The next instalment in Tiger Woods’ comeback has been overshadowed by one of his fellow PGA Tour players, Bill Haas, escaping serious injury in a fatal car accident in Los Angeles, writes Martin Dempster.
Haas, a six-time winner on the US circuit, was taken to hospital before later being released following a crash between a Ferrari and a BMW in the Pacific Palisades neighbourhood that left one person dead and two injured.
The driver of the Ferrari, in which 35-year-old Haas was travelling, was pronounced dead at the scene. According to reports, Haas had been staying with the deceased person ahead of this week’s Genesis Open at nearby Riviera Country Club.
Haas announced his withdrawal from the tournament, which features both Woods and Rory McIlroy, to recover at his home in Greenville, South Carolina.
“While Bill escaped serious injuries and has been released from the hospital, he is understandably shaken up and – more importantly – his deepest condolences go out to the host family during this tragic and difficult time,” said his manager, Allen Hobbs, of Players Group Management.
Speaking to the Golf Channel, Haas’ father, Jay, revealed that his son has pain and swelling in his leg but suffered no broken bones and is expected to make a full recovery. “Bill was very fortunate,” said Haas snr.
An actor, Luke Wilson, was in a car hit by the Ferrari just before the crash, according to the LAPD. “His vehicle got clipped by the Ferrari,” said a spokesman.
Woods, who is making just his second PGA Tour appearance since undergoing spinal fusion surgery just under a year ago, has McIlroy and US PGA champion Justin Thomas for company in the opening two rounds at the venue where he made his tour debut as an amateur in 1992.
“I’m just starting back,” he said at his pre-tournament press conference in playing down expectations. “I’ve been away from the game a pretty long time. I have a lot of room for improvement and I have a long way to go. Eventually I’d like to win tournaments. I am trying to get through that process to get to that point.
“I’m making small, subtle changes in my posture and my swing because I’m starting to understand my body a little bit more, because this back is just different than it used to be.
“The more tournaments I play in I’ll get used to that. But I don’t want to play too much. This is all still new to me and I want to be smart about it.”