LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV rolled over and ended up on its side in suburban Los Angeles, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery.
Woods was alone in the loaned 2021 Genesis GV80 luxury SUV at the time of the wreck.
Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who arrived first at the scene, said Woods was wearing a seatbelt and was very fortunate “to come out of this alive.”
The deputy asked Woods questions, including what day it was and where he was.
“Tiger was able to speak to me lucidly,” Gonzalez said. Woods appeared “incredibly calm,” the deputy said, likely because he was in shock.
Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby said that Woods was conscious and in stable condition with serious injuries when responders reached him.
Osby said that fire personnel used a pry bar and an ax to free Woods from the wreckage and transport him on a backboard.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that there was no immediate evidence of impairment at the scene.
Villanueva said there was no evidence of skid marks and it appeared that Woods first contacted the center median before hitting a curb and tree. The vehicle is believed to have rolled over multiple times.
“Thankfully the interior was more or less intact,” Villanueva said, adding that it would likely have been a fatal crash otherwise.
No other cars were involved in the wreck and the vehicle sustained major damage, the sheriff’s department said.
“Tiger Woods was in a single-car accident this morning in California where he suffered multiple leg injuries,” said his manager, Mark Steinberg. “He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support.”
A helicopter over the scene of the accident showed a car on its side with the front end heavily damaged. Air bags appeared to have deployed. The wreckage was just off the side of a road on a hillside.
There was a second crash when a vehicle that had apparently stopped to help Woods got hit, said Christopher Thomas, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. That wreck was very minor, and no one was hurt.
Woods, whose first name is Eldrick, was the sole occupant of the vehicle, the sheriff’s department said.
The accident occurred shortly before 7:15 a.m. about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, on the border of the upscale communities of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes, officials said.
The cause of the wreck wasn’t clear. The two-lane road curves through upscale LA suburbs, and the northbound side that Woods was driving on descends steeply enough that signs warn trucks to use lower gears. The speed limit is 45 mph.
Deputy Gonzalez said that he had seen cars traveling as fast as 80 mph along that stretch and described the area as a “trouble spot.”
Barbara Ferraro, a councilwoman in the community of Rancho Palos Verdes, said the road where Woods crashed is not winding like other stretches but it’s steep and not far from a gravel runaway truck lane that was ahead before the next traffic light.
“It’s easy to pick up speed,” Ferraro said. “Even if you’re not speeding, unless you’re actually putting on the brakes, you’ll pick up speed.”
The PGA Tour released a statement on the crash, saying “We have been made aware of Tiger Woods’ accident today. We are awaiting further information when he comes out of surgery. On behalf of the PGA Tour and our players, Tiger is in our prayers and will have our full support as he recovers.”
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. A tweet Monday showed him in a cart smiling with comedian 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.
The 15-time major champion last played Dec. 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.”
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 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 has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back.
On Tuesday, athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery.
“I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.”
Numerous athletes and celebrities reacted to news of the crash on social media:
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story indicated that the jaws of life had been used to extract Woods from his vehicle. Nexstar’s KTLA has since confirmed the device was not used. The Associated Press contributed to this report.