AUGUSTA, Ga. – FedExCup leader and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson has withdrawn from the 81st Masters Tournament due to a back injury.
Johnson fell down some stairs in his rental home in Augusta on Wednesday night, injuring his lower back and ultimately costing him a chance at the green jacket.
“It sucks,” Johnson said.
“It’s tough. I want to play. I’m playing probably the best golf of my career, and I look forward to this tournament every year. And to have a freak accident happen yesterday afternoon after I got back from the course, it’s tough.”
Johnson was heading down three stairs in his socks on tournament eve to move his car before losing his footing and landing on his elbow and lower back, creating extensive bruising.
Having won his last three PGA TOUR events at the Genesis Open, World Golf Championships – Mexico Championship and WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson entered the week as the heavy favorite.
He had tried warming up on the range and headed towards the first tee for his 2:03 p.m. tee time, but a further few practice swings on the practice putting area near the first tee had enough discomfort for him to pull the plug at the last minute.
The reigning U.S. Open champion and PGA TOUR Player of the Year finished in a tie for fourth at Augusta National last season and was T6 in 2015. This was due to be his eighth Masters appearance.
Given his form and love of the event, he had spent most of the night awake treating the injury in a desperate attempt to take his place in the field.
“I was doing everything I could to try to play,” he said.
“Last night, ice, heat, ice. I was up pretty much all night, trying to get it ready for today. I’ve been worked on all morning. And obviously I can make some swings, but I try and make my normal swing and I just don’t feel like there’s any chance I’d be able to compete.
“It’s just real tight. As I was making some swings on the range, it was about 80 percent. And it’s just so tight, I couldn’t get through a backswing. I couldn’t make a good backswing. But every time right at impact, it would just catch. So I just don’t feel like there’s any chance of me competing. It hurts.”
Johnson does not expect any lingering effects and is hopeful of a speedy recovery. Sadly, it just wasn’t speedy enough.
“I’ve got to get it worked on and get adjusted,” he added.
“Probably another two days and I’d be fine. If it happened on Monday, I don’t think we would have any issues.”