Lucky to be alive, Woods faces difficult recovery


LOS ANGELES (AP) — In a career filled with remarkable comebacks, Tiger Woods faces perhaps his toughest
recovery of all.
The golf star was driving alone on a sweeping, downhill stretch of road through coastal Los Angeles
suburbs when his SUV struck a raised median, crossed into oncoming lanes and flipped several times. The
crash caused "significant" injuries to Woods’ right leg, and he underwent what was described
as a "long surgical procedure" at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
Dr. Anish Mahajan, chief medical officer, said Woods shattered bones in his lower leg in multiple places.
Some of his fractures went through the skin and were stabilized by a rod, while screws and pins were
used for his ankle and foot injuries.
A statement on Woods’ Twitter account said he was awake and recovering.
"I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive," said
Carlos Gonzalez, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who was the first to arrive after a neighbor
called 911.
Police said there was no evidence of drugs or alcohol. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Wednesday on a
Facebook livestream that it was "purely an accident" on a downhill section of road known for
Dr. Joseph Patterson, an orthopedic trauma surgeon at Keck Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, said injuries
like Woods’ are among the most common seen in emergency rooms.
Patterson didn’t treat Woods and wouldn’t comment specifically about the golfer’s injuries but said the
risk of infection is extremely high for patients with fractures that break the skin.
"Tissue can be exposed to bacteria, dirt and clothing. The outcomes can be a lot worse if that
tissue gets infected," Patterson said. Such open fractures can require multiple surgeries to
Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith suffered an open fracture to his lower leg while being
tackled. He nearly lost the leg due to infection but made a remarkable recovery and played last season.

The crash was the latest setback for Woods, who at times has looked unstoppable with his 15 major
championships and record-tying 82 victories on the PGA Tour. He is among the world’s most recognizable
sports figures, and at 45, with a reduced schedule from nine previous surgeries, remains golf’s biggest
He won the 2008 U.S. Open with shredded knee ligaments and two stress fractures in his left leg. His
personal life imploded on Thanksgiving weekend in 2009 when he was caught having multiple extramarital
affairs and crashed his vehicle near his Florida home. He returned to win his 11th award as PGA Tour
player of the year and reach No. 1.
And then after four back surgeries that kept him out of golf for the better part of two years, he won the
Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time, a victory that ranks among the great comebacks in the sport.

Now it’s no longer a matter of when he plays again — the Masters is seven weeks away — but if he plays
Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera
Country Club. Monday and Tuesday had been set aside for Woods to give golf tips to celebrities on
Discovery-owned GOLFTV. A tweet Monday showed him in a cart with comedian David Spade. He also worked
with NBA great Dwyane Wade, who posted a video on Instagram.
"It was a great day," Wade said Tuesday night on Turner Sports, where he is a studio analyst.
"And I woke up today so proud to be able to post that moment for the world, like a little snippet
of our moment together. And I took a nap, and I woke up to the news. So, you know, just like everybody
out there, my thoughts and prayers are all to his loved ones."
They have come from everywhere — Jack Nicklaus and Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson and former Presidents
Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Woods played golf with both presidents, and Trump awarded him the
Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019.
Woods had a fifth back surgery, a microdiscectomy, on Dec. 23, just three days after he played the PNC
Championship with his son Charlie, who now is 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter, Samantha.
Woods was driving his courtesy vehicle from the Genesis Invitational when he crashed. Gonzalez, the
deputy, does traffic enforcement on the road and said he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph (129
kph) in the downhill, 45-mph zone. Crashes are common.
Police said Woods was alert as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The sheriff
says the airbags deployed and the inside of the SUV stayed mostly intact, which "gave him a cushion
to survive the crash."
Villanueva said Wednesday that the department hasn’t yet pulled information from the vehicle’s event data
recorder, or "black box," which would give details about speed and could be a factor.
In 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 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.
Woods hasn’t won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he’s reduced his playing schedule
in recent years because of injuries. Besides his five back surgeries, he’s had four surgeries on his
left knee.
Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. AP writer Christopher Weber in Los Angeles and AP
Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed.

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