Johnson's back injury adds to Masters drama

Dustin Johnson of the USA talks to members of the media after he pulled out of the tournament due to injury during first round play at the 2017 Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta April 6, 2017.

England's Lee Westwood, 43, still looking for a major title after 75 starts, was in third place a shot further back on 70 on a day when top contenders suffered in hard conditions on the 7,435-yard Augusta National course.

McGirt, a 37-year-old journeyman player who earned a spot at this year's Masters with his first tour victory last year at the Memorial, birdied four holes and had only one bogey. He opened the second nine with a bogey on No. 10, but managed consecutive birdies on the 13th and 14th holes.

Phil Mickelson had a great round today, 46 years old and a three-time champion at one-under par. They still did not know if the No. 1 player would recover from his fall on a staircase to tee off later in the afternoon.

World number one Dustin Johnson who was the favourite to win the title decided not to play following a fall yesterday when he hurt his back.

Johnson never hit a shot that mattered following a dramatic warm up that ended when he arrived at the first tee and concluded that his ailing back wasn't up to the Masters task.

World No.2 Rory McIlroy, who is chasing a career grand slam, shot even par as he tries to capture an elusive Masters title to add to his four majors. "That gave me momentum over the final holes", McIlroy said. I was just trying to hit a nice, smooth hybrid to the middle of the green and the wind sort of kicked up to the right and blew it into the creek.

Following Henley is Watson and Kisner, who both sit at a 2-over par 74.

It was his first visit, in completion, to the famed hole since his Masters meltdown past year when he twice plopped his ball in Rae's Creek and took a seven, costing himself back-to-back titles.

Hoffman had made nine birdies over an 18-hole stretch to open a sizeable lead. That was Jack Burke Jr., in 1955, when his 67 was far and away the best score of the day. Only 11 of the 93 players finished under par. He became the first former Tiger in school history to win a major after winning the 2013 PGA Championship. Doesn't mean you're going to make them out here. Two years ago, he played in the next-to-last group on Sunday but closed with a 74 to finish 10 shots behind victor Jordan Spieth. "So I just don't feel like there's any chance of me competing". Visually - I'm a very visual person - it fits my eye.

Just two Masters champions in the past 30 years have led the tournament after the first round -Jordan Spieth in 2015 and Trevor Immelman in 2008. Jason Day of Australia and Spieth, the world's No. 3 and 6 players, respectively, shot 75s, while Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, the world No. 4, struggled to a 76 and Henrik Stenson of Sweden, No. 5 in the world, carded a 77. But he found his original ball and played it from there, making a five instead of incurring a penalty if he had to play his second shot. His best finish of 2017 is a tie for fifth at the Maybank Classic, an Asian-European Tour event with a weaker field than any tournament played on this side of the Atlantic this year.

  • Julie Sanders