Dustin Johnson takes leave of absence from golf to handle "challenges"

Dustin Johnson
USA Today Sports Images
Dustin Johnson, in a statement released Thursday, said that by committing time and resources to improve his life, he will be better equipped to fulfill his potential.
By
Staff and Wire Reports

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Thursday, July 31, 2014 | 4:23 p.m.
AKRON, Ohio – Dustin Johnson is taking a leave of absence from golf to seek help for "personal challenges," putting him out of the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.
 
In a statement Thursday from his agent at Hambric Sports Management, the 30-year-old Johnson said his leave of absence was effective immediately.
 
It did not indicate how long he would be out of golf, but David Winkle, president of Hambric Sports Management, told the PGA of America that Johnson would miss the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup.
 
 
"We will certainly miss Dustin Johnson at Gleneagles, and we wish him the best," said 2014 U.S. Team Captain Tom Watson. "As one of the longest hitters in the game with an undefeated record of 3-and-0 at Medinah in 2012, he has clearly been an asset for the United States team. That said, the United States is a team with an abundance of talent. I am looking forward to teeing it up alongside those players in the PGA Championship at Valhalla, and finding out along with everyone else, which players qualify for the team based on points."
 
Johnson withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at the start of the week. 
 
"I will use this time to seek professional help for personal challenges I have faced," Johnson said. "By committing the time and resources necessary to improve my mental health, physical well-being and emotional foundation, I am confident that I will be better equipped to fulfill my potential and become a consistent champion." 
 
He asked for privacy "as I embark upon this mission of self-improvement." 
 
The PGA Championship starts next Thursday at Valhalla, but there is more big golf to follow.
 
“Obviously we are disappointed Dustin Johnson will not be playing in the PGA Championship or be a part of the 2014 Ryder Cup squad at Gleneagles," said PGA President Ted Bishop. "Having spent time with Dustin at the last two Ryder Cups, we know he’s an amazingly talented young man capable of winning Major Championships and becoming a Ryder Cup staple for the next two decades. We wish Dustin the best and look forward to his return.”
 
Johnson, who won the HSBC Champions in Shanghai at the start of the PGA Tour season last October, is No. 4 in the FedExCup. The playoffs begin Aug. 21 at The Barclays. 
 
Johnson also is No. 5 in the Ryder Cup standings, virtually certain of earning one of the nine automatic spots on the U.S. team. If he does not play in the Ryder Cup, which is Sept. 28-30 in Scotland, he would be replaced by whoever finishes 10th in the standings after next week. 
 
It's the second time in two years that Johnson has missed a major under curious circumstances. He pulled out of the Masters in 2012, saying that he tweaked his back while lifting a jet ski. He wound up missing three months, and won in his second tournament back. 
 
Johnson played in the final group in the third round of the British Open with Rory McIlroy, fading with a 71-72 weekend and tying for 12th. He missed the cut last week at the RBC Canadian Open. 
 
"We have nothing to add to Dustin's statement, but we wish him well and look forward to his return to the PGA Tour in the future," the PGA Tour said in a statement. 
 
Johnson is No. 16 in the world ranking with eight PGA Tour victories. He is the first player since Tiger Woods to go from college to winning in each of his first seven seasons on the PGA Tour. He lost a three-shot lead in the final round of the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, closing with an 82. Later that year, he was assessed a two-shot penalty on the final hole of the PGA Championship for grounding his club in a patch of sand, not realizing it was a bunker at Whistling Straits. 
 
Johnson last year got engaged to Paulina Gretzky, the daughter of NHL great Wayne Gretzky.