Dustin Johnson’s absence from professional golf, which he called a “leave of absence” in a statement Thursday, is a six-month suspension issued by the PGA Tour for having tested positive for cocaine, Golf.com reported Friday.
Johnson, a top golfer who has come close to winning two majors and had clinched a spot on the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team, had tested positive twice before, Golf.com reported, quoting an unnamed source — once in 2009 for marijuana and once in 2012 for cocaine. The latter time, he was suspended, according to the report, but he said that he missed time because of a bad back.
The PGA Tour does have drug testing. But unlike major team sports leagues, it does not make public its suspensions or fines — for any breach of conduct. A thick file (five suspensions) on John Daly, for instance, became known this year only after it was part of a libel suit the golfer failed to win.
In his statement Thursday, Johnson said, “I will use this time to seek professional help for personal challenges I have faced. 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.”
After that was released, the Tour issued only a brief statement: “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 Tour did not offer a comment on the Golf.com story.
Johnson, 30, is known as one of the long drivers and better players on tour. He had been fifth on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, meaning he had locked up a place on the 12-player U.S. team that will compete in Scotland next month. He has won eight tournaments, but famously lost the 2010 PGA Championship when he grounded his club in a bunker and was assessed a two-stroke penalty that cost him a place in a playoff. Johnson did not realize that he was in a bunker on the sand-strewn Whistling Straits course. That same year, he lost a three-stroke lead in the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
He will miss the PGA Championship next week at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., costing the event its distinction as the first major ever to include all top 100 players in the Official World Golf Ranking. Johnson also will miss the FedEx Cup playoffs and Ryder Cup.
The Golf.com report also included a brief reference to another phase of Johnson’s conduct, saying “He is often seen in bars near his home in Jupiter, Fla. and is also known to have had a sexual indiscretion with at least one wife of a PGA Tour player.”
Johnson last year announced his engagement to Paulina Gretzky, daughter of Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky.
Distributed by MCT Information Services