• Golf

PGA insists Johnson's break is voluntary

ESPN staff
August 2, 2014
Dustin Johnson has taken an immediate leave of absence from golf © Getty Images

The PGA Tour has insisted that it has not suspended Dustin Johnson after allegations that the player used recreational drugs.

Johnson announced this week that he was taking a leave of absence from competition, effective immediately, for "personal challenges." He will miss next week's PGA Championship at Valhalla as well as the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Ryder Cup.

Europe's Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has called for him to be specific about the reasons for taking a break to stop speculation but golf.com has already filled the void, claiming Johnson has been suspended because of recreational drug use.

Neither the player nor his representatives have commented but the PGA denied the claim central to the allegations.

Executive vice president Ty Votaw said: "With regard to media reports that Johnson has been suspended by the PGA Tour, this is to clarify that Johnson has taken a voluntary leave of absence and is not under a suspension from the PGA Tour.

"In regard to the report in golf.com, the PGA Tour does not comment on rumours and speculation," he added.

Johnson's biggest sponsor, TaylorMade-adidas, said he still had its backing. "TaylorMade-adidas Golf will not comment on allegations," the company said in a statement. "We support Dustin Johnson's decision to temporarily step away from the PGA Tour."

Johnson, 30, was among the favourites to make the US Ryder Cup team at the end of September for what would have been his third consecutive appearance.

Justin Rose, who faced him for Europe at Medinah in 2012, said: "I just wish him well, whatever he's facing right now. Can't be easy for him. I wish him all the best. He's a friend of mine [but I] didn't really know that that was on the cards."

Ryder Cup team-mate Zach Johnson was also shocked to hear the news. "It's extremely unfortunate," former Masters champion Johnson said. "I feel for him. I feel for his family. I feel for his team, those that are associated with him, because they've done a lot of good work this year.

"More than anything, I pray that his well-being will be on the mend. If anything, I just hope this is the start of something really, really positive.

"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 want him on the Ryder Cup team but that's my selfish side coming out. It really stinks [that he will not play]. When he's playing good, he's got the game that it frankly doesn't matter what kind of golf course it is."

Tiger Woods added: "I'll tell you what, with his power, you always want guys with that kind of power to play on any team. I've been his partner in the Presidents Cup in Australia, and the fire power that he has, it's pretty cool to be around.

"It's not too often you see a 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."

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