Tiger Woods was driving at nearly twice the speed limit on a downhill stretch of road when he lost control of a four-wheel-drive outside Los Angeles and crashed in a wreck that left the golf superstar seriously injured.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva blamed the February 23 crash solely on excessive speed and Woods’ loss of control behind the wheel on the curved road.
Woods was driving at 135-140km/h in an area that had a speed limit of 72km/h, Mr Villanueva said.
“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,” the sheriff said on Wednesday (local time).
There was no evidence that the golfer tried to brake and it’s believed Woods inadvertently stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake pedal, Sheriff’s Captain James Powers said.
The 15-time major champion was wearing a seat belt at the time, and the 4WD’s airbags deployed.
The stretch of road is known for crashes and high speeds. Due to the steepness of the road, there is a runaway truck escape lane just beyond where Woods crashed.
Officials said Woods told police that he had not taken medication or consumed alcohol before the crash.
“Those questions were asked and answered,” Captain Powers said.
Detectives did not seek search warrants for blood samples, which could have been screened for drugs or alcohol, or Woods’ phone.
Authorities said there was no evidence of impairment or of distracted driving, so they did not have probable cause to get warrants.
Investigators did search the vehicle’s data recorder, known as a black box, which revealed the 4WD’s speed.
No traffic citations were issued. The sheriff said Woods gave permission for authorities to reveal details about the crash.
Documents show that Woods told authorities he did not know how the crash occurred and did not remember driving.
At the time of the wreck, Woods was recovering from a fifth back surgery from two months earlier.
Woods, who is originally from the Los Angeles area, had been back home to host his PGA tournament, the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, when the crash happened.
He was driving a 4WD loaned to him by the tournament when he struck a raised median in Rolling Hills Estates.
The vehicle crossed through two oncoming lanes and uprooted a tree, striking it at 120km/h.
Woods is in Florida recovering from multiple surgeries, including lengthy surgery for shattered tibia and fibula bones in his right leg in multiple locations.
Those were stabilised with a rod in his tibia. Additional injuries to the bones in his foot and ankle required screws and pins.
Woods, 45, has never gone an entire year without playing, dating back to his first PGA Tour event as a 16-year-old.
He had hoped to play this year in the Masters tournament, which begins Thursday.
Rory McIlroy, a four-time major champion who lives near Woods in Florida, said he visited him on March 21.
“Spent a couple hours with him, which was nice. It was good to see him,” McIlroy said on Tuesday.
“It was good to see him in decent spirits. When you hear of these things and you look at the car and you see the crash, you think he’s going to be in a hospital bed for six months. But he was actually doing better than that.”
This is the third time Woods has been involved in a vehicle investigation.
The most notorious example was when his 4WD ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree early one morning in 2009.
That crash was the start of revelations that he had been cheating on his wife.
Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic and did not return to golf for five months.