Dustin Johnson says injury left him with no chance to compete at the Masters

Kyle Terada-Golfweek

Dustin Johnson says injury left him with no chance to compete at the Masters

PGA Tour

Dustin Johnson says injury left him with no chance to compete at the Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. – World No. 1-ranked Dustin Johnson withdrew from the Masters just before his 2:03 p.m. tee time Thursday at Augusta National.

Johnson hurt his back after slipping on the stairs Wednesday and tried to fight through it to no avail.

“(My son) Tatum was on the way home from day care and it was pouring rain, so I was going to move the car,” Johnson said after withdrawing. “I was just wearing my socks and I (slipped) as I was going down the stairs. … It was only three (steps), so I kind of landed right on my bottom. My left elbow is swollen and bruised and I landed on the left side of my lower back.”

Johnson, the winner of his last three starts on the PGA Tour and the reigning U.S. Open champion and PGA Tour player of the year, arrived at the practice range at 12:26 p.m. Thursday and began warming up on the range at 12:55 p.m. alongside his caddie, brother Austin Johnson, and coach Butch Harmon.

“I was making some swings on the range, going max about 80 percent,” Johnson said. “My backswing is fine. I could make a good backswing, but every time down right at impact (my back) would just catch. I don’t feel like there’s any chance of me even competing. It hurts. I was doing everything I could to try to play. Last night, ice, heat, ice. I was up pretty much all night trying to get it ready today. I’ve been working on it all morning. Obviously I can make some swings, but I can’t swing full. I can’t make a normal swing and I don’t feel like there’s any chance I’ll be able to compete.”

Word spread slowly throughout the course, considering Johnson was in the final playing group.

“I just found on (the No.) 18 green that he didn’t start,” three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson said. “Gosh, he’s been playing some great golf. I know it’s disappointing.”

Johnson seemed completely relaxed and confident during his Tuesday press conference. At that time, simply missing the cut would have been a shocking result. That’s how good he’s been lately and that’s why the end result is much tougher for Johnson to accept.

“I’m playing probably the best golf of my career, and I look forward to this tournament every year,” Johnson said. “To have a freak accident happen (Wednesday) afternoon after I got back from the course, it’s tough.”

It was tough for other players in the field to believe as well, considering everything was fine when they last saw him Wednesday.

“It’s disappointing, for sure, for everybody,” 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott said. “The way he’s been going, (then) a freak accident, he’s obviously very, very injured, because to pull out of the Masters when you’re in the kind of form he’s in, it must be a very difficult decision to make. So hopefully he gets better quick.”

Johnson said he doesn’t expect the injury to linger and guessed he might be completely fine in just two days. But it became clear he wouldn’t be able to handle the challenge Augusta National presents shortly before his tee time, at which point he was taking practice swings on the putting green. He never made it to the first tee, walking back toward the clubhouse and withdrawing from a tournament he was favored to win.

“Obviously I want to play more than anything,” Johnson said. “It sucks.”

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