Tiger Woods withdraws at Dubai Desert Classic with back spasms: What's next?

Fans viewing the leaderboard at the Dubai Desert Classic were greeted with a "WD" next to Tiger Woods' name early Friday morning. They would soon come to learn that Woods had withdrawn from the tournament due to back spasms.

Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, made it clear to reporters that this back injury is unrelated to the nerve pain in his back which forced him to have three surgeries and kept him from playing tournament golf the past 17 months. Woods' first PGA Tour event back following two back surgeries at the end of 2015 was last week at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"Spasms are a funny thing, I'm certainly no doctor but they come and go,'' Steinberg said. "And again, the fact that he feels as though it's not the nerve pain, that's very encouraging for him. He's had spasms before. 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.''

Steinberg said there was no pain in Woods' back Thursday after his round or before dinner. He noted that Woods has dealt with back spasms in the past. Maybe this should not come as a huge surprise as the 41-year-old Woods expressed hesitancy at the end of last week about the lengthy flight to Dubai.

"The only concern is I have a long flight ahead of me," Woods said after missing the cut at Torrey Pines last Friday. "How is my body going to handle flights? Flying out here is something I hadn't done in a while. Now we have a pretty good jaunt, 17 hours. It will be good. It is a long process in the mornings. Trying to get ready and warmed up. The task and tall order is to stay warm and stay loose. That's one of the things I hadn't dealt with."

Steinberg nodded at the flight among other things that caused Woods' discomfort. It was the first commercial flight Woods has taken in what he estimated to be about a decade, and he did so because he didn't want any stops on the way over.

"I'm sure there are so many different factors that could play into it," Steinberg said. "I just don't know what causes a back to go into a spasm. He doesn't have the strongest back in the world, so it's probably easier to spasm because of the issues he's had."

Woods, who went birdie-free in a 5-bogey opening-round 77 on Thursday, appeared hobbled while playing the round but made it clear afterward that he was not injured.

"No, I wasn't in pain at all," he said Thursday. "I was just trying to hit shots and I wasn't doing a very good job."

Woods and the rest of the field faced high winds and nasty weather that actually suspended the second round in Dubai, so maybe it's best that he didn't tee it up for a second time this week.

"He wanted to be here," Steinberg said. "He wants to be here, and we just feel terrible that he can't finish it out."

What this means for the future is anybody's guess. Steinberg sounded optimistic, but this is not really a great harbinger for the near future. This is only the ninth WD of Woods' career, but the seventh since 2010, most because of his balky back.

YearTournamentInjury
2017Dubai Desert ClassicBack
2015Farmers Insurance OpenBack
2014Bridgestone InvitationalBack
2014Honda ClassicBack
2012WGC-Cadillac ChampionshipAchilles
2011Players ChampionshipKnee
2010Players ChampionshipNeck
2006Nissan OpenFlu
1998Kemper OpenBack

The injuries are piling up, but there is a chance that this injury could be a one-time issue on the road to recovery for Woods. He is slated to play twice in the next three weeks.

"The short-term prognosis, he thinks hopefully will be strong based on the fact that it's not that nerve pain," said Steinberg who went on to confirm that Woods' hope is still to play the Genesis Open and Honda Classic, which are the next two tournaments on his schedule.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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