WATCH: Why Tiger pulled out of Dubai Desert Classic

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Former world No1 and star attraction of the tournament, Tiger Woods has withdrawn from the Dubai Desert Classic Friday with back spasms.

The 14-time major champion shot a five-over par 77 in Thursday’s first round and seemed uncomfortable on the golf course, but insisted he wasn’t feeling any back pain.


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Woods withdraws from Dubai Desert Classic

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Tiger Woods.

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.”

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IN PICS: Woods at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Woods shot a 77 on day one.

Former world number one Tiger Woods suffered a nightmare start to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic as his golfing comeback continued in demoralising fashion.

Woods failed to card a single birdie as he slumped to an opening 77 at Emirates Golf Club, two shots worse than his previous highest score in the event.

That left the 14-time major winner with just three players below him on the leaderboard and 12 shots off the clubhouse lead held by Sergio Garcia, who carded six birdies and an eagle in his 65.

Woods had said on Wednesday that his latest swing has been designed to "play away from pain" as he returned to action from a back injury which required three operations in the space of 19 months. However, the 41-year-old did not look 100 per cent fit at various points in his round, climbing gingerly out of a greenside bunker early on and notably grimacing as he walked off the seventh tee. In his first five appearances in Dubai, Woods never finished outside the top five and lifted the trophy in 2006 and 2008. He finished 20th and 41st respectively on his last two visits in 2011 and 2014, but was still a combined 92 under par. But he faces a massive task to avoid his second missed cut in a row after making an early exit from his first PGA Tour event since August 2015 in San Diego last week. Starting from the 10th, Woods bogeyed the 549-yard par five after failing to get up and down from a bunker, before dropping another shot by three-putting from just short of the 12th green. Another shot went after his approach to the 18th came up short of the green and rolled back into the water, the world number 666 having to hole from eight feet to avoid a double bogey. That meant an opening nine holes of 40 and chances for a first birdie of the day went begging on the second and third after a poor chip from short of the green and another tentative putt from seven feet respectively. Woods was struggling to get the pace of the greens and three-putted the fifth before missing from five feet for par on the next, and a miserable day was summed up by an uphill birdie putt on the ninth which was well short of pace.

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