What’s really happening with Dustin Johnson?

The recent field at the final tournament of the year on the USPGA tour, the Tour Championship was one man short of the 30-man limit. While 29 of the world’s top golfers will be fighting it out for the $1.44m prize for winning the Tour Championship and a $10m prize for the FedEx Cup winner, one man will be sitting it out despite having qualified.

That man is Dustin Johnson and the reason for his absence is not yet fully clear.

Dustin Johnson

What is clear is that up until July this year, Johnson was enjoying another strong season on the US Tour and looked a lock for a place in the Fedex Cup, as well as the US Ryder Cup team. To the outside world, it looked like the American golfer, who was the top performer for the American team in 2012, had plenty to look forward to over the last few weeks of the season.

Then came the shock announcement from Johnson that he was “taking a leave of absence from professional golf”.

To the outside world this was a shock announcement, but to those closer to the inner sanctum that is the US PGA tour and Johnson himself, it was less of a surprise.

While the US PGA denied that the reason for Johnson’s decision to address personal issues was anything to do with a failed drug test, speculation was mounting that Johnson had failed a third drugs test earlier in the year.

The US PGA denied that rumour emphatically, stating that Johnson’s decision to stop playing was entirely voluntary.

Then a few weeks after Johnson announced his decision , reports emerged that Ice Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, whose daughter Pauline is engaged to Johnson, had told the golf ace that unless he took steps to “clean up his act”, then the wedding (planned originally for the autumn of 2014) was going to be called off.

The story seems to confirm rumours first mooted in a Golf.com news article that stated that inside golf, Johnson’s behaviour away from the course has been a cause for concern for some time.

The article alleged that Johnson was a frequent visitor to bars near his Florida home, that he tested positive for cocaine in 2012 and 2014, marijuana in 2009 and that he has played a part in the break-up of at least one professional golfers marriage for sleeping with the other player’s wives.

The US PGA are notoriously tight lipped when it comes to the scandals that embroil their members and they have remained firmly behind the stance that Johnson’s hiatus from the game is voluntary, but stories and rumours like this are persisting.

In his statement when announcing his break from the game, Johnson stated that “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.”

Let’s hope so because when in full flow, Dustin Johnson was not just one of the longest drivers of a golf ball in the game, but one of the most accurate and talented players of the current new generation of Americans.

Whether these rumours are true or not is difficult to ascertain, but what is clear is that Johnson needs to get himself sorted and back healthy before any return to the game is possible.

While players like Tiger Woods and Jason Dufner have shown that being physically fit is vital for success, Johnson’s rumoured problems reveal that the mental and emotional stress a player faces can be equally as debilitating on their golfing career and their personal lives.

Let’s hope that Johnson can sort himself out and get back on the first tee as quickly as possible.

Images courtesy of Dustin Johnson Facebook/Twitter account

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Golfholic August 12, 2016

your blog is cool. my blog also about golf. thank you

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Iain July 16, 2017

Maybe he needs time off to recharge the batteries, to take stock of what he wants out of life. Having been a former golf professional I know first hand how demanding the day in day strain of the tour can be. Nice post, thanks

2