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American Dustin Johnson takes leave from golf

Last updated 10:07 01/08/2014
Dustin Johnson
USA Today Sports
TIME OUT: American golfer Dustin Johnson is taking a leave of absence from golf as he deals with "personal challenges".

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American golfer Dustin Johnson is taking a leave of absence from golf to seek help for ''personal challenges,'' a swift end to his season that will keep him from playing the US PGA Championship, the FedEx Cup playoffs, and the Ryder Cup.

In a statement today from Hambric Sports Management, the 30-year-old Johnson said his leave of absence was effective immediately.

It did not indicate how long he would be out, though agent David Winkle told the PGA of America he would not be at the US PGA Championship next week or the Ryder Cup in September.

''I will use this time to seek professional help for personal challenges I have faced,'' Johnson said.

''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.''

He asked for privacy ''as I embark upon this mission of self-improvement.''

Johnson, who tied for fourth in the US Open and tied for 12th in the British Open, was No. 5 in the Ryder Cup standings and virtually certain to earn one of nine automatic US spots when qualifying ends next week at the US PGA Championship.

As long as he stays in the top nine, he will be replaced by the next player in the standings.

''We will certainly miss Dustin Johnson at Gleneagles, and we wish him the best,'' US 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.''

Johnson was replaced in the US PGA Championship by Jerry Kelly.

Pat Perez is now the first alternate, and will get into the major provided the Bridgestone Invitational winner is already eligible.

Johnson won the HSBC Champions in Shanghai last October at the start of the PGA Tour season.

He has seven top 10s this year on the tour and was at No. 4 in the FedEx Cup standings.

It's the second time in two years that Johnson has missed a major under curious circumstances.

He pulled out of the Masters in 2012, saying that he tweaked his back while lifting a jet ski. He wound up missing three months, and won in his second tournament back.  

Johnson played in the final group in the third round of the British Open with Rory McIlroy, fading with a 71-72 weekend and tying for 12th.

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He missed the cut the following week at the Canadian Open, and then withdrew from the World Golf Championship at Firestone.

The PGA Tour, which does not comment on disciplinary action, offered little in a statement.

''We have nothing to add to Dustin's statement, but we wish him well and look forward to his return to the PGA Tour in the future,'' the tour said.

Johnson is No. 16 in the world rankings with eight tour victories.

He is the first player since Tiger Woods to go from college to winning in each of his first seven seasons on the tour.

Johnson last year got engaged to Paulina Gretzky, the daughter of NHL great Wayne Gretzky.

- AP

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