4 Feb 2017

Tiger pulls out, Fox blown back in Dubai

2:47 pm on 4 February 2017

Tiger Woods has pulled out of the Dubai Desert Classic with a back spasm before Ryan Fox's second round was upset by strong wind.

Ryan Fox and Tiger Woods.

Ryan Fox and Tiger Woods. Photo: Photosport

The second round was suspended due to the conditions with South Africa's George Coetzee on top of the leaderboard on three-under through eight holes and nine under for the tournament.

The round one leader from Spain, Sergio Garcia, was a shot back and one-under through five holes.

After carding an impressive four under par 68 on day one, Fox shot a second round 75 to plummet 27 places into a tie for 35th.

Meanwhile Woods, now ranked 666th after his long injury layoff due to a series of back issues, shot a miserable five-over 77 in his first round, failing to record a single birdie in perfect conditions.

Woods' agent Mark Steinberg said the player started to feel pain on Thursday night and regretted having to pull out.

"He went into a spasm in his lower back very late last night after dinner," Steinberg told reporters. "We tried to work it out last night (but) really didn't get worked out.

"We had treatment starting very early this morning for the past three, three and half hours, but can't get the back spasm to calm down. He feels terrible."

Steinberg said the problem was not the same nerve pain that caused Woods' lengthy absence from the sport.

Appearing for the eighth time in Dubai, where he has won twice before, the 41-year-old Woods looked out of sorts in his opening round as he continued his comeback at the European Tour event.

His chances of avoiding another early exit looked slim on Thursday, however, with the American appearing to be in some discomfort as he struggled to find a rhythm.

After his round, Woods said he had not felt any pain on the course but failed to even make it to the practice range on Friday, withdrawing from the event a distant 12 shots behind overnight leader Sergio Garcia.

Woods had also looked rusty when he played his first full-field PGA Tour event in 17 months a week ago after being sidelined by back pain and spine surgery, comfortably missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

The latest setback could put Woods' participation in his next scheduled event in doubt with the American due to tee off at the PGA Tour Genesis Open at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California on Feb. 16.

Woods is then scheduled to play in the Honda Classic in Florida a week later.

- Reuters, RNZ