The long-hitting, celebrity-dating golf phenom Dustin Johnson shocked the golf world this week by announcing he would take a leave of absence. Turns out it wasn’t voluntary: Johnson was suspended by the PGA Tour for testing positive for cocaine. Johnson, who is engaged to hockey legend Wayne Gretsky’s controversial daughter Paulina, had said: “I will use this time to seek professional help for personal challenges I have faced.” He said, adding that he hoped to return to championship form “by committing the time and resources necessary to improve my mental health, physical well-being and emotional foundation.” Or: I’m gonna kick the habit. Because they keep catching me. (The same report alleges that Johnson was suspended in 2012 too, but it wasn’t made public.)
Johnson was slated to compete in the Ryder Cup this fall. He has had a very successful season so far, ranking 5th overall on the Ryder Cup points list (the top point-getters are automatically placed on the US team). But apparently it’s been a different story off the course for Johnson–though none of his troubles has been overtly visible to outsiders. Johnson has already put a difficult life behind him that included some juvenile troubles, including a link to a murder.
Follow-up: USA Today late Friday reports the following from the PGA: “”With regard to media reports that Dustin Johnson has been suspended by the PGA Tour, this is to clarify that Mr. Johnson has taken a voluntary leave of absence and is not under a suspension from the PGA Tour,” a statement read.