BACK BUT NOT 100 PER CENT

John­son re­cov­ers from Au­gusta fall, tem­pers ex­pec­ta­tions

New Straits Times - - Sport - Reuters

DUSTIN John­son said on Wed­nes­day he has re­cov­ered from the back in­jury that ruled him out of the last month’s US Masters but is not sure what to ex­pect in his com­pet­i­tive re­turn at this week’s Wells Fargo Cham­pi­onship.

The Amer­i­can World No 1, who with­drew from the year’s first ma­jor only mo­ments be­fore his open­ing round a day af­ter a freak fall down a stair­case in his rental home, said he has not been able to prac­tise much since the in­ci­dent.

“I’ve had a lot more time off than I would have liked. Still feel like I’m swing­ing re­ally well, hit a few good shout out there to­day, but we’ll just have to see,” John­son, who was play­ing the best golf of his life and was favoured to tri­umph at Au­gusta Na­tional, told a sparsely-at­tended news con­fer­ence.

“I haven’t played ... any com­pet­i­tive rounds since, what, six weeks ago.”

John­son, who teed off with com­pa­tri­ots Davis Love III and Bill Haas at Ea­gle Point in yes­ter­day’s open­ing round, said he was di­ag­nosed only with bruising to his lower back af­ter his fall four weeks ago.

“I had an MRI. It was clear, no is­sues, but bruised, bruised it re­ally bad,” said John­son. “It took about three weeks (to re­cover). Last Fri­day prob­a­bly was the first day I hit balls and didn’t feel it.”

Be­fore his in­jury, John­son had sep­a­rated him­self from his peers with a mix­ture of power, pre­ci­sion and poise that no­body could match over a three-tour­na­ment span as he posted a trio of vic­to­ries, in­clud­ing two World Golf Cham­pi­onships events.

He tried to play the Masters less than 24 hours af­ter his fall, even hit­ting some shots at the driv­ing range, but pulled out af­ter walk­ing to the first tee where he de­cided it was a lost cause.

But among the 2016 US Open cham­pion’s tal­ents is a seem­ing abil­ity not to stew over things such as the missed op­por­tu­nity to win a Green Jacket when he was at the top of his game.

“Crazy things hap­pen,” said John­son. “The only time it was maybe tough (not play­ing) was just watch­ing the tour­na­ment (on TV), but af­ter Sun­day it was fine.”

AFP PIC

Dustin John­son plays a shot in the open­ing round of the Wells Fargo Cham­pi­onship at Ea­gle Point Golf Club yes­ter­day.

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