Dustin Johnson withdraws from the Byron Nelson

Posted Tuesday, May. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Notable pairings Here are three pairings to keep an eye on for the first and second rounds: •  Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley and Matt Kuchar (7:40 a.m. Thursday; 12:40 p.m. Friday): Dufner is the defending champion and Bradley won in 2011. Kuchar, meanwhile, is ranked 12th in the world, the second-highest ranking in the field (Louis Oosthuizen is ranked 7th). •  Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel and Angel Cabrera (7:30 a.m. Thursday, 12:30 p.m. Friday): All three international players have won majors and are competing at the tournament for the first time. •  J.J. Henry, Rory Sabbatini and Scott Verplank (8 a.m. Thursday; 1 p.m. Friday): Three players with area ties. Henry went to TCU and lives in Fort Worth, Sabbatini is also a Fort Worth resident and Verplank grew up in Dallas. Sabbatini is the only one who has won in the group, as he took the 2009 title.

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Dustin Johnson won’t be part of the field in this week’s HP Byron Nelson Championship, as he withdrew from the tournament Tuesday.

It’s a significant loss for the tournament. Johnson is the 19th-ranked player in the world and a fan favorite because of his long drives off the tee.

No reason for his withdrawal was given by PGA Tour officials, but a Twitter post by Johnson suggests he has more issues with his back. He withdrew after a first-round 74 at The Players Championship last week, citing a lower back injury.

“Tried to go but have inflammation in my facet joints,” Johnson said on his Twitter account Tuesday. “Some rest and daily therapy with my physical therapist, then I should be good!!”

Johnson, 28, has played nine tournaments this year, winning the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He has become best known for his near misses at the majors though, notably the 2010 PGA Championship.

Alternate Duffy Waldorf will take Johnson’s place. Bob Estes, who had made 24 consecutive starts at the Nelson, and Jonas Blixt also will not play. Joe Durant and Lee Janzen will compete in their places.

Returning home

Former SMU player and Dallas resident Colt Knost didn’t know if he would have to withdraw for a second consecutive week.

Knost pulled out after the first round of The Players Championship last week with neck and back pain, but it has gotten progressively better. Knost played seven holes in a practice round and then put on a clinic for youngsters, saying he’s good to go.

“I was in bad shape last week,” Knost said. “Ten minutes before I teed off, it flared up and I probably shouldn’t have played. But I tried to tough it out because it was The Players.”

Knost is now focused on the Nelson, and hopes his hometown tournament can be a turning point for his season. His best finish has been a tie for 43rd, and he’s missed four of the last five cuts.

“It’s been awful, honestly,” Knost said of his year. “I’ve played better than I’ve scored, but nothing has gone my way. I’m not getting the bounces, not getting the putts to drop when I need to ... stuff like that. It’s part of it. All it takes is one week out here, so some good golf is going to happen eventually.”

Martin Flores, another area player who grew up in Mansfield, is hoping to do the same. His season hasn’t gone as well as he’d like, making only seven of 13 cuts, although he tied for 10th last month at the Valero Texas Open.

“I think I’ve played a little better than my results have shown,” Flores said.

Briefly

• Peggy Nelson, wife of the late Byron Nelson, during the opening ceremonies: “Byron loved this tournament with all his heart. It meant more to him than anything else he had done in golf and he would be the first to tell you that.”

• The course record is a 9-under 61, a score that has been posted four times, the last by Cameron Beckman in 2010. Billy Mayfair (1993), Charlie Rymer (1996) and Justin Leonard (2001) also have shot 61s.

• Dallas and Fort Worth will be competing the next two weeks as part of a national walking competition sponsored by Humana. Fans at the Nelson and the Colonial can pick up pedometers at pavilions onsite to track steps to see which of participating PGA Tour events produce the most steps. The Players Championship is in the lead with almost 14 million steps.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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