Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy said it best ahead of the 2021 Masters Tournament: “Any time Tiger Woods tees it up in a golf tournament, it’s better.”
Unfortunately for his fellow PGA Tour golfers and fans, Woods was not able to participate in this year’s Masters — and he won’t be able to play in any other events for the foreseeable future — as he continues to recover from injuries he suffered in a February car crash.
When will golf’s biggest star be ready to hit the links again? Well, he’s got a long road to recovery.
Tiger Woods recovery update
Woods posted an image of himself standing, with the help of crutches, on the course at his South Florida residence on April 23. The 15-time major champion has been home for more than a month after undergoing surgery and treatment at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California.
“My course is coming along faster than I am,” Woods wrote. A smile emoji punctuated the update. The course is under construction.
Woods also gave props to the dog sitting by his side.
What are Tiger Woods’ injuries from car crash?
Dr. Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer and interim CEO of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, described Woods’ injuries in a statement posted from Woods’ official Twitter account on Feb. 24:
Mr. Woods suffered significant orthopaedic injuries to his right lower extremity that were treated during emergency surgery by orthopaedic trauma specialists at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, a level-1 trauma center. Comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula bones were stabilized by inserting a rod into the tibia. Additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle were stabilized with a combination of screws and pins. Trauma to the muscle and soft-tissue of the leg required surgical release of the covering of the muscles to relieve pressure due to swelling.
What is a comminuted open fracture?
A comminuted fracture occurs when the bone is “broken into pieces, which may require surgery for complete healing.” An open fracture, also known as a compound fracture, occurs when the broken bone has pierced through the skin.
Dr. Joseph Patterson, an orthopedic trauma surgeon at Keck Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, told The Associated Press that there is a high risk of infection for patients dealing with open fractures.
“Tissue can be exposed to bacteria, dirt and clothing,” Patterson said. “The outcomes can be a lot worse if that tissue gets infected.”
Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith faced that exact problem after suffering a compound fracture in his right leg in 2018. His recovery was complicated by a bacterial infection after his initial surgery. At one point, medical professionals spoke with Smith about the possibility of amputating his leg.
Eventually, after several surgeries and a rigorous rehab process, Smith was able to complete a “miracle” comeback by returning to the field in 2020.
Will Tiger Woods play golf again?
It’s simply too early to know whether Woods will be able to rejoin the PGA Tour in the future. Woods is likely looking at many months of recovery time based on the information currently available, but it’s difficult to formulate an exact timeline.
“Can he come back from this? It’s unclear at this point,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told USA Today. “We don’t know. But it’s going to be a long rehab period and it’s going to be painful. We can assume that he’s going to go through bumps and twists and turns.
“It’s really unclear. But at least he has life right now.”
Cause of Tiger Woods car crash revealed
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters at an April 7 news conference that Woods’ crash was caused solely by excessive speed. No traffic citations will be issued.
“The primary causal factor for this traffic collision was driving at a speed unsafe for the road conditions and the inability to negotiate the curve of the roadway,” Villanueva said (via The Associated Press).
Woods was driving 84 to 87 mph down a stretch of road that had a speed limit of 45 mph, and he hit a tree while going 75 mph, Villanueva said. There was no evidence that Woods tried to brake, and investigators believe Woods may have accidentally put his foot down on the accelerator instead of the brake pedal. Authorities have said there was no evidence of impairment or distracted driving.
In a statement posted from his Twitter account after the news conference, Woods said that he was aware the investigation had concluded.
In the last few days, I received word from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department that their investigation regarding my traffic accident back on February 23rd in Los Angeles has been completed and closed. I am so grateful to both of the good samaritans who came to assist me and called 911. I am also thankful to the LASD Deputies and LA Firefighter/Paramedics, especially LA Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez and LAFD Engine Co. 106 Fire Paramedics Smith and Gimenez, for helping me so expertly at the scene and getting me safely to the hospital. I will continue to focus on my recovery and family, and thank everyone for the overwhelming support and encouragement I’ve received throughout this very difficult time.
USA Today published more details from the investigation on April 8 after obtaining the sherriff’s department’s 22-page report on the collision. Among the details USAT reported:
— Woods was confused when he was interviewed at the hospital following the crash, telling a deputy that he thought he was in Florida rather than California.
— Woods’ blood pressure was too low for medical personnel to admininster pain medication.