Dustin Johnson was succinct in expressing his disappointment at having to withdraw from the Masters minutes before his scheduled first-round tee time on Thursday afternoon.
“It sucks,” DJ told reporters after an abbreviated stint on the practice range and putting green convinced him he could not play. “It sucks really bad.”
Johnson, who hurt his back falling on the stairs in his rental house on Wednesday afternoon, made the decision to pull out on the way to his 2:03 p.m. ET tee time with Bubba Watson and Jimmy Walker. He said he had tried everything throughout a sleepless Wednesday night and Thursday morning to get his back in playing shape, but it was not to be.
Johnson arrived at the course at about 12:25 p.m. ET and started swinging irons on the range with coach Butch Harmon and his brother, who’s also his caddie, Austin Johnson, closely monitoring his progress.
“I could swing maybe 70 percent … max and it still hurt,” Johnson told ESPN. “The back swing’s fine, I could take it back; it was impact and through impact is where it would catch and so I just felt like I’m not going to be able to compete.”
Johnson recapped what happened after he returned from the gym following a practice session on the course on Wednesday. Wearing socks, he went to move the car and slipped on three steps.
“I kind of landed right on my bottom,” he said. “My left elbow is swollen and bruised and I landed on the left side of my lower back.”
He spent the rest of the night receiving treatment from physiotherapist Dr. Ara Suppiah and alternating between icing and heating the injured area.
“I was up pretty much all night trying to get it ready today. I’ve been working on it all morning,” he said. “Obviously I can make some swings, but I can’t swing full. I can’t make a normal swing and I don’t feel like there’s any chance I’ll be able to compete.”
The most discouraging aspect of the incident, according to Johnson, was his belief that the injury would be better in a couple of days.
“Obviously my heart is in it and it wants to play but just the more I thought about it the more I just wasn't going to have any chance,” said Johnson, who entered the week after three straight wins on the PGA Tour and drawing comparisons to another injured golfer who withdrew from the Masters last week, Tiger Woods.
Touching note left for Dustin Johnson in his locker at Augusta National:— Dan Jenkins (@danjenkinsgd) April 6, 2017
Don’t forget to activate your glutes.
“It’s unbelievably difficult. This is one of my favorite tournaments of the year, I feel like I’m playing the best golf of my career right now and for me to pull out it sucks really bad,” Johnson said. “I’m very sad that I have to do it but it’s just a freak accident and I feel like I wanted to play, I wanted to try and play; it’s just I’m not going to be able to compete like this.”
As for his short-term future, DJ was certain he would bounce back quickly.
“The worst part about it is I feel like in two days I’m going to be fine. It’s just right this second I can’t swing,” he said. “It feels like probably by Saturday or Sunday I’m going to be just fine and playing golf again.
“So it sucks,” DJ said.