Tiger Woods of the holds his trophy after defeating compatriot...

Tiger Woods of the holds his trophy after defeating compatriot Rocco Mediate in the sudden death playoff at the 108th U.S. Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. (June 16, 2008) Credit: Getty Images

Tiger Woods won his last major tournament on one leg, so a few scratches and bruises from a car accident won't derail his quest to overtake Jack Nicklaus as the all-time king of major championships.

But the first reports of his accident early Friday morning were chilling. His injuries were described as "serious," and what could that mean? Broken bones, crushed skull, severed arteries?

For the generation who knew of Ben Hogan, the initial reports of Woods' accident ever so briefly evoked the memory of Hogan's bus collision in 1949. He nearly died in that accident, sustaining a broken pelvis and ankle, but he returned the next season to win the U.S. Open.

By late afternoon Friday, Woods' public relations spokesman, Glenn Greenspan, said the golfer was OK (also verified by his agent Mark Steinberg), had been treated for cuts and released from a hospital. Details of the accident were not forthcoming, nor were his plans for his Chevron World Challenge Golf Tournament next week in California.

Woods, as the host of the tournament that is a major fundraiser for his Tiger Woods Foundation, was scheduled to play this year after being forced to skip it last year as he recovered from reconstructive surgery on his left knee.

Woods had the surgery shortly after the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, where he won his 14th major title despite a knee so tender that he often seemed on the verge of collapse from the pain.

Though he would not be denied that major, which left him four back of Nicklaus' record of 18, Woods is stuck on that number after returning to play all four majors this season. He tied for sixth in the Masters and then at the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. He missed the cut in the British Open at Turnberry with an uncharacteristically sloppy performance.

At the PGA Championship at Hazeltine, the final major of the season, Woods did something he had never done before and would never want to do again: He lost after holding the 54-hole lead.

The unlikely Y.E. Yang of South Korea did to Woods what Woods had always done to his opponents in his extraordinary career. Yang chipped in for an eagle on the par-5 14th, then hit a marvelous shot over trees that landed 6 feet from the hole on the 18th. It left Woods stunned and in second place.

But this has been another fine season for Woods, who said he was ultimately satisfied with the outcome because he did not know how his knee would hold up to the rigors of a full schedule. He won six times on the PGA Tour, was invincible in the Presidents Cup Matches, and two weeks ago won the Australian Masters.

Then early Friday morning near his house in suburban Orlando, Woods hit a fire hydrant and a tree with his sport utility vehicle and came out a loser. But mercifully he has not lost his magnificent career. He's still stalking Jack Nicklaus.

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