Tiger Woods in Single-Car Wreck in Rancho Palos Verdes
I didn’t do it. I promise.
Rancho Palos Verdes is actually a fairly sprawling town, and the presence of hills and gated communities means that even places separated by about six miles as the crow flies can take 20+ minutes of driving to get to. Such is the distance from my house to the location of Tiger’s accident, and I was finishing dressing after a shower and getting ready to walk the dogs when it happened. Not guilty.
In all seriousness, though, as of this writing this could be a career-ender for Tiger, which is a real shame. As Brotherico noted to me, there will be inevitable comparisons to Ben Hogan’s awful car wreck, and Mac Engel at the Startlegram obliges with this story: Ben Hogan came back from a terrible car crash and hopefully Tiger Woods can, too:
On Feb. 2, 1949, Ben and his wife, Valerie, were driving near Van Horn, Texas, on their way back to Fort Worth in foggy conditions when their car was hit head-on by a Greyhound bus.
Hogan reportedly stretched out across the seat to save Valerie. The left side of Hogan’s body was crushed. He sustained injuries to his pelvis, ankle, knee, ribs, collarbone and shoulder.
Hogan did not receive medical attention for 90 minutes, and then it took another two and a half hours before he was taken to a hospital in El Paso.
Some of his internal organs also sustained injuries, and his left eye would grow worse as a result of this crash.
The initial reports said Ben Hogan was dead. When the full details of the injury became known, the prevailing thought was that he would be lucky to walk again, and his career as a professional golfer was over.
He was 36.
Sixteen months after the crash, Ben Hogan won the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion near Philadelphia. He would have to play five rounds in four days, and it became known as the “Miracle at Merion.”
There was no fog in RPV this morning, though . . . and Tiger Woods is 45, not 36.
Also, fog is an understandable cause of a car crash. Tiger’s crash is much harder to understand. Reportedly, his car went over a center median, hitting a “Welcome to Rolling Hills Estates” sign on the way (but see below: I think this is wrong), crossed onto the other side of the road, and then went off the road, flipping an undetermined number of times before ending up in an awful-looking wreck. It’s a miracle he survived.
Here is a Google Street view of the area where Tiger’s crash began. I found it based on searching Google Maps and comparing it to footage of the crash. I won’t go into all the details I used to prove this is correct, but the Washington Post says that “[a]n extended stretch of Hawthorne Boulevard, running from Blackhorse Road to Palos Verdes Drive, remained blocked off Tuesday afternoon” and this is in that area. Find any aerial footage you like and compare it to the street view below
About a minute earlier, Tiger would have passed Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, where my daughter graduated nearly three years ago, on his left.
Initial reports were that Tiger was going northbound, which is the view you have in the picture above. They are apparently saying he hit the sign in the center divider here — which is interesting, because it’s actually a “Welcome to Rancho Palos Verdes” sign — at least on Google Maps. You’re looking at the back of that sign in the above photo. Click on the street view link and cruise it yourself if you don’t believe me. He then crossed the center divider, crossed briefly into the lane of oncoming traffic, and then left the road on the left, I believe a good 50 feet off the road to the left of a telephone pole — I think one further down the road from you see beyond the back of the welcome sign.
At the press conference, they said this is a frequent site for car accidents. It’s downhill, and the terrain invites cars to go much faster than the posted 45 mph speed limit. On the right side of the photo above you can the “runaway vehicle escape lane ahead” sign. The deputies said they often clock people doing 80. There were no skid marks and I get the impression Tiger was flying down that road. He was wearing a seatbelt, which probably saved his life. No indication of whether drugs, alcohol, pain meds for his back, sleepiness, distracted driving, or some other cause explains the accident.
I’m not optimistic for him, but I wish him the best.