Dustin Johnson, one of the PGA’s biggest stars–and allegedly one of its biggest partiers–is bowing out of golf for an indefinite time period to get his head together. The world’s sixteenth-ranked golfer known for his prodigious length off the tee, admitted that he needs to focus on his mental health and emotional well-being.
Johnson’s withdrawal from the tour comes at a bad time for the US Ryder cup team, set to face the Europeans next month at Gleneagles in Scotland. The Americans are hoping to regain the cup after consecutive defeats in 2012 at Medinah Country Club in Illinois and the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales in 2010.
The Daily Mail observed that the beleaguered golfer has a reputation for leading a party lifestyle and as a result has not lived up to his abundant talents. In a statement Johnson released on Thursday, he explained, “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.”
Tom Watson, captain for the U.S. team expressed his disappointment in losing Johnson for the event. “We will certainly miss Dustin Johnson at Gleneagles , and we wish him the best.” However, European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley took a harder line on DJ’s departure accusing him of not being more forthcoming about the specifics of his decision. “It’s much better for everyone if there is clarity,” McGinley asserted. “If something has gone wrong and he has been misbehaving, let’s get it dealt with and move forward.”
Johnson has been a target for tabloids based on his high-profile relationship with Paulina Gretzky, daughter of arguably the greatest hockey player ever, Wayne Gretzky. In April, Paulina was the subject of controversy when she adorned the cover of Golf Digest clad in suggestive white tights and a bikini top. Some in the golfing community considered the magazine’s decision to print a provocative picture of the pop singer/model wasn’t appropriate for the brand.
Johnson’s early years are riddled with indiscretions. At the age of 16 Johnson was involved in a burglary with four others during which a gun was stolen. The Mail reports that Johnson later used an illegal ID to buy bullets for that same gun, which was used in a shooting by Steve Gillian, his accomplice’s brother. Gillian was later convicted of murder for shooting Jason Ward several times in the head and is serving a life sentence. Meanwhile, Johnson had to pay restitution for the stolen bullets and had to testify in the trial. Johnson was later pardoned for the incident.
In 2009, Dustin Johnson added a DUI to his repertoire of bad behavior.