Tiger Woods withdrew from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Friday because of back spasms — one day after shooting an opening 5-over-par 77 — in another setback to his return to golf after a long injury layoff.
Woods’ manager, Mark Steinberg, said the 14-time major champion had back spasms after dinner on Thursday night.
“Tiger Woods went into a spasm in his lower back fairly late last night … got treatment done early this morning for 3 1/2 hours, but can’t get it out,” Steinberg said at Emirates Golf Club. “He says it’s not the nerve, but back spasm, and he can’t get the spasms to calm down. He can move around, but he can’t make a full rotation in his swing.”
Woods had five bogeys and no birdies during his first round at the European Tour event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The 41-year-old Woods, who dismissed his health issues for the reason of his poor play on Thursday, was playing in his second official tournament following a 17-month layoff due to multiple back surgeries in 2015.
“No, I wasn’t in pain at all,” Woods said when asked about it after his opening round. “I was just trying to hit shots, and I wasn’t doing a very good job.”
Woods was paid a seven-figure appearance fee to play in the tournament, the first time he traveled to the Middle East for an event in three years.
Steinberg told ESPN the hope is that Woods can still play in the Genesis Open (Feb. 16-19) — which benefits Woods’ foundation — at Riviera Country Club in two weeks.
“Spasms are a funny thing; I’m certainly no doctor, but they come and go,” Steinberg said. “And again, the fact that he feels as though it’s not the nerve pain, that’s very encouraging for him. He’s had spasms before. He’s got to get the spasm to calm down, from what I gather. He has his trainer here, which is good, and that’s who has been working on him for the past several hours.”
Meanwhile, the second round of the tournament on Friday was suspended due to strong winds that brought down some trees.
George Coetzee of South Africa was at 9 under after eight holes and overnight leader Sergio Garcia of Spain was at 8 under after five holes.
Martin Kaymer of Germany and Rafael Cabrera-Bello of Spain shot 69s and had the lowest scores after two full rounds, tied at 4 under.