'Responsive' Tiger Woods out of surgery to leg and ankle after car crash

24 February 2021 - 12:05
By Reuters
Members of the media outside the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California, where Tiger Woods was treated after a car crash on February 23 2021.
Image: Reuters/Mike Blake Members of the media outside the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California, where Tiger Woods was treated after a car crash on February 23 2021.

Golfer Tiger Woods underwent a “long surgical procedure on his lower right leg and ankle” at a Southern California hospital on Tuesday after suffering multiple leg injuries in a single-car rollover crash.

Woods's Twitter account posted an update on Tuesday night that included a statement from Dr Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer and interim CEO at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Mahajan's statement read, “Mr Woods suffered significant orthopaedic injuries to his right lower extremity that were treated during emergency surgery by orthopaedic trauma specialists at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, a level 1 trauma centre.

“Comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula bones were stabilised by inserting a rod into the tibia.

“Additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle were stabilised with a combination of screws and pins. 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.”

Woods's team added that the golfer was “awake, responsive and recovering in his hospital room”.

ESPN and the Los Angeles Times reported earlier in the evening that Woods sustained a shattered ankle, a compound fracture in one leg and a fracture of the other leg.

At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said there was “no evidence of impairment” at the time of the early-morning crash but that Woods appeared to have been travelling at a “relatively greater speed than normal”. Villanueva said there were no skid marks or signs of braking.

However, the investigation will take several weeks, he said.

Authorities said Woods' injuries were not considered life-threatening.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said deputies responded at about 7.12am to the scene of a rollover in the area between Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes. Woods was extricated from the car through the windshield area and taken to the hospital via ambulance. Jaws of life were not used, officials said later on Tuesday.

“Tiger Woods was in a single-car accident this morning in California where he suffered multiple leg injuries. He is in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support,” said Mark Steinberg, Woods's agent.

Woods was on his way to Rolling Hills Country Club to give a lesson to NFL quarterbacks Drew Brees and Justin Herbert, Fox News and ESPN reported.

The vehicle sustained major damage, authorities said, noting that Woods was the only occupant.

“Because of the situation and the way that you found the vehicle, he wasn't able to open the door and come out,” Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesperson Henry Narvaez said, as reported in the Los Angeles Times. “We extricated him, we helped assist him out of the vehicle.”

He was conscious and talking to first responders, officials said.

The crash occurred on a steep and windy part of Hawthorne Boulevard, which runs through the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The road remained closed as the investigation continued.

The Times reported that Woods was travelling at a high speed before losing control of the SUV he was driving. His vehicle crossed the centre divider and rolled several times before coming to a stop about 25m off the road. The vehicle came to a rest on its side.

Woods, 45, is the winner of major championships and 15 major tournaments on the PGA Tour.

“We have been made aware of Tiger Woods's car accident today,” the Tour said in a statement. “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.”

Woods has not played since December, when he took part in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, with his son, Charlie, who turned 12 earlier this month.

On December 23 Woods had back surgery, his fifth, and said at the weekend that he was unsure whether he'd be able to play in the Masters tournament in April.

In 2009, Woods was involved in an accident when he crashed into a fire hydrant and a tree outside his home in central Florida.

Woods was arrested in 2017 after police found him asleep behind the wheel of his car in Jupiter, Florida. He attributed it to an “unexpected reaction to prescribed medications” and was given probation.