An official statement posted to Tiger Woods’ Twitter account on Tuesday evening said the golfer suffered “comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula” in a car accident earlier in the day.
A comminuted bone is broken into more than two pieces. An open fracture, also called a compound fracture, is a fracture in which there is an open wound or break in the skin near the site of the broken bone.
The statement said the golf legend “underwent a long surgical procedure on his lower right leg and ankle.”
Woods is “awake, responsive, and recovering in his hospital room,” according to the post.
Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer and interim CEO at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center where Woods was admitted said a rod, pins and screws were used to stabilize his injuries.
“The tibia and fibula bones were stabilized by inserting a rod into the tibia,” said Mahajan. “Additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle were stabilized 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.”
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) February 24, 2021
Woods was injured in a one-car accident in Los Angeles this morning and was transported by ambulance to a local hospital for surgery. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the crash occurred on a residential street in Palos Verdes.
It was unclear if the golfer had been speeding, although LA Sheriff Alex Villanueva noted that the vehicle, which was being driven northbound on Hawthorne in a particularly accident-prone area due to the curving downhill roadway, traveled “several hundred feet” after striking the center median and there were no skid marks.
“Apparently the first contact was with the center median,” said Villanueva. “From there it crossed into the opposing lane of traffic, hit the curb, hit a tree and there were several rollovers during that process.”
Woods, who recently underwent his fifth back surgery and has had multiple knee surgeries, had been hosting the Genesis Invitational at Rivera County Club in Pacific Palisades over the weekend. He did not play.
Woods — whose real name is Eldrick — has, of course, been in the news for traffic-related issues before. He crashed his car in 2009, which set off a series of revelations about his personal life. In 2017, police found the golfer asleep in his parked car, and he was arrested for DUI after failing a field sobriety test. After the arrest, it was reported that Woods had a cocktail of painkillers in his system, some of which had been prescribed due to a back surgery that same year.
The iconic Woods stormed back to prominence after several injury-riddled seasons by winning the 2018 Tour Championship and then the 2019 Masters. But he had struggled since the PGA Tour’s return from a Covid shutdown last year. He played just seven official events and failed to post a top-10 finish to drop to 44th in the world rankings as he focused on playing in his signature tournament — the Masters — in April.
He is tied with Sam Snead for a record 82 career tour wins; one more would make him the winningest golfer of all time. He also has won 15 major tournaments, three behind Jack Nicklaus’ record in that category.
Nicklaus posted “heartfelt support and prayers” for Woods on Twitter.
Barbara and I just heard about Tiger’s accident, and like everyone else, we are deeply concerned. We want to offer him our heartfelt support and prayers at this difficult time. Please join us in wishing Tiger a successful surgery and all the best for a full recovery.
— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) February 23, 2021
Woods’ frequent foil and fellow Masters champion Phil Mickelson also tweeted saying, “We are all pulling for you, Tiger.”
We are all pulling for you, Tiger. We are so sorry that you and your family are going through this tough time. Everyone hopes and prays for your full and speedy recovery.
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) February 23, 2021
While Woods is lucky to simply be alive and the focus right now is rightly on his health, the accident reminded many of a similar near-tragedy that befell another of golf’s all-time greats: Ben Hogan.
Seventy-two years ago this month, Hogan and his wife were hit head-on in their car by a Greyhound bus. Hogan sustained injuries to his pelvis, ankle, knee, ribs, collarbone and shoulder. He was told he would be lucky to walk again.
A year-and-a-half later Hogan, who was still in pain, came back to win the U.S. Open. He went on to win 11 more tournaments, including five majors, one of which was The Masters. It’s a story Woods knows well.
“I think that one of the greatest comebacks in all of sport is the gentleman who won here, Mr. Ben Hogan. I mean, he got hit by a bus and came back and won major championships,” Woods said three years ago — amidst his own career comeback — at Augusta.
“The pain he had to endure, the things he had to do just to play and just how hard it was for him to walk, and he ended up walking 36 holes [on the final day because of an 18-hole playoff] and winning a U.S. Open.”
Ben Hogan came back from a terrible car crash and hopefully Tiger Woods can, too https://t.co/PGNVr8ThH7
— Fort Worth Star-Telegram (@startelegram) February 23, 2021
Which brings us to a tweet from former president Barack Obama. Obama called Woods “the GOAT” before observing, “If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s to never count Tiger out.”
Sending my prayers to @TigerWoods and his family tonight—here’s to a speedy recovery for the GOAT of golf. If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s to never count Tiger out.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 24, 2021