LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was speeding when he crashed an SUV in Southern California less than two months ago, leaving the golf superstar seriously injured, authorities said Wednesday.
Woods was driving 84 to 87 mph on a downhill stretch of road outside Los Angeles that had a speed limit of 45 mph, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Wednesday.
The stretch of road is known for wrecks and drivers hitting speeds so high that there is an emergency exit for runaway vehicles just beyond where Woods crashed.
In this Feb. 23, 2021, file photo, a crane is used to lift a vehicle following a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods, in the Rancho Palos Verdes suburb of Los Angeles. Authorities said Wednesday, April 7, Woods was speeding when he crashed leaving him seriously injured. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)
Villanueva blamed the Feb. 23 crash solely on excessive speed and Woods' loss of control behind the wheel. Sheriff's Capt. James Powers said there was no evidence that the golfer braked throughout the wreck and that it's believed Woods inadvertently hit the accelerator instead of the brake pedal.
Detectives did not seek search warrants for the athlete's blood samples, which could have been screened for drugs or alcohol, or his cellphone. Sheriff's officials said there was no evidence of impairment or of distracted driving.
Investigators, however, did search the SUV's data recorder, known as a black box, in the days after the crash.
Tiger Woods (AP Photo/Ryan Kang, File)
No traffic citations were issued. The sheriff said Woods gave permission for authorities to reveal details about the crash.
On Twitter, Woods thanked the people who called 911, as well as the first responders who pulled him out of the wreck and transported him to the hospital.
“I will continue to focus on my recovery and family, and thank everyone for the overwhelming support and encouragement I’ve received throughout this very difficult time,” Woods wrote in a statement posted after the news conference.
Documents show that Woods told deputies he did not know how the crash occurred and did not remember driving. At the time of the wreck, Woods was recovering from a fifth back surgery, which took place two months earlier.
Woods, who is originally from the Los Angeles area, had been back home to host his PGA tournament, the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, when the crash happened.
He was driving an SUV loaned to him by the tournament when he struck a raised median in Rolling Hills Estates, just outside Los Angeles. The SUV crossed through two oncoming lanes and uprooted a tree.
The athlete is in Florida recovering from multiple surgeries, including a lengthy procedure for shattered tibia and fibula bones in his lower right leg in multiple locations. Those were stabilized with a rod in his tibia. Additional injuries to the bones in his foot and ankle required screws and pins.
Woods, 45, has never gone an entire year without playing, dating back to his first PGA Tour event as a 16-year-old in high school. He had hoped to play this year in the Masters tournament, which begins Thursday.
Notable moments from Tiger Woods' life and career, in photos
The early years
1978: At the age of 2, wins a putting contest with Bob Hope. The match was staged for the "Mike Douglas Show." 1980: Appears on the TV show "That's Incredible." 1991: Wins his first US Junior Amateur golf championship. At 15 years of age, Woods was the youngest champion in history until 14-year-old Jim Liu broke his record in 2010. 1992: Wins his second US Junior Amateur golf championship.
Amateur golfer Tiger Woods, right, talks with his father, Earl Woods, after practice for the Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., on Tuesday, April 4, 1995.
Feb. 27, 1992
Feb. 27, 1992: Competes in his first PGA tournament at the age of 16. He is given a sponsor's exemption in order to play and is the youngest player ever to play in a PGA tournament at that time.
1993: Wins his third US Junior Amateur golf championship.
1994-1996: Wins three consecutive US Amateur golf championships.
Tiger Woods throws his arms into the air in jubilation as he ties his match with Steve Scott on the 35th hole U.S. Amateur championship, Sunday, Aug. 25, 1996, at the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore. Woods won the title on the 38th hole. (AP Photo/Jack Smith)
April 5, 1995
April 5, 1995: Tiger Woods is shown during Masters practice in Augusta, Ga.
June 16, 1995
June 16, 1995: Tiger Woods, with his left wrist bandage, talks with reporters outside the tournament media center after withdrawing from the tournament during the U.S. Open at Shinecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.
July 18, 1995
July 18, 1995: Amateur golfer Tiger Woods competes in his first British Open.
Aug. 27, 1995
Aug. 27, 1995: Tiger Woods holds the 1995 United States Amateur trophy at the Newport Country Club in Newport, R.I.
