Right Field: PGA honchos in perpetual denial
No one really believes Dustin Johnson voluntarily took leave and we do have a right to know why he is ineligible to play
You are free to believe what you want. In some places, most notably directly north of this border, you are also free to believe what you want. However, you are not necessarily free to articulate it.
But here, at least for now, you can do both. So while you are free to believe what the powers that be at the PGA of America officially have to say, you are also free to publicly dismiss it as the most condescending and insulting tripe.
If you wish to believe that one of the biggest draws and most talented players in the game voluntarily decided to suddenly shut down his season and take the next six months off to deal with "personal issues", then good for your trusting soul.
And if you also want to believe that Dustin Johnson just decided to walk away from one of his most successful seasons ever on the eve of the prestigious WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone, a week before the US PGA Championship and the start of the mega-lucrative FedEx Cup play-offs to sort out some issues then you should know you are in the decided minority. Oh, and Johnson was also a lock on the American team for traditionally the highest-rated televised golfing event in the US, the Ryder Cup clash between the US and Europe in late September in Scotland.
No one outside of the PGA offices in Palm Beach, Florida, believes Johnson voluntarily took leave and it was a fact emphatically reinforced when Golf.com came out with a salacious report stating that Johnson was serving a six-month suspension for testing positive for cocaine, the third time Johnson had tested positive for recreational drugs in the past five years.
The PGA said it most definitely did not suspend him while also adding it is their policy to not divulge details on positive drug tests, which in itself could be construed as an incriminating statement.
But possibly the most fascinating element in what is devolving into a sordid affair is the nature of golf itself. Golf is a game inherently structured on transparency and integrity. Golfers police themselves, trust is the backbone, and quite often one can tell the true nature of a person by the way they play the game.
If someone cheats at golf, chances are they cheat at life. If someone is a stickler for the rules of the game, then it's a pretty safe bet they live their life in a similarly obedient fashion. And yet the powers that be behind the biggest professional golf circuit are routinely exposed as lacking transparency and forthrightness at a time when all the other major professional sporting leagues in North America divulge every detail on suspended players.
Maybe you feel it is none of our business what these athletes do with their personal time and to some degree that is true. However, if the PGA Tour is unabashedly selling a player like Johnson as one of its marquee talents and you invest both your passion and money in following him, you do have a right to know why he is ineligible to play.
The Golf.com article also pointed out that Johnson has a reputation as a party boy and a duplicitous Casanova whose affair with another player's wife caused the break-up of their marriage. Almost immediately a golf analyst from Fox sports tweeted it was a well-known fact Johnson actually had affairs with two players' wives. One week later and there have been no threats of legal action from either the PGA or Johnson's representatives about the accusations. Perhaps the most talented athlete to ever play the game professionally, the handsome and laid-back Johnson's sporting feats have become legendary. He effortlessly hits towering and straight drives that put most other players to shame.
But despite his bounteous natural talent, he has long been derided as lacking a proper work ethic and coasting on his gifts while being messy around the greens - the business end of the game where champions are born and small details truly matter. As it turns out, his personal life seems to be similar. Recently engaged to Paulina Gretzky, a blonde bombshell of a social media darling who also happens to be the daughter of the greatest hockey player of all time, there will be no respite from the spotlight for Johnson.
Despite his amiable nature, he will undoubtedly be ridiculed by galleries everywhere when he returns. There will be nowhere to hide. If only we could say that about the PGA honchos, who remain, it seems, in perpetual denial. But, again, you are certainly free to believe what you want.