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Dustin Johnson triumphed at the Masters last November to earn his first green jacket and his second career major championship. The win was a long time coming for the 36-year-old Johnson, who had a glorious chance to become a Masters champion a few years earlier had it not been for a thunderstorm and some slippery stairs.

Dustin Johnson was the favorite to win the 2017 Masters

Dustin Johnson could've been a Masters champion a few years before 2020, but a rain storm and a flight of stairs got in his way.
Dustin Johnson speaks to the media following his withdrawal from the 2017 Masters | Rob Carr/Getty Images

A few years before Dustin Johnson conquered Augusta National for the first time last fall, he entered the 2017 Masters Tournament as an even bigger favorite than he was in 2020. DJ came into the tournament as the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world with commanding 11/2 odds to win. He was playing the best golf of his career at the time, as he had won three straight tournaments leading into Augusta.

On Wednesday before the 2017 Masters, thunderstorms forced players off the course early. Johnson returned to his accommodations looking to get some rest before his first round tee time, but that’s not exactly what he got.

Johnson was forced to withdraw after slipping on some stairs

A few hours after Johnson returned to his rental home on Wednesday afternoon, disaster struck. DJ slipped and fell on a flight of stairs and seriously injured his back, putting the Masters in doubt.

“At roughly 3:00 pm today, Dustin took a serious fall on a staircase in his Augusta rental home,” David Winkle, Johnson’s manager, said in a statement later that day. “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.”

When DJ’s trainer, Joey Diovisalvi, went over to check on the golf star, all Johnson could say was, “Dude, I can’t believe I did that.”

The next day, Johnson returned to the course to give it a go, but he couldn’t swing a club without feeling immense pain. He was forced to withdraw from the tournament before even getting to tee off.

“I could make a backswing, but every time down, right at impact [my back] would just catch,” Johnson told reporters at the course. “I just don’t feel like there’s any chance of me even competing.

“It sucks. I’m playing probably the best golf of my career.”

Johnson’s fiancee, Paulina Gretzky, later revealed the reason for the fall


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After Johnson was forced to withdraw from the tournament, fans from all over the world started to create rumors about what really happened that fateful Wednesday afternoon. Did he really fall down the stairs? Was there something more serious going on? What is he hiding?

But Johnson’s longtime fiancee, Paulina Gretzky, was quick to shoot the rumors down. It turns out Johnson really did fall down the stairs trying to get his son inside to shelter him from the thunderstorm.

“Like he [Johnson] said, slipping on the stairs,” Gretzky replied to a fan’s question on her Instagram story at the time. “Tried to race outside to get our son from the car because it was storming out.

“But I’ve definitely enjoyed all the entertaining lies… I mean ‘rumours’.”

Thankfully for Johnson, he was able to avenge his most embarrassing Masters moment by winning a green jacket in 2020.