Dustin Johnson has withdrawn from the Masters after injuring his back in a fall.
The World No. 1, who entered as the heavy favourite having won three of his last starts, fell down a staircase on Wednesday and withdrew after testing his back before starting his round.
Johnson walked to the first tee on Thursday, as if he was about to play, but changed his mind at the final moment.
A statement from his agent on Wednesday read, via the Golf Channel's Rex Hoggard: “At roughly 3:00pm today, Dustin took a serious fall on a staircase in his Augusta rental home.
“He landed very hard on his lower back and is now resting, although quite uncomfortably. 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 explains his decision
Johnson spoke of his regret after withdrawing.
“It sucks. I want to play,” he said, per USA Today. “I’m playing probably the best golf of my career and this is one of my favourite tournaments. To have a freak accident happen yesterday afternoon, it sucks. It really does.
“I want to play. The issue is I just can’t swing.
“It’s just really tight. Obviously I was making some swings on the range, but max was 80 per cent. But every time down like right at impact it would catch. I just don’t feel like I have any chance of me competing. It hurts.
“I can make some swings. I can’t make my normal swing.
“It feels like in two days I’d be fine. If it happened Monday I don’t think we’d have any issues but it happened Wednesday afternoon.”
But the 32-year-old wasn’t able to manage a single shot. Here’s how Twitter reacted to his withdrawal.
Johnson was the heavy favourite
Rarely has a player entered a major in such impressive form as Johnson. Since February, the American has claimed the Genesis Open, WGC Mexico Championship and the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play events and was the 11-2 favourite before news of his injury broke.
The Green Jacket is certainly up for grabs now. Jordan Spieth will fancy his chances of winning his second Masters title but he will face competition from Rory McIlroy, who is seeking a career Grand Slam.
McIlroy prepared for the tournament at Augusta intensely as he goes in search of his fifth major title.
"I'm feeling good coming into this week and I've prepared well over the past 10 days," McIlroy said this week, per Sky Sports. "I've played 99 holes in two weeks here, so I feel I've played the golf course enough and I'm ready to go.
“The more I can play the golf course and almost make it seem like second nature to me, where to hit the balls on the green and where to start putts and know where the pin positions are; the more that can become second nature, the better.
"That's why I played a lot of holes and played a lot of matches, as well. We all know more than likely where the pin positions are going to be, so I didn't scope out the holes.
“But I played matches, shot scores and played one ball because obviously that's what we're doing in the tournament and I thought that was a good way to prepare."