In a career filled with remarkable comebacks, Tiger Woods faces perhaps his toughest recovery of all.
Whether he'll ever be able to return to golf professionally after the shocking car crash in Los Angeles that saw the 45-year-old rushed to hospital to undergo surgery, is a grave concern for many of his supporters.
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Woods was driving alone through a sweeping, downhill stretch of road through coastal suburbs of Los Angeles on Tuesday when his SUV struck a sign, crossed over two oncoming lanes and flipped several times before coming to rest on its side, its airbags deployed.
A sheriff's deputy poked his head through a hole in the windshield to see Woods, still wearing his seatbelt, sitting in the driver's seat.
The crash caused "significant" injuries to his right leg and he underwent what was described as a "long surgical procedure" at Harbor-UCLA Medical Centre.
Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer, said Woods shattered tibia and fibula bones in multiple locations. He suffered "open fractures," meaning the skin was broken.
The bones were stabilised by a rod in the tibia. He said a combination of screws and pins were used for injuries in the ankle and foot.
A statement on his Twitter account said Woods was awake, responsive and recovering, while detailing the extensive procedures that he had to undergo.
“Mr Woods suffered significant orthopaedic injuries to his right lower extremity that were treated during emergency surgery,” Dr Anish Mahajan said.
“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.”
Two leading medical specialists in the United States insist there is no chance Woods will be right to play the Masters in April, with one claiming it will be a "challenge for him to walk properly".
“There’s no way he’s making the Masters in April, zero chance,” said Dr. William Ricci, the chief of orthopaedic trauma at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery. “Masters next April? Maybe.”
Dr. Andrew Brief, an orthopaedic surgeon with the Ridgewood orthopaedic Group in New Jersey said: "“You’re talking about the foot, ankle, leg, tibia. “It could conceivably be a challenge to walk properly, let alone return to professional sports."
He added that Woods' extensive back problems from multiple surgeries complicate things even further.
“When you couple the fact that he sustained some sort of devastating injury to the right leg, on top of his continued need for recovery from five times having had lumbar spine surgery, his ability to predictably return to an elite level in professional sports is certainly in question,” Brief said.
Woods has already undergone five back surgeries, with his latest one coming just last month.
He has also had multiple surgeries for knee problems, a torn Achilles and injuries to his calf, neck and shoulder.
Career-ending concerns for Tiger
It raises serious questions about how much more Woods' battered body can take.
Many concerned supporters are fearful that in terms of his golfing career, there will simply be no coming back from his latest bout of surgeries.
Authorities said after the accident that Woods was "lucky to be alive".
No charges were filed and police said there was no evidence he was impaired whilst driving.
Woods has won 15 major golf titles and is among the most recognisable sports figures in the world, who at 45 and with a reduced schedule from nine previous surgeries, remains golf's biggest drawcard.
Tiger's worrying injury history
He won the 2008 U.S. Open with shredded knee ligaments and two stress fractures in his left leg.
His personal life imploded on Thanksgiving weekend in 2009 when he was caught having multiple extramarital affairs and crashed his vehicle near his Florida home. He returned to win his 11th award as PGA Tour player of the year and reach No. 1.
And then after four back surgeries that kept him out of golf for the better part of two years, he won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time, a victory that ranks among the great comebacks in the sport.
Now it's no longer a matter of when he plays again - the Masters is seven weeks away -but if he plays again.
Thoughts and prayers have come from everywhere - Jack Nicklaus and Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson, and former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
Woods had a fifth back surgery, a microdiscectomy, on December 23, just three days after he played the PNC Championship with his son Charlie, who now is 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter, Samantha.
This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. Eight years after the 2009 incident, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road.
He was arrested on a DUI charge and said he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder.
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