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Tiger Woods 'Awake, Responsive' After Undergoing Surgery For Rollover Crash

Updated Jan. 24 at 2:30 a.m. ET

Golfer Tiger Woods is "awake, responsive and recovering in his hospital room" after undergoing surgery following a dramatic traffic accident Tuesday morning in Los Angeles County, according to an update on his Twitter account.

Woods "suffered significant orthopaedic injuries to his right lower extremity" and was treated by trauma specialists at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, according to chief medical officer and interim CEO Anish Mahajan. A rod was inserted into his tibia to stabilize the injuries, and additional pins and screws were used to stabilize injuries to his foot and ankle.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said during a news conference that the solo-vehicle crash occurred before 7:12 a.m. local time, adding that the golfer's car sustained major damage.

Villanueva described the sequence of events that ended with Woods' vehicle traveling several hundred feet from the center divider to the side of the road in the brush.

"Apparently, the first contact was with the center median and from there crossed into the opposing lane of traffic," the sheriff said. Woods then "hit the curb, hit a tree, and there were several rollovers during that process."

According to Villanueva, the air bags deployed.

"The front end was totally destroyed. The bumpers, everything was destroyed. ... However, thankfully, the interior was more or less intact, which kind of gave him the cushion to survive what otherwise would have been a fatal crash."

There were no skid marks indicating that Woods tried to brake before hitting the center lane divider. And judging by the distance that the 2021 Genesis SUV traveled, Villanueva said, it appears Woods was driving at a "greater speed than normal."

"However," he said, "because it is downhill ... and it also curves, that area has a high frequency of accidents."

Villanueva added that a traffic investigation will be spearheaded by the Lomita station and could take up to several weeks to complete.

Earlier reports indicated that Woods was extricated from the vehicle using the "jaws of life," but Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said emergency responders used a pry bar and an ax to remove Woods from the vehicle.

Osby said the golfer was transported to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in "stable condition with serious injuries." The hospital is the nearest trauma center in the area.

Villanueva said no evidence indicated Woods was intoxicated or otherwise impaired at the scene. Subsequently, he explained, "there was no effort to draw blood."

The first sheriff's deputy to arrive, Carlos Gonzalez, said Woods was conscious, "calm and lucid."

Woods, 45, was alone in the vehicle when it crashed between Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes.

Tiger Woods, shown here in December, has been injured in an automobile collision, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images
Getty Images
Tiger Woods, shown here in December, has been injured in an automobile collision, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Aerial footage of the sceneaired by MSNBC showed a badly damaged vehicle flipped on its side, with its hood bent back and its back smashed.

Woods was host of the Genesis Invitational golf tournament over the weekend at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. He remained in Los Angeles for a two-day shoot for Golf Digest/GolfTV, according to the magazine.

He has undergone a series of back surgeries, most recently a microdiscectomy following the PNC Championship in December, the last tournament he played. It was Woods' fifth back surgery, according to Golf Digest.

During an interview Sunday on CBS, Woods was asked whether he would return to play by the time of the 2021 Masters this April. "God, I hope so," Woods said, but made no prediction.

Fellow athletes expressed shock and concern after learning of the collision.

"Man, I just hope he's all right," professional golfer Justin Thomas told reporters. "Just worried for his kids, you know — I'm sure they're struggling."

Former professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez tweeted, "Praying for my brother @TigerWoods as we all anxiously await more news."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.
Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.