Thursday, January 18, 2018
Golf

Tiger Woods withdraws in Dubai with back spasms

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Tiger Woods withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday with back spasms after shooting an opening-round 77 a day earlier, marking another frustrating start to his return from a lengthy injury layoff.

Woods' manager, Mark Steinberg, said Woods, 41, had back spasms Thursday night after dinner.

"Tiger Woods went into a spasm in his lower back fairly late (Thursday) night … got treatment done early (Friday) morning for 31/2 hours but can't get it out," Steinberg said. "He says it's not the nerve but back spasm, and he can't get the spasms to calm down. He can move around, but he can't make a full rotation in his swing."

Woods is returning after multiple back surgeries and a 16-month layoff. He was expected to play four times in five weeks, starting with last week's Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, where he missed the cut in the PGA Tour event.

After his opening round Thursday in the European Tour event, Woods said: "I wasn't in pain at all. … I was just trying to hit shots, and I wasn't doing a very good job."

Woods has a week off before playing back-to-back weeks on both ends of the United States, Los Angeles (Genesis Open) and Palm Beach Gardens (Honda Classic).

The second round in Dubai was suspended with players on the course when strong winds brought down trees.

Martin Kaymer and Rafael Cabrera-Bello, tied at 4 under after both shooting 3-under 69s, had the lowest scores after two full rounds. But George Coetzee was at 9 under after eight holes, and overnight leader Sergio Garcia was 8 under.

Kaymer criticized the decision to suspend play. "Hard to understand the difference between the morning play and now," he wrote on Twitter.

Coetzee supported the decision. "It's a little bit dangerous out there with the trees collapsing and stuff."

PGA: Brendan Steele and Byeong Hun An shared the second-round lead in the Phoenix Open at Scottsdale, Ariz. An made a 35-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th hole for 5-under 66, matching Steele (67) at 10-under 132 at TPC Scottsdale. Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama (68) was a stroke back along with first-round leader Matt Kuchar (69), Martin Laird (66) and Sung Kang (65). The crowd was estimated at 169,004, breaking the Friday record of 160,415 set last year.

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