April 10, 1996
April 10, 1996: Four-time Masters winner Arnold Palmer, left, six-time Masters winner Jack Nicklaus, center, and Tiger Woods watch from the 15th tee during practice for the Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. Aug. 27, 1996: Turns professional.
August 1996: Signs a five-year endorsement deal with Nike worth $40 million.
Oct. 6, 1996
Oct. 6, 1996: Wins his first tournament as a professional at the Las Vegas Invitational.
1996: Forms the Tiger Woods Foundation for the promotion of minority participation in golf and other sports. In February 2018, the charity is renamed TGR Foundation to reflect its growth and scope.
April 13, 1997
April 13, 1997: Wins his first Masters Tournament.
June 1997: Becomes the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world after his 42nd week on the PGA Tour. At 21 years, 24 weeks, he is the youngest player ever to hold the No. 1 spot.
Aug. 15, 1999
Aug. 15, 1999: Wins his first PGA championship.
June 18, 2000
June 18, 2000: Wins his first US Open by 15 strokes, the largest margin in US Open history.
July 23, 2000
July 23, 2000: Wins his first British Open.
Sept. 14, 2000: Signs a five-year endorsement contract with Nike. It is worth an estimated $85 million, making it the richest endorsement contract in sports history, at the time.
June 16, 2002
June 16, 2002: Wins his second US Open. Woods holds his trophy and embraces his mother, Kultida Woods.
Dec. 8, 2003
Dec. 8, 2003: Named PGA Player of the Year for the fifth straight year.
May 13, 2005
May 13, 2005: Woods fails to make the cut at the Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas. It is the first time since 1998 that Woods is eliminated from a tournament.
Nov. 23, 2005
Nov. 23, 2005: Wins the PGA Grand Slam of Golf for a record-breaking sixth time.
Feb. 10, 2006
Feb. 10, 2006: Opens the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, California.
May 3, 2006
May 3, 2006: Woods' father, Earl Woods, dies of prostate cancer.
July 23, 2006
July 23, 2006: Wins his third British Open.
Aug. 20, 2006
Aug. 20, 2006: Wins his third PGA Championship.
Aug. 12, 2007
Aug. 12, 2007: Wins his fourth PGA Championship.
April 15, 2008
April 15, 2008: Undergoes arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He had two prior surgeries on the same knee, first in 1994 to remove a benign tumor, and another arthroscopic surgery in December 2002.
June 16, 2008
June 16, 2008: Wins the US Open in sudden death, defeating Rocco Mediate.
June 18, 2008: Woods announces that he will undergo reconstructive anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery on his left knee and will miss the remainder of the PGA tour season.
Feb. 26, 2009
Feb. 26, 2009: After an eight-month hiatus from golf due to knee surgery, Woods plays the second round of the World Golf Championships Match Play and loses to Tim Clark.
Nov. 15, 2009
Nov. 15, 2009: Wins the Australian Masters.
Nov. 21, 2009
Nov. 21, 2009: Tiger Woods, daughter Sam Woods, and wife Elin Nordegren, before an NCAA college football game in Stanford, Calif.
Nov. 27, 2009
Nov. 27, 2009: Is taken to a hospital after being injured in a car accident in front of his home in Florida. He is released later the same day.
Dec. 2, 2009
Dec. 2, 2009: Woods apologizes for "transgressions" that let his family down - the same day a gossip magazine publishes a report alleging he had an affair. He does not admit to an affair and offers no details about the "transgressions" in his statement.
Feb. 19, 2010
Feb. 19, 2010: Makes a televised statement apologizing for being unfaithful to his wife and letting down both fans and family. "I had affairs, I cheated. What I did was not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame," he says. Responding to rumors, Woods says that his wife never hit him, as some media reported in connection with the car crash on November 27, 2009, and that there has "never been an episode of domestic violence" in his relationship with his wife. Woods also says that he entered a rehabilitation center for 45 days, from the end of December to early February, and that he will continue to receive treatment and therapy.
2010: Loses about $20 million from estimated endorsements after sponsors including Gatorade, AT&T and Accenture end ties. Other sponsors including Nike, Upper Deck and EA Sports remain with Woods.
Oct. 31, 2010
Oct. 31, 2010: After 281 straight weeks, the longest in Official World Golf Ranking history, Woods loses his No. 1 ranking to Lee Westwood.
July 19, 2011
July 19, 2011: Woods announces that after a 12-year relationship, he and caddie Steve Williams will no longer be working together.
