Tiger Woods’ next major challenge will be working through physiotherapy rehabilitation to heal his injuries.
A source tells PEOPLE that Woods, a 15-time major champion, has a “long recovery ahead” after his single-car rollover crash in the upscale suburb of Rancho Palos Verdes, California, on Tuesday.
“When he is healed enough, he will need other treatments, including physical therapy. But he is a fighter. If anyone can recover from this, it is him,” the source says of Woods, who remains hospitalized at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, a level 1 trauma center, where he underwent surgery on his lower right leg and ankle.
“He wore a seatbelt thankfully. Otherwise, he might not have made it,” the source adds, echoing similar remarks first given by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez who said during Tuesday’s press conference: “I’ve seen collisions that didn’t look as serious where the occupants were injured much more severely. I think that’s just a testament to the fact that he was wearing a seatbelt, airbags worked as intended.”
The most recent update on Woods’ health came from his team on Wednesday, when they released a statement via the golfer’s Twitter account.
Woods “suffered significant orthopedic injuries to his right lower extremity that were treated during emergency surgery by Orthopedic trauma specialists at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center,” according to Anish Mahajan, MD, chief medical officer at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. “[Woods] is currently awake, responsive, and recovering in the hospital room.”
Pictures: Tiger Woods Meets up With Caroline Wozniacki and Other Rolex Ambassadors in the Bahamas
The Hero World Challenge is currently underway in Albany, The Bahamas, the last- although unofficial- stop for the PGA Tour for the season. Host Tiger Woods has made his much anticipated first appearance since his tragic single-car crash that compelled him to remain on the sidelines.
The exclusive event made a return this year after the covid-19 pandemic forced the 2020 edition to be scratched off. Moreover, the Tiger Woods Foundation benefit event came back stronger than ever with an increased field of 20 of the best players in the world.
The star-studded field comprises the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, and Collin Morikawa among others. India-based multinational Hero MotoCorp is the title sponsor. Among other official event partners are resort hotel Baha Mar, and British-Swiss watch designer and manufacturer Rolex.
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Tiger Woods and other Rolex ambassadors get together
Rolex is a big sponsor of golf events in the world and they even have many golfers under their wing. Recently, a lot of them gathered at the exotic location of the ongoing challenge and a lot of pictures are making rounds on social media.
🚨#NEW: Tiger with fellow Rolex ambassadors last night (📸: Albane Valenzuela / IG) pic.twitter.com/H7bkecL5Xl
— TWLEGION (@TWlegion) December 4, 2021
Visible in them is Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Jordan Spieth. Albane Valenzuela, LPGA Tour golfer and fellow Rolex ambassador was in attendance along with former professional tennis player and world number 1 Caroline Wozniacki.
Meanwhile, the latest Woods news is spreading like wildfire across the golf world. According to multiple sources, Woods is seriously considering making a comeback at the PNC Championship next week. The father and son competition is going to be played in Orlando, Florida. Woods and his son Charlie participated last year too, finishing 7th.
Tiger Woods terse about crash in first public appearance since accident
NASSAU, Bahamas — Shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday inside a press tent staked in the sand adjacent to the fourth hole at Albany Golf Club, Tiger Woods emerged in public for the first time since his horrific February car crash 281 days ago.
When we last saw Woods in public, he was doing a TV interview with CBS at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera in Pacific Palisades, Calif., on Feb. 22, looking exhausted and mumbling parts of his responses.
The next day on the way to a photo shoot, he crashed his SUV into a wooded area, the vehicle flipped and was so badly damaged it seemed like a miracle anyone would survive.
On Tuesday, Woods’ gait was careful and cautious. He looked and moved around like a man older than his 45 years as he carefully walked into the tent to a podium where he took a seat and spoke about the things that have taken place in his life for the past nine months, many of which have been harrowing.
The first takeaway from Woods’ press conference was that he’s done everything he can to try and erase Feb. 23 from his memory. Some people close to Woods believe he’s never even seen an image of the mangled SUV he drove off that Los Angeles road.
Tiger Woods holds his first press conference since his Feb. 23 car crash in Los Angeles at the Hero World
“This year is a year I’d like to turn the page on,” Woods said.
