Professional golfer Dustin Johnson announced on Thursday, July 31st that he would be taking a break from golf for an indefinite period of time after testing positive for cocaine and receiving a 6-month ban from the PGA. Watch the video above to see an interview of Johnson with PGA Tour about his home life 6 months before the announcement.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He is Taking a Leave of Absence from Golf
On Thursday, Johnson announced:
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 fulfill my potential and become a consistent champion. I respectfully ask for privacy as I embark upon this mission of self-improvement.”
Johnson’s announcement shocked everyone, especially the distraught members of the 2014 Ryder Cup team. Tiger Woods commented that it came as a shock to him and Johnson’s would be teammates for the tournament and that the reporters most likely knew more than they did about the situation at the time.
He was banned by the PGA Tour for 6 months.
2. He Tested Positive for Cocaine for the Second Time
Johnson has been considered somewhat of a rebel of the players in professional golf. Professional golfers are in a category of their own when it comes to professional athletes as a part of a game that is based around honesty and integrity. Often referred to as a “gentleman’s game,” if tour players step out of line involving the likes of drugs and crime the player sticks out like a sore thumb.
Johnson has failed three drug tests: one for marijuana in 2009 and two for cocaine, in 2012 and 2014. He was previously suspended for the 2012 failed test, but that suspension was never made public.
Johnson, 30, was also arrested and charged in 2009 for driving under the influence about a little over a year after he turned pro. In 2012, he left golf for 3 months for reasons undisclosed to the public that link to a drug suspension despite Johnson’s agent David Winkle denying the allegations. It is easy to do so because the PGA Tour’s anti-doping policy allows suspensions for recreational drugs to remain private, while performance-enhancing substance abuse suspensions are made public.
Dustin and I had a come-to-Jesus conversation about getting his personal life in order. I told him he needs to figure out who he is and how committed he is to utilizing his talent. He needs to eliminate some of the, shall we say, extracurricular activities. He’s a fun-loving guy, I realize that. But there’s a time to play and a time to work and he needs to understand that better.”
Johnson has previously been accused of not living up to his full potential because of his hard partying habits.
3. He Was Arrested When He Was 17 For Buying Bullets
When Johnson was just 17 years old, he was arrested for buying bullets that were later used in a gang related murder.
In an interview with Golf.com, Johnson was questioned about the incident and responded:
I got pulled into a bad situation. I was a young kid. I had no idea what was going on. Stuff like that happened and made me realize I’ve got to be real careful about the decisions I make. Like I can’t just hang around with hooligans.
I don’t think I ever was [close to going down the wrong path]. I never, ever thought I was a bad guy. I just got into a situation where I felt very intimidated, and made a couple of bad decisions. I’m a pretty smart guy. I know the difference between right and wrong. I wish it had never come to something like that, but I just got pulled in.
4. He is Supposed to Marry Paulina Gretzky Soon
Some arrows point to his very public relationship with hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s daughter, Paulina Gretzky. However, the couple who got engaged in August 2013 seems to be perfectly happy based on both the instagrams and twitters of the two.
Gretzky recently caused an uproar after her feature on the cover of Golf Digest sporting a white sports bra and leggings which many LPGA members took great offense to. Other than that drama, her and Dustin seem solid. The couple recently postponed their wedding from its original date in fall to a later date prior to his announcement. Johnson’s announcement now fills the void of why the ceremony was postponed.
5. He is Ranked 16th in the World
The Ryder Cup will be missing the No. 16 player in the world in this year’s Ryder Cup as the United States battles the rest of the world in the tournament that will be taking place in September. Johnson is the longest hitter on tour and adds an exponential amount of power to the U.S. team.
U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson said:
We will certainly miss Dustin Johnson at Gleneagles, and we wish him the best. 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.”
Woods who was partnered with Johnson is last year’s Ryder Cup in Australia added:
His power, you always want guys with that kind of power to play on any team.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 then when he steps on it, he can hit it even further. When he gets it going, it’s awfully impressive.”