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Masters 2017: Johnson gutted after freak injury ruins dream

 

By lLam Kelly

Dustin Johnson's frustration after his late withdrawal from the Masters was evident: "It sucks," he said. The World No.1, and red-hot favourite to win at Augusta and claim his second Major championship following his 2016 US Open victory, could not believe his bad luck.

Johnson had wound up his pre-tour­nament preparations on Wednesday morning with nine holes of golf before storms ended play around 2.30pm.

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He then went back to his rented house, but later that evening came news he had fallen on the stairs and injured his back.

A treatment protocol was imme­diately put in place but time was against him.

Johnson had a session on the practice range but shortly before his 2.03pm (7.03pm BST) tee time, he spoke to officials and said he could not play.

He had been drawn in the last group with two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and reigning US PGA champion Jimmy Walker.

Speaking to the media after his decision, Johnson said of his fall: "I just slipped. It would have been better if it was a full set of stairs. I would have slid all the way down.

"But there were only three steps. I landed on my left side. My left elbow is sore and bruised. My lower left back took the brunt of it."

He went on to say: "I was making swings on the range but could only go 80 per cent.

"I could make a good back swing, but at impact it was too much. So I don't think I can compete. It hurts. I was doing everything I could to play. Ice, heat, ice last night.

"I was desperate to get it ready for this morning. I just can't make my normal swing."

Johnson came into the week brimming with confidence following three wins in his last three starts.

"I want to play more than anything. But when I got to the putting green I realised I just couldn't swing the club," said the American.

"My left elbow is swollen and bruised, but my back took the brunt of it. I'm playing the best golf of my career.

"This is an event I look forward to every year, so to have a freak accident mean I can't play, it just sucks, it really does."

Johnson had no option to try and play through the pain, but the irony is that he felt if he had more time to recover, the back might have healed enough to permit him to tee it up.

"I feel like in two days I'm going to find it's alright," he said.

"I was up pretty much all night trying to get it ready for today. I had it worked on all morning."

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