LOS ANGELES (AP) — Back spasms not only kept Tiger Woods from playing at Riviera, they forced him to withdraw from a news conference.
Woods, the unofficial host of the Genesis Open, pushed his new conference back until Wednesday and then canceled it. The tournament said in a statement that after getting daily treatment the last four days, Woods was advised by doctors to limit all activities.
“He flew out here and got to see one of his doctors,” Mark Steinberg, his agent at Excel Sports, said Wednesday. “Based on the work they did the last couple of days, they advised he just stay horizontal. It’s best to listen to the doctors. The ultimate goal is to get out and play.”
Woods has not played Riviera, his hometown event, since 2006. When California-based Hyundai Motor America signed on as title sponsor last year, it picked the Tiger Woods Foundation as the chief charitable beneficiary and the tournament host organization.
That assured Woods playing, and even when back spasms surfaced in Dubai two weeks ago and forced him to withdraw, he still flew to California on Saturday with hopes of taking part in various tournament activities. Instead, he has stayed in his hotel.
“The hope was the spasms would calm down,” Steinberg said. “And they haven’t.”
It painted a dark future for Woods, at least immediately.
He already was out of golf for 15 months recovering from three back surgeries, and his return was promising in the Bahamas the first week of December because of the freedom in his swing and the 24 birdies on his scorecard.
But he missed the cut at Torrey Pines, and then Steinberg said the spasms arrived late Thursday night in Dubai after Woods opened with a 77 and walked gingerly, particularly climbing out of the bunkers. Woods had said after his opening round there was no pain in his back, even though that didn’t look to be the case.
Missing a news conference only fueled speculation about when he might play again. Steinberg said he was aware it looked bad that Woods was in no shape to sit for 20 minutes and take questions, though he’s not sure how much substance a media session would provide.
“It would have gone like many of them has gone the past several weeks – a lot of questions and no answers. Frustrating for him,” Steinberg said. “But he has given full, maximum effort to get back out here.”
Woods also withdrew from the Honda Classic next week in Florida. His next most logical chance would be the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, though Steinberg said the conversations he’s had with Woods do not involve golf at the moment.
“The goal is to get everything to calm down, have it calm down for a while, continue to get treatment and get back to a place where he’s chipping and putting and hitting balls,” he said. “We’re not talking about an extended break.”