Dustin Johnson takes leave of absence from tour over 'personal challenges'
In surprise move, Ryder Cup 'certainty' takes leave of absence and asks for privacy
Dustin Johnson is taking a leave of absence from golf to seek help for "personal challenges" in a swift end to his season that will keep him from playing the PGA Championship, the FedEx Cup play-offs and the Ryder Cup.
The 30-year-old Johnson said his leave of absence was effective immediately. He did not indicate how long he would be out, though agent David Winkle told the PGA of America he would not be at the PGA Championship next week or the Ryder Cup at the end of next month.
"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".
Johnson, who tied for fourth in the US Open and tied for 12th in the British Open, was No 5 in the Ryder Cup standings and virtually certain to earn one of nine automatic spots.
As long as he stays in the top nine, he will be replaced by the next player in the standings.
"We will certainly miss Dustin Johnson at Gleneagles, and we wish him the best," US captain Tom Watson said.
"As one of the longest hitters in the game with an undefeated record of 3-0 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."
Players at the Bridgestone Invitational said they were surprised by the announcement.
"If anything, I just hope this is the start of something really, really positive," Zach Johnson said. "And I don't know what happened. I don't know what the specifics are, nor should I know. That's none of my business. I feel for him."
Justin Rose called it a "big blow for the tour".
"He's always been a charismatic player and popular player out here," Rose said. "He's not going to play in the Ryder Cup. That will be a blow for the American team. Just wish him well, whatever he's facing right now. Can't be easy for him."
Johnson played poorly in his first Ryder Cup at Wales, not winning a match until the final day in singles. He was the only American to go undefeated last time in Medinah, winning both fourballs matches with Matt Kuchar and handily beating Nicolas Colsaerts in a singles match.
"I'll tell you what, you always want guys with that kind of power to play on any team," Tiger Woods said. "I've been his partner in the Presidents Cup in Australia, and the firepower that he has, it's pretty cool to be around. It's not too often you see the guy carry the ball 320 [yards] without even trying, and when he steps on it, he can hit it even further."
Johnson last year got engaged to Paulina Gretzky, the daughter of NHL great Wayne Gretzky.