AKRON, Ohio – Dustin Johnson announced Thursday he will take a leave of absence from golf to seek help for “personal challenges.”
That means he’ll miss the Ryder Cup.
How long Johnson will be out is unknown, but according to the PGA of America, which co-runs the Ryder Cup, he will miss next week’s PGA Championship and the biennial tussle with Europe on Sept. 28-30.
Johnson is No. 5 in the standings for the U.S. team, with the top nine automatically qualifying. If Johnson does not compete in Glasgow, his spot will go to the player who finishes No. 10 in the standings.
“I am taking a leave of absence from professional golf, effective immediately,” Johnson, 30, said in a statement released by his management team which made no reference to the Ryder Cup. “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.
“I respectfully ask my fans, well-wishers and the media for privacy as I embark upon this mission of self-improvement.”
In an e-mail correspondence with the media, the PGA of America said it was informed by David Winkle, president of Hambric Sports Management, that Johnson will not be participating in next week’s PGA Championship nor the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, Scotland.
“We will certainly miss Dustin Johnson at Gleneagles, and we wish him the best,” U.S. 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. 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.”
Golfers expressed disappointment when asked about the news at Firestone Country Club.
“It’s a big blow for the Tour,” Justin Rose said. “He’s always been a charismatic player and popular player out here. He’s not going to play 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. Wish him all the best. He’s a friend of mine. I didn’t really know that that was on the cards.”
Rickie Fowler is expected to make the Ryder Cup team, with a No. 4 spot in the standings.
“He’s definitely a guy you want on the team,” Fowler said. “He’s a powerful, powerful guy. He’s someone that guys don’t look past as far as one of the best players out here. So definitely a loss to the team, but just hope for the best for him. It won’t be the last Ryder Cup for him.”
Added Zach Johnson, “If anything, I just hope this is the start of something really, really positive. ... I feel for him.”
On Monday, Johnson withdrew from this week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, citing “personal reasons.”
Johnson has eight PGA Tour titles, his last at the 2013 WGC-HSBC Champions.
In a statement, the PGA Tour said, “We have nothing to add to Dustin’s statements but wish him well and look forward to his return to the PGA Tour in the future.”
© 2014 USA Today. All rights reserved.