In a career filled with remarkable comebacks, Tiger Woods faces his toughest recovery of all.
Woods was driving through a sweeping, downhill stretch of road through coastal suburbs of Los Angeles when his SUV struck a sign, crossed over a raised median and two oncoming lanes before it toppled down an embankment, coming to a halt on its side.
The airbags deployed. A sheriff’s deputy poked his head through a hole in the windshield to see Woods, still wearing his seatbelt, sitting in the driver’s seat.
The crash caused “significant” injuries all down his right leg that featured rods, pins and screws during what was described as a “long surgical procedure” at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer, said Woods shattered tibia and fibula bones on his right leg in multiple locations. Those were stabilized by a rod in the tibia. He said a combination of screws and pins were used to stabilize additional injuries in the ankle and foot.
A statement on his Twitter account said he was awake, responsive and recovering.
“I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” said Carlos Gonzalez, the deputy from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department who was the first on the scene after a neighbor called 911.
“As if his body hasn’t endured enough,” Jon Rahm, the No. 2 player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Florida. “I just hope he can get out of the hospital after recovery and he can still play with his kids and have a normal life.”
The single-car crash was the latest setback for Woods, who at times has looked unstoppable on the golf course with his 15 major championships and record-tying 82 victories on the PGA Tour. He is among the most recognizable sports figures in the world, and at 45 with a reduced schedule from nine previous surgeries, remains golf’s biggest draw.
He won the 2008 U.S. Open with shredded knee ligaments and two stress fractures in his left leg. His personal life imploded on Thanksgiving weekend in 2009 when he was caught having multiple extramarital affairs, and he returned to win his 11th award as PGA Tour player of the year and reach No. 1.
And then after four back surgeries that kept him out of golf for the better part of two years, he won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time, a victory that ranks among the great comebacks in the sport.
Now it’s no longer a matter of when he plays again — the Masters is seven weeks away — but if he plays again.
No charges were filed, and police said there was no evidence he was impaired.
Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. Monday and Tuesday had been set aside for Discovery-owned GOLFTV for Woods to give playing tips to celebrities. A tweet Monday showed him in a cart at Rolling Hills Country Club with comedian David Spade. He also worked with NBA great Dwyane Wade, who posted a video to his Instagram account.
Woods was headed to Rolling Hills on Tuesday when the accident happened.
“It was a great day,” Wade said Tuesday night on Turner Sports, where he is a studio analyst. “And I woke up today so proud to be able to post that moment for the world, like a little snippet of our moment together. And I took a nap, and I woke up to the news. So, you know, just like everybody out there, my thoughts and prayers are all to his loved ones.”
Thoughts and prayers have come from everywhere — Jack Nicklaus and Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson, and former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Woods played golf with both of them, and Trump awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019 after perhaps his great triumph — the Masters after he had gone through four back surgeries.
Woods had a fifth back surgery, a microdiscectomy, on Dec. 23, just three days after he played the PNC Championship with his son Charlie, who now is 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter, Samantha.
The news put a damper on the World Golf Championship in Florida, where Woods was eligible to play if healthy.
“I’m sick to my stomach,” said Justin Thomas, No. 3 in the world and among the younger players whom Woods has embraced. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.”
The crash happened about 7:15 a.m. as he drove his courtesy vehicle from the Genesis Invitational through the upscale suburbs. Gonzalez says he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph (129 kph) in the 45 mph zone and crashes are common.
Police said Woods was alert as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the airbags deployed and the inside of the SUV stayed mostly intact, which “gave him a cushion to survive the crash.”
Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and found none. They didn’t say how fast he was driving.
This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women.
In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder.
Woods hasn’t won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he’s reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. Besides his five back surgeries, he’s had four surgeries on his left knee.
He was asked during the CBS broadcast Sunday at Riviera about recovering from his back surgery in time to play the Masters and Woods replied, “God, I hope so. I've got to get there first.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday the United States will vie for a seat at the U.N.'s human rights body, which would cement a U.S. return to a Geneva-based body that was shunned by the Trump administration.
