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THE GAZ STATION • Sports by Gary Jordan

Tiger's Near Fatal Crash, Eagles' Twisted Route

The full story of Woods' crash and how the USA can reach Rugby World Cup Finals
Published on March 1, 2021

Tiger Woods Tiger Woods receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

Woods' Career Crashes Again

When news broke last week of Tiger Woods being involved in a car crash everyone feared the worst. A little over a year since the fatal helicopter crash that saw the passing of Kobe Bryant the sporting world held its breath, hopeful that another icon was not lost. Gradually news filtered through and although the crash was very severe the champion golfer had survived.

Shortly after 7am on Tuesday 23 February, Woods left the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. He was driving a rented car, a luxury Genesis GV80 SUV, and was headed to the Rolling Hills Country Club where he was due to shoot some work for GolfTV. The area he needed to pass through, approximately 30 miles south of Los Angeles, lends itself to fast speeds but it has some serious accident black spots and several other accidents have happened along the stretch. There were many conflicting reports from eyewitnesses who saw Woods leave the resort, some saying he was agitated as he was blocked in from leaving and sped off at alarming speed. He was due to tee off with NFL star quarterback Drew Brees at 7.30am, so he may have been impatient. As he reached Hawthorne Boulevard, a downhill run with a corner, it is reported Woods lost control and hit a wooden sign, went over the raised central reservation into the dual lane opposite. With the car now out of control it hit the curb and flipped multiple times as it went down the far side of carriageway before resting amongst the trees and bushes.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Carlos Gonzalez was first on the scene after a neighbor witnessed the horror crash and alerted the authorities. The front bumper was torn off, the engine had heavy damage, and the left side of the vehicle was smashed. Thankfully, the interior was stable, and the airbags had deployed. Deputy Gonzalez found Woods "conscious and lucid" but did not attempt to move the 2019 Masters champion and waited until firefighters arrived with their heavy-duty equipment. "It is very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive," Deputy Gonzalez told a press conference. He added that he has sometimes caught people driving at 80mph in the 45mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there.

There was no immediate sign of Woods being under the influence of any substance and he could tell his name to the Deputy. This would have been a concern as Woods is still recovering from back surgery and as recently as 2017 was driving under the influence of prescribed pain medication, something he addressed after the incident and agreed to enter a rehabilitation program for pain addiction medication.

After being taken to hospital the true effects of the crash were revealed. Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer at Harbor-UCLA announced that "after a long surgical procedure on his lower right leg and ankle" he was "awake, responsive and recovering." He also confirmed the injuries as comminuted open fractures which were stabilized by rods in both the fibula and tibia bones. "Trauma to muscle and soft tissue of the leg required surgical release of the covering of the muscles to relieve pressure due to swelling."

The outpouring of emotion from his fellow golfers was immediate. Many took to social media to wish their colleague and competitor well, offering prayers and hope that he would pull through and at the very least lead a normal life again. The weekend's golf action was taking part at WGC-Workday Championship at Bradenton, Florida. On the final day, many players and staff wore Tiger's favorite final day colors. On Sunday evening, February 28, Tiger answered all those who had taken time out to aid him on his immediate recovery. His tweet read, "It is hard to explain how touching today was when I turned on the TV and saw all the red shirts. To every golfer and every fan, you are truly helping me get through this tough time."

It is not clear as to how long the road to recovery will be. Tiger is largely a very fit person and that will aid his recovery time. And, with the numerous back surgeries that he has come back from, there is no telling what the man will do. But it will be at least six months before the bones in his legs heal to the stage he can walk comfortably, and he will then have to build up the muscle mass that he will have lost.

The 15-time Major winner has defied odds time and again, and if we see him back on the course again this may just be his finest comeback ever.

USA Rugby team USA Rugby team at the Rugby World Championships in 2015. Photo courtesy Rugby World Cup

USA Can Reach Rugby World Cup Finals – Here's How

The schedule for the 2023 Rugby World Cup was announced last week and the tournament will open with a mouthwatering tie between the hosts France and the perennial favorites, New Zealand's All Blacks, at the Stade de France on September 8. The USA Eagles will hope to be there again but the format for qualification has changed, and even though they are still favorites to reach the Finals, their path is a little muddied.

The Eagles first have to play Canada and win or lose they will still go through to the latter phases of qualification. Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Colombia face each other in group format with the top two advancing to face Uruguay in the second phase, from which the top two advance again. If the USA beat Canada, they will play the winner of the second phase group. Lose that opening tie and they will square off against the runner-up of that group. The easiest route then is to beat Canada and then the winner of the second phase. This would result in them being 'Americas1' in the Finals pool stage and pit them in a tough group with France, the All Blacks, Italy, and another qualifier from Africa.

Here is where it gets a little complicated. If the USA lose to Canada, the next game would be an elimination game against the runners-up of the second phase. Should they win, they will play the defeated team in the winners of the second phase and Canada. Still with me? If they win that they will be 'Americas2' and play in the Finals pool group with England, Japan, Argentina, and an Oceania qualifier.

There is one last chance if they lose those, out in the opening qualifying rounds in the repêchage round.

Let us hope it does not go that far!

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