“I’m sick to my stomach,” said a visibly upset Justin Thomas, who is 18 years younger than Woods but has formed a tight personal bond with him. “You know, it hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right. Just worry for his kids, you know. I’m sure they’re struggling.”
Thomas was speaking at the World Golf Championships-Workday Championship in Florida, where the tour has arrived after a swing through California that included last week’s Genesis Invitational. In a non-playing capacity, Woods, who is recovering from back surgery he underwent in January, served as host of the Genesis. The event was held in Pacific Palisades, Calif., approximately 25 miles north of the crash site.
“It’s sickening,” Adam Scott told the PGA Tour’s website while in Bradenton, Fla., for this week’s event. “He’s our hero out here. You think guys like Tiger and Kobe Bryant are untouchable, but they’re not. I just hope he’s all right.”
Scott was hardly the only one Tuesday to mention Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar who was killed almost 13 months ago in a helicopter accident in the Los Angeles area. A crucial difference is that Woods is expected to make some sort of recovery, a fact not lost on his fellow PGA players.
“I have no doubt in my mind he’ll be back,” Bryson DeChambeau said of Woods. DeChambeau mentioned Ben Hogan, the legendary golfer who overcame a major car crash in 1949 to win six of his nine major championships, and praised Woods as “an amazing human being.”
“Heartbroken and shocked to hear about @Tiger Woods accident today,” DeChambeau tweeted. “My thoughts and prayers are with him for a full recovery.”
Describing the atmosphere in Bradenton as “very quiet,” Xander Schauffele told the tour’s website: “Everyone I’ve talked to has been in a strange mood due to the news. I was talking to my caddie about the impact he’s had on the game of golf. It’s not good for us, not good for the game of golf. All we can do is hope that he’s fine and has a speedy recovery.”
Woods “means a lot to the game of golf,” said Tony Finau, who finished second in a playoff at the Genesis Invitational and who declared that Woods’s stunning, runaway victory at the 1997 Masters “changed the course of my life.”
“When I saw the condition of his car, you just hope that he’s okay,” added Finau.
Jon Rahm said he was playing a practice round with Finau when Finau began seeing the news on his phone. “I couldn’t believe it — as if his body hasn’t endured enough,” Rahm said of Woods, whose career was derailed for several years by back surgeries and knee procedures.
“On behalf of the PGA TOUR and our players, Tiger is in our prayers and will have our full support as he recovers,” Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement. He added that his organization was “awaiting further information when [Woods] comes out of surgery.”
Many current and former PGA players chimed in on Twitter, including Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and a pair of British stars, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter.
Saying that he and his wife, Barbara, were “deeply concerned” about Woods’s condition, Nicklaus tweeted, “We want to offer him our heartfelt support and prayers at this difficult time.”
Nicklaus’s record of 18 major wins has long been chased by Woods, who won his 15th at the 2019 Masters, capping a return to form that thrilled fans and peers alike. “Please join us in wishing Tiger a successful surgery and all the best for a full recovery,” Nicklaus wrote.
Mickelson, a longtime competitive rival who has forged a friendship with Woods, tweeted, “We are all pulling for you, Tiger. We are so sorry that you and your family are going through this tough time. Everyone hopes and prays for your full and speedy recovery.”
“We know how tough you are,” tweeted Rose, “we’ve seen it a hundred times. Hoping and praying you’re ok my friend.”
“Thoughts are with [Woods] and others involved,” Poulter wrote, “wishing a speedy recovery and I hope the injuries are not bad.”
Another golf legend, Gary Player, shared a note in which he said, “I would like to let Tiger and his family know that we are pulling for him in surgery and wishing him a speedy recovery. Prayers that it is not too serious.”
Former president Donald Trump is unable to tweet from his own account, but through adviser Jason Miller he said, “Get well soon, Tiger. You are a true champion!”
In an appearance Tuesday evening on Fox News, Trump said it was “tragic” that Woods — whom Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019 — suffered this calamity while already trying to recover from another back procedure. “It’s pretty bad on the legs, I understand, and he’ll figure a way — but he’s a wonderful person.”
Other major sports figures added well-wishes, including retired Lakers great Magic Johnson, who tweeted, “Everyone send your prayers out to Tiger Woods! He was just in a bad car accident. Let us all pray for his speedy recovery.”
Former MLB star Alex Rodriguez said on Twitter, “Praying for my brother [Woods] as we all anxiously await more news. Thinking of him and his entire family.”
Former Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade noted on TNT’s NBA pregame show Tuesday that he had been golfing just the day before with Woods, whom he credited for inspiring him and “many in the Black community” to take up the sport.
“Just like everybody out there, my thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones,” said Wade, “because we all were shaken by that moment, not knowing what happened with Tiger.”
Members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said at a news conference Tuesday that Woods was “fortunate to come out of this alive.”
The fact that the golfer was wearing a seat belt helped, they said, as did the safety features of the SUV he was driving. The department also said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was driving while impaired.