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Feb 23, 2021
Originally published on February 23, 2021 1:06 pm
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Tiger Woods was in a serious car crash today in southern California. He was sent to the hospital for surgery. We're told the legendary golfer, 15-time major championship winner suffered multiple leg injuries in the accident. Let's get whatever detail we can now from NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.

Hey, Tom.


KELLY: What is the latest on this crash and how he's doing?

GOLDMAN: Let's start with his condition, Mary Louise. We know now it's not life - the injuries aren't life-threatening. That's obviously a huge relief. You know, many who watch the sports world reacted to the early reports with a shudder remembering just a little over a year ago, when Kobe Bryant, his daughter and several others died in a helicopter crash in southern California.

KELLY: Yeah.

GOLDMAN: After the news hit, Woods' longtime agent Mark Steinberg released a statement to Golf Digest. And it said - and I'm quoting - "Tiger Woods was in a single-car accident this morning in California where he suffered multiple leg injuries. He's currently in surgery, and we thank you for your privacy and support." Now, the accident happened around 7 a.m. Pacific Time in a hilly residential area in L.A. Pictures of the scene show an SUV on its side. There was extensive damage. The windshield was broken out, which reportedly is how rescuers got him out of the car - through the windshield. Authorities say it rolled over several times. We've also been told Woods was conscious at the scene, then taken to the hospital by ambulance, where he went into surgery.

KELLY: OK, so obviously, as you say, a huge relief that this is not apparently life-threatening.


KELLY: You know, I can't be the only one who hears the words Tiger Woods and car crash and my mind goes straight back to the other one of - what? - 2009.

GOLDMAN: Yeah - 2009, when he infamously ran into a fire hydrant outside his Florida home. It was the start of the infidelity scandal that ended his marriage and precipitated his years-long downfall in the world of golf. You know, then in 2017 he was arrested for driving under the influence - not alcohol but pain medication that he'd been taking for one of his many golf-related injuries and surgeries.

KELLY: Speaking of which, this accident comes as Tiger Woods was already battling a bunch of injuries. Remind us.

GOLDMAN: Yeah. Well, it's - you know, it's what comes with having one of the most athletic and violent golf swings in the history of the game. And he just recently had a fifth back surgery and was rehabbing that in hopes of playing in this year's Masters in April.

KELLY: Yeah. I mean, he had been chasing some of golf's all-time records, right? Most majors won - he was second on that list. He's tied for most PGA Tour wins of all time.


KELLY: But what is the reaction we're hearing from the golf world today?

GOLDMAN: Well, not surprisingly, you know, a lot of early shock and hope that he was OK. Tiger's 45 and past his prime, but he's earned some recent respect for being a doting dad. He played in a tournament recently with his son Charlie that I think softened his hard-edged image. You know, since he burst onto the pro scene in 1997 with a dominating win at the Masters, he's been a global sports icon. He brought a lot of newcomers to the game of golf, including people of color. He's had a huge impact. So understandably, lots of concern with today's news and lots of relief that while his condition was serious, it appears it wasn't and isn't life-threatening.

KELLY: Indeed - NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.

Thank you, Tom.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.