TIGER Woods’ shaky return to tournament golf has taken another hit, the 14-time major winner withdrawing from the Dubai Desert Classic overnight before the second round.
An opening five-over 77 had Woods ahead of just five players in the field but he never began his second round citing back spasms.
Manager Mark Steinberg said the spasms aren’t related to Woods’ three back surgeries but forced the former World Number One to withdraw.
“He says it’s not the nerve pain that’s kept him out for so long,” Steinberg said.
“He says it’s a back spasm and he just can’t get the spasm to calm down.
“He doesn’t have the strongest back in the world so it’s probably easier to spasm because of the issues he’s had.”
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Steinbrg said Woods, who was still bullish when he spoke to the press after his first round despite his score, was disappointed to be going home early.
“He wanted to be here,” he said. “He wants to be here. He just feels terrible that he can’t finish it out.”
There was no indication whether Woods would still tee up in his next two scheduled starts, the Genesis Open in the US next week and the Honda Classic the following week.
Woods’ withdrawal was just one drama on a day filled with them as play was suspended at the high-profile tournament mid-afternoon because of strong winds.
Those who teed off in the morning faced gusty conditions but tournament offiicials deemed afternoon play unsafe after a number of tress were uprooted.
“We had strong winds this morning and gusting up to about 27 miles an hour,” Tournament Director Mike Stewart said in the face of criticism from some players who teed off early.
“Those winds increased during the course of lunch time into the early afternoon to the point where we had gusts approaching 36 and beyond.
“We had a lot of things going on. We had TV towers that the roofs were blown off. We had balls moving on the greens, one blew into a bunker at one stage, five trees came down.
“It was very unsafe and it was unplayable. So we brought the players off in the interests of play and safety to the spectators.”
More than half the field is yet to complete the second round as South Africa’s George Coetzee leads by one through eight holes.
At three-under for the day, Coetzee is nine-under, one ahead of overnight leader Sergio Garcia with Martin Kaymer and Rafa Cabrera-Bello the best of those who have completed 36 holes at four-under.
Of the Australians, Nathan Holman signed for his second consecutive one-under to be two-under and T22.
It’s a welcome turnaround in form for the 2015 Australian PGA winner who has struggled for form for much of the past 12 months.
Ryan Fox and Sam Brazel also completed their Friday rounds, Fox posting a three-over 75 and Brazel a two-under 70 to both be at one-under and T35.
Amateur Curtis Luck is at the same score though is among the afternoon players and has only completed four holes of his second round.
Scott Hend and Wade Ormsby are both at even par and T48, Hend after a four-under 68 while Ormsby is three-over for the day through nine holes.
Jason Scrivener is at one-over through 36 holes and in danger of missing the cut, Andrew Dodt is four-over and former winner Richard Green is six-over.
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