On this day: Tiger Woods' life changed forever after near-fatal car crash

Tiger Woods crashed his Genesis SUV in the hills of Los Angeles on 23 February 2021. Here is the full story of what happened.

On this day: Tiger Woods' life changed forever after near-fatal car crash
On this day: Tiger Woods' life changed forever after near-fatal car crash

On this day three years ago, Tiger Woods' life changed forever. 

The 15-time major champion was involved in a high-speed car crash in the hills of Los Angeles. It was potentially lethal. 

Woods has since made a remarkable physical recovery that has allowed him to resume his illustrious, professional golf career. 

Here is the story of what happened, when it happened and why it happened. 

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Lucky to be alive, Woods sustained traumatic leg injuries that continue to trouble the 15-time major winner.

Driving alone, Woods was travelling as fast as 87mph when he crossed onto the wrong side of a two-laned road outside Los Angeles.

He crashed into a tree and rolled his luxury 2021 Genesis SUV.

The 48-year-old suffered commuted open fractures to both the upper and lower portions of his tibia and fibula in his right leg.

He damaged his ankle bones and suffered trauma to the muscle and soft tissue of his right leg.

A rod was inserted into the tibia, stabilising his right leg, and screws and pins were used to stabilise the bones in the foot and ankle.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff ruled it as an accident and said there was no evidence that Woods was impaired or intoxicated at the time.

Additionally, investigators did not check to see if Woods was texting before the crash, stating there was no need to do so.

The 82-time PGA Tour winner had just finished hosting the Genesis Invitational event on the Sunday prior.

At the time, he was awaiting the results of an MRI before he could ramp up his training for the remainder of the 2021 campaign. 

Following the Genesis Invitational, Woods was in the middle of a two-day content shoot with Golf Digest and GOLFTV. 

He was filming A Round with Tiger: Celebrity Lessons.

On this day: Tiger Woods' life changed forever after near-fatal car crash

Woods gave on-course lessons to a number of celebrities including Dwyane Wade, David Spade, and Jada Pinkett Smith at Rolling Hills Country Club.

His movement was still restricted due to the back procedure he had a few months before.

This was after his appearance in the PNC Championship in December 2020, when Woods underwent microdiscectomy to remove a pressurised disc fragment that was punching a nerve.

It was his fifth back surgery.

He was on his way to the second day of filming on 23 February 2021 when the crash happened at approximately 7:12am.

Woods was found conscious and communicative at the scene. 

He was rushed to the nearby Harbor UCLA Medical Centre. Woods later told of how an amputation was on the table.

Woods remained in the hospital for three weeks before being released to continue his rehab at his Florida mansion in Jupiter. 

He was initially wheelchair bound but began walking with crutches after a few weeks. 

Woods spent his time throwing a tennis ball against the wall, watching movies, playing computer games and hanging out with his then-girlfriend Erica Stoll and his teenage children Samantha and Charlie

On this day: Tiger Woods' life changed forever after near-fatal car crash

Then came the moment when he picked up his Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter and started to practice in his back garden. 

He contemplated a making yet another comeback to the game. Woods knew the answer, but asked his family for their blessing. 

The rest is history. In his first public press conference after the crash, Woods said: "After my back fusion, I had to climb Mount Everest one more time.

"This time around, I don't think I'll have the body to climb Mount Everest and that's okay. I can still participate in the game of golf.

But as far as climbing the mountain again and getting all the way to the top, I don't think that’s a realistic expectation of me."

Woods was not a picture of health when he returned to the game. 

On this day: Tiger Woods' life changed forever after near-fatal car crash

He made the cut in his first Masters appearance after the crash, but struggled over the weekend, ultimately finishing 47th. 

Woods then withdrew from the PGA Championship a month later. His withdrawal was prompted after a screw came loose in his right foot. 

He also competed in the landmark 150th Open at St. Andrews (his favourite course) where he missed the cut. 

A tearful Woods was reduced to tears as he crossed the famed Swilcan Bridge as he was saluted by Rory McIlroy on the adjacent fairway. 

It was speculated that Woods was retiring, but that proved to be wide of the mark. 

Woods went back into rehab and played the Masters a year later, but was forced to withdraw after three rounds. 

It was revealed Woods had sustained a fresh injury - plantar fasciitis - which was causing him difficulties. 

The condition, which is essentially inflammation of the heel, was restricting his movement. 

Woods had another surgery a few days after his Masters withdrawal. 

The subtalar fusion surgery proved a success and he's now pain-free in his ankle, he contends.

