Car crash injuries cast doubt on future for Tiger Woods

AFP
Law enforcement officials said the 15-time major champion would not face reckless driving charges for the crash which didn't involve any other cars.
AFP
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Car crash injuries cast doubt on future for Tiger Woods
AFP

Fan Gregg Donovan, holding flowers, stands in front of the main entrance of the Harbor UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California, where the US golf star Tiger Woods is hospitalized after a rollover car crash in Palos Verdes. 

US golf legend Tiger Woods was recovering in hospital on Wednesday after surgery for serious leg injuries sustained in a car crash that have raised fears for the 45-year-old's career.

Law enforcement officials said the 15-time major champion, who has been plagued by injury in recent years, would not face reckless driving charges for the crash which didn't involve any other cars.

Woods was driving alone on Tuesday morning in a Los Angeles suburb on a road notorious for fatal accidents when his SUV hit the center median, crossed into the opposing lane, struck a tree and then rolled over several times.

"A reckless driving charge has a lot of elements into it. This is purely an accident," Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters.

He added that the most Woods could face would be a low-level offense known as an infraction if investigators conclude that he was speeding or not paying attention.

Investigators hope the new vehicle was equipped with a "black box" data recorder that will help shed light on the cause of the third high-profile car incident involving Woods in recent years.

Woods underwent surgery to repair "significant orthopedic injuries" to his lower right leg and ankle, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center chief medical officer Anish Mahajan said.

This included the insertion of a rod into Woods' shin bone and the use of "a combination of screws and pins" to stabilize his foot and ankle.

In the same statement posted on Woods' Twitter account, his representatives said he was "currently awake, responsive, and recovering in his hospital room."

The crash comes just two months after the golfing phenomenon underwent his fifth back operation.

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Woods has had three procedures on his knee, too, during a career that has also seen him bounce back from high-profile scandal in his personal life.

In 2019, he completed an astonishing comeback from four back operations between 2014 and 2017 to win the Masters, his first major title since 2008.

News of his latest injuries has cast doubt on Woods' ability to compete at the top level again.

"He's not Superman," four-time major champion Rory McIlroy said ahead of a tournament in Florida on Wednesday.

"He's a human being at the end of the day. And he's already been through so much.

"At this stage I think everyone should just be grateful that he's here, that he's alive, that his kids haven't lost their dad," added the Northern Irishman.

Six-time major winner Nick Faldo said he thought it would be "quite extraordinary" if Woods completes another comeback.

The Englishman added that Woods would first have to focus on rebuilding his body and that playing competitively "is possibly a long way down the line."

Faldo said Woods' age made it even more difficult.

"It's tough enough playing at 45 when you're playing against kids that are 25," Faldo told CBS.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson tweeted that he was wishing Woods "a quick recovery and a Ben Hogan style comeback."

"If anyone can do it, it's TW," he wrote.

Hogan famously won six of his nine major titles after almost being killed in a car crash in 1949 at age 36.

Woods' crash occurred on a steep stretch of road known as an accident hotspot. He was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Villaneuva repeated on Wednesday.

Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, the first officer to arrive at the scene, said it was "very fortunate" that the golfer came out of it alive.

Woods was conscious, appearing "calm and lucid" and able to identify himself as "Tiger," Gonzalez said on Tuesday.

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