LOS ANGELES — A year ago Wednesday, Tiger Woods lost control of the Genesis SUV he was driving in the hills outside of Los Angeles. The images of the crash stunned the sports world and left many wondering whether the 15-time major champion would ever play competitive golf again.
In the months that followed, Woods disclosed that he nearly lost his right leg because of the accident. A year later, he is still trying to regain strength in his right foot and leg, but vows to return to play on the PGA Tour again — he just doesn’t know when.
“It’s been tough, but I’ve gotten here, I’ve gotten this far and I still have a long way to go,” Woods said last week during a news conference at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. “Each and every day’s a fight, and I welcome that fight. Get up in the morning, let’s go a few more rounds.”
Here’s what has happened since Feb. 23, 2021:
Feb. 23, 2021
Woods is involved in a single-car rollover crash around 7 a.m. PT after the Genesis SUV he was driving crossed through two oncoming lanes, struck a curb and uprooted a tree on a downhill stretch in Rolling Hills Estates, just outside of Los Angeles. He was wearing a seatbelt, and officers found him still sitting in the SUV.
Woods was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center by ambulance. Later that night, Dr. Anish Mahajan issued a statement in which he said Woods suffered “significant orthopedic injuries to his right lower extremity” and had emergency surgery for “open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portion of the tibia and fibula bones.”
Mahajan said Woods’ leg was “stabilized by inserting a rod into the tibia and additional injuries to the bones of his foot and ankle were repaired with screws and pins. To relieve pressure from swelling, doctors also removed the covering of muscles.”
Feb. 24, 2021
The day after the crash, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced his department would not seek criminal charges against Woods. Villanueva said the crash was “purely an accident.” He said Woods was not drunk at the time of the crash. “We can throw that one out,” Villanueva said. There was an empty pill bottle with no labeling found in the front pocket of a backpack in the SUV, according to a supplemental report.
Woods issued his first statement — on Twitter.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) February 24, 2021
Feb. 25, 2021
Woods was transferred to Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for “continuing orthopedic care and recovery.” Two sources told ESPN at the time that Woods suffered injuries to his talus bone, which connects the bottom portion of the lower leg to the top of the foot. The talus bone is a pivot point for motion.
Feb. 28, 2021
Several players competing in the final round of the World Golf Championships-Workday Championship at The Concession in Bradenton, Florida, paid tribute to Woods by wearing his traditional Sunday red.
It is hard to explain how touching today was when I turned on the tv and saw all the red shirts. To every golfer and every fan, you are truly helping me get through this tough time.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) March 1, 2021
March 16, 2021
Woods announced in a statement that he had returned to his home in Florida where he was “continuing with [his] recovery.” “I am so grateful for the outpouring of support and encouragement that I have received over the past few weeks,” he said.
March 31, 2021
Villanueva announced that his detectives had finished their investigation into Woods’ crash but would not release details of the cause, citing state privacy laws that required Woods’ permission to release information to the public.
Villanueva said his department did not seek a search warrant for Woods’ blood, but did obtain a warrant for the black box data recorder in the Genesis SUV. Villanueva declined to provide specifics found in the black box. The L.A. County district attorney said no felony or misdemeanor complaints against Woods had been filed with his office.
April 6, 2021
Fellow tour player and Woods’ friend Justin Thomas, after completing a practice round at the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club, told reporters that he had visited with Woods at his home the previous week.
“He said it’s kind of starting to set in,” Thomas said. “He’s bummed he’s not here playing practice rounds with us, and we hate it, too.”
I’ll miss running up @DJohnsonPGA‘s bill at the Champions Dinner tonight. It’s still one of my favorite nights of the year.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 6, 2021
April 7, 2021
On the eve of the start of the 2021 Masters, during a news conference in Los Angeles, Villanueva said that Woods’ SUV was traveling from 84 to 87 mph on a downhill stretch that had a speed limit of 45 mph. The SUV was going 75 mph when it hit a tree, according to Villanueva. Because there was no evidence of impairment or distracted driving, no warrants were sought for his blood or cellphone. No citations were 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,” the sheriff said at a news conference.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 7, 2021
April 9, 2021
A 22-page traffic collision report and supplemental reports released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office concluded that Woods “was at fault in the collision for driving at unsafe speed for road conditions (inability to negotiate a curve in the roadway).” An analysis of the black box data found that Woods was traveling in a straight line, no brakes were applied and there was no steering input detected until some slight steering movement late in the recorded crash sequence.
“Had [Woods] applied his brakes to reduce his speed or steered to correct the direction of travel, he would not have collided with the center median and the collision would not have occurred,” L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Michael Downing wrote in the report.
