AFP/ Los Angeles
World number one Dustin Johnson has withdrawn from this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson PGA Tour event after suffering a flare-up of a lingering knee problem, a statement said yesterday.
Johnson, who underwent surgery on his left knee in September 2019, said in a statement released through the PGA Tour he would skip this week’s event in Texas to focus on rehabilitation. The announcement comes just over a week before the second major of the season, the May 20-23 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina.
“It is with deepest regret that I must withdraw from this week’s Byron Nelson,” Johnson said in the statement. “Unfortunately, the knee discomfort I occasionally experience has returned and after consultation with my team and trainers, I feel it is best that I remain at home and focus on my rehabilitation work. I am not pleased about this situation, as I was really looking forward to playing this week.”
The 36-year-old’s statement gave no indication of whether he would be fit for the PGA Championship, where Johnson will be aiming to capture his second major after victory in the 2020 Masters.
Johnson’s form has fluctuated since victory at the Saudi International European Tour event in February, with a tie for 54th place at the World Golf Championships-Workday Championship followed by a 48th place at The Players Championship, before a missed cut at the Masters last month. He finished 48th in his most recent outing at the Valspar Championship earlier this month.
Johnson’s withdrawal vaulted Bryson DeChambeau into the co-favourite role. Jon Rahm was the +850 favourite at DraftKings on Monday morning, with DeChambeau listed at +900 ahead of Johnson and Jordan Spieth at +1200.
Rahm and DeChambeau both saw their odds shorten to +800 with the news that Johnson will not play in the final tune-up for next week’s PGA Championship. Spieth is now the third betting favourite at +1100, followed by Daniel Berger (+1700) and Hideki Matsuyama (+2000).
Matsuyama will tee it up for the first time since winning the Masters last month, while Rahm and DeChambeau are the only top-10 players in the field. Brooks Koepka (+2300) fell two spots to No 12 this week as he also prepares to compete for the first time since Augusta National, where he missed the cut.
Spieth also took a month off after his T3 at the Masters, which followed his first win since 2017 the previous week at the Valero Texas Open.
He enters this week at No 29 in the Official World Golf Rankings, the highest he has been since June of 2019. Sung Kang is set to defend his maiden PGA Tour victory, albeit from 2019 after last year’s event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 184th-ranked Kang carries longshot odds at +35000 as he has missed five of his past seven cuts and doesn’t have a finish better than T59 in 12 starts this year.
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