Tiger Woods sustained serious leg injuries on Tuesday after the luxury S.U.V. he was driving struck the median of a road in Los Angeles County, crossed over into the opposite lane of traffic and rolled over several times before coming to a stop in a grassy area several hundred feet from where he had been driving, the authorities said.
Emergency workers rushed to the scene just after 7 a.m. Pacific time and took Woods, 45, to the closest trauma center, where the golfer’s manager said he had gone into surgery. The authorities said that Woods was in serious but stable condition at Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center, and that his injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.
Woods was conscious and able to speak to deputies when they arrived, giving them his name and appearing “lucid and calm,” said Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first officer on the scene. Woods was not able to stand on his own, Deputy Gonzalez said.
Woods was driving near the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes and was heading downhill along a road where people often drive over the 45 m.p.h. speed limit, Sheriff Alex Villanueva of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said at a news conference. Sheriff Villanueva said only that Woods appeared to be driving at a “greater speed than normal” and that he did not seem to be impaired by drugs or alcohol.
The sheriff said it was not yet clear what had caused the crash. No other vehicles were struck, and there were no skid marks at the scene, he said.
Mark Steinberg, Woods’s longtime agent, said in a statement around noon that the golfer was “currently in surgery,” adding: “We thank you for your privacy and support.”
Deputy Gonzalez, who first arrived on the scene, said Woods did not initially appear to be too worried about his injuries, which Gonzalez said is common with crashes when people are in shock. Gonzalez said that Woods was wearing his seatbelt and that the airbags on his S.U.V. deployed.
“He told me his name was Tiger, and at that moment, I immediately recognized him,” Gonzalez said at the news conference.
Woods was driving a Genesis S.U.V., which is made by Hyundai’s luxury division. Last weekend, he hosted a PGA Tour event in Southern California, the Genesis Invitational, which is sponsored by the car division.
Woods’s vehicle was traveling north on Hawthorne Boulevard at the intersection of Blackhorse Road when it crashed, striking a “Welcome to Rolling Hills Estates” sign and hitting a tree as it rolled over, Villanueva said.
Video from local television stations showed Woods’s vehicle on its side in an open, grassy area, with its hood crumpled and its windshield broken.
The Sheriff’s Office initially said Woods had been removed from the vehicle with a hydraulic spreader tool known as the “jaws of life,” but fire officials later said that tool was not used. Daryl L. Osby, the chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, said rescuers had used an ax, among other tools, to get Woods out of the S.U.V.
Osby said that Woods had injuries to both legs and that he was placed on a seat with a backboard as a standard precaution after serious crashes, in case of possible spinal injuries.
Woods has not played competitively since December, and he had his fifth back operation in January, a procedure called a microdiscectomy, to remove a pressurized disc fragment that was pinching a nerve. Interviewed on the broadcast of the Genesis Invitational, Woods said he had begun practicing again, and he appeared at ease, smiling and joking with CBS announcers about his progress from the surgery. But he offered no timetable for his return to competitive golf.
He only said he had hoped to resume playing by the Masters Tournament, which is held in the first full week of April.
On Monday, at an event at the Rolling Hills Country Club near Los Angeles, pictures on social media showed Woods happily interacting with various celebrities, including the N.B.A. player Dwyane Wade. During the function, Woods gave players golf tips and limited instruction but was not swinging a golf club.
The Masters, the fabled tournament that Tiger Woods has conquered five times, is less than seven weeks away. But even before Tuesday’s wreck, it was far from clear whether Woods, who has been recovering from yet another back surgery, would be able to play at Augusta National Golf Club this year.
Asked on CBS on Sunday whether he would compete in Georgia in April, Woods replied: “God, I hope so. I’ve got to get there first.”
Woods announced on Jan. 19 that doctors had removed a pressurized disc fragment during what was his fifth back surgery. The procedure, a microdiscectomy, was familiar ground for Woods. He had undergone the procedure several times in recent years, but he said he would miss at least two tournaments.
The Masters, though, has remained central on Woods’s calendar. On Sunday, he said he was “feeling fine, a little bit stiff” and was awaiting another M.R.I. scan to evaluate his progress.
In the meantime, he said, he had been “still doing the mundane stuff that you have to do for rehab, the little things before you can start gravitating toward something a little more.”
Fred S. Ridley, the chairman of Augusta National, said in a statement that Woods is “part of the Augusta National family, and the news of his accident is upsetting to all of us.”
He added, “We pray for him, for his full recovery and for his family during this difficult time.”
Woods tied for 38th place in the 2020 Masters, which was played in November because of the coronavirus pandemic. Although he shot a 10 on hole No. 12 during the final round, he birdied five of the last six holes.
