DUBAI • The latest troubles involving Tiger Woods' back led to him withdrawing from the Dubai Desert Classic yesterday before hitting a single second-round shot.
The former world No. 1 golfer suffered back spasms from Thursday night, which his management insisted are not related to recent nerve surgeries.
Still, serious doubts over the 41-year-old's longevity naturally remain. Woods, who had struggled to a 77 in the opening round, claimed afterwards that he was not in any pain despite looking uncomfortable.
The 14-time Major winner's manager, Mark Steinberg, delivered more details on another tale of woe. "He felt okay coming off the golf course yesterday," said Steinberg. "So he wasn't in pain.
"I didn't see him at dinner last night but he said he was okay. He went into a spasm in his lower back fairly 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 3-31/2 hours... it's a back spasm.
He says it's not the nerve pain that's kept him out for so long... Forget about the long term; the short-term prognosis, he hopes he'll be strong.
MARK STEINBERG, Tiger Woods' manager, on the American golfer's condition.
"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. So that's where we are. He can move around, but he can't make a full rotation on the swing."
Woods' absence yesterday meant Matthew Fitzpatrick and Danny Willett were forced to play as a two-ball.
"He feels terrible," Steinberg said. "He talked to Matthew and Danny, feels awful, and he feels terrible for the tournament.
"He has 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...
"Forget about the long term; the short-term prognosis, he hopes he'll be strong."
Woods, who missed the cut at last week's Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour and now languishes down in 666th in the world rankings, is next scheduled to appear at the Genesis Open from Feb 16 and the Honda Classic seven days later.
Steinberg did not comment about Woods' status for those events.
The tournament, meanwhile, was suspended due to high winds with less than half the field completing their rounds. George Coetzee was the overall leader at nine under, a shot ahead of overnight leader Sergio Garcia.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC
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