* Woods crashed Friday as he exited driveway
* Wife smashed car window with golf club to get him out
* Injuries not serious, his office says
(Updates with Florida Highway Patrol quote)
By Jim Loney
MIAMI, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Police in Florida plan to interview Tiger Woods on Saturday about the events surrounding a car accident outside the golf champion’s house.
Woods, the world’s top golfer and a major sports marketing star, hit a fire hydrant and tree early Friday as he pulled his Cadillac Escalade out of the driveway of his house in Windermere, Florida, near Orlando, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
He was treated at a nearby hospital with what police described as “serious injuries,” but the golfer’s office said the accident was minor and that Woods had been released from the hospital in good condition after being treated.
Investigators planned to question Woods, 33, who made a triumphant return to professional golf this year after missing much of last season following reconstructive knee surgery.
“We are investigating this as a traffic crash ... our officers will be interviewing him (Tiger) this afternoon, but we won’t be releasing any information,” Kim Montes, a sergeant with the Florida Highway Patrol’s Orlando division on Saturday.
When police arrived at Woods’ home shortly after the accident, the golfer was bleeding from the mouth and was “in and out of it for several minutes,” Windermere Police Chief Daniel Saylor told CNN on Friday.
He “was on the ground, semi-unconscious and had lacerations to the upper and lower lips,” Saylor said, adding that Woods’ wife, Elin Nordegren, used a golf club to smash a window of his SUV to get him out.
Nordegren “explained to my officers that the doors were locked and she could not gain entry” into the crashed vehicle, so she “used a golf club” to smash a window, he said.
Woods was the only passenger in the vehicle, Saylor said.
The accident was not alcohol-related, the FHP said. “The crash remains under investigation and charges are pending,” it said.
Woods’ office, in a statement published on his website, said: “He was admitted, treated and released today in good condition. We appreciate very much everyone’s thoughts and well wishes.”
Woods is perhaps the world’s richest athlete and the biggest draw on the PGA tour as he chases Jack Nicklaus’ record for victories in major tournaments and the unofficial title of best golfer ever. He has won 71 times on the PGA tour in a glittering career that includes 14 major wins.
He returned to action in February this year after being sidelined for eight months due to the knee surgery, and finished on top of the FedEx Cup standings for the season.
The Orlando Sentinel newspaper, citing the highway patrol, reported that the airbags in the Cadillac did not deploy, an indication that the car was traveling under 33 mph (53 kph).
“Basically it was facial lacerations, and as I‘m understanding it, nothing that serious,” Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn told CNN.
Woods is the greatest golfer of his generation and arguably the best of all time. He trails Nicklaus, his childhood idol, by just four majors in all-time standings.
Forbes magazine said in September that Woods’ victory in the FedEx Cup, with its $10 million prize, made him the first billionaire athlete. He has lucrative endorsement deals with Nike, Buick, Gillette and Gatorade.
“Like millions of fans around the world, we are grateful he was not seriously hurt and has been released in good condition,” said Michael Norton, spokesman for Gillette, which is owned by Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N).
Forbes said earlier this year that Woods was the highest earner in sports with $110 million during the previous 12 months, 2 1/2 times that of his nearest competitor.
His impact on the sport has gone beyond his performances and earnings. As a player of mixed ethnic descent -- his father was African-American and his mother was from Thailand -- he is credited with broadening the appeal of the game.
Woods, who has two young children with Nordegren, is scheduled to host his annual Chevron World Challenge tournament in Thousand Oaks, California, next week. It starts on Thursday.
Born in Cypress, California, Woods was destined for golf stardom when he won three consecutive U.S. junior titles and three successive U.S. amateur championships before turning pro in late 1996.
He had swift success as a pro, becoming the youngest winner of the Masters tournament at Augusta National in 1997. His victory margin of 12 shots was the biggest in the tournament’s history. (Additional reporting by Simon Evans in Miami, Robert Green in Tampa, Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles, John O‘Callaghan, Xavier Briand and Paul Simao in Washington and Martinne Geller in New York)