World number one Dustin Johnson was forced to withdraw from the Masters on Thursday afternoon, minutes before he was due to tee off in the first hole.
Johnson fell down the stairs of his rented property on Wednesday evening, putting his participation in the competition in doubt. The 32-year-old was on anti-inflammatories and bedrest for the rest of the night and although he had hoped to be involved and Augusta, even turning up for practice and taking a few test swings, he will now not play any part in the tournament.
The pre-tournament favourite, who also missed the Masters five years ago after being injured on a jetski, was downbeat as he reflected on having to withdraw, lamenting the fact that he cannot compete at the peak of his powers:
“My heart is in it and wants to play. I’m playing the best golf of my life and to have a freak accident happen yesterday afternoon, 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.
“I could swing maybe 70 per cent and it still hurt. The backswing was fine, it was at impact and through impact where it would catch. My left elbow is swollen and bruised, but my back took the brunt of it.
“This is an event I look forward to every year and the worst part is I feel like in two days I’m going to be fine. By Saturday or Sunday I’m going to be fine and playing golf again.
“It was an unbelievably difficult decision (to withdraw).”
Johnson then walked the gathered mass of reporters through the freak accident that has put his Masters dream on hold for another twelve months at least:
“[My son] Tatum was on the way home from daycare. And it was pouring down rain, so I was going to go move the car, I was just wearing my socks.
“So I just slipped as I was going down the stairs. It actually would have been better if it had been the first set of stairs, because I probably would have slid right down it, but it was only three, so I landed right on the bottom.”
With Johnson out of the running the likes of Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day are now the favourites, though day one has seen Willie McGirt, Charley Hoffman and Shane Lowry make the most impressive starts.