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The Masters opens without Tiger Woods, still recovering from accident

Jay Busbee
·4-min read

Tiger Woods' stunning 2019 win at Augusta seems like it happened a hundred years ago, even though it was the most recent Masters played in April. A pandemic and a nationwide social justice movement have altered the trajectory of our lives since then. Woods himself suffered a dramatic car wreck earlier this year, and remains out of the public eye. 

As Masters Week begins, here's what we do know about Woods and his condition:

Early on the morning of Feb. 24, Woods was driving to a golf course to shoot episodes of an upcoming TV series when his SUV hit a median and rolled over. The street in Rancho Palos Verdes where Woods suffered the accident is a winding one, known for accidents, and Woods' car rolled multiple times before coming to rest on its side. Sheriff's deputies on the scene extracted Woods from the vehicle, and officials later said that the SUV's design and airbags likely saved Woods' life.

Woods had been in Los Angeles for the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, a tournament benefiting his foundation. Due to a recent back surgery, he wasn't playing in the event, but he told CBS's Jim Nantz that he hoped to be ready to play in the Masters.

Woods was sent to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center with damage to both legs, most notably multiple fractures to his right leg and a shattered right ankle. Later in the day, Woods' team announced that he was "awake and responsive." He was later moved to Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles and described by his team as "recovering and in good spirits."

In the first press conference following the wreck, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said there was “no evidence of impairment” and no indication that Woods was under any kind of influence when the wreck happened. Officials described Woods as "cooperative" at the scene and said they did not have probable cause for testing his blood. 

Orthopedists contacted by Yahoo Sports shortly after the wreck indicated that it would be "very challenging" for Woods to return to elite-level competitive golf, citing both the potential degree of injuries to his legs and the possible setbacks from the recent back surgery.

Woods has not made any public on-camera statements since the wreck, but he has been in touch with his fellow players. Justin Thomas, for instance, said Woods texted him the night before Thomas's win at the Players Championship. Multiple players have spoken out on how much Woods has meant to them personally. 

Woods returned to his home in Florida in mid-March. "Happy to report I am home and continuing my recovery," Woods said in a tweet statement. "I will be recovering at home and working on getting stronger every day." There was no mention of golf.

Late last month, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office confirmed that it has determined the cause of Woods' crash, but has not shared that information with the public while it awaits permission from Woods. L.A. County has some of the strictest privacy laws in the country, but Woods' celebrity status also almost certainly played a role in keeping the crash's exact cause under seal. 

Back in 2017, Woods confided in fellow green jacket winners at the annual Masters Champions Dinner that he was fairly sure his playing days were over. That turned out not to be true, of course; Woods would go on to win the Masters just two years later. But now, the stakes are much higher, the injuries apparently far more widespread.

Woods has now missed four of the last eight Masters, a tournament he's always set as his pinnacle and his North Star. If he's able to return to competitive golf — still a huge if — the 2022 Masters might provide him with an attainable goal. If not, he may be back at Augusta only for the Champions' Dinners. It's still very much wait-and-see.

In one of his last public appearances before his crash, Tiger Woods congratulated Masters winner Dustin Johnson. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
In one of his last public appearances before his crash, Tiger Woods congratulated Masters winner Dustin Johnson. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee and contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com.

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