LOS ANGELES, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Golfing champion Tiger Woods was hospitalized in Los Angeles on Tuesday with severe leg injuries suffered when his car veered off a road and rolled down a steep hillside, requiring rescue crews to pry him from the wreckage, authorities said.
The injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told a news conference hours later, adding that Woods was conscious and "able to communicate" when rescue personnel arrived.
The sheriff said there was no evidence of impairment when Woods was assessed by emergency workers at the scene, and that no blood samples were drawn by investigators after he was rushed by ambulance to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said Woods suffered serious injuries to both legs and that he was initially listed in serious but stable condition. CNN reported Woods sustained compound fractures to his legs.
Carlos Gonzales, a sheriff's deputy who was the first to reach the wreck, described Woods, who was wearing his seatbelt, as "calm and lucid," and said he recognized the golf great after Woods told the officer his name was "Tiger."
BREAKING: Golfing great Tiger Woods hurt in a rollover car crash in Southern California, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department says. https://t.co/jUwCHfTNDP Tiger Woods’ vehicle after the crash this morning that now has him in surgery for what his agent is calling “multiple leg injuries.” pic.twitter.com/VbI5qvyj8g
BREAKING: Golfing great Tiger Woods hurt in a rollover car crash in Southern California, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department says. https://t.co/jUwCHfTNDP— ABC News (@ABC) February 23, 2021
Tiger Woods’ vehicle after the crash this morning that now has him in surgery for what his agent is calling “multiple leg injuries.” pic.twitter.com/VbI5qvyj8g— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 23, 2021
Video footage from the crash scene showed Woods' dark gray Genesis sport utility vehicle badly crumpled and lying on its side near the bottom of the hillside, its windows smashed.
Woods, 45, a 15-time Grand Slam champion and one of the world's most celebrated sports figures, was the sole occupant of the car when it crashed at about 7:12 a.m. near the suburban communities of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes, the sheriff's department said.
"Tiger Woods was in a single-car accident this morning in California where he suffered multiple leg injuries. He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support," Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, said earlier in a statement given to Golf Digest journalist Daniel Rapaport.
Villanueva said Woods' vehicle struck a tree and rolled over several times after swerving off the roadway and down the embankment.
The sheriff's department initially said a rescue tool known as "the jaws of life" was used to pry Woods from the wreckage. Fire department officials later said emergency personnel pulled Woods from the vehicle through the front windshield after the glass was removed.
Woods' success on the greens transformed him into a worldwide superstar, ushering in an era of multimillion-dollar endorsements and lucrative appearance money and spread the sport to an audience far beyond its traditional image of male, white and middle-class.
He was also a major influence on the modern generation of golfers such as Australian world No. 1 Jason Day, who has said he read a book about Woods and decided to copy the American's high work ethic.
Woods, whose career has been hampered in recent years by back injuries and underwent his fifth back surgery in December, hosted the PGA tour's annual Genesis Invitational at the Riviera Country Club over the weekend but did not compete.
He was seen at the Rolling Hills Country Club on Monday with actress Jada Pinkett Smith, former basketball star Dwayne Wade and comedian David Spade.
'Praying for TW'
News of the accident sent shockwaves through the sports world.
"Praying for my brother @TigerWoods as we all anxiously await more news," former baseball star Alex Rodriguez said on Twitter. "Thinking of him and his entire family."
"I am sick to my stomach,” fellow PGA Tour golfer Justin Thomas said during a news conference in which he called Woods one of his closest friends. “I just hope he’s alright.”
Former Woods girlfriend, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, tweeted simply: "Praying for TW"
The PGA Tour issued a statement from Commissioner Jay Monahan. "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."
Former U.S. President Donald Trump, who has played golf with Woods on several occasions and awarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019, issued a statement urging Woods to get well soon, adding: "You are a true champion!"
Woods held the top spot in professional golf's world rankings for a record total of 683 weeks, winning 14 major championship titles between 1997 and 2008.
After a series of injuries and personal issues derailed his career at times, Woods claimed his 15th major title at the Masters in 2019, his fifth time earning the coveted green jacket given to Masters champions.
California-born Eldrick "Tiger" Woods turned professional in 1996 and won his first U.S. Tour title in only his fifth start. Since then, he has virtually redefined the game.
His success on the greens transformed him into a worldwide superstar, ushering in an era of multimillion-dollar endorsements and lucrative appearance money and spread the sport to an audience far beyond its traditional image of male, white and middle-class.
Woods also served as a major influence on the modern generation of golfers such as Australian world No. 1 Jason Day, who has said he read a book about Woods and decided to copy the American's high work ethic, spending hours and hours on the practice range.
His 15 Grand Slam titles stands second only to the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus.