Briefly, the world paused and worried that Woods might be critically injured or worse. As it became clear that his life wasn't in danger, the obvious question: Can he play golf again?

The damaged car of Tiger Woods is towed away after he was involved in a car crash, near Los Angeles, California, US, on February 23, 2021.
The damaged car of Tiger Woods is towed away after he was involved in a car crash, near Los Angeles, California, US, on February 23, 2021. (Reuters)

Tiger Woods has suffered serious injuries to both his legs after his SUV flew off the road and flipped several times in an area near Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. 

The golf superstar was alone in the driver’s seat of a mangled SUV that rolled and ended up on its side down a steep roadway in the Los Angeles suburbs on Tuesday morning, seatbelt still fastened, both legs seriously injured.

He was lucid enough to give his name –“Tiger” – to the sheriff’s deputy who had poked his head through a hole in the windshield.

The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out with the "jaws of life", the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a statement. 

No other cars were involved in the wreck that injured the golfer.

The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact, and that "gave him a cushion to survive the crash" Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. 

His surgeon said the golfer had suffered multiple "open fractures" to his lower right leg, had a rod placed in tibia, and screws and pins in his ankle.

No immediate evidence that Woods was impaired

No charges were filed, police said there was no evidence he was impaired and no one else was injured.

Authorities said they checked for any odour of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving.

The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff's Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there.

"I will say that it's very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive," Gonzalez said.

"He was able to communicate. He was conscious," said Villanueva, adding that Woods was in "serious condition as a result of the accident."

Woods was taken to the hospital by ambulance. The vehicle sustained major damage, the sheriff's department said.

Scene of accident

"Tiger Woods was in a single-car accident this morning in California where he suffered multiple leg injuries," his manager, Mark Steinberg, said. 

"He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support."

A KABC-TV helicopter over the scene of Woods' accident showed a car on its side with the front end heavily damaged. Airbags appeared to be deployed. 

The wreckage appeared to be just off the side of a road on a hillside.

Woods, whose first name is Eldrick, was the sole occupant of the vehicle, the sheriff’s department said.

TV shoot GOLFTV

Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera, where he presented the trophy. 

He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement contract. 

One tweet on Monday showed him in a cart smiling with David Spade.

According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons to celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade. He did not play.

In this aerial image take from video provided by KABC-TV video, a vehicle rest on its side after a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods along a road in the Rancho Palos Verdes section of Los Angeles.
In this aerial image take from video provided by KABC-TV video, a vehicle rest on its side after a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods along a road in the Rancho Palos Verdes section of Los Angeles. (AP)

Illustrious career

The single-car crash was another setback for Woods, the preeminent golfer of his generation who has spent the last decade in a cycle of injuries, self-inflicted personal problems and an arrest for DUI.

Each time, he returned to the course and won.

Woods has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which led to enormous increases in prize money.

He feared he would never play again until fusion surgery on his lower spine in April 2017. He returned a year later, and won the 2018 Tour Championship.

Briefly Tuesday, the world paused and worried that Woods might be critically injured or worse. As it became clear that his life wasn't in danger, the obvious question came out: Can he play golf again?

The Los Angeles Times and ESPN, citing sources it did not name, said Woods had a shattered ankle and two leg fractures, including a compound fracture.

“As if his body hasn’t endured enough,” Jon Rahm, the No. 2 player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Florida. “I just hope he can get out of the hospital after recovery and he can still play with his kids and have a normal life.”

It was the 10th surgery for Woods, who has suffered knee, back and neck problems for more than a decade.

The 15-time major champion last played December 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 during the CBS telecast, Woods replied, "God, I hope so."

Third time involved in a car investigation

This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car 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 shocking 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.

READ MORE: Tiger Woods makes cut for Memorial tournament amid back issues

Source: AP