Why Tiger Woods was driving solo to a Discovery TV shoot before his accident

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Meg James, Wendy Lee
·5 min read
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FILE - Tiger Woods looks on during the trophy ceremony on the practice green after the final round of the Genesis Invitational golf tournament at Riviera Country Club, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles. Woods was injured Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in a vehicle rollover in Los Angeles County and had to be extricated from the vehicle with the "jaws of life" tools, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.(AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
Tiger Woods looks on during Sunday's trophy ceremony at the Genesis Invitational golf tournament, for which he'd served as host, at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. (Ryan Kang / Associated Press)

Tiger Woods' catastrophic crash in Los Angeles has cast a spotlight on a low-budget documentary series that featured golf's biggest star.

Woods was on his way to Rolling Hills Country Club Tuesday for an 8 a.m. shoot for a TV series destined for GolfTV and the Discovery+ streaming service. But a few minutes after 7 a.m., Woods lost control of the luxury SUV he was driving, a 2021 Genesis GV80, plowing into a curb and a "Welcome to Rolling Hills Estates" sign in the center divider, flipping several times into trees and brush off Hawthorne Boulevard, police and fire department officials said.

Woods, who had to be extricated from the smashed SUV, suffered leg fractures, a broken ankle and was unable to walk.

Woods was scheduled to meet prominent Hollywood director Peter Berg and NFL stars Drew Brees and Justin Herbert for the second day of a two-day shoot for a documentary-styled series called "Tiger Woods: My Game," according to two people familiar with the production who were not authorized to comment. The NFL players and the production crew waited for about two hours on Tuesday for Woods to show up, unaware that he had been in an accident, one of these people said.

TV giant Discovery typically provides transportation for stars of its productions, arranging professional drivers to deliver the talent to and from sets and location shoots, according to an executive close to the company who was not authorized to comment.

That was the arrangement for this week's shoot in Rolling Hills Estates, people close to the production said.

It's unclear why Woods did not opt to have a chauffeur take him to the film site, but Woods is known, in golf circles, to prefer to drive himself to events, often with caddie Joe LaCava in the passenger seat.

"That's not a question for Discovery — that's a question for Tiger's team," said Fiona McLachlan, a London-based senior vice president for sports communications for Discovery. McLachlan declined further comment.

Tiger Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, did not respond to requests for comment.

Woods famously has been involved in two previous car crashes. On Tuesday, he was behind the wheel of the same SUV that he drove to the Genesis Invitational golf tournament when hosting the event at the Riviera Country Club last weekend, one insider said. Even though a car service was offered by Discovery, it is not uncommon for people to drive themselves to film shoots during the pandemic, this person said.

Workers collect debris beside the SUV that had been driven by Tiger Woods.
Workers collect debris beside the SUV that had been driven by Tiger Woods. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Berg, a prolific Hollywood director and producer, was directing the episode for his Los Angeles-based company, Film 45, for the New York-based media company Discovery, which owns HGTV, TLC, Animal Planet, GolfTV channel, Golf Digest and the Discovery+ streaming service.

Film 45 is owned by Endeavor, the Hollywood juggernaut that also owns the prominent talent agency WME.

"We shot with Tiger yesterday and he was charming, giving and full of life," Berg wrote late Tuesday night in an Instagram post. "He was professional and [expletive] awesome. Today he didn’t make it to set and we are a heartbroken crew ... He has brought us all so much joy and his life force will carry him through this."

Berg's Film 45, which he launched in 2015, creates non-scripted content for film, TV and digital platforms. Past projects include “Being Serena,” a documentary about tennis star Serena Williams, and “Garth Brooks: The Road I’m On,” a four-part special about the country music artist, according to the company's website. His company also creates high-profile TV commercials and other branded entertainment.

Berg is best known for "Friday Night Lights," "Patriot's Day" and HBO's "Ballers."

Initially, the Woods project was envisioned as much larger scale, with stunts and a bigger budget, but over time the size and scope were modified. Discovery instead decided on a documentary, "fly-on-the-wall" type production with non-union crews to give it a more intimate feel, people familiar with the matter said.

Had it been a union project, a Teamsters driver could have chauffeured Tiger Woods and any other talent or crew to the film location, said Lindsay Dougherty, an organizer at the Teamsters Local 399, which represents drivers, casting directors and location managers.

Endeavor and Film 45 declined to comment for this story.

The series sprung from a four-year deal worth an estimated $35 million that Discovery struck with Woods in November 2018.

At the time, Discovery billed the arrangement as "a strategic partnership" between Discovery, the PGA Tour, GolfTV and Woods. The cable programming giant, which owns several international sports channels, said that it would "collaborate with Woods on a wide range of programming, content creation and storytelling opportunities that will offer fans an authentic and regular look into the life, mind and performance of the game’s ultimate icon."

"The GOLFTV partnership will reveal Woods as fans have never seen him before, providing an unparalleled opportunity to get close to Woods’ practice routines, preparation and life on the road through a variety of programming showcased exclusively on GOLFTV," the 2018 release said.

Nearly two years ago, Discovery bought Golf Digest from magazine publishing company Condé Nast. The shoot was expected to generate content for Golf Digest as well as the GolfTV channel and Discovery+, said the knowledgeable insiders.

"Everyone at Discovery wishes Tiger a speedy recovery and our thoughts are with him, his family and his team at this time," Discovery said in a statement.

Woods was recovering from back surgery, so he did not play golf during this week's shoot. Instead, the knowledgeable source said that Woods was giving "on-course" golf advice and pointers to other celebrities. A second person familiar with the production called it a "master-class in golf."

On Monday, Woods was filmed with actor David Spade, actress Jada Pinkett Smith and former NBA star Dwyane Wade.

Staff writers Sam Farmer and Anousha Sakoui contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.