The report said Woods had been knocked unconscious, had lacerations to the lower front jaw, bruised right and left rib cages, fractured right tibia and fibula, and a possible right ankle injury.
A deputy who interviewed Woods while he was being treated at the hospital wrote that “Woods did not remember being involved in a traffic collision” and “thought he was currently in the state of Florida.”
April 23, 2021
For the first time since the crash, Woods posted a photograph of himself on Instagram. He was standing on crutches with his dog, Bugs.
May 23, 2021
Woods congratulates his longtime rival, Phil Mickelson, on becoming the oldest major champion with his unexpected victory at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. Mickelson, 50, was ranked No. 116 in the world when he won his sixth major title.
Truly inspirational to see @PhilMickelson do it again at 50 years of age. Congrats!!!!!!!
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) May 23, 2021
May 27, 2021
In his first interview since the crash, Woods tells Golf Digest that his injuries were more painful than anything he had ever experienced.
“This has been an entirely different animal,” Woods said. “I understand more of the rehab processes because of my past injuries, but this was more painful than anything I have ever experienced.”
Woods, who has had five back surgeries and at least six procedures on his left knee during his career, wouldn’t say whether he hoped to play golf again.
“My physical therapy has been keeping me busy,” he said. “I do my routines every day and am focused on my No. 1 goal right now: walking on my own. Taking it one step at a time.”
Sept. 8, 2021
Steve Stricker, captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, told Sirius XM Radio that Woods wouldn’t be one of his vice captains at Whistling Straits. Stricker, though, in the same interview, was the first person to suggest that Woods might make a comeback to play competitive golf again.
“I’ve talked to Tiger a lot,” Stricker said. “He’s a part of this Ryder Cup family; he won’t be able to be a captain’s assistant this time around just because of his ongoing rehabilitation to try to get better and try to play golf again, and that is going well. He’s progressing, he’s doing well, things are moving in the right direction.”
Sept. 26, 2021
Woods wasn’t in attendance for the Americans’ record-setting rout of the Europeans at the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. Woods still congratulated the Americans for their victory on social media.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) September 26, 2021
Oct. 9, 2021
A photo emerges on social media showing Woods standing on a driving range watching his son, Charlie, hit balls. The image was reportedly taken at a junior event in Florida. Woods was standing without crutches and wearing a black compression sleeve on his right leg.
— GolfWRX (@GolfWRX) October 9, 2021
Nov. 18, 2021
Woods celebrated the 25th anniversary of the TGR Foundation, which “empowers students to pursue their passions through education.”
Today marks #25YearsOfImpact through our programs and @TGRLiveEvents. Happy anniversary to everyone who has been a part of our success! As we continue to empower youth through education we look forward to supporting students, educators and families in the years ahead. pic.twitter.com/1x9g1VXRV1
— TGR Foundation (@TGRFound) November 18, 2021
Nov. 21, 2021
Nearly nine months after the crash, Woods posts a video on social media of him hitting a golf ball on a driving range for the first time. The three-second clip included the caption: “Making progress.” The video has nearly 8 million views.
Making progress pic.twitter.com/sVQkxEHJmq
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) November 21, 2021
Nov. 29, 2021
In his first extensive interview since the crash, Woods told Golf Digest that even if he returned to golf, his days of competing in many events or a full schedule were probably over. He compared winning the 2019 Masters, after multiple back surgeries, to climbing Mount Everest.
“I don’t have to compete and play against the best players in the world to have a great life,” Woods said. “After my back fusion, I had to climb Mount Everest one more time. I had to do it, and I did. This time around, I don’t think I’ll have the body to climb Mount Everest, and that’s OK. I can still participate in the game of golf. I can still, if my leg gets OK, I can still click off a tournament here or there. 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.”
Nov. 30, 2021
In Woods’ first news conference since the wreck, at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, an event he hosts to raise money for his foundation, Woods said he felt “lucky to be alive and also have a limb.” Woods said it was “50-50” whether part of his leg might have been amputated.
Woods said he hopes to play competitive golf again. Woods admitted he wasn’t sure when or how much he would play in the future. He compared his situation to legendary golfer Ben Hogan, who came back to play after suffering extensive injuries in a head-on car crash with a Greyhound bus in February 1949.
“To ramp up for a few events a year as Mr. Hogan did, he did a pretty good job of it, and there’s no reason that I can’t do that and feel ready,” Woods said. “I may not be tournament-sharp in the sense I haven’t played tournaments, but I think if you practice correctly and you do it correctly, that I’ve come off surgeries before, I’ve come off long layoffs and I’ve won or come close to winning before. So I know the recipe for it. I’ve just got to get to a point where I feel comfortable enough where I can do that again.”