The top U.S. diplomat said his country will seek a three-year term starting next year at the Human Rights Council, and acknowledged it needs reform, particularly to end its “disproportionate” focus on Israel — the only country whose rights record comes up for scrutiny at every one of its thrice-yearly meetings.
In a video message, Blinken raised concerns about countries including Myanmar, which has faced international criticism over a military coup last month, China over its Xinjiang region, and Russia after the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and demonstrators during protests against President Vladimir Putin’s government.
“The United States is placing democracy and human rights at the center of our foreign policy because they’re essential for peace and stability,” Blinken said, adding that "the United States will seek election to the Human Rights Council for the 2022 to 2024 term.”
The U.N. General Assembly makes the final choice in a vote that generally takes place in October every year to fill vacant seats at the 47-member-state council. The U.S., which currently has “observer status,” will seek one of three full-member seats left vacant when the current terms of Austria, Denmark and Italy — from the "Western Europe and other states group” — expire at the end of this year.
In mid-2018, then President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the council over its excessive focus on Israel, which has received the largest number of critical council resolutions against any country by far, and because it failed to meet an extensive list of reforms demanded by Nikki Haley, the then-U.S. ambassador to the U.N.
The Trump administration also took issue with the body’s membership, which currently includes China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia and Venezuela, all of which have been accused of human rights abuses.
Echoing such concerns, Blinken said countries “with the worst human rights record should not be members of this council.” He also repeated U.S. calls for an end to the council's regular agenda item, known as Item 7, that focuses on Israel and the Palestinian territories.
He added that Washington would “continue to call out abuses in places like Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Iran” and reiterated U.S. calls for the Russian government to “immediately and unconditionally release" Alexei Navalny and other critics of President Vladimir Putin who have been “wrongly detained.”
The comments came on the last day of the “high-level segment” of the council session, which lasts until March 23.
Other top speakers including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who focused in large part on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human rights — and took aim at Western countries. He spoke shortly before Blinken.
“The pandemic has exacerbated longstanding problems such as racism and xenophobia and discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities," Lavrov said, adding that mass demonstrations in the United States and Europe had exposed "persistent systemic inequalities.”
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He also called for greater regulation of social media networks, citing what he called increasing concern about their “non-transparent policies” — echoing longstanding Russian criticism of Western social media companies like Facebook and YouTube for they way they handle content by users.
Blinken said the United States “does not claim to be perfect, but we strive every day to improve, to hold ourselves accountable, to become a more perfect union.”
“We confront our own challenges openly, transparently, for the entire world to see, sometimes as painful, sometimes ugly,” he said. "But we deal with our problems openly and fully.”
Ghana has become the first country in the world to receive vaccines acquired through the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative with a delivery Wednesday of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India.
The vaccines, delivered by UNICEF, arrived at Accra’s Kotoka International Airport early Wednesday and are part of the first wave of COVID-19 vaccines that COVAX is sending to several low- and middle-income countries. Ghana is among 92 countries that have signed onto the COVAX program, according to a statement by Ghana’s acting Minister of Information Kojo Oppong Nkrumah.
The West African nation of 30 million has recorded 81,245 cases and 584 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to figures from Ghana’s Health Services Tuesday.
Ghana's vaccination campaign will begin March 2 and will be conducted in phases among prioritized groups, beginning with health workers, adults of 60 years and over, people with underlying health conditions, frontline executive, legislature, judiciary, and their related staff, said Nkrumah.
“The government of Ghana remains resolute at ensuring the welfare of all Ghanaians and is making frantic efforts to acquire adequate vaccines to cover the entire population through bilateral and multi-lateral agencies,” he said.
In a joint statement, the country representatives of UNICEF and WHO described the arrival of the COVAX vaccines as a “momentous occasion” critical to bringing the pandemic to an end.
“After a year of disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic ... the path to recovery for the people of Ghana can finally begin,” said the statement.
The COVAX shipment to Ghana is the start of what will be the world's largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history, according to the statement. COVAX plans to deliver close to 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines around the world this year.
