Golf - Masters showdown starts with Johnson still in doubt

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland skips his ball across the pond on the 16th hole during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. Andrew Redington/Getty Images/AFPAUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland skips his ball across the pond on the 16th hole during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. Andrew Redington/Getty Images/AFP (AFP Photo/Andrew Redington)

- World number one Dustin Johnson was uncertain to play as the 81st Masters began Thursday, swirling winds adding a new twist to an epic showdown at Augusta National. Northern Ireland's second-ranked Rory McIlroy could be the man who benefits most if Johnson, scheduled for an afternoon tee-off, eventually decides to withdraw after hurting his back in a fall at his rented house on the eve of the tournament. Australian world number three Jason Day is also among the top rivals expected to challenge for the title along with 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth. Johnson suffered a serious fall on a stairway, according to his agent, but is still hoping to take part in the tournament.

AFP