Aug. 11, 2011
Aug. 11, 2011: Plays one of his worst first rounds of golf in a major championship. He fails to make the cut at the PGA Championship for the first time in his career.
Oct. 3, 2011: For the first time in 15 years, Woods does not make it onto golf's top 50 players list, according to the official World Golf Ranking.
March 25, 2012
March 25, 2012: Earns his first PGA Tour win since September 2009, in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando.
June 3, 2012
June 3, 2012: With his win at the Memorial Tournament, ties Jack Nicklaus with 73 PGA Tour victories. July 2, 2012: Beats Nicklaus' PGA Tour record with the AT&T National win. Woods' 74th PGA Tour win ranks him in second place on the all-time list.
Sept. 3, 2012: Becomes the first PGA tour participant to earn $100 million.
March 25, 2013
March 25, 2013: Woods wins the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the eighth time, and regains the No. 1 spot.
March 31, 2014
March 31, 2014: Woods undergoes back surgery for a pinched nerve.
Aug. 23, 2015
Aug. 23, 2015: Woods posts a top 10 finish at his debut at the Wyndham Championships but ends his season as the 257th ranked player in the world. His finish was four shots off eventual winner Davis Love III. Woods has now missed the cut for three majors in a row.
Dec. 1, 2015
Dec. 1, 2015: Woods announces that he underwent his third microdiscectomy surgery last month - a procedure to remove bone around a pinched nerve to allow space for it to heal - and admits he has no idea when he will be back on the course.
July 20, 2016: It is announced that Woods will miss the PGA Championship due to his continued recovery from back surgery. This marks the first time in his career that he has missed all four major championships.
Dec. 4, 2016
Dec. 4, 2016: Woods finishes 14 shots behind the winner in the Hero World Challenge, his first competitive event in more than a year.
May 29, 2017
May 29, 2017: Woods is arrested on suspicion of DUI in Jupiter, Florida. He says in a statement that he had "an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications" and that alcohol was not involved. June 19, 2017: Woods announces that he is receiving professional help to manage medication for back pain and a sleep disorder. July 3, 2017: Announces that he has completed an intensive program for managing his medications.
Oct. 27, 2017: Woods pleads guilty to reckless driving. His 12-month probation is contingent on completing any recommended treatment including DUI school, 50 hours of community services and random drug and alcohol testing.
Dec. 3, 2017
Dec. 3, 2017: Making his long-awaited return from a fourth back surgery - his first tournament for 301 days since pulling out of the Dubai Desert Classic in February - Woods finishes in a tie for ninth place in the Hero World Challenge tournament in the Bahamas.
Sept. 23, 2018
Sept. 23, 2018: Wins the Tour Championship at Atlanta's East Lake Golf Club, for his first PGA Tour victory since August 2013 and his 80th overall.
April 14, 2019
April 14, 2019: Wins his fifth Masters and 15th major title.
May 6, 2019
May 6, 2019: President Donald Trump presents Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, during a White House ceremony.
Oct. 27, 2019
Oct. 27, 2019: Woods wins his record-equaling 82nd PGA Tour title at the Zozo Championship in Chiba, Japan. Woods is tied with legendary golfer Sam Snead, who won 82 titles throughout his more than 50-year career.
May 24, 2020
May 24, 2020: Woods and Peyton Manning defeat Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady by one stroke in "The Match: Champions for Charity" golf tournament at the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida. The event raises over $20 million for coronavirus relief efforts and captures an average of 5.8 million viewers to become the most-watched golf telecast in the history of cable television.
Dec. 17, 2020
Dec. 17, 2020: Tiger Woods, left, gives his son Charlie a fist bump after Charlie made a putt on the 12th green during a practice round of the Father Son Challenge golf tournament in Orlando, Florida.
Feb. 23, 2021
Feb. 23, 2021: Woods is hospitalized after a serious one-car rollover accident in Los Angeles County, according to the LA County Sheriff's Department. Wood's Agent Mark Steinberg said the golfer suffered "multiple leg injuries" and was in surgery following the accident. The following day, Woods is "awake, responsive, and recovering" in the hospital after emergency surgery on his lower right leg and ankle at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. The leg fractures were "comminuted," meaning the bone was broken into more than two parts, and "open," meaning the broken bone was exposed to open air, creating risk of an infection, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anish Mahajan said in the statement.