Golf

Woods withdraws with back spasm

Former world No. 1 Tiger Woods withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic before the start of yesterday's second round due to a back injury.

A back spasm overnight failed to subside, forcing the 14-time Major winner to concede he could not compete as his comeback struggles continue.

The 41-year-old Woods shot a five-over 77 in the first round on Thursday, but insisted he wasn't in any pain.

"No, I wasn't in pain at all. I was just trying to hit shots and I wasn't doing a very good job," the American said.

His manager Mark Steinberg told reporters in Dubai that it wasn't the nerve issue that kept Woods out of the game for 16 months before his return late last year, but back spasms.

"He felt okay coming off the golf course on Thursday. So he wasn't in pain. I didn't see him at dinner, but he said he was okay," explained Steinberg.

"He then went into a spasm in his lower back, late last night after dinner.

"He tried to work it out last night. Didn't really get it worked out. Had treatment starting pretty early this morning, for probably the past three, three-and-a-half hours, and he can't get the spasm to settle.

"He says it's not the nerve pain that's kept him out for so long. He says it's a back spasm and he just can't get the spasm to calm down.

"He talked to Matthew (Fitzpatrick) and Danny (Willett), and he feels terrible for the tournament. He can move around, but he can't make a full rotation on the swing."

Woods was scheduled to take a week off after Dubai and then play two successive weeks on the US PGA Tour - at the Genesis Open and Honda Classic.

But Steinberg did not comment about Woods' status for those two tournaments.

"Spasms are a funny thing. I'm certainly no doctor, but they come and go. And again, the fact that he feels as though it's not the nerve pain, that's very encouraging for him," he said.

"He has his trainer here, which is good, and he has been working on him for the past several hours. So yeah, he'll get it to calm down." - AFP

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