With the Ryder Cup only 55 days away, Tom Watson’s US side has been dealt a huge blow with the news that Dustin Johnson - currently fifth in qualifying - has decided to take a ‘leave of absence’ from the game, ruling himself out of the Gleneagles contest.
In a statement issued yesterday, the big-hitting American explained he needed time away from the game to tackle his ‘personal challenges’. But made clear he intends to return and become ‘a consistent champion’.
"I am confident that I will be better equipped to fulfill my potential." - Dustin Johnson
“I am taking a leave of absence from professional golf, effective immediately,” his statement read. “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.”
Dustin Johnson a big miss for team USA
Johnson has made 17 starts this season, with one win at the WGC-HSBC Champions, plus six other top tens.
The 30-year-old has enjoyed a great career on the PGA Tour thus far, winning seven seasons in a row straight out of college. Only Tiger Woods has managed the same feat. He’s currently fourth in the FedExCup standings and is ranked 16th in the world.
US Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson knows an American team without the power of Johnson is certainly weaker.
"He has clearly been an asset for the United States team.” - Tom Watson
“We will certainly miss Dustin Johnson at Gleneagles, and we wish him the best,” Watson said in a statement on PGATour.com.
“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.”
Johnson will also miss next weeks PGA Championship.
In a statement of its own, the PGA Tour said: “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.”
TaylorMade, one of the American’s major sponsors, ‘supports’ Dustin Johnson’s decision to take a break from the game, saying: “TaylorMade-adidas Golf supports Dustin Johnson’s decision to temporarily step away from the PGA Tour. We wish him well and look forward to his return.”