PGA Tour insists that Dustin Johnson is not suspended
Reports last night claimed the world number 16 is serving a six-month drugs ban for cocaine use
PGA Tour: “With regard to media reports that Dustin Johnson has been suspended by the PGA Tour, this is to clarify that Mr Johnson has taken a voluntary leave of absence and is not under a suspension from the PGA Tour.”
The PGA Tour has been urged to be more transparent following confusion surrounding the status of world number 16 Dustin Johnson.
Johnson announced on Thursday he was to take a break from golf with immediate effect and would seek “professional help for personal challenges,” meaning he will miss next month’s Ryder Cup.
That led to intense speculation over the reason for Johnson’s decision and even a report on Golf. com that he had been suspended from the PGA Tour for cocaine use, prompting the Tour to break their customary silence on issues involving their members.
A statement from the PGA Tour read: “With regard to media reports that Dustin Johnson has been suspended by the PGA Tour, this is to clarify that Mr Johnson has taken a voluntary leave of absence and is not under a suspension from the PGA Tour.”
Johnson’s coach Butch Harmon had earlier told Sky Sports 4: “One of the problems that the tour has . . . is that if they do impose sanctions, they don’t tell anybody about it.
“I think that’s not good either so the speculation and the rumours will continue to go on. I think DJ has made his statement and that’s pretty much all we’re going to hear from him.
“As a friend of Dustin’s, whatever his problems are I hope he seeks the proper help and that he can get his head on straight and get back to playing great golf again. Until someone in authority tells us what the deal is there is going to be a lot of speculation.”
European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley added: “PGA Tour policy is to keep things in house and give away very few details, but it’s a very risky policy because now you’ve gone from controlling the situation to reacting to events as they happen, which is not where you want to be.”
Johnson, who won all three of his matches at Medinah in 2012, will not contest next week’s US PGA Championship at Valhalla, after which the nine automatic qualifiers for Tom Watson’s team will be finalised. He had been fifth in the standings but has now been removed from an updated table.
The 30-year-old released a statement through his management company on Thursday which read: “I am taking a leave of absence from professional golf, effective immediately. 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 fulfil my potential and become a consistent champion.
“I respectfully ask my fans, well-wishers and the media for privacy as I embark upon this mission of self-improvement.”