T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.
Good news on the health front for world No. 1 Dustin Johnson
Series: Golf Buzz
Published: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 | 9:14 a.m.
On the eve of the 2017 Masters, world No. 1 and tournament favorite Dustin Johnson suffered a lower back injury when he fell down some stairs at his rental home in Augusta.
There's probably never a "good time" to get hurt, but this was especially disappointing for Johnson who had just won in three consecutive starts and was in in peak form for the season's first major.
Johnson went to Augusta National the next day hoping to tee it up in Round 1, but after a brief practice session where he was experiencing significant pain, he decided to withdraw one minute before his scheduled tee time.
"To get injured on Wednesday afternoon, the day before the tournament starts, is a major disappointment," 2018 Ryder Cup USA Captain Jim Furyk told PGA.com in a Q&A. "That late in the game, all your preparation is done. You're not only thinking about the next day, but you're raring to go.
"I'm sure Dustin was disappointed to have to miss it because of how well he's been playing. Maybe he thinks it's a missed opportunity. But he'll have plenty more chances. I really feel bad for him, but more importantly, I hope he gets back to 100 percent soon."
As of Tuesday, it appears things are looking up for Johnson.
Golf.com's Jessica Marksbury reached Johnson by phone to find out how he's progressing.
"It's still a little bit bruised," Johnson told Marksbury. "But today I hit balls, and everything was pretty good. It's a little tight, but I can swing just fine. I was very happy with my practice session today. I was hitting it very well. Hardly any issues. I would say it’s about 85, 90 percent."
Johnson told Marksbury he laid on the couch and watched the Masters, but, "I didn't like watching though. That's one thing I don't want to do anymore."
Johnson announced last week that he intends to make his return at the Wells Fargo Championship, May 4-7. Johnson stressed that he isn't rushing back, but called a practice session where he hit balls all the way through driver, "very reassuring."
Good news, indeed.