“Today marks the historic moment for which we have been planning and working so hard. With the first shipment of doses, we can make good on the promise of the COVAX Facility to ensure people from less wealthy countries are not left behind in the race for life-saving vaccines,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF's executive director.
“The next phase in the fight against this disease can begin -– the ramping up of the largest immunization campaign in history," said Fore. "Each step on this journey brings us further along the path to recovery for the billions of children and families affected around the world.”
Prince Philip is “comfortable” in a London hospital where he is being treated for an infection, Buckingham Palace said Tuesday.
The palace said Philip, the 99-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II, is “comfortable and responding to treatment but is not expected to leave hospital for several days.”
He was admitted to the private King Edward VII's Hospital a week ago after feeling ill. The illness was not related to the coronavirus and royal officials called it a precautionary measure.
Philip's youngest son, Prince Edward, told Sky News that his father was “a lot better.”
Edward said "he’s looking forward to getting out, which is the most positive thing, so we keep our fingers crossed.”
Other members of the royal family have continued their official duties during Philip’s hospitalization.
Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, retired from public duties in 2017 and rarely appears in public. During England’s current coronavirus lockdown, he and the queen had been staying at Windsor Castle, west of London.
Both Philip and Elizabeth, 94, received COVID-19 vaccinations in January.
The queen performed her first face-to-face event of the year on Thursday, when she knighted a royal aide during a private, socially distanced ceremony at Windsor.
Philip, whose 100th birthday is in June, married Elizabeth in 1947 at London's Westminster Abbey five years before she became queen. He is the longest-serving royal consort in British history.
The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday ordered airlines in the United States to ground planes with the type of engine that blew apart after takeoff from Denver this past weekend until they can be inspected for stress cracks.
The FAA’s order applies to U.S. operators of airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines, which are used solely on Boeing 777s. Before the planes can fly again, operators must conduct a thermal acoustic image inspection of the large titanium fan blades at the front of each engine.
The technology can detect cracks on the interior surfaces of the hollow blades that can’t be seen by the naked eye, according to the order.
The FAA directive is a blow to United Airlines, which had 24 of the planes in service and is the only U.S. airline with the engine in its fleet.
“On Sunday, we voluntarily removed 24 Boeing 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000 series engines from our schedule,” said United spokesman David Gonzalez. “We’ve been working with the NTSB on their investigation and will comply with the FAA’s Emergency Airworthiness Directive to ensure all 52 of the impacted aircraft in our fleet meet our rigorous safety standards.”
A United flight from Denver to Honolulu made an emergency landing shortly after takeoff Saturday as pieces of the engine’s casing rained on suburban neighborhoods. None of the 231 passengers or 10 crew were hurt, and the flight landed safely.
Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said during a virtual news conference Monday night that a fractured fan blade found in the engine had visible signs of “damage consistent with metal fatigue.” The broken blade hit and fractured the blade next to it as the engine broke apart, according to a preliminary investigation.
Sumwalt said the blade that fractured first was flown on a private jet to Pratt & Whitney’s headquarters Monday night to be examined under the supervision of NTSB investigators.
“Our mission is to understand not only what happened, but why it happened, so that we can keep it from happening again,” he said.
The FAA directive said the agency would review the results of the inspections “on a rolling basis.”
“Based on the initial results as we receive them, as well as other data gained from the ongoing investigation, the FAA may revise this directive to set a new interval for this inspection or subsequent ones,” according to the order.
The previous inspection interval for Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines was 6,500 flight cycles. A flight cycle is defined as one takeoff and landing.
Video posted on Twitter from Saturday’s emergency showed the engine fully engulfed in flames as the plane flew. Freeze frames from a different video taken by a passenger sitting slightly in front of the engine and also posted on Twitter appeared to show a broken fan blade in the engine.
Passengers said they feared the plane would crash after an explosion and flash of light, while people on the ground saw huge chunks of the aircraft pour down, just missing one home and crushing a truck. The explosion, visible from the ground, left a trail of black smoke in the sky.