American golf legend Tiger Woods is “fortunate to be alive” after a car crash in California which saw firefighters having to cut him free from the wreckage of an SUV.
Woods, 45, was taken to hospital and underwent surgery for what his agent confirmed were serious injuries to his legs.
He was driving alone at around 7 am on Tuesday morning when his SUV crossed two oncoming lanes of traffic and rolled several times. Woods had to be taken from the wreckage through the windscreen.
“I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez.
Earlier, Gonzales told a press conference that he had initially not recognised the golf star and asked his name, to which he was able to weakly respond: “Tiger”.
“At that moment, it clicked in my mind and I immediately recognized him as Tiger Woods,” he said.
The surgery will be the 10th Woods has undergone in his injury-plagued career, which has seen him wrestle with problems with his neck, back, and knee for over a decade.
There was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and found none. They didn’t say how fast he was driving.
Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the host of a golf tournament, where he presented the trophy. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement contract.
This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car crash, including in 2009 when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree.
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 charge of driving under the influence and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain.
The golfer later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder.
Thoughts and prayers came in from Jack Nicklaus and Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson, and former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, who has played golf with Woods and awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019.