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Tiger Woods Injured In Vehicle Accident

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Tiger Woods was in a serious car crash today in Southern California. He was sent to the hospital for surgery. We're told the legendary golfer, 15-time major championship winner suffered multiple leg injuries in the accident. Let's get whatever detail we can now from NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.

Hey, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi.

KELLY: What is the latest on this crash and how he's doing?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, let's start with his condition. We know his injuries were serious but not life-threatening and, obviously, a huge relief. But it was a really scary crash, a single-car accident. Authorities said Woods was driving on a sweeping downhill curve in a hilly area. His car swerved across the road, hit a median, hit a curb and rolled several times. Also, there were no skid marks. Now, this afternoon, we heard from LA County sheriff and fire department officials, including Deputy Carlos Gonzalez. He was first on the scene a little after 7 a.m. Pacific Time. And he said Woods was seated in the driver's seat, and Gonzalez spoke to Tiger.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CARLOS GONZALEZ: I asked him what his name was. He told me his name was Tiger. And at that moment, I immediately recognized him. I asked him if he knew where he was and what time of day just to make sure he was oriented. He seemed as though he was lucid and calm.

GOLDMAN: Now, Mary Louise, authorities say there were no signs of impairment. They say the accident happened in a trouble spot where they have lots of accidents. And they said Tiger Woods was lucky that his SUV was constructed so the cabin was intact. That and the fact he was wearing a seatbelt probably saved his life, they said.

KELLY: OK. So obviously, as you say, a huge relief that this is not apparently life-threatening.

GOLDMAN: Yeah.

KELLY: You know, I can't be the only one who hears the words Tiger Woods and car crash, and my mind goes straight back to to the other one of - what? - 2009.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, 2009, when he infamously ran into a fire hydrant outside his Florida home - it was the start of the infidelity scandal that ended his marriage and precipitated his years-long downfall in the world of golf. You know, then in 2017, he was arrested for driving under the influence, not alcohol but pain medication that he'd been taking for one of his many golf-related injuries and surgeries.

KELLY: Speaking of which, this accident comes as Tiger Woods was already battling a bunch of injuries. Remind us.

GOLDMAN: Yeah. Well, it's - you know, it's what comes with having one of the most athletic and violent golf swings in the history of the game. And he just recently had a fifth back surgery and was rehabbing that in hopes of playing in this year's Masters in April.

KELLY: Yeah. I mean, he had been chasing some of golf's all-time records, right? - most majors won. He was second on that list. He's tied for most PGA Tour wins of all time.

GOLDMAN: Yeah.

KELLY: But what is the reaction we're hearing from the golf world today?

GOLDMAN: Well, not surprisingly, you know, a lot of early shock and hope that he was OK. Tiger's 45 and past his prime, but he's earned some recent respect for being a doting dad. He played in a tournament recently with his son Charlie that, I think, softened his hard-edged image. You know, since he burst onto the pro scene in 1997 with a dominating win at the Masters, he's been a global sports icon. He brought a lot of newcomers to the game of golf, including people of color. He's had a huge impact. So understandably, lots of concern with today's news and lots of relief that while his condition was serious, it appears it wasn't and isn't life-threatening.

KELLY: Indeed. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.

Thank you, Tom.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.