PONTE VEDRA BEACH: The US PGA Tour said that golfer Dustin Johnson’s leave of absence was voluntary, and not a suspension by the tour for a failed drug test.
“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,” the statement said.
The tour’s comments came after Golf.com reported that Johnson, who announced on Thursday he was ending his season for personal reasons, had been banned after testing positive for cocaine.
The website, citing an unnamed source, said Johnson has failed three drug tests, one for marijuana in 2009 and two for cocaine in 2012 and this year.
The report said Johnson was previously suspended for the 2012 season but as is common with PGA Tour disciplinary action the ban was never made public.
While the PGA Tour denied suspending Johnson, its statement did not specifically address the veracity of the reports that Johnson had tested positive for recreational drugs.
In his statement on Thursday, Johnson called his departure a leave of absence, but it is one that will cost him a chance at winning his first major title at next week’s PGA Championship plus a place in the season-ending series of playoff events and a likely spot on the US team for the Ryder Cup matches against Europe 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.”
The PGA Tour on Thursday released a statement saying, “We wish him well and look forward to his return to the PGA Tour in the future.”
Last year, Johnson announced he was engaged to be married to Paulina Gretzky, daughter of Canadian ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.
Johnson, who has won eight PGA titles, had a victory this season as well as two runner-up showings and four other top-10 finishes with more than $4.2 million (3.1 million euros) in winnings.
Johnson missed a strong chance to win a major at the 2010 PGA Championship when he grounded his club in a marginally marked bunker on the final hole, taking a two-shot penalty and watching Germany’s Martin Kaymer win in a playoff.