The sports world was shocked on Tuesday by the news of Tiger Woods involved in a serious car accident.
Woods was rushed into surgery with multiple leg injuries after fire crews used the ‘jaws of life’ to pull him out of an overturned vehicle.
It is not yet clear how serious the American’s injuries are – and it is too early to wonder if his remarkable career will resume.
But one thing is for sure, this is the latest event in what has arguably been the most dramatic individual sports narrative of our generation and perhaps of all time.
From unparalleled dominance and brilliance on the course to public scandal and crippling injuries, the 45-year-old has spent as much time on the front pages as he has on the back.
Taught to become unbeatable by his father Earl, a teenage Woods was better than most seasoned PGA Tour pros in the ’90s and he quickly burst onto the stage to prove it.
At 21, he became the youngest Masters winner in 1997. And at 18 under par with a 12 stroke lead, he was officially the best golfer Augusta had ever seen.
Woods competed in 14 major championships in 2008, making the infamous “ Tiger Slam ” in the process, winning all four in a row between 2000 and 2001.
But perhaps the best statistic to capture his dominance was the fact that he was the highest ranked golfer in the world from August 1999 to September 2004 (264 weeks), then from June 2005 to October 2010 (281 weeks).
It changes almost every week nowadays.
Woods has reached all-time highs, which just made his downfall in 2009 even greater.
On November 27, Woods was involved in the first famous car crash of his career after hitting a fire hydrant, tree and several hedges near his home after an argument with his wife Elin Nordegren.
A reckless driving ticket was the least of his problems, as intense media speculation ultimately revealed that the cause of the dispute was multiple infidelities.
It was the biggest story of the year and weeks of coverage ended with a televised apology from Woods the following year, while taking a break from golf.
A dive of form naturally followed when Woods finally returned, but by 2013 he had returned to dominance, and as the American returned to the top of the world rankings, Nike released the famous slogan ‘Victory is about of all ”.
However, as Woods rebuilt his personal life, his body collapsed – and 2013 would be followed by four back surgeries and five years without a PGA Tour title.
Those years were littered with bad tricks and unfinished tournaments, as many began to view Woods’ glittering career as over.
Spinal fusion surgery in 2017 was designed to give him a decent quality of life and stop the constant pain, as the golfer had previously told his friends that he had given up on playing at the highest level again.
Photos of him arrested in 2017 for reckless driving after consuming a cocktail of painkillers signaled what many saw as a sad end for Woods as a sports hero.
But in a miraculous turn of events, Woods regained his previous glow despite being in his 40s with a fused back.
An incredible Tour Championship victory in 2018 sparked incredible scenes on the 18th fairway – then he topped it off by winning the 2019 Masters, his 15th major, 22 years after that famous first victory and 11 years after his last.
Woods tied Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins in 2020 – and there was renewed hope he could chase Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships.
His last appearance on the course before Tuesday’s crash was at the Cabin Crew Members Championship in December 2020 alongside his son Charlie, who blew the sports world away with his abilities despite being 12 years old – sounds familiar to you ?
Another back surgery after this event meant Woods was already in a race to qualify for the 2021 Masters.
We have yet to find out how serious this really is, but we can only pray that this is not the last page in Woods’ incredible golf history.