The contest was cancelled due to inclement weather, but there were still cute moments with players and their kids.
USA TODAY Sports
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Dustin Johnson’s major woes continue.
The No. 1 player in the world was pegged as a favorite at the Masters after winning his last three events. But now his playing status is in doubt after he injured his lower back Wednesday afternoon in a fall on the stairs of the house where he’s staying.
“He landed very hard on his lower back and is now resting, although quite uncomfortably,” David Winkle, Johnson’s agent, said in a statement. “He has been advised to remain immobile and begin a regimen of anti-inflammatory medication and icing, with the hope of being able to play tomorrow.”
Johnson is in the final pairing Thursday, not teeing off until just after 2 p.m. Eastern. But what benefits he gets from the additional time for rest and treatment could be wiped out by the conditions. Storms rolled through Augusta National on Wednesday afternoon and were to be followed by plunging temperatures and strong winds.
The forecast Thursday calls for a high of 63 with winds of 20 to 30 mph, occasionally gusting to over 40 mph. Those are going to be ugly conditions for anyone. But they will be particularly brutal for Johnson if he’s battling a bad back.
Though his short game has improved immensely in the last year, his length is still the cornerstone of his game and a sore back could limit his ability to generate power.
“If there is a course built for someone — we said that about Tiger Woods, it’s Dustin Johnson right now,” Golf Channel analyst Colin Montgomerie said before the tournament. “He’s not just driving it long, but he’s driving it straight.”
The timing of Johnson’s injury couldn’t be worse.
Once known for his failings at the majors — he blew chances to win two U.S. Opens, a PGA Championship and a British Open between 2010 and 2015 — his win at last year’s U.S. Open at Oakmont proved to be a breakthrough. He won his next start, at Bridgestone, and also won the BMW Championship, the third of the four FedExCup playoff tournaments.
His performance last season earned him player of the year honors from both the PGA Tour and the Golf Writers Association of America. He was supposed to pick up his Golf Writers award Wednesday night, in fact.
And Johnson has been even better this year.
He’s been in the top five in half of his 10 starts, including victories in his last three. The first of those three, at the Genesis Open, put him atop the world rankings for the first time in his career.
“Golf is a funny game,” Johnson said Tuesday when asked about being a favorite at Augusta National. “If I want to win here, everything’s going to have to go well for me. I’m going to have to drive it well, hit my irons well, putt it well. Everything is going to have to be really good.
“You know, I’ve got a lot of confidence in my game right now, especially with the way I’ve been playing the last few tournaments,” he added. “But, you know, anything can happen.”
The one thing Johnson neglected to mention was luck. When it comes to the majors, he seems to have far more bad than good.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.