Tiger Woods withdraws from Dubai Desert Classic

Golf News

The 14-time major winner pulls out ahead of the second round due to a "bad back".

Tiger Woods has withdrawn from the Dubai Desert Classic due to injury.

The 41-year-old, who shot an opening 77 on Thursday, only returned to action in December after 15 months out before missing the cut at Torrey Pines last week.

Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, said the 14-time major champion suffered a back spasm that he “can’t get to calm down”.

Speaking to reporters in Dubai, Steinberg added: “He feels terrible. He talked to [playing partners] Matthew [Fitzpatrick] and Danny [Willett] and feels awful.

“He can move around, he just can’t make a full rotation on the swing. That’s where we are.”

Asked if Woods had experienced similar problems in recent weeks, Steinberg said: “Spasms are a funny thing. I’m certainly no doctor but they come and go. The fact that he feels though it’s not the nerve pain is very encouraging for him.

“He’s had some spasms before no doubt about it. He’s got to get the spasm to calm down. He has his trainer here which is good. That’s who has been working on him for the past several hours.

“He’ll get it to calm down and forget about the long term, the short-term prognosis he thinks hopefully will be strong based on the fact that it’s not that nerve pain.”

Steinberg admitted the long flight from California to Dubai, where Woods has won twice before, could have been a factor.

“It’s one of those where it just happened,” he added. “I’m sure there are so many different factors that could play into it. He doesn’t have the strongest back in the world right, so it’s probably easier to spasm because of the issues he’s had.

“But he wanted to be here. He wants to be here and just feels terrible he can’t finish it out today.”

After calming fears over his fitness following round one, Woods’ withdrawal came just an hour before he was due to tee off on Friday.

Woods failed to card a single birdie on the opening day at the Emirates Golf Club, but insisted his latest swing is designed to “play away from pain” after he played just his third competitive round in more than a year – a time in which he went under the knife on three separate occasions.

He did not look at full fitness on Thursday, climbing gingerly out of a greenside bunker on his first hole and notably grimacing as he walked off the tee on the seventh, his 16th.

But he insisted he “wasn’t in pain at all” before adding: “I was just trying to hit shots and I wasn’t doing a very good job. At the end I finally hit some good ones but the damage had already been done.”

It remains to be seen how it will affect Woods’ schedule. He was set to have next week off before competing in the Genesis Open at Riviera and the Honda Classic at PGA National.

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