Golf

Car crash may have ended Tiger Woods’ golf career

Even before the accident, the 15-time Major winner was battling a spate of injuries

Already in the final chapter of one of golf's greatest careers, Tiger Woods may have penned a shocking end to that story on Tuesday when the 15-time Major winner was involved in a single-car crash and taken to the hospital with multiple injuries.

The 45-year-old needed a rod, screws and pins inserted into his lower right leg following an emergency surgery at a hospital.

Battered by years of back and knee surgeries, Woods has recently spent as much time away from the PGA Tour recovering from injury as he has on the course, providing the golf world an unsettling glimpse of what the future might look like without its biggest drawing card.

"Golf has accommodated the fact that Tiger is no longer going to be active in attending events on a regular basis," Neal Pilson, the head of Pilson Communications and former president of CBS Sports, told Reuters.

"He has lifetime exemptions at every major event, but I suspect we are probably not going to see Tiger in a competitive golf event going forward.

"In his prime, it was clearly established if Tiger was playing on Sunday, numbers for Sunday coverage were usually up 25 to 30 per cent.

"If he doesn't play again, he will be missed for sure."

Almost since the moment he burst on the professional scene in 1996, Woods has been the tide that raised all boats, a crossover star who drove television ratings, purses and endorsements to spectacular heights.

That popularity made Woods one of sport's richest athletes, Forbes anointing him in 2009 as the first athlete to reach US$1 billion (S$1.3b) in career earnings (prize money and endorsements).

Even if Woods' golf career ends, his longtime sponsors may still stick by him because there is still value in partnering him, said Patrick Rishe, director of the sports business programme at Washington University.

SCANDALS

Along with injuries, he has survived several scandals throughout his career, including a 2017 arrest on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Los Angeles County sheriff Alex Villanueva said there was no indication that Woods was under the influence of any substances at the time of Tuesday's accident, which occurred on a steep and windy part of Hawthorne Boulevard in southern Los Angeles.

Fox News and ESPN said Woods was on his way to Rolling Hills Country Club to give a lesson to NFL quarterbacks Drew Brees and Justin Herbert.

But his Genesis sport utility vehicle crossed the centre divider and rolled several times before coming to a stop about 30 metres off the road, resting on its side.

Villanueva said there were no skid marks or signs of braking.

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus, who won a record 18 Majors, and US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau were among those praying for Woods' recovery.

DeChambeau expressed optimism that Woods would be able to bounce back again.

"He's one of the most impressive human beings I've ever met and he'll come back just fine," said DeChambeau, noting the fabled comeback of Ben Hogan, who was involved in a 1949 car crash but won six of his nine Major titles after the injuries. - AFP, REUTERS

Golf