Golf champion Tiger Woods was hospitalized in Los Angeles on Tuesday with severe leg injuries suffered when his car careened off a road and rolled down a hillside, requiring rescue crews to pry him from the crash wreckage, authorities said.
The injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told a news conference, adding Woods was conscious and “able to communicate” when rescue personnel arrived.
The sheriff said there was no evidence of driver impairment when Woods was assessed by emergency workers at the scene, and no blood samples were drawn by investigators after he was rushed by ambulance to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
Woods, one of the world’s most celebrated sports figures, was the sole occupant of the car when it crashed about 7:12 am near the suburban community of Rolling Hills Estates, the sheriff’s department said.
Sheriff’s deputy Carlos Gonzales, first on the scene, said Woods, still wearing his seatbelt, was “calm and lucid.” The deputy said he immediately recognized the golfing great after Woods told him his name was “Tiger.”
Woods suffered serious injuries to both legs and was initially listed in serious but stable condition, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby told reporters.
A statement posted on Woods’ official Twitter account late on Tuesday said he had undergone a “long surgical procedure” on his lower right leg and ankle and was “awake, responsive and recovering in his hospital room”.
Open, or compound, fractures of his tibia and fibula bones were stabilized with a rod, and screws and pins were used to stabilize other injuries to his foot and ankle, Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer and interim CEO of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center said in the tweet.
It was not immediately clear what effect the accident might have on 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 US Open, British Open and PGA Championship in 2000 and the Masters title in 2001, a feat that became known the Tiger Slam.
In a statement to Golf Digest magazine, Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, said the winner of 15 major championships was undergoing surgery.
The cause of the accident was under investigation, though the sheriff said weather was not 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’ vehicle swerved across the median strip into an oncoming lane then struck a curb and a tree as it plunged off the road and down an embankment, Villanueva said, adding “there were several rollovers” before the SUV came to rest. The sheriff said the steep and winding stretch of road “has a high frequency of accidents.”
The sheriff also said the distance the vehicle traveled before leaving the roadway, with no visible skid marks, pointed to the car “going at a relatively greater speed than normal.”
Fire department officials said emergency personnel pulled Woods from the vehicle through the front windshield after the glass and its surrounding frame were cut out and removed.