Woods withdraws from Dubai Desert Classic with back injury

The 14-time major champion – who shot a five-over 77 in the opening round on Thursday –  has withdrawn from the Dubai Desert Classic with a bad back, the European Tour has announced.

TigerWoodsCropped

Tiger Woods opening 18 holes at the Emirates Golf Club failed to yield an upturn in fortunes, with the American finishing 12 shots adrift of first-round leader Sergio Garcia.   -  Getty Images

Tiger Woods has withdrawn from the Dubai Desert Classic with a bad back, the European Tour has announced.

The 14-time major champion – who shot a five-over 77 in the opening round on Thursday – missed 15 months of action after having two operations on the troublesome injury, which saw Woods plummet down the world rankings.

Woods made an eagerly awaited return at the Hero World Challenge in December, before making his PGA Tour comeback at the Farmers Insurance Open last week.

However, the 41-year-old missed the cut at Torrey Pines after going four over par through his first two rounds.

His opening 18 holes at the Emirates Golf Club failed to yield an upturn in fortunes, with the American finishing 12 shots adrift of first-round leader Sergio Garcia.

Woods remained buoyant about his chances after that round and claimed not to have felt any pain in his back.

Watch: >Tiger Woods: 'I'm fighting my ass off'

"Hopefully this wind blows tomorrow [Friday] and I shoot a good round and get back to even par now," he said. "That's certainly not out of the realm of winning the golf tournament.

"The last two drives I hit off of eight and nine, there's something different. I need to figure out what the hell I did that was different and then replicate it for hopefully another 54 more holes. I wasn't in pain at all. I was just trying to hit shots and I wasn't doing a very good job. I'm fighting my ass off to try and shoot a score."

The 41-year-old's agent, Mark Steinberg, says Woods has been receiving treatment for a spasm and is hopeful the prognosis will be positive.

"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," said Steinberg.

"So that's where we are. He feels terrible. He talked to [playing partners] Matthew [Fitzpatrick] and Danny [Willett], he feels awful, and he feels terrible for the tournament. He wanted to be here. He wants to be here. 

"He just feels terrible that he can't finish it out. He can move around, he can't make a full rotation on the swing.

"I think spasms are a funny thing, I'm certainly not a doctor, but they come and go – again the fact that he feels it's not the nerve pain is very encouraging for him.

"He's had some spasms before that's for sure. He has his trainer with him which is a good thing and he's been working with him for several hours.

"So, he'll get it to calm down and the short-term prognosis he thinks will hopefully be strong based on the fact it's not that nerve pain."

Woods, who missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open last week, said after his first round that his score was due to poor play and not injury, and Steinberg says the issue flared up late on Thursday evening.

"He felt okay coming off the golf course yesterday so he wasn't in pain," added Steinberg. "I didn't see him at dinner, but he said he was okay and 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. He had treatment starting pretty early this morning, for probably the past three, three and a half hours."