Tiger Woods is “very unlikely” to ever return to top-flight golf after a car crash left him with a shattered right leg, medical experts say.
- Woods is “alert” and recovering in hospital after emergency surgery
- Police say the golf legend won’t be charged over the crash that may have ended his career
- But his injuries are “incredibly severe” and could be “life-altering”, medical experts say
Woods is recovering in hospital in Los Angeles after undergoing surgery for “life-altering” injuries to his right leg and ankle.
The 15-time major winner had to be cut from the wreckage of his car after it hit a central divider and rolled into a gully on Tuesday morning local time.
Police said there was no evidence he was impaired by drink or drugs, and they did not expect to lay charges.
“This remains an accident,” LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.
“Accident is not a crime. They do happen, unfortunately.”
The sheriff said Woods, 45, was driving at a speed that was “greater” than normal , and said the investigation would look into whether speed was a factor, or if Woods was distracted.
Woods ‘very unlikely’ to return to professional golf
Woods underwent “a long surgical procedure” at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Centre.
The chief medical officer at the hospital said the golf legend suffered open fractures after shattering his tibia and fibula bones.
Orthopaedic surgeon Joseph Patterson, of Keck Medicine at USC, said his recovery could take “months to years” and “may not complete”.
“We know that the injury to Tiger’s legs involves upper and lower portions of the tibia, his shinbone, the ankle and his foot. That means his ankle joints, the essential joints in his foot and possibly his knee may be affected,” Dr Patterson said.
“If these fractures involve the surfaces of those joints, meaning the cartilage and other tissues, his joints are at risk for deteriorating a little quicker than they otherwise.”
Dr Patterson said the fact that surgical release was required indicated that Woods had been subject to “incredibly severe trauma” and had been at risk of compartment syndrome, where pressure can build up inside muscle casing which stops blood from reaching the tissue.
Michael Gardner, orthopaedic trauma chief at Stanford Medical, said even with successful surgery, injuries like those Woods had suffered were often “life-altering”.
“My patients who have these injuries, who are not elite athletes, I tell them we’re going to do everything we can to get the bone to heal, to avoid complications and to get you back to function as best we can,” Dr Gardner said.
He added that with Woods’s age and extensive injury history, it would be “very, very unlikely that he returns to be a professional golfer”.
“It really would be difficult for any golfer. But … his age, his multiple back issues, this is going to be a very long road ahead if he chooses to attempt to return to his previous level of golfing.”
Woods’s representatives issued a statement yesterday saying Woods was alert.
That’s all PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan wanted to hear.
“We’re so thankful and so grateful to have read that statement last night and to know that he’s going to be okay is because all that really mattes here is his wellbeing, his recovery, his family, and he knows he’s got the support of everybody out here,” Mr Monahan said.