Woods, who turned 46 in December, admitted he has a long way to go in his rehab. If a comeback is possible, he said he has his family’s support.
“Am I going to put my family through it again, am I going to put myself out there again? We had a talk within the family, all of us sat down and said, ‘If this leg cooperates and I get to a point where I can play the tour, is it OK with you guys if I try and do it?'” Woods said. “The consensus was yes. Now, internally, I haven’t reached that point. I haven’t proven it to myself that I can do it. I can show up here and I can host an event. I can play a par-3 course. I can hit a few shots. I can chip and putt. But we’re talking about going out there and playing against the world’s best on the most difficult golf courses under the most difficult conditions. I’m so far from that.”
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) November 30, 2021
Woods brushed off any questions about the accident, saying only that all the information was in the police report.
Dec. 5, 2021
Woods spent a lot of his week at the Bahamas on the range working on his game.
Sunday red. ? pic.twitter.com/FehCVHhzCX
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) December 5, 2021
Dec. 18, 2021
Woods played with his 12-year-old son, Charlie, in the PNC Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Florida, finishing in second place. In the final round, the pair went on a run, rattling off 11 consecutive birdies at one point en route to a final-round 57.
Woods rode in a golf cart during the event, but he did walk the final 200 yards on the 72nd hole with his son. He reportedly had some issues with his right leg and right foot during the 36-hole event and grimaced after a couple of tee shots.
“The fact that I’m able to have this opportunity this year, even a couple weeks ago we didn’t really know whether or not I would be doing this, but here we are,” he said. “And we had just the best time ever, and I just wish I could have walked down the fairways with him and been side by side with him the entire time like we were last year.”
Matt Kuchar, who played the final round with Woods, said his game was PGA Tour-ready.
“Still has speed, irons are spectacular,” Kuchar said. “Pin high every time. It was awesome.”
But Woods said his game isn’t nearly ready to compete against the best players in the world.
“I totally disagree,” Woods said. “I’m not at that level. I can’t compete against these guys right now, no. It’s going to take a lot of work to get to where I can feel I can compete with these guys and be at a high level.”
Once again, Woods said he was a long way off from competing on the PGA Tour.
“I like competing,” he said. “I’m not going to play a full schedule ever again. I’m going to have to pick and choose what events, and even then, my body might not cooperate with that. So I don’t know how many events I’m going to be playing in. And it’s going to be up to training sessions, practice sessions, recovery tactics, all those different things to be able to do this again because it didn’t look good there for a while about it.”
Feb. 11, 2021
Bridgestone Golf, one of Woods’ sponsors, posted photos of him on Twitter, in which the 15-time major champion looked to be in playing shape.
Who do you think Tiger is talking to?
— Bridgestone Golf (@bridgestonegolf) February 11, 2022
Feb. 16, 2021
During a news conference at Riviera Country Club before the Genesis Invitational, where he is the host for an event that benefits his charitable foundation, Woods said he is putting and chipping well, and even hitting short irons. But he said has made little progress on long irons and woods because he’s still regaining enough strength in his leg to walk a golf course.
“I’m still working on the walking part,” Woods said. “My foot was a little messed up there about a year ago, so the walking part is something that I’m still working on, working on strength and development in that. It takes time. What’s frustrating is it’s not at my timetable. I want to be at a certain place, but I’m not. I’ve just got to continue working. I’m getting better, yes. But as I said, not at the speed and rate that I would like. You add in the age factor, too. You just don’t quite heal as fast, which is frustrating.”
He didn’t completely rule out playing at the Masters in April, but that would seem to be unlikely.
“I’m very lucky, very lucky,” Woods said. “As a lot of you guys know, I didn’t know if I was going to have the right leg or not. So to be able to have my right leg still here, it’s huge. I still have a lot of issues with it, but it’s mine and I’m very thankful for that.”
Feb. 19, 2021
Woods joined announcer Jim Nantz and analyst Nick Faldo in the CBS-TV booth during the third round of the Genesis Invitational. Nantz repeatedly pressed Woods about his schedule — if he’d play the Par 3 Contest or the actual Masters at Augusta National in April, The Open at St. Andrews in July. Woods wouldn’t bite.
“A lot has to happen if I start thinking about that,” Woods said.
What Woods did confirm was that he will be in Augusta for the Masters. He plans on attending the Champions Dinner, which he missed a year earlier while he was recovering from the injuries from the accident. Again, Woods was asked he if hoped to play.
“You guys are really hammering me on this,” Woods said. “I have a lot of work to do.”
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 21, 2022
The tournament benefits Woods’ foundation.