Tiger Woods withdrew from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic before teeing off in the second round at Emirates Golf Club this morning.
The two-time winner’s premature exit from the event came after he’d been walking gingerly on his way to an opening 77 - his worst score at the UAE venue.
Woods insisted afterwards that he’d not been in pain, and, according to his manager, his withdrawal was caused by a spasm rather than a recurrence of any nerve issue.
“Tiger felt okay when he came off the course yesterday, so he wasn’t in pain. I didn’t see him at dinner but he said he was okay,” Mark Steinberg told reporters.
“He went into a spasm in his lower back fairly late last night after dinner. He tried to work it out but didn’t really get it worked out.
“He then had treatment early this morning for three to three-and-a-half hours but can’t get the spasm to calm down.
“He feels awful for the tournament, but he says it’s not the nerve pain that’s kept him out for so long, so that’s very encouraging for him.” The setback came in just his third event since returning from a 15-month lay-off following three separate back surgeries.
He was optimistic following his comeback in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in December but missed the cut following rounds of 76 and 72 in the Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour in San Diego last week.
Woods now has a week off before his next two scheduled events - the Genesis Open in Los Angeles then the Honda Classic in Florida.
“I think spasms are a funny thing,” added Steinberg. “I’m certainly no doctor, but they come and go.
“He’s had some spasms before and I’m sure there’s so many different factors that could play into it.
“Look, he doesn’t have the strongest back in the world, so it’s probably easier to spasm.”