The highest-ranked player in the field at this week's AT&T Byron Nelson, Dustin Johnson, has withdrawn from the event with a knee injury. It was to be his final start before the second major championship of 2021 -- and fourth of the season -- next week when the PGA Championship goes to the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.
"It is with deepest regret that I must withdraw from this week's AT&T Byron Nelson," Johnson said in a 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. I have several friends in the Dallas area, many of whom I have met through their involvement with the tournament, so I hate to let them down."
Johnson goes into next week's PGA without his best stuff. Since winning the Saudi International at the start of 2021, he has just one top-10 finish (a T8 at the Genesis Invitational in February). We've also seen this from him before, however. He badly missed the cut last year at the Memorial and had to withdraw from the 3M Open before running off seven top-six finishes in eight starts, including a playoff win and a victory at the Masters.
There would be maybe a bit of surprise if Johnson went to Kiawah Island next week and won the third major of his career, given his recent slump, but nobody would be shocked. William Hill Sportsbook still lists D.J. at 12-1 to win the PGA next week, and they have plenty of reason to do so. Johnson has beaten or tied all but two golfers at the last two PGAs -- one at Bethpage Black and one at Harding Park. He has six top 10s overall at the PGA, and he remains lethal at major championships in general, having finished in the top 10 in 13 of his last 23 starts.
The Byron Nelson field, which will play a new course this year at TPC Craig Ranch, remains strong with Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and recent Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama all getting starts in right before next week's big one at Kiawah.