of accidents.”
The sheriff also said the distance the vehicle traveled before leaving the roadway, leaving no visible skid marks, pointed to the car “going at a relatively greater speed than normal.”
The sheriff’s department initially said a hydraulic tool known as “the jaws of life” was used to pry Woods from the wreckage. Fire department officials said later that emergency personnel pulled Woods from the vehicle through the front windshield after the glass and surrounding frame were removed.
— LA County Sheriffs (@LASDHQ) February 23, 2021
‘PRAYING FOR TW’
News of Woods’ accident sent shock waves through the sports world.
“Praying for my brother @TigerWoods as we all anxiously await more news,” retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez said on Twitter. “Thinking of him and his entire family.”
“I am sick to my stomach,” fellow PGA Tour golfer Justin Thomas said during a news conference in which he called Woods one of his closest friends. “I just hope he’s alright.”
Former Woods girlfriend, Olympic skiing gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, tweeted simply: “Praying for TW”
The PGA Tour issued a statement from Commissioner Jay Monahan. “We are awaiting further information when he comes out of surgery. On behalf of the PGA TOUR and our players, Tiger is in our prayers and will have our full support as he recovers.”
Former U.S. President Donald Trump, who has played golf with Woods on several occasions and awarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019, issued a statement urging Woods to get well soon, adding: “You are a true champion!”
Reuters contributed to this report.
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