LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — Golf star Tiger Woods was hospitalized Tuesday after suffering severe injuries Tuesday morning when his SUV swerved off the road, rolling down a steep hillside where crews pried him from the wreckage.
“He has undergone a long surgical procedure on his lower right leg and ankle after being brought to the hospital,” TGR Ventures said in a statement released late Tuesday.
The statement posted on his Twitter account said Woods was “awake, responsive and, recovering in his hospital room.”
Both of his legs were seriously injured, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon, adding that Woods was conscious and “able to communicate” when rescue personnel arrived.
The single-vehicle crash happened just before 7:12 a.m. PST on the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes. Woods was trapped inside the SUV and had to be extricated from the vehicle by first responders. They used a halligan bar to pry open the windshield and an ax to help remove Woods from the SUV.
“He was conscious… There was no evidence of impairment,” officials said in a Tuesday afternoon press conference. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. No blood samples were drawn by investigators after he was rushed by ambulance to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. They did not say how fast he was driving. Weather was not a factor in the crash.
The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact, and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Sheriff Villanueva said.
Woods was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, a trauma center, by ambulance in serious but stable condition. He then underwent surgery.
“Tiger Woods was in a single-car accident this morning in California where he suffered multiple leg injuries,” his manager, Mark Steinberg, said in a statement to NewsNation. “He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support.”
An aerial look over the scene from KTLA showed the 2021 Hyundai Genesis SUV on its side with heavy damage to the front end. The wreckage is located just off the side of a road on a hillside.
Woods’ vehicle hit the median, crossed opposing traffic, 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.”
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.”
Gonzales noted Woods was “very fortunate” to survive a wreck of that nature.
The full extent of Woods’ injuries remains unknown, and it was not immediately clear what effect the accident might have on the future of his career.
Woods, whose first name is Eldrick, was the sole occupant of the vehicle, the sheriff’s department said. The vehicle sustained major damage.
The cause of the wreck wasn’t clear and the crash remains under investigation. The two-lane road curves through upscale LA suburbs, and the northbound side that Woods was driving on descends steeply enough that signs warn trucks to use lower gears. The speed limit is 45 mph.
Barbara Ferraro, a councilwoman in the community of Rancho Palos Verdes, said the road where Woods crashed is not winding like other stretches but it’s steep and not far from a gravel runaway truck lane that was ahead before the next traffic light.
“It’s easy to pick up speed,” Ferraro said. “Even if you’re not speeding, unless you’re actually putting on the brakes, you’ll pick up speed.”
The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event.
There was a second crash when a vehicle that had apparently stopped to help Woods got hit, said Christopher Thomas, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. That wreck was very minor, and no one was hurt.
His golf clubs, along with other gear, were recovered from the scene.
The PGA Tour announced they were aware of the crash and Woods would have the organization’s full support
His ex-girlfriend and fellow famous athlete Lindsey Vonn tweeted that she was praying for Tiger Woods. The Olympic skier dated Woods for three years before they broke up in 2015.
The 45-year-old had hosted the annual Genesis Invitational at the Riviera Country Club over the weekend but did not compete due to ongoing issues with his surgically-repaired back. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement contract.
The 15-time major champion last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship with his 11-year-old son, Charlie. 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 Woods replied, “God, I hope so.”
This is the third time Woods has been involved in a vehicle-related investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorship, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months.
In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder.
A previous version of this story reported Woods was extricated from the vehicle using the hydraulic “jaws of life” tool according to a statement from authorities; investigators now report an ax and halligan tool were used in the extrication process.
The Associated Press, Reuters and NewsNation affiliate WCMH contributed to this report.