The emotional impact of the events of Tuesday afternoon hit as hard as Tiger Woods himself did in his prime. Reports began to circulate on social media that Woods was in a single-car collision in California, and the feelings went from “This can’t be real” to “Is Tiger alive?”
The good news: Woods is very much alive. Battered, bruised and held together by literal pins and screws – but he’s still here.
The bad news: This very well could be the end of the line for Woods on the PGA Tour.
But, given the severity of the crash, it’s best to focus on that good news.
“It’s very fortunate,” said Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, the first on scene to speak with the legendary golfer, “that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive.”
Woods has always been superhuman on the golf course, but the last few years – the 2019 Masters aside – have shown him to be as human as the rest of us.
And mere mortals are not exempt from horrible accidents like the one Woods was involved in on Tuesday.
Dr. Steven Papp, an orthopedic surgeon at The Ottawa Hospital, told Sportsnet that with Woods’s tibia fracture being “open” (meaning it broke through the skin) there would be concerns about infection – something he said would needed to be monitored over the coming months – along with compartment syndrome in the leg.
However, Dr. Papp says, it sounds as if Woods has had the tibia fracture fixed and cleaned, and already had a compartment release.
“It’s a severe injury that will take a long time to recover from,” said Dr. Papp. “But without any complications, he should be able to walk again, and I think it’s reasonable he could play golf again. It’s not out of the question.
“A reasonable time would be something like 12 months. Six months is possible. To imagine he’s playing golf in three months would be a bit unlikely … but this guy is a special individual.”
At the PGA Tour’s World Golf Championships event in Florida, Canadian Mackenzie Hughes was on the 14th hole of his practice round with fellow Tour winner Lanto Griffin when they heard the news.
“We all immediately felt sick to our stomachs,” Hughes told Sportsnet in a text message. “We were just praying it was not too serious.”
Hughes said his thoughts quickly went to Woods’s children, who were likely pulled out of school (daughter Sam is 13 while son Charlie is 12) to be told about their father.
“It’s not about his (golf) career,” said Hughes, who is a father of two boys. “As a dad myself, that’s what I think about first.”
The question now is less about if Woods can physically come back to play golf again, but if he wants to.
He’s 45, and just went through another back procedure – his fifth – a couple of weeks ago. He was, for all we know, preparing to come back for the Masters in early April. We still don’t know the factors involved in the crash – local authorities say the curve Woods came around is known as a dangerous one – but the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department did confirm Wednesday it would not be pursuing any charges of impairment against Woods.
The vehicle crash was “purely an accident,” said Alex Villaneuva, the L.A. County Sheriff.
Woods was in California for a two-day video shoot with content partner Golf Digest. He did not arrive for the second morning of shooting as the crash occurred just after 7:00 a.m. local time. Woods, as part of the shoot, was supposed to give golf lessons to celebrities including actor David Spade and former basketball star Dwyane Wade.
Wade, on Inside the NBA Tuesday night, said he and Woods talked about their kids during their day together.
That’s fitting, because the last time we saw Woods on the golf course back in December, he was paired with Charlie at the PNC Championship, a parent-child event. There, we saw true joy from Woods, who for almost two decades was stoic, focused and ready to take on any golf course or competitor in his path.
These days Woods appears softer. He loves talking about his children and doing things with them. Charlie stole the show at the PNC Championship with his golf prowess very clearly shining through. Sam, meanwhile, is a star soccer player in Florida. They are trying to be normal kids in an abnormal time.
For better or for worse, Woods owes his life to golf.
His success transcended the game and changed the way people — including this writer — view and play it. His dominance came at a time when golf was at a crossroads. Woods, a multi-racial young star, prioritized working out, and ripped woods made of metal and golf balls with multiple layers through the stratosphere.
Anyone on the driving range at a PGA Tour event will likely say it was Woods who got them motivated to play golf at a high level. Everyone who comes later in golf’s history will always be compared to him. Through the early 2000s, he had no equal, other than history itself.
More recently, Woods has been knocked off the pedestal.
“He’s a human being at the end of the day,” said Rory McIlroy. “And he’s already been through so much. At this stage I think everyone should just be grateful that he’s here, that he’s alive, that his kids haven’t lost their dad. That’s the most important thing.”
An inspiration to millions, a fascinating character and a tragic hero, Woods has always been able to come back – from myriad injuries and surgeries, from a front-page infidelity scandal, and from the loss of his father. So there should be no doubt he can come back to the PGA Tour after this accident.
Will he want to? Perhaps. Should we bet against him, if it’s what he wants? Absolutely not.
Source: – Sportsnet.ca