Woods was at his most terse in the 38-minute interview when he was asked what he remembered about the day of the crash.
“Yeah, all those answers have been answered in the investigation, so you can read about all that there in the post report,” he said, making a clear effort to shut down any further questions about the crash itself.
The reality is that very few answers came out in the now-closed Los Angeles police report other than the fact it was determined Woods was driving at between 84 and 87 mph in a 45 mph zone when the one-car crash occurred, and he never appeared to have applied the brakes.
Woods revealed he made a concerted effort to avoid watching or listening to any reports of his crash.
“I had friends that insulated me from a lot of the things that were said outside,” Woods said. “I didn’t have my phone. I did have access to a TV and I was just watching sports. I refused to turn on the local channels and news and stuff like that, I didn’t want to go down that road. I wasn’t mentally ready for that road yet.’’
The second takeaway from Tuesday was that this recovery is unlike any of the numerous others Woods has faced over the years coming back from five knee and five back surgeries — the latest and most meaningful when he won the 2019 Masters after having a spinal fusion.
“This one’s been much more difficult,” Woods said.
Woods said talk among his doctors about amputation of his right leg “was on the table” in the immediate aftermath of the crash.
“I’m lucky to be alive but also to still have the limb,” he said. “Those are two crucial things. I’m very grateful that someone upstairs was taking care of me, that I’m able to not only be here but also to walk without a prosthesis. There were some really, really tough times. Pain got pretty great at times, but they helped me get through it and I’m on the better side of it, but I’ve still got a long way to go.”
The third takeaway was that Woods is not banking on a full comeback to the sport this time. Clearly keeping goals at a very modest level at the moment, Woods left open the possibility that he may never compete again.
“I’ll put it to you this way: As far as playing at the Tour level, I don’t know when that’s going to happen,” he said. “Now, I’ll play a round here or there, a little hit-and-giggle. That’s something that for a while there it didn’t look like I was going to. Now I’m able to participate in the sport of golf. Now, to what level, I do not know that.”
Woods said it’s “very easy” to come to terms with possibly never playing PGA Tour-level golf again “given the fact that I was able to come back after the fusion surgery and do what I did. I got that last major [the 2019 Masters] and I ticked off two more events along the way.”
Tiger Woods unable to set date on return to golf; feels lucky to be alive
Tiger Woods on potential return to PGA Tour action: “If 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 admits he is ‘lucky to be alive’ after being involved in a serious car crash in Los Angeles in February
Tiger Woods has described his recovery from February’s life-threatening car accident as the toughest of his career and has admitted he feels lucky to be alive.
Woods held a press conference ahead of the Hero World Challenge, the first time he has addressed the media since sustaining serious injuries to his lower right leg, foot and ankle following his crash on February 23.
“I was just looking forward to getting outside. That was a goal of mine. Especially for a person who has lived his entire life outside, that was the goal. Finally got to that point when transitioned from wheelchair to crutches to now nothing. It has been a lot of hard work.
“It has been tough at times. Yes, some dark moments, but then again, as I was making progress through it, too, I could see some light and that was giving me hope. I’m able to participate more with my kids and their activities and more just in life in general.
Woods has ruled out a full-time return to the sport – but Sky Sports’ Rob Lee says it will be wonderful if the American can play just a few tournaments a year after suffering serious injuries in a car crash
“I’m lucky to be alive but also still to have the limb. Those are two crucial things. I’m very grateful that someone upstairs was taking care of me, that I’m able to not only be here but also to walk without a prosthesis.”
Woods told Golf Digest earlier in the week that a return to the top of the sport was “not a realistic expectation”, with the 45-year-old – who admitted to being in pain just sitting down during the press conference – putting no time frame on a potential return to competitive action.
Woods says he is still hoping to play in the occasional tournament – but does not have a specific event in mind yet for his return
“Internally, I haven’t reached that point,” Woods added. “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-three course, I can hit a few shots, I can chip and putt.
“If 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. I have a long way to go to get to that point.
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“I haven’t decided whether or not I want to get to that point. I’ve got to get my leg to a point where that decision can be made and we’ll see what happens when I get to that point, but I’ve got a long way to go with this leg.”