Tiger Woods has added another obstacle in his bid to continue competing at the very top of the sport following a major car crash in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning.
The 45-year-old was in the middle of rehabilitation after undergoing his fifth back surgery of his career in January when the news broke.
While not playing currently, Woods did feature as the host of last weekend’s Genesis Invitational on the PGA Tour and discussed his condition with presenter Jim Nantz.
When pushed on whether he would be fit in time for this year’s Masters, Woods delighted fans when he remarked, “god, I hope so.”
He added: “I’m feeling fine, little bit stiff. Have one more MRI scheduled to see if the annulus has scarred over finally, and then I can start doing more activities.
“Still in the gym, still doing the mundane stuff that you have to do for rehab, the little things before you can start gravitating towards something a little more.”
BREAKING: Tiger Woods transported to hospital with injuries following vehicle crash with "major damage," LA County Sheriff's Dept. says. pic.twitter.com/hxcGYAig8D
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 23, 2021
Teeing it up at Augusta in April is now surely impossible, and it remains unclear whether the severity of Woods’ “multiple leg injuries” will force him to end his career.
But he will take solace from overcoming a remarkable amount of setbacks already throughout his rollercoaster career.
A child prodigy, Woods burst onto the scene as a professional at just 19 years of age as an amateur, playing his first major championship at the 1995 Masters, finishing in a tie for 41st as the only amateur to make the cut.
Woods turned professional at 20 and immediately became a superstar. Augusta quickly became synonymous with him two years after his debut there when he won the first of what would become 15 major championships.
His meteoric rise would include six consecutive wins on the PGA Tour in 2000, though his body would start to break down at the end of the decade, but not before a heroic effort.
Perhaps the signature moment of Woods’ career arrived on the sloping greens of Augusta in the 2005 Masters, with a masterful chip-in inspiring one of his five victories at the property. It included the iconic fist-pump celebration after the golf ball paused briefly on the lip of the hole, displaying the Nike swoosh logo.
He would emerge victorious at the 2008 US Open too, despite subsequently requiring reconstructive knee surgery on a damaged ACL, as well as a stress fracture in his left tibia.
And that would spark a downward spiral in Woods’ life on and off the course, with allegations of infidelity surfacing in November 2009. Just two days after the allegations emerged, Woods was involved in a car crash colliding with a fire hydrant, a tree, and several hedges near his home.
Within days Woods admitted to numerous transgressions and apologised, but Elin Nordegren would later divorce him in August 2010.
Woods impressively emerged from his slump in 2012 and 2013 with three and five PGA Tour wins respectively, though his major drought continued, with no victory since battling on one leg to a play-off victory at the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines.
Woods’ body continued to betray him following his latest rise with his first back surgery in March 2014, which culminated in a lengthy period of inactivity and just one tournament between August 2015 and January 2018. It resulted in him tumbling down the world rankings and sitting on the outside of the top 1,000.
His second back surgery came in September 2015, with a third attempt to cure his back in December 2016, resulting in a 15-month absence from the Tour. His persistent back problems staggered his return in 2017, with a fourth surgery in April.
After eventually managing the issue, with hours of warming up in the early hours before tee times, Woods broke his duck and returned to the winner’s circle in September 2018, winning the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake and prompting wild scenes of celebrations among fans, who tumbled onto the fairways in their hundreds.
And the final piece of the most incredible comeback arrived in April 2019, when he miraculously ended an 11-year hiatus in the major championships to seize a fifth Green Jacket with a one-shot victory over Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka.
More knee surgery to repair minor cartilage damage occurred in August 2019, with Woods unable to contend in the three majors since, prompting him to opt for a fifth back surgery in December last year.
And while this latest setback will see most believe it is the beginning of the end to hopes of catching Jack Nicklaus and his 18 major championships, Woods has overcome enough to believe he will walk the fairways again.