Dustin Johnson forced to withdraw from the Masters

Dustin Johnson has been forced to pull out of the Masters after suffering a back injury in a “serious fall” on a staircase on the eve of the first major of the year.

Johnson was clearly in pain as he warmed up on the range after paying a visit to the physical therapist upon his arrival at Augusta National, and he hit only a few half shots before heading off for more treatment.

The world No 1 returned for a longer warm-up session under the watchful eye of coaches Butch and Claude Harmon, and he headed towards the first tee to join Jimmy Walker and Bubba Watson in the final group of the day without doing any work on his short game.

Johnson had vowed to “give it a try” as he left the range after deep discussions with the Harmons, and he had a handful of practice putts near the first tee before pulling an iron out of his bag and taking some more swings.

But as his playing partners headed for the tee, Johnson decided he would struggle to get through 18 holes and walked to the clubhouse to inform officials of his withdrawal.

A despondent Johnson told reporters afterwards: “It sucks and I want to play. This is one of my favorite tournaments of the year, I’m playing the best golf of my life and to have a freak accident happen. It sucks really bad.

“I have been worked on all morning and obviously I can take some swings, but I can’t swing full, I can’t make my normal swing and I didn’t think there was any chance I could compete.”

Johnson faces the media announcing his withdrawal from the first major of the season.

Johnson suffered the injury when he took a tumble on a staircase at his rented house in Augusta on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after play had been abandoned for the day due to approaching thunderstorms which forced the cancellation of the Par 3 contest.

Describing how the accident happened, Johnson added: “I was wearing socks and slipped and went down three stairs.

“The left side of my lower back took the brunt of it and my left elbow is bruised as well. But I feel like in two days, I’ll be fine.

“I was doing everything I would to try to play. Last night, it was ice, heat, ice. I was up pretty much all night trying to get it ready. I had it worked on all morning. Obviously, I can make some swings, but I can’t make my normal swing.

“I could swing maybe 70 percent was about max. It still hurt. I could take it back. It was impact and through impact that it would catch. I wouldn’t be able to compete. My heart was in it. I wanted to play. The more I thought about it, I wasn’t going to have any chance.”

Johnson also had to pull out of the Masters in 2012 when he injured his back lifting a jet ski.

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