Story highlights

Dustin Johnson returns to action this week

World No. 1 missed Masters with back injury

American has won last three starts

CNN —  

He missed the Masters after falling down stairs on the eve of the tournament, but world No. 1 Dustin Johnson returns to golf this week hoping to resume his domination of the sport.

The 32-year-old was favorite for the year’s first major with three straight victories heading into Augusta, but he slipped at his rental home and fell heavily on his back and left elbow, and withdrew minutes before his opening tee time.

The American watched on TV at home as Sergio Garcia clinched his maiden major, and claims he hasn’t practised much in the last few weeks, but the fit-again Johnson shot a two-under 70 in the first round of this week’s Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina Thursday.

“Since I haven’t played in so long, I’m happy with the way I played,” Johnson told reporters.

“I didn’t score that great and didn’t really hole many putts, but other than that I played really well.”

Italy’s Franceso Molinari led the way with a six-under 66, one clear of Sweden’s Alex Noren and Americans JB Holmes, Grayson Murray and Brian Campbell.

Dustin Johnson returns to golf at the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina.
Getty Images
Dustin Johnson returns to golf at the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina.
Johnson withdrew from the Masters minutes before his tee time after failing to recover from a back injury.
Rob Carr/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Johnson withdrew from the Masters minutes before his tee time after failing to recover from a back injury.

READ: When manga and golf collide

READ: Tiger Woods out for six months

READ: Garcia hails ‘special’ win on Seve’s birthday

READ: Nickalus, Nadal, Figo, Phelps congratulate Garcia

’Best golf of my career’

Going into Augusta Johnson had won his previous three tournaments – February’s Genesis Open as well as the WGC Mexico Championship and WGC Dell Match Play in March.

Only Tiger Woods has won four straight starts on the PGA Tour.

“It was tough to watch [the Masters] but I couldn’t do anything else – I was still laying on the couch,” he added.

“I wanted to be there playing. I was playing the best golf of my career leading into the Masters so I didn’t want to watch it on TV, but things happen and I’m back out here playing now.”

Visit CNN.com/golf for more news and videos

Johnson will defend his US Open title at Erin Hills in Wisconsin from June 15-18.

The Wells Fargo Championship takes place at Eagle Point instead of usual venue Quail Hollow, which hosts the US PGA Championship in Augusta.