Tiger Woods pulls out of Dubai Classic with back spasm
Tiger Woods has pulled out of Dubai Desert Classic tournament, a day after shooting a five-over par 77 in the first round, blaming a bad back.
The 14-times Major winner only made his long-awaited comeback last month, after 15-months out following back surgery. However, things have not gone well: he missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open and was almost certain to suffer the same fate in Dubai.
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His agent, Mark Steinberg, said Woods had suffered a back spasm but the problem was not related to the nerve surgery that kept him out for so long.
He added: "He feels terrible for the tournament. The fact that he feels as though it's not the nerve pain, that's very encouraging for him... The short-term prognosis, he thinks, hopefully will be strong.
"He doesn't have the strongest back in the world so it's probably easier to spasm because of the issues he's had."
Despite Steinberg's attempts to be positive, the news has been greeted with weary resignation. There are now inevitably "serious doubts over the 41-year-old's longevity", Ewan Murray of The Guardian says
James Corrigan of the Daily Telegraph adds: "The mood was a mix of incredulity and dismay both on the range and in the galleries, as the news came a little more than an hour before [Woods's] lunchtime tee-off.
"Just three official rounds into this comeback it was hard to put anything but a negative slant on this latest setback."
The future "looks bleak" for the American, agrees Derek Lawrenson of MailOnline.
"Woods is due to play in Los Angeles in ten days' time at the Genesis Open, an event that benefits his foundation. All his plans were built on being fighting fit for the Masters in April, but that’s looking an even longer shot now," he adds. "Who knows when he will be next seen in action."
Tiger Woods return 'more George Best than Roger Federer'
Tiger Woods endured a nightmare first round at the Dubai Desert Classic today as his attempted comeback took another turn for the worse.
After missing the cut at Torrey Pines last week, the former world number one had pinned his hopes on a better performance in the Middle East.
But he endured a "debilitating day" in Dubai where he registered his worst ever round on the Emirates course.
"On a perfect morning to play he didn't muster a single birdie and only three players scored worse among the 68 who were out in the morning wave," says Derek Lawrenson of MailOnline.
Woods's five over round of 77 means his interest in the tournament will be short-lived, says James Corrigan of the Daily Telegraph. That he will miss the cut is almost a certainty.
"The nadir of his woeful morning came on the 18th (his ninth) where from just 100 yards he hit his approach into the lake guarding the green. Never has a lost man stumbling around in a desert looked so distraught to find water."
The fact that he is 12 shots behind his long-time foe and tournament leader Sergio Garcia "only made his birdieless predicament appear that bit more cruel".
But Woods's hopes of playing at the weekend aren't completely over, says Ewan Murray of The Guardian. "The problem is, they mainly depend on the severity of the freak storm forecast for Friday which, if accurate, could push the second round into Saturday.
"The bigger picture is impossible to ignore. Before a competitive ball was struck in anger, Woods spoke effusively about his supposedly competitive future. What transpired in front of huge Dubai galleries was more akin to George Best at Hibernian than Roger Federer in Melbourne."
The 14-times Major winner looked uncomfortable, putted "dreadfully" and hit drives "that lacked the penetration of the top players in this sport", says Murray. "The sad thing is, nobody really expects the more positive scenario."
Tiger Woods has a rollercoaster return to PGA Tour
Tiger Woods made his PGA Tour comeback on Thursday after almost 18 months out of the game. But his opening round at the Farmers Insurance Open was a "rollercoaster affair", says The Times.
The world number 663 hit a tree with his first shot of the day and bogeyed the first, before regaining his composure with a series of pars and holing back-to-back birdies on the tenth and 11th holes.
However, his round fell apart after that and he dropped five shots in four holes to finish with a four over par round of 76, leaving him with a share of 133rd place.
"He will do well to make the cut today," says the Times.
The event is being held at the Torrey Pines course, where Woods "cemented his legend" by winning the 2008 US Open on one leg. A lot has changed since then, but the former world number one remains "anything but boring", says James Corrigan of the Daily Telegraph.
"For 11 holes on the difficult South Course, the 41-year-old managed to make the extended break, forced by multiple back operations, seem easily forgotten as the world No 633 more than kept up with his playing partners, the world numbers one and three, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson," he reports.
"But with the packed galleries raising themselves to fever pitch, so the rust revealed the huge cracks – primarily in his driver. Woods hit only four of the 14 fairways in his 76, the highest opening round of a year in his 21-year career."
Woods lies 12 shots behind leader Justin Rose and his opening round was "a sobering reminder of how difficult it will be to recapture even a glimpse of the glories of his illustrious past", says Derek Lawrenson of the Daily Mail.
"The good news for Woods is there appeared no issues with his back despite spending much of the round gouging his ball out of the juicy rough. His short game also appeared in fine order. He suffered, however, as the round progressed and appeared to tire mentally after so long away."
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