DUBAI — Lower back spasms forced Tiger Woods to withdraw from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and then high winds, gusting in excess of 60 kmph, forced suspension of play for the day on an eventful Friday, traditionally referred to as Pink Friday.
Martin Kaymer and Rafa Cabrera Bello were the leaders in the clubhouse at four under after signing for matching s69, but at the time of suspension of play at 2.26pm, South Africa’s, George Coetzee was on nine under through eight holes, one ahead of overnight leader Sergio Garcia.
The Spaniard reeled off back-to-back birdies on second and third before dropping a shot on the fourth to get to eight under after five holes. The players will return to resume their second round at 7.30am. Round three will be a two-tee start in three-balls and will not begin before 12 noon.
Organisers of the longest-running European Tour event have announced that Friday’s tickets (course only) will remain valid for Saturday.
"We've had a fairly challenging day today with the wind," said Tournament Director Mike Stewart. "Winds increased during the course of lunchtime into the early afternoon to the point where we had gusts approaching 36 miles an hour and beyond.
"The result was the last hour of play, effectively, before we suspended, it was such that we had a lot of things going on the golf course.
"We had TV towers that the roofs were blown off. We had balls moving on the greens and into bunkers, five trees came down, it was very unsafe and it was unplayable. So we brought the players off the golf course in the interests of play and safety to the spectators, as well.
"Hopefully we can get most of the third round completed tomorrow. We'll still have a bit to conclude on Sunday and, all going well, we'll still have a good chance of finishing on time on Sunday afternoon."
Earlier, Woods, who was to tee off at 12.35, was forced to pull out before the start of his second round.
“Tiger felt okay coming off the course on Thursday. He wasn’t in pain, but went into a spasm in his lower back fairly late last night after dinner,” Mark Steinberg, Woods’ manager told reports on Friday.
“He (Tiger) says it’s not the nerve pain that has kept him out for so long. He says it’s a back spasm and he just can’t get the spasm to calm down. He feels terrible for Matthew (Fitzpatrick) and Danny (Willett), his playing partners.
“Look, he doesn’t have the strongest back in the world, right. So, it’s probably easier to spasm. I am sure there are a variety of factors that can play into it. He can move around, but he can't make a full rotation in his swing.
“Tiger wanted to be here in Dubai. He wants to be here. He just feels terrible that he can’t,” Steinberg said.
Commented Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi: “Obviously, losing Tiger from the tournament is a big blow, but what is most important is his health – as it was with Rory. We don’t want him playing and doing any lasting damage. We wish him a speedy recovery.”
The Omega Dubai Desert Classic is backed by OMEGA as the title sponsor and Emirates Global Aluminium PJSC as sponsor. The co-sponsors are: CNN, Drydocks World, Emirates NBD, Gulf News, JA Resorts & Hotels, Mercedes-Benz and wasl, while Dubai Duty Free, Neocasa Interiors and Motivate Publishing are the Patrons in golf in DUBAi's drive to showcase the emirate's vibrant golfing scene to a worldwide audience.