Stairs fall puts favourite in doubt for Masters

World number one Dustin Johnson is a serious doubt for the Masters after injuring his back in a "serious fall" on Wednesday, his agent has said.

For the past 11 years, the eventual Masters champion has been inside the top 10 after the first round, with Tiger Woods the last player to come from well off the pace to claim a green jacket in 2005.

Fans stand under a tree during the par three competition at the Masters golf tournament Wednesday, April 5, 2017, in Augusta, Ga.

"At roughly 3:00 p.m. (Wednesday), Dustin took a serious fall on a staircase in his Augusta rental home", his agent David Winkle of Hambric Sports said in a statement, per Golf Digest. He says Johnson landed hard on his lower back and is resting with discomfort. "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 (Thursday)".

Johnson now boasts all the tools needed to tame the demanding layout, most notably his prodigious length off the tee that will give him as good a chance as anyone of changing the four par-five holes into par-fours.

Greg Norman can envisage Rory McIlroy emerging from an increasing well of talent to complete a career Grand Slam at the Masters less than a year after being left baffled by the four-time major champion's "interesting" comments on golf at the Olympics.

Johnson said that being the hottest golfer on the planet heading into the Masters means nothing when it comes to trying to tame Augusta National.

Johnson is scheduled to go off in the last group for Thursday's opening round at 2:03 p.m. EDT.

Johnson averaged a tournament-best 299.5 yards in driving distance previous year, when he finished a career-best fourth, and averaged a Masters-low 26.50 putts per round in 2015, when he shared sixth.

Spieth has finished tied for second, first and tied for second in the past three years at The Masters.

"The short game is going to be very important around here because if it's blowing 27 miles an hour, like it's forecasted for, it's going to be tough to hit the greens", Johnson said. Augusta National can bedevil the world's best in tame conditions.

"You don't want to feel like you're playing catch-up on this course, because you feel like the more you force the issue, the more things can go wrong".

  • Julie Sanders