On this day: Tiger Woods' life changed forever after near-fatal car crash

Tiger Woods' injuries throughout the years...


After his first semester at Stanford, Woods had surgery to remove scar tissue and two tumours from his left knee.

He would later be forced to withdraw from his first U.S. Open due to the injury.


Woods had a second procedure to drain fluid around his left ACL and remove several cysts.


While running on a golf course, Woods ruptured his ACL but played through the rest of the season despite sporadic bouts of pain.


The lingering pain in his left knee from his running injury made him decide to undergo surgery after the Masters.

Whilst in hospital the doctors informed him of two stress fractures in his left tibia and advised him on crutches for three weeks.

He ignored their advice the week of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and won his 14th major title.

Later in December he injured his right Achilles while running in the offseason.


His Achilles injury returns to cause him problems.

Woods also withdrew from the Players Championship because of a neck injury.

It would be revealed that he had an inflamed facet joint in his neck.


In the third round of the Masters, Woods' shot from the pine straw under the Eisenhower tree on the 17th resulted in him spraining his MCL in his left knee, and a mild strain to his left Achilles tendon.


Woods, then 38, withdrew from the Honda Classic due to back issues.

This would mark the beginning of his challenging time with constant back problems.

Woods missed the Masters for the first time since 1994 as he underwent a microdiscectomy for a pinched nerve.


After what seemed as though Woods might get through 2015 injury free, he would undergo a second microdiscectomy in September.

A month later he had to return to the same neurosurgeon who performed his previous two back surgeries to relieve discomfort in the area.


Returning to golf in 2017, it didn't take long for Woods to withdraw from another event citing back spasms.

In April, aged 42, Woods underwent his fourth back surgery, missing another Masters.


Two years after his last back surgery, Woods had his fifth knee surgery in August, undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair minor cartilage damage.

A couple months later Woods won the inaugural ZOZO event in Japan, tying Sam Snead’s record for PGA Tour wins.


In January, Woods had yet another microdiscectomy procedure to remove a pressurised disc fragment that was pinching a nerve.

Then, 23 February, Woods sustained significant injuries to his right leg and ankle in a vehicle rollover accident.


Incredibly Woods successfully made the cut at the Masters, and also the PGA Championship.

But after a third round 79, Woods withdrew stating: "The body just won't cooperate."


Woods again was successful in making the cut at the Masters, but having to play 28 and a half holes on Sunday, Woods withdrew due to reaggravating his plantar fasciitis.

After the Masters Woods underwent subtalar fusion surgery on his right ankle to fuse the bones to try and decrease his pain.

On this day: Tiger Woods' life changed forever after near-fatal car crash

How Tiger can be inspired by Ben Hogan...

Back in February 1949, a  greyhound bus collided with Hogan's Cadillac while he was on his way home from Phoenix with his wife Valerie.

He was on the top of his game -  he had already won twice - after a 10-win season in 1948.

With no room to dodge the bus, Hogan dived across the body of his wife as it collided into them at almost 50mph.

His move saved his wife but he was hurt severely. 

Hogan broke his left ankle, suffered contusions to his left leg, a broken collarbone, a cracked rib, a double fracture of the pelvis, a head abrasion, and many internal injuries.

His dive also meant he escaped certain death as the steering column was propelled through the driver's seat.

Doctors weren't sure if the 1948 golfer of the year would survive let alone walk again. Thoughts of playing golf were an impossibility. 

He spent 59 days in hospital, his vena cava was tied off to prevent more blood clots forming in his right leg.

But this would cause Hogan to live with severe pain and circulatory problems in his legs for the rest of his life.

He would have to wrap them in bandages and soak them in hot water and Epsom salt after every round.

Hogan's situation was very different to Woods' today as he was 36 years old at the time and without a history of injuries.

In comparison, Woods was 45 and only months removed from his fifth back surgery.

Hogan improved well enough to fulfil his duties as U.S. Ryder Cup captain at Ganton Golf Club in England.

Astonishingly in January 1950, Hogan returned to competitive golf at the Los Angeles Open at the Riviera Country Club.

He didn't just return, he almost won it until Sam Snead forced extra holes with two late birdies. Snead won in a playoff. 

Then in June 1950, 16 months after his near fatal car accident, Hogan won the U.S. Open defeating Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio in an 18-hole playoff.

He would go on to win five more majors: two Masters, two more U.S. Open titles, and the 1953 Open that completed his triple-crown season.

Hogan's story is truly inspirational and if Woods can achieve that elusive 83rd PGA Tour win despite everything he has gone through, he will no doubt go down in history as the undisputed G.O.A.T. 

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