The 14-time major champion shot a five-over par 77 in Thursday’s opening round and seemed uncomfortable on the golf course, but insisted he wasn’t feeling any back pain.
According to his manager Mark Steinberg, Woods suffered from spasms last night after dinner.
“Tiger Woods went into a spasm in his lower back fairly late last night after dinner. He tried to get it worked out last night, didn’t get worked out. Got treatment done early this morning for three and a half hour, but can’t get it out,” said Steinberg.
“He says it’s not the nerve, but back spasm, and he can’t get the spasms to calm down. He feels terrible for Matthew (Fitzpatrick) and Danny (Willett) and for the tournament.
“He can move around, but he can’t make a full rotation in his swing.”
Woods did make a brief appearance at the golf course, when he came and met all the sponsors for half an hour. He thanked them and expressed his disappointment at having to pull out from the event.
The 41-year-old American made a comeback after multiple back surgery after a 16-month lay-off, and was expected to play four times in five weeks, starting from last week’s Farmers Insurance Open in Torrey Pines, where he missed the cut.
His next event after Dubai is the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club, followed by the Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens.
Steinberg did not comment about Woods’ status for those two tournaments, but added: “I think 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’s had some spasms before. No doubt about it. But 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.
“So yeah, he’ll get it to calm down, and forget about the long term; the short-term prognosis, he hopes he’ll be strong; based on the fact that it’s not that nerve pain I just alluded to.”
Woods had taken a commercial airliner for the first time in nearly 10 years to reach Dubai from Los Angeles. The reason given was that he wanted to avoid any lay-over that is inevitable with his smaller private jet.
Steinberg said: “I’m sure there’s so many different factors that could play into it. I just couldn’t know what causes a back to go into a spasm.
“Look, he doesn’t have the strongest back in the world, right. So it’s probably easier to spasm because of the issues he’s had. So I’m sure there are a variety of factors that can play into it.
“But he wanted to be here. He just feels terrible that he can’t, you know, finish it out today.”
On behalf of the organisers ‘golf in DUBAi’, Mohamed Juma Buamaim added: “Obviously, losing Tiger from the tournament is a big blow, but what is most important is his health – as it was with Rory. We don’t want him to be playing and doing any lasting damage. We wish him a speedy recovery.”