Tiger Woods was driving at speeds up to 87mph (140km/h) in a 45mph zone when he was involved in a serious car crash earlier this year, Los Angeles police revealed during a press conference on Wednesday.
Los Angeles county sheriff Alex Villanueva said the speed was “unsafe for the road conditions” and Woods did not brake in the run-up to the collision, perhaps because he pressed the accelerator instead of the brake pedal in a state of panic. Villanueva said Woods will not receive a citation over the crash and blamed the incident of Woods’s excessive speed and loss of control of the vehicle.
The golfer sustained severe leg injuries in the single vehicle accident, which occurred in February when he drove over the median, into the opposite lane, struck a tree and rolled the vehicle several times. Police said Woods’s car was traveling at 75mph when it hit the tree. The stretch of road in Los Angeles county is known for crashes and police said Woods was “very fortunate” to be alive.
The 15-time major champion was left with multiple fractures of his leg and ankle after the crash and there are serious doubts whether one of the world’s most successful and famous athletes will ever play professional golf again.
The Los Angeles county sheriff’s department said last month that it had determined the cause of the accident but would not release details of the crash, citing privacy concerns. Wednesday’s release of details were made after Woods gave permission, Villanueva said.
The sheriff’s department has previously said that drugs and alcohol were not factors in the crash and Woods appeared to be sober when officers arrived on the scene. On Wednesday, Villanueva said a search warrant could only have been obtained for Woods’s blood samples if the golfer had appeared to be in a state of impairment. He also denied Woods had received preferential treatment due to his fame and said there was no evidence Woods was using his phone at the time of the crash.
Sheriff’s captain James Powers, who oversees the sheriff’s station closest to the crash site, said Woods told deputies that he had not taken medication or consumed alcohol before the crash.
“Those questions were asked and answered,” Powers said.
In May 2017, Woods was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Florida after he was discovered passed out in his car. He later pleaded guilty to reckless driving over the incident and said his condition was caused by prescribed medications. However, sheriff’s deputy John Schloegl said last month that first responders reported Woods was alert after the crash. “We can’t just assume that somebody’s history makes them guilty,” Schloegl said.
The sheriff’s department did, however, look at the car’s “black box” to yield data such as speed and braking activity in the run-up to the crash.
Woods was involved in another crash in 2009 near his home in Florida, which led to news that he had been unfaithful to his then-wife, Elin Nordegren. The fallout led to Woods losing sponsors and he took an extended break from golf to address problems in his private life.
Woods’s injuries mean he will miss this week’s Masters where, in 2019, he achieved perhaps the greatest triumph of his career. There a rejuvenated Woods won his first major championship since 2008 at a time when many believed he was a spent force.
On Tuesday, Woods’s friend Rory McIlroy said he had visited his fellow major champion at home and he appeared to be recovering well.
“I spent a couple hours with him, which was nice,” McIlroy said. “It was good to see him. It was good to see him in decent spirits. When you hear of these things and you look at the car and you see the crash, you think he’s going to be in a hospital bed for six months. But he was actually doing better than that. A few of us that live down in south Florida went to see him. I’m sure he appreciates that. Everyone would love to see him back out here again.
“I know he’d love to be here and I’m sure he’s going to put everything he has into trying to be ready to play here next year.”