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After Tiger Woods' accident, many look to golfer Ben Hogan's 1949 car crash and comeback

After being told he'd never walk again, Hogan came back to win several championships. Now fans are hoping the same for Woods.
Ben Hogan, Tiger Woods
Sports fans are drawing comparisons between accidents involving two golf champs: Ben Hogan (left), seen in 1953, and Tiger Woods (right), seen in 2006.AP, Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

More than 70 years ago, the late golfer Ben Hogan sustained severe injuries after a Greyhound bus struck his black Cadillac while he was driving with his wife in Texas, nearly killing him.

Now sports fans are drawing comparisons between that crash and the one Tiger Woods was involved in Tuesday.

Hogan, who was 36 years old at the time of his accident, not only survived but went on to win several more major tournaments.

Ben Hogan car crash
This is the wreckage of the 1949 Cadillac that golfer Ben Hogan was driving when he was in a collision with a bus near Van Horn, Texas.AP

"They told him he'd never walk again," Jimmy Roberts, NBC Sports and Golf Channel host, said on TODAY Wednesday. "He came back to win six more major championships and 13 more PGA tour titles."

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Hogan was driving through fog when the 20,000-pound bus slammed into the driver's side of his car in 1949. Hogan threw his upper body across his wife, likely saving her from launching through the windshield, according to Golf Channel. She sustained only minor injures, but Hogan's legs were badly hurt. He also suffered injuries to his collarbone, ribs, ankle, pelvis and bladder, and it took an hour for his body to be pulled from the wreckage, Golf Channel reported.

The following year, Hogan won the U.S. Open.

Ben Hogan
Hogan being ushered from a train on his way back home on April 1, 1949. After the crash, the golfer recovered and went on to win several more championships.AP

On Tuesday morning, Woods was driving an SUV when he crashed along an "accident-prone stretch of road" near Los Angeles, according to a first responder at the scene. The 45-year-old golf pro "suffered significant orthopaedic injuries to his right lower extremity," Anish Mahajan, chief medical officer and interim CEO at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, said in a statement shared by Woods' team. He underwent emergency surgery and had a rod put in his leg and screws and pins in his foot and ankle, the statement said.

Woods is currently awake and recovering in his hospital room, according to his team.

In 2009, Woods was involved in another single-car accident, when he crashed his SUV into a tree outside his Florida home. Following that crash, he was criticized for comparing himself to Hogan, calling his own journey "very similar to what Hogan went through coming off the accident," according to the Los Angeles Times.

Several years later, Woods reportedly called Hogan's story "one of the greatest comebacks in all of sport."

Now fans are hoping they'll be able to say the same for Woods.

On TODAY, Roberts pointed to other athletes who also made great comebacks following severe injuries, including Washington quarterback Alex Smith, who returned to the sport after a leg infection nearly killed him, and NBA player Paul George, who suffered a gruesome leg injury in 2014 and then returned to the league better than before.

"Of all the athletes I have ever covered, (Woods) is the most fierce," Roberts said. "I don't think any of us know what lies ahead for him — it's obviously going to be determined by his physical condition. But if you want to isolate this to a question of will and attitude, he is as uniquely equipped to mount a comeback as anyone I have ever known."