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Dustin Johnson WDs from pro-am with neck injury

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KAPALUA, Hawaii – Defending champion Dustin Johnson withdrew from the Hyundai Tournament of Champions pro-am on Thursday because of a lingering neck issue.

Johnson was instead receiving treatment for the injury on Thursday morning, according to agent David Winkle of Hambric Sports Management.

By the time Johnson came in for his afternoon press conference, he could already feel a difference.

“It's better," he said. "I went and got some strong anti-inflammatory, and it definitely helped. It was a little better this morning, but this afternoon, it's gotten a lot better.”

Because he withdrew from the pro-am with a medical excuse, Johnson is still eligible to compete in this week’s event, which begins Friday.

Johnson won last year at Kapalua by four strokes over Steve Stricker. He already owns a victory this season, prevailing at the WGC-HSBC Champions in November.

So how did Johnson hurt his neck?

“Just slept on it weird and then tweaked it," he said. "You know, just, I don't even know, someone called my name and I looked ... but it's definitely better. By tomorrow, hopefully it will be gone.”

He was replaced in the pro-am field by Rory Sabbatini, who is among a handful of non-competing PGA Tour players vacationing in the area this week.