On the 23rd of February 2021, golfing legend Eldrick Tont ‘Tiger’ Woods was involved in a serious car accident while driving solo on the outskirts of Los Angeles. While there was no evidence that Woods, who received a ticket for reckless driving after a minor accident in 2009 and pled guilty to driving under the influence in 2017, was inebriated, County Sheriff Alex Villanueva reported that it appeared that the star was speeding at the time of the crash.
At approximately 7 am in the morning, Woods’ SUV collided with a raised median, crossed two oncoming lanes of traffic, and struck a tree. The vehicle is thought to have rolled over several times before coming to rest on its side. This is known as a ‘rollover’ accident, which is more likely to result in fatal injuries than other types of crashes. The golf mogul’s injuries, while not fatal, were serious: they included open tibia and fibula fractures, which were compound (meaning that the bones broke through the skin) and comminuted (meaning that the bones were in fragments). After undergoing emergency surgery, which involved the insertion of rods, pins and screws into his legs, Woods is now in recovery.
While clearly fortunate to have escaped death, the ramifications of such serious injuries are of great concern, both for Woods himself and the golfing world at large. Widely regarded as the greatest golf player of his generation, his dazzling array of accolades include eighty-two PGA tour wins, five Masters Tournament victories (the latest of which was in 2019), and six-hundred and eighty-three weeks ranked world number one. Woods, age forty-five, placed his professional career on indefinite hold after a fifth spinal surgery in December 2020, and sports commentators fear that the debilitating injuries from his car crash may catalyse his retirement.
In a statement released on Twitter, however, Woods thanked the medical professionals who took care of him at the Harbour-UCLA Medical Centre and Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, and assured fans that he is ‘recovering at home’ and ‘working on getting stronger every day’. As of yet, he has given no indication that he is considering retirement. One of the more optimistic commentators, former PGA Tour player Bill Mallon expressed hope for the star’s return to professional tournaments in an interview with BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter. Emphasising that Woods received immediate treatment and did not suffer from infection, Mallon estimated that his fractures could heal in as little as six weeks, and posited that the star would return to professional golf in a year.
As the world of golf awaits Woods’ recovery and, hopefully, return to competitive play, let us hope that both the star and his fans use this unfortunate event as an opportunity for reflection on the importance of vehicular safety and the discomfiting fact that injury can derail even the most promising of sporting careers. Currently still immobile, we hope to see the golf icon puttering around again soon and, eventually, resuming his former prowess on the grass.
Image Credit: Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons