Masters McIlroy joins newcomer Rahm for early play

If Johnson wins he will be the first world number one to do so since Tiger Woods in 2002.

As prominent as WGC events might be, they are certainly not majors, and Johnson withdrew from last week's Houston Open, citing fatigue. It's not a tough place to be put in but it was a round of golf and nothing more. "And to be able to drive down Magnolia Lane with a green jacket in the auto and to come back and to be announced on the tee as the defending champion. words can't really quite describe the feeling".

"He landed very hard on his lower back and is now resting, although quite uncomfortably", Winkle said in an email. "It doesn't matter how good you're playing, you can still not win. 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".

Dustin Johnson comes in red-hot and, because of his attitude, is a heavy favorite to take home the jacket, writes Michael Collins.

"Everything has got to be working this week", Johnson said Tuesday.

"Dude, I can't believe I did that", Johnson told his trainer, according to the report, which also said Johnson has pain in the lower left side of his back below the rib cage. I'm excited about the opportunity ahead, which is now I can go back and really tear this golf course up. "I felt I would have been making more of a statement if I had of turned it down".

The group behind them includes five-time major victor Phil Mickelson, trying to become the oldest Masters champion two months shy of his 47th birthday.

"He's a great young player", McIlroy said. "He'll be a huge asset to our European Ryder Cup team in years to come".

Spieth held a five-shot lead with nine holes to play 12 months ago, but bogeyed the 10th and 11th before running up a quadruple-bogey seven on the 12th. I stepped up (Tuesday), first day back with the crowds, and I hit it to about that (close), which is nice. I will do all I can to see all the positives and to grind it out like we did in 2015. "And then Jon Rahm, I haven't played with him competitively".

Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus will act as honorary starters at 7.40am, with Masters officials opting not to bring in a replacement for the late Arnold Palmer, who performed the role from 2007-2016 before his death last September.

  • Julie Sanders