Tiger Woods was speeding as fast as 87 mph before car crash, LA sheriff says

Key Points
  • Tiger Woods was speeding as fast as 87 mph, or more than 45 mph faster than the legal speed limit, before his SUV crashed in late February in Southern California, badly injuring the golf legend, the LA County sheriff said
  • Investigators said the accident was the result of Woods driving in an unsafe manner for road conditions.
  • They said they will not issue a citation for Woods, who is recovering at his home in Florida.
L.A. County Sheriff's officers investigate an accident involving golfer Tiger Woods along Hawthorne Blvd. in Rancho Palos Verdes, February 23, 2021.
Wally Skalij | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

Tiger Woods was speeding as fast as 87 mph — more than 45 mph above the legal limit — before his SUV crashed in late February in Southern California, badly injuring the golf legend's leg, investigators said Wednesday.

Woods' vehicle, a 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV, was going an estimated 75 mph when it crashed into a tree and began rolling over, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, citing a data recorder in the luxury vehicle.

The recorder showed that the vehicle at some points was going 68 to 86.99 mph before Woods failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway just outside Los Angeles.

It was at least Woods' third mysterious motor vehicle accident.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva — who adamantly denied that Woods received favorable treatment in this investigation — said the most recent accident on Feb. 23 was the result of the 45-year-old Woods driving in an unsafe manner given the road conditions.

At a press conference, Villanueva also said there was no evidence that Woods was impaired or intoxicated at the time of the Feb. 23 crash in Rolling Hills Estates.

Investigators did not check to see if Woods was texting before the crash, saying there was no need to do so.

PGA Tour commissioner on Tiger Woods' recovery
PGA Tour commissioner on Tiger Woods' recovery

They also said they will not issue a citation for Woods, who is recovering at his home in Florida. To issue a ticket for reckless driving would require evidence that Woods had committed multiple violations before the crash, such as unsafe lane changes, or passing other cars unsafely, according to investigators.

Woods has no recollection of the collision, investigators said at the press conference.

Villanueva said he was able to release the cause of the crash only because Woods had consented to do so. Under the law, the sheriff said, such accident reports are confidential unless people involved in the incident agree to their public disclosure.

"The primary causal factor for this traffic collision was driving at a speed unsafe for the road conditions and the inability to negotiate the curve of the roadway estimated speeds at the first area of impact were 84 to 87 miles per hour," Villanueva said.

Woods did not brake before he crashed the car, according to investigators. They said the data recorder reveals he may have inadvertently hit the accelerator instead of the brakes before the collision.

"I know there are some saying that somehow he received a special or preferential treatment any, any of some kind, that is absolutely false," Villanueva said.

"There was no signs of impairment, our primary concern once we obviously at the scene of the collision was his, his safety."

Villanueva said there was no probable cause, such as open liquor containers or signs of narcotics in the car, that would have allowed investigators to obtain a search warrant to test Woods' blood for intoxicants.

In a statement released later Wednesday, Woods did not apologize for driving nearly double the legal speed limit.

Instead, Woods said he was "so grateful to both of the good samaritans who came to assist me and called 911" after his SUV finished rolling over.

"I am also thankful to the LASD Deputies and LA Firefighter/Paramedics, especially LA Sheriff's Deputy Carlos Gonzalez and LAFD Engine Co. #106 Fire Paramedics Smith and Gimenez, for helping me so expertly at the scene and getting me safely 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 said.

The golfer, who was alone in the SUV, was trapped in the wreck, which occurred after he hit a center median in the road, and then careened into brush, hitting a tree at just before 7:12 a.m. PT on Feb. 23.

After being extricated from the vehicle, Woods was taken to a hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery for what a doctor at the time called "significant orthopedic injuries" to his lower right leg.

A rod was inserted to stabilize his tibia and femur bones, while a "combination of screws and pins" were used to stabilize injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle, according to a statement posted on Woods' Twitter account said.

Woods had been staying at a resort in Rolling Hills after hosting The Genesis Invitational tournament. He remained in the area to do filming as part of a deal he has with Golf Digest and Discovery Channel.

Just two days before the crash, Woods was asked during a CBS Sports interview if he would play at the Masters tournament, which begins at the Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia this Thursday.

"God, I hope so," he said.

Woods' epic career, which has featured 82 PGA titles and wins at 15 major championships, was upended in November 2009 after he crashed another SUV one morning into a fire hydrant just outside his then-residence in Florida.

Woods was knocked unconscious from that crash for more than five minutes. His then-wife, Elin Nordegren, reportedly used a golf club to smash a window and drag him out of the car.

The crash led to weeks of reports that Woods had been involved in multiple extramarital affairs. He entered a clinic for treatment shortly afterward.

In May 2017, Woods was charged with driving under the influence in Florida after police discovered him asleep in a damaged car.

In an apology later, Woods blamed "an unexpected reaction" to a mix of prescribed medications for his passing out.

"I want the public to know that alcohol was not involved," Woods said at that time.

A month after that arrest, Woods entered a clinic for treatment related to issues with prescription pain medication and a sleep disorder.

Woods was said to be using pain medication to help him get up and move while recovering from four back operations.

In January, Woods revealed he had his fifth microdisecectomy surgery on his back to remove a pressurized disc fragment that was causing him pain during the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, in December.

That tournament was the last time he competed.