“No matter how hard I try, things just don’t work the way they used to, and no matter how much I push and ask of this body, it just doesn’t work at times,” Woods said after that round.
Speaking this week, Woods conceded that surgeons may have only so many more ways to help him: “This is the only back I’ve got. I don’t have much more wiggle room there.”
Tiger Woods has been in a well-publicized car crash before.
In November of 2009, Woods crashed his S.U.V. into a fire hydrant outside his Florida home in the middle of the night. He was knocked unconscious in the crash and was taken to a hospital in an ambulance, where he was treated for minor facial injuries.
But the incident is remembered mostly for what happened next and the fallout for his career. There were numerous reports of Woods’s infidelities and an apology in which he admitted cheating on his wife. He lost numerous sponsors and stepped away from golf for months. Woods and Elin Nordegren eventually divorced.
Woods was also arrested in 2017 in Florida, after police found him asleep in his car on the side of a road at 3 a.m. with the engine running. Woods blamed the incident on the interaction of several prescription medicines, including Vicodin, and did not have any alcohol in his system. He eventually entered a diversion program for first-time D.U.I. offenders, and pleaded guilty to reckless driving.
RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. — The area where Tiger Woods was injured in a wreck on Tuesday is a perilous stretch of road for drivers in Southern California, with steep and winding terrain and a reputation for frequent accidents.
“If you get distracted, you can start going fast,” said Farideh Sotoodeh, who has lived in the neighborhood for about 20 years and went near the crash site on Tuesday after she heard a helicopter flying overhead.
Others had also gathered near yellow emergency tape. Ryan Alimento, 18, was studying at his parents’ home when he heard an aircraft above. A friend texted him about the crash.
“Growing up in Southern California, you hear his name all the time,” Alimento, a student at the University of Southern California, said. “For me, being Asian-American, he was a role model. He has a complicated past, but watching him accomplish all the things he did, I thought maybe I can do big things too.”
The speed limit on the street is 45 m.p.h.
“It’s steep going up and coming down and you can’t see around the bend,” Alimento said, adding: “You see and hear about a lot of accidents.”
— Douglas Morino
As news spread that Tiger Woods was seriously injured in a crash on Tuesday in California, fans, fellow athletes, celebrities and politicians offered tributes and prayers for the golf superstar.
The former New York Yankees player Alex Rodriguez said he was “praying for my brother” and “thinking of him and his entire family.”
Stephen Curry, a three-time N.B.A. champion, also said he was praying for Woods and his family. Lindsey Vonn, the Olympic gold medalist skier who had dated Woods, shared a similar message for the athlete. And the basketball legend Magic Johnson and the entertainer Cher asked that people pray for Woods.
Michael Phelps, the Olympic gold medalist swimmer, and Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight boxing champion, offered their sentiments as well.
“Fight @tigerwoods like the champion you are for your kids and the world,” Tyson said on Twitter.
The actress Jada Pinkett Smith, who called Woods the GOAT (greatest of all time), said she had been with him on Monday.
“Don’t take not even a MOMENT for granted!” she said on Twitter. “I know you’re good because your Tiger within is a beast!!!”
Fellow golfers recalled Woods’s strength and resilience.
“We know how tough you are, we’ve seen it a hundred times,” the golfer Justin Rose said on Twitter.
On ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” Justin Thomas, another professional golfer, said he was “sick to his stomach” after hearing about the crash of one of his closest friends. “Man, I just hope he’s all right,” he added.
Jack Nicklaus, who won 18 major titles, said that he and his wife, Barbara, were “deeply concerned” about Woods and wished him a successful surgery and full recovery. Woods is second on the career list with 15 major victories.
Jason Miller, an adviser to former President Donald J. Trump, released a statement from Trump in response to the crash, which called Woods a “true champion” and urged him to “get well soon.” In 2019, Trump awarded Woods the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Justin Thomas, a trusted confidant of Tiger Woods who frequently joins Woods for pretournament practice rounds, appeared stunned by the news of Woods’s accident on Tuesday.
“I’m sick to my stomach,” Thomas said as he prepared for the Workday Championship, a PGA Tour event in Central Florida set to begin Thursday. “It hurts to see one of your closest friends get in an accident.”
Thomas said he had heard about Woods’s crash only minutes earlier.
“Man, I just hope he’s all right,” he said. “I’m just worried for his kids, I’m sure they’re struggling.”
Thomas and his father, Mike, were paired with Woods and his son, Charlie, during the PNC Championship, a father and son tournament in December. Woods also has a daughter, Sam.
