Tiger Woods is recovering in hospital today after shattering his right leg in a horror car crash in Los Angeles – leaving serious doubts over whether he will ever return to professional sport
Surgeons say the 45-year-old suffered ‘comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula bones’ in the crash – meaning his shin and calf bones splintered into more than two pieces each and were left sticking through the skin.
Woods also sustained ‘additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle’, his doctors said, which had to be stabilized with screws and pins.
The leg itself is being held together with a metal rod that was inserted into his tibia bone, the doctors added, along with metal pins to hold everything in place.
Membranes around his muscles were also cut to help ease severe swelling caused by the impact. Anish Mahajan, who is overseeing Woods’ care, described the injuries as ‘serious’ and was unable to say if he will play golf again.
Tiger Woods has shattered the bones in his lower right leg and damaged his ankle and foot in a horror car crash in LA, forcing surgeons to insert a metal rod, pins and screws to hold the limb together
Police said the golfer was ‘lucky to be alive’ after he hit a raised central reservation while driving at high speed, smashed through a wooden street sign, splintered a tree, and then rolled his car several times
A straight line cut across the windscreen showed where first responders had sliced open the car to free Woods
Woods – one of the most successful golfers of all time and arguably one of the greatest sportsmen in any discipline – has a long history of injuries, and overcoming them has become something of a trademark.
But this recovery will be his greatest challenge yet and has left some questioning not only his sporting future, but whether he will be able to pick up a club even as an amateur.
Woods history of injuries dates back to at least 2008 when he famously claimed victory at the US Open despite playing with two stress fractures and a torn ligament in his left leg, which required surgery the day after his win.
Continuing problems with his leg and damage to his elbow forced him to take several breaks from golf over the next few years, until he began suffering back problems in August 2013.
While Woods played through the pain for months, he eventually ruled himself out of The Masters in 2014 – the first time in his career that he had missed the tournament – so he could have surgery on a trapped nerve.
Despite the operation, Woods’ problems persisted and in September the following year he went for more surgery – followed rapidly by another operation in October which left him facing a ‘long and tedious’ recovery.
In April the following year he underwent yet more surgery to fuse two vertebrae in his spine together which left him on painkillers which eventually led to him being found slumped over the wheel of his car.
Woods’ history of injuries dates back to at least 2008 when he famously won the US Open despite playing with two stress fractures and ligament damage in his left leg that required immediate surgery after his victory
Woods had two of his vertebrae fused together in 2017 – an operation that left him on painkillers and saw him arrested for DUI (pictured). He later went into rehab for painkiller addiction
In one of the greatest comebacks in sport, Woods claimed victory at The Masters in 2019 – his 15th major title – though his injury woes persisted and he had back surgery again in December last year
Overcoming doubts that he would ever be able to swing a club again, Woods battled to return to professional golf and made his first appearance at the Hero World Challenge in December 2018.
Against all the odds, he then went on to win his 15th major title at The Masters the following April in one of the greatest comebacks in sport.
But his injury problems persisted, and in August he had to undergo surgery to repair damage to his elbow. In March 2020 he was forced to sit out the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship with back issues.
In December last year he quietly underwent another procedure on his back, which was announced to the public in January this year.
Breaking the news to fans, Woods did not set a timetable for his return to golf and was still recovering from the surgery at the time of his latest accident.
‘As if his body hasn’t endured enough,’ Jon Rahm, the No. 2 player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Florida on Tuesday after learning of the crash.
‘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.’