What happened in the car accident and how golf legend recovered for Masters 2022

Tiger Woods has insisted he can win the Masters, a little over a year after being involved in a near-fatal car crash.

The tournament kicked off in Augusta, Georgia, on Thursday and Woods is chasing what would be a sixth green jacket.

“I don’t show up to an event unless I think I can win it, so that’s the attitude I’ve had,” Woods said.

“There will be a day when it won’t happen, and I’ll know when that is, but physically the challenge this week is I don’t have to worry about the ball striking or the game of golf. It’s actually just the hills out here. That’s going to be the challenge and it’s going to be a challenge of a major marathon.”

The 46-year-old American said he was “lucky to be alive” after the horrific crash in California on 23 February last year.

What happened to Tiger Woods in the car crash?

Woods was driving an SUV alone in Rolling Hills Estates on the outskirts of Los Angeles when he was involved in a single-vehicle crash shortly after 7am local time on 23 February 2021.

His vehicle came off the road at high speed – between 84-87mph according to black box data – hit the central kerb and a tree and rolled multiple times before coming to rest on an embankment.

The road Woods was driving on had a speed limit of 45mph.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the primary cause of the accident was driving at a “speed unsafe for the road conditions and the inability to negotiate the curve of the roadway”. Officials said there was no evidence Woods was impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Woods’ vehicle suffered serious damage, and emergency services had to extract him from the wreckage through the windscreen.

He was then taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Hospital by ambulance for surgery for “significant” injuries “to his right lower extremity”.

Tiger Woods’ vehicle rests on its side after the crash in February last year (Photo: AP)

Anish Mahajan, chief medical officer at the hospital, described the surgery as follows: “Comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula bones were stabilised by inserting a rod into the tibia.

“Additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle were stabilised with a combination of screws and pins. Trauma to the muscle and soft tissue of the leg required surgical release of the covering of the muscles to relieve pressure due to swelling.”

He was transferred to Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre where he remained for three weeks, and has revealed there were discussions around having his right leg amputated.

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How has he fought back to play at the Masters?

The injuries Woods sustained in the crash were the latest in a string of setbacks he has endured in recent years. He has long struggled with back issues, for which he has undergone multiple surgeries.

He was barely able to move for months after the crash, eventually transitioning from a wheelchair to crutches, and finally walking without support.

He shared a video of himself hitting a golf ball in November and told reporters at the Hero World Challenge – which he hosts – that he was able to strike balls, but that walking around a course was difficult.

Woods and his son Charlie finished second at the PNC Championship in December, before promising he would return to the PGA Tour in 2022.

Nonetheless, his appearance at the Masters is shocking. It will be his first round of competitive golf for 17 months, on the grandest of stages.

“I can hit it just fine. I don’t have any qualms about what I can do from a golf standpoint,” Woods said from August this week.

“It’s now walking is the hard part. This is normally not an easy walk to begin with. Now given the conditions that my leg is in, it gets even more difficult. You know, 72 holes is a long road. It’s going to be a tough challenge and a challenge that I’m up for.

“I think that the fact that I was able to get myself here to this point is a success. Now that I am playing, everything is focused on, ‘how do I get myself into the position where I’m on that back nine on Sunday with a chance?’ Just like I did a few years ago.”

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