American golf legend Tiger Woods was recovering in hospital Wednesday after surgery for serious leg injuries in a car crash that raised fears for the 45-year-old’s career. Law enforcement officials said the 15-time major champion, who has been injured in recent years, would not face reckless driving charges for the accident which did not involve any other car. Woods was driving alone Tuesday morning in a Los Angeles suburb on a road known for its fatal crashes when his SUV hit the center median, crossed the opposite lane, hit a tree and then rolled over several times.
“There are many elements to a reckless driving charge, it is purely an accident,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters.
He added that Woods could face a low-level offense known as the offense the most if investigators find he is speeding or not being careful.
Investigators are hoping the new vehicle has been fitted with a “black box” data logger that will help shed light on the cause of the third high-profile car incident involving Woods in recent years.
Woods underwent surgery to repair “major orthopedic injuries” to his right leg and ankle, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center chief medical officer Anish Mahajan said.
This included inserting a rod into Woods’ shin bone and using a “combination of screws and pins” to stabilize his foot and ankle.
In the same statement posted on Woods’ Twitter account, his representatives said he was “currently awake, responsive and recovering in his hospital room.”
The accident comes just two months after the golfing freak underwent his fifth back surgery.
– “Access point” –
Woods has also undergone three knee procedures in a career that has also seen him bounce back from a high-profile scandal in his personal life.
In 2019, he made an astonishing comeback of four return operations between 2014 and 2017 to win the Masters, his first major title since 2008.
News of his latest injuries has cast doubt on Woods’ ability to compete at the highest level again.
“He’s not Superman,” four-time major champion Rory McIlroy said ahead of a tournament in Florida on Wednesday.
“He’s a human being at the end of the day. And he’s been through so much already.
“At this point I think everyone should just be thankful that he’s here, that he’s alive, that his children haven’t lost their father,” added the Northern Irishman.
World number four Xander ScHotele described the “dark” atmosphere on the practice greens ahead of the World Championship golf working world championships in Florida.
Six-time major winner Nick Faldo said he thought it would be “quite extraordinary” if Woods made another comeback.
The Englishman added that Woods should focus on rebuilding his body first and playing competitively “maybe a long way down the line”.
Faldo said Woods’ age made things even more difficult.
“It’s pretty hard to play at 45 when you play against 25-year-olds,” Faldo told TBEN.
World number one Dustin Johnson tweeted that he wished Tiger “a quick recovery and a return to Ben Hogan.”
“If anyone can do it, it’s TW,” he wrote.
Hogan won six of his nine major titles after being nearly killed in a car crash in 1949 at the age of 36.
The Woods accident happened on a steep stretch of road known as a crash hotspot. He was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Villanueva repeated Wednesday.
Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, the first officer to arrive at the scene, said he was “very lucky” the golfer came out alive.
Woods was conscious, appearing “calm and clearheaded” and able to identify as “Tiger,” Gonzalez said Tuesday.
– ‘Prayers’ –
Woods was in the Los Angeles area for his annual Genesis Invitational golf tournament at the Riviera Country Club and was driving a courtesy car the morning of the accident.
Word of the crash quickly spread throughout the sports world and beyond, with characters in and out of golf quick to send their best wishes.
Woods was one of the world’s most revered athletes when, in November 2009, he smashed his car into a tree and fire hydrant outside his luxury Florida home, triggering a series of outrageous revelations that condemned his marriage and put her game in freefall.
He later divorced his Swedish wife Elin Nordegren after a stunt of women came forward to say they had had affairs with the golfer.
In May 2017, he was arrested near his home for falling asleep while driving his car in a traffic lane. Woods said he took prescription drugs and pleaded guilty to reckless driving.
He is the winner of 82 US PGA titles, tied with Sam Snead for the all-time record.
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