Tiger Woods’ return to The Masters is a remarkable feat that was almost unthinkable just 14 months ago.
That was when Woods was involved in a single-car crash in the Los Angeles area that required emergency surgery to insert a rod into his right leg to stabilize multiple open fractures. After a lengthy rehabilitation process, Woods stunned the golf world in December 2021 — fewer than 10 months after the crash — and returned to compete with his son, Charlie, at the PNC Championship in Orlando. He did it again on Tuesday, when he said he planned to play at the 86th Masters, completing his full return to competitive golf.
While Woods passed his first test on Thursday, posting a one-under par 71 in his opening round, his movements on Friday appeared to be more labored than it had been the day previous, potentially due to a residual effect over his leg injury.
Here’s everything you need to know about the injury Woods sustained after his car crash.
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How did Tiger Woods get injured?
Woods was in a single-car crash in the Los Angeles area early on Feb. 23, 2021.
Los Angeles County officials said then that Woods had to be extricated from his vehicle after the crash, in which his Genesis GV80 struck the median of a street in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, rolled over multiple times and landed in the brush several hundred feet away. Woods, who was 45 at the time, was the only person in the car.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Woods was conscious when officers arrived on the scene and there was no evidence that he was impaired. He was later transported to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in serious but stable condition.
What were the injuries Tiger Woods sustained in the crash?
While Woods was believed to have suffered injuries to both his legs, the right was particularly affected and he underwent extensive emergency surgery the day of the crash to stabilize the leg.
Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer and interim CEO at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, said in a statement that Woods had multiple open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of his right tibia and fibula, the two main bones in the lower leg. The bones were stabilized “by inserting a rod into the tibia,” he added.
Woods also suffered injuries to the bones in his right foot and ankle, which were stabilized using screws and pins, and to muscle and soft-tissue in the leg. Mahajan said doctors had to surgically release “the covering of the muscles to relieve pressure due to swelling.”
The statement did not explicitly mention any injuries or damage to Woods’ left leg. Daryl Osby, the chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, said at a news conference the day of the crash that he believed both of Woods’ legs were seriously injured.
How severe were the injuries Tiger Woods sustained in the crash?
The first time Woods addressed the media after the crash, on Nov. 30, 2021, he detailed the severity of his injuries.
“I’m lucky to be alive and to still have the limb,” Woods said then. “I’m very grateful that someone upstairs was taking care of me … (amputation) was on the table.”
Per Mahajan, Woods suffered “comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower tibia and fibula.” The day after the crash, ESPN’s Stephania Bell said on the network that “comminuted” means there were multiple fragments of the tibia and fibula shattering, while “open fractures” are otherwise known as compound fractures, meaning the bone has protruded through the skin.
Furthermore, trauma to nearby muscle and soft tissue required doctors to “surgically release” the muscle to reduce swelling. That is otherwise known as a fasciotomy and is done to reduce nerve or blood vessel damage.
Contributing: Chris Bumbaca, Tom Schad, Steve DiMeglio, Josh Peter