New York – US golfer Dustin Johnson, who announced Thursday he was ending his season immediately for personal reasons, is actually serving a six-month PGA Tour suspension after testing positive for cocaine, Golf.com reported Friday.
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 says Johnson was previously suspended for the 2012 positive but the ban was never made public.
The PGA Tour's drug test policy does not require any disciplinary actions against players who test positive for recreational drugs be announced.
Johnson played at Doral in 2012 and then did not play again for 11 weeks until the Memorial in late May, saying at the time he hurt his back lifting a jet ski.
But the website's source says Johnson was actually serving a ban for his first positive cocaine test.
In his statement 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 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. – Sapa-AFP