Johnson withdraws from Masters due to injury

Dustin Johnson (file photo)

Dustin Johnson (file photo)

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Dustin Johnson will not walk the fairways of Augusta National this week due to a bad back that will keep him sidelined for the Masters.

According to agent David Winkle of Hambric Sports, Johnson was moving a jet ski at his home in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Friday and injured his back.

Since the injury, Johnson has not hit any balls and has sought advice from doctors and a physical therapist during the past five days.

Johnson, 27, had surgery in November on his right knee to repair a cartilage tear, which he first noticed at the Open Championship in July, when he placed runner-up to Darren Clarke.

Johnson returned to the PGA Tour in January at the Humana Challenge, not having played a full round.

“I had to come out here and shoot some ad spots for TaylorMade on Sunday,” Johnson said after the first round of the Humana Challenge when asked why he came back so soon. “So I went and saw Butch (Harmon, Johnson's swing instructor) on Monday, so I figured since I was coming out here, I was going to stay out here and said I might as well try and play.”

Johnson withdrew after the first round of the Humana Challenge, citing back pain, but then played five consecutive times on the West Coast, where he posted top-10s at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am, Northern Trust Open and the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

“He probably tried to do too much, too soon in retrospect,” Winkle said. “He was having some intermittent back discomfort all throughout that period (during his comeback), and there were times - I would never call it crippling - but there were certainly times I’d call it a little bit troubling.”

Johnson did not seek medical care, telling only his closest advisers of the ailment.

After finishing 35th at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Johnson had more issues with his back and did not play the Arnold Palmer Invitational, opting to rest for the Masters. Then, he reached for that jet ski.

“It doesn’t sound like anything terribly serious,” Winkle said of Johnson’s back. “But it’s serious enough that he can’t be here this week.”

Johnson intends to rest, not play golf and seek other medical opinions. There is no time frame for his return, Winkle said.

“It may be unfair to second-guess as to when he came back," Winkle said. "I know he felt 100 percent ready and know he had been cleared to come back. But then to do that and play the next six?”

The Masters field is now 96, and the tournament does not have a waiting list.

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