World No 1 Dustin Johnson is hoping that a late start will give him a better chance of teeing up in today’s opening round of the 81st Masters as he faces a race against time.
The title favourite’s participation in the season’s opening major had a question-mark sensationally put against it after suffering a “serious fall” yesterday afternoon.
“At roughly 3pm today, Dustin took a serious fall on a staircase in his Augusta rental home,” his agent, David Winkle, revealed in a statement.
“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, who has won his last three events, suffered the injury as he slipped walking in socks on a barewood floor at his rented house in Augusta.
It was reported that the 28-year-old had been left “shaken up” by the fall, which saw him land on his lower back and both elbows.
The injury was described as “muscular in nature” and was being treated by a mixture of ice, heat and compression tape.
His team will “re-evaluate” the situation this morning, with the fact he is due out in the final group at 2:03pm local time giving him a better opportunity than if he’d been playing early in the opening round.
Special commemorative badges are being handed out to patrons to help the Masters pay a fitting tribute to Arnold Palmer today.
Palmer, a three-time champion at Augusta National, is missing at the event for the first time after passing away at the age of 87 last September.
“During his extraordinary life, Arnold Palmer and Augusta National connected in so many wonderful ways,” said club chairman Billy Payne.
“His four victories, the Arnold Palmer Tribute Monument on the 16th tee, his annual participation in our Honorary Starter ceremony, even his membership into our Club, all of them, outward displays of our love and affection for this very special man.
“And, as this week continues, we should and will do more to honor his immeasurable contributions to our club and this tournament, and to this great sport. “For the Honorary Starter’s Ceremony, we will once again proudly summon Arnie’s Army and provide every one of our patrons on the ground a special commemorative badge.
“So I think tomorrow will no doubt be an emotional goodbye, but at the same time, an even more powerful thank you to the man we dearly love.”
Bad weather forced the Par 3 contest at the Masters to be cancelled for the first time, leaving players and patrons equally disappointed.
The traditional fun event started at 12.30pm, having been slightly delayed after a morning wave of storms led to the course being evacuated for two-and-a-half hours.
But, as more bad weather swept in, a second clear-out was enforced at 1.25pm and the course remained closed for the remainder of the day.
“The safety of everyone on our grounds was the determing factor in the decision to close the course and cancel the Par 3 contest,” said Augusta National chairman Billy Payne.
“We share in the disappointment of our patrons, but the safety of everyone on our grounds is always our primary concern.”
More women members will be wearing Green Jackets at the Masters in years to come, according to Billy Payne.
Augusta National welcomed its first female members in 2012, when former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and leading businesswoman Darla Moore accepted invitations to join the club.
The duo were then joined in 2014 by IBM CEO Ginni Romety, but there have no further additions.
“I think that you will find through time that women have become a wonderful addition to our club, and there will be more in the future, certainly,” said Payne.
Under his chairmanship, the Masters tradition of no mobile phones on the course is set to be maintained.
Asked if there was a chance that policy could be relaxed to see the event fall in line with the three other majors, Payne said: “You’ll have to ask the next chairman. That’s not going to change while I’m chairman.
“I just don’t think it’s appropriate, and the noise is an irritation to not only players. The dialing, the conversation, it’s a distraction and that’s the way we’ve chosen to deal with it.”
Lexi Thompson wasn’t the only person reduced to tears by the four-shot penalty that cost her victory in the ANA Inspiration last weekend.
LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan has revealed the incident had the same effect on him as he watched at home.
“It’s a great example of something that’s 100 per cent right by the rules and feels 100 per cent wrong on all functions,” said Whan.
“The penalty in this case doesn’t fit the crime and it drives me crazy.”
Thompson was penalised for a ball-marking infringement in Saturday’s third round that was brought to the attention of officials the following day by an email from a television viewer.
“When you see an athlete putting herself in the position to be at the absolute pinnacle of her sport and have a career-changing win and have it change like that, it’s hard not to be a father in that moment,” said Whan.
“And that’s what I was. I was a father screaming at the TV, crying with my wife that night when I went to bed.”
Kingsbarns-attached Jordan McColl finished birdie-birdie to sit as the leading Scot after the opening round of the PGA EuroPro Tour Qualifying School.
The strong end to his round saw McColl sign for a three-under-par 69 to sit three shots off the lead, held by German Hendrik Beins, in joint-fifth.
Alva amateur Lawrence Allan was one of four Scots to sign for 71s, the others being Michael Stewart, Paul Robinson and Jonathan Mullaney.
Craig Lawrie, Paul’s oldest son, carded a 74, two more than former Scottish Challenge champion Jamie McLeary and one more than Scottish PGA champion Gareth Wright.
The leading 80 players and ties after the second round qualify for the final day and also guarantee cards on the third-tier circuit.