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A look back at Tiger Woods’ single-car accident in 2009

Tiger Woods and his wife, Elin Nordegren, watch Game 4 of the 2009 NBA Finals between the Lakers and Orlando Magic.
Tiger Woods and his then-wife, Elin Nordegren, watch Game 4 of the 2009 NBA Finals between the Lakers and Orlando Magic.
(David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

Tiger Woods was involved in a single-car accident Tuesday near Rancho Palos Verdes. According to authorities, the star golfer was taken by ambulance to a hospital in “serious” condition after his SUV rolled off a steep, winding road.

The crash caused major damage to his vehicle and required Los Angeles County firefighters and paramedics to extricate him from the vehicle.

Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, said the 45-year-old required surgery after suffering multiple leg injuries. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Woods was “lucky to be alive.”

Tuesday’s crash was much more severe than the single-car accident Woods was involved in in 2009 — a late-night incident near his Florida home that fueled the far-reaching scandal that marred his legendary career.

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Here is a description of that 2009 wreck, and the fallout it caused in Woods’ personal life:

Early on the morning of Nov. 27, 2009, police were summoned to Woods’ neighborhood near Orlando after his Cadillac Escalade SUV crashed into a fire hydrant and a tree as he was leaving his home around 2:30.

Woods, who according to a police report wasn’t wearing his seatbelt, was treated at a hospital with minor injuries, including facial lacerations, before being released. Speculation about the circumstances surrounding the single-car wreck quickly began to arise.

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Two days earlier, the National Enquirer published a report claiming Woods was having an affair with a woman named Rachel Uchitel, whom he met at the New York club where she worked.

As we now know, the allegations were true — one of many extramarital relationships Woods had following his 2004 marriage to Elin Nordegren. But at the time, Woods denied the story and, according to Uchitel’s recent interview in HBO’s “Tiger” documentary, even had Uchitel call Nordegren to tell her the report wasn’t true.

However, on the evening of Nov. 26, which was Thanksgiving Day, Uchitel said Nordegren called her from Woods’ phone after discovering romantic text messages between the two. Expecting to hear Woods on the other end of the line, Uchitel said she answered by “saying something like, ‘Hey babe.’ And, instead of Tiger’s voice, it was Elin.”

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Woods’ crash occurred soon after, causing $3,200 in property damage after he jumped a curb, crossed a grass median and rubbed up against a row of hedges before colliding with the tree and hydrant. Woods was issued a citation for careless driving by the Florida Highway Patrol.

Some reports speculated that Nordegren had been chasing Woods with a golf club at the time of the crash and smashed the back windows of the vehicle. Both Woods and Nordegren denied those claims, saying she had instead helped get Woods out of the car after the accident.

The police chief of Windermere, Fla., said at the time that Woods had cuts to his lips, blood in his mouth and was lying in the street with his wife nearby when officers arrived. The Florida Highway Patrol said alcohol was not considered a factor in the accident.

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Nonetheless, it was the first domino to fall in Woods’ far-reaching scandal, putting the National Enquirer report about Uchitel back into the spotlight and leading several other women to claim they’d also had affairs with the then-No. 1-ranked golfer in the world.

A week later, Woods released a statement admitting to “transgressions” and apologizing for “letting my family down.” He and Nordegren divorced in 2010.


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