It was not even two years ago that Tiger Woods pulled off a feat that people long wondered about: He broke his decade-long drought in major championships with a stirring victory at the Masters.
By that Sunday in April 2019, it had been a decade of misery for Woods. His body, then 43 years old, was showing its ache and wear. A November 2009 car crash transformed Woods and his marriage, which ended not long after, into tabloid fodder. He was later accused of driving under the influence and struggled to control the pain that came with one operation after another.
His fifth green jacket at Augusta National Golf Club, secured with a one-stroke win in 2019, was a particularly grand comeback for a player who had long before been lionized. He was the second-oldest player to win the Masters, the tournament where he was first a major champion in 1997.
He did not fare as well at the year’s other majors, missing the cut at the P.G.A. Championship and the British Open, though he finished in a tie for 21st at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. But for Woods, what had happened at Augusta remained a personal triumph with few, if any, rivals.
“I still get chills just thinking about it,” Woods said in November 2020, when the Masters was last played because of the pandemic. At the week’s traditional dinner of Masters champions, held behind closed doors and limited to Augusta National’s chairman and former tournament winners, Woods was similarly emotional.
“He said he was on the way to the golf course, and he had to stop because he had tears in his eyes and pause for a little while in the road because a lot of memories were going through his mind very quickly,” said Gary Player, a three-time winner of the Masters.
“Tiger was very emotional,” Jack Nicklaus, who won the Masters six times, added. “I’ve never seen Tiger that way.”
Tiger Woods was the subject of a recent two-part documentary on HBO called “Tiger,” which chronicles the golfer’s intense relationship with his father and especially the ways the elder Woods shaped his son’s understanding of sex and masculinity. The documentary was based on a book, “Tiger Woods,” by Armen Keteyian and Jeff Benedict.
“Tiger” depicts the relentless scrutiny focused on Woods, particularly though not exclusively from tabloid media, and the tensions of a celebrity culture that can be both wildly permissive and swiftly judgmental. A number of golfers, former caddies and friends participated in the documentary, but perhaps the most revealing sources were two women who were involved with Woods at very different times in his life: Dina Parr, who dated Woods in high school, and Rachel Uchitel, who had an affair with Woods in 2009.
While archival footage of Woods features heavily, he declined to participate in the documentary, and his longtime agent, Mark Steinberg, released a statement blasting it. “Just like the book it is based off of, the upcoming HBO documentary is just another unauthorized and salacious outsider attempt to paint an incomplete portrait of one of the greatest athletes of all-time,” Steinberg said.
The first part of the documentary, which was released in January and is streaming on HBO Max, was HBO’s most watched sports documentary in almost three years.
The Times’s Karen Crouse reports:
I was privileged to cover Tiger Woods’s victory in the 2019 Masters for his first major title in 11 years, and his 15th overall, but his most recent competitive outing captivated me more. It was an unofficial event in Orlando, Fla., last December, when Woods essentially introduced the golf world to his 11-year-old son, Charlie.
The father-son duo competed in the PNC Championship, a 36-hole family-oriented tournament, finishing seventh in the 20-team event. Through his participation, Woods revealed the man behind the golfing machine, coming across as a devoted father doing everything in his power to give his son a joyful experience.
After the tournament, Woods, 45, would undergo a fifth back surgery. But he kept quiet about any physical distress that he was experiencing during the event, preferring instead to focus his full attention on his son. “I’m just making sure Charlie has the time of his life,” he said.
Charlie displayed a fluid swing and showed many of the same mannerisms as his father, from pumping his fist after a made putt to twirling his club after a purely struck shot. When talking about his son, whom he did not make available for interviews to protect his privacy, Woods wasn’t his usual glib self. He faltered when answering questions about Charlie and many of his sentences trailed off.
It was clear he was a nervous wreck. As he explained, his primary concern was making sure Charlie “has fun playing the game of golf.”
Before the Australian Open, I asked Serena Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles winner in tennis, if she had followed Woods’s appearance with his son in the event in Florida. Not surprisingly, Williams, 39, had watched. She has grown close to Woods in recent years as they’ve compared notes while battling injuries and younger opponents in their parallel pursuits of history-making milestones.
“That was really exciting to see Tiger there,” Williams said. “And the relationship he has with his son, with both his kids really, is super, super cool.”
Williams imagined herself in a similar position, competing alongside her 3-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, and wondered if she would be as anxious as Woods appeared. “He definitely gets incredibly nervous, it looks like, from what I could see,” she said. “But I wonder, I think I would be more, like, ‘Come on, you got this,’ kind of parent, where I would probably have to stay away.”