Contrary to a report by Golf.com, Dustin Johnson has not been suspended from the PGA Tour after testing positive for cocaine; rather, he is taking a self-imposed, six-month leave of absence.
Either way, why is Johnson’s troubled history – he has failed multiple drug tests – only coming out now?
“We’ve heard rumors for years,” Golf Channel senior writer Jason Sobel said on The Morning Show. “I don’t know whether it’s right or wrong, but I’ve always taken the stance that a player’s personal life – his private matters – should remain private. That’s not my business unless it affects his professional career. I think the fact that it’s now affected Dustin Johnson’s professional career – the fact that he’s taking a leave of absence and won’t play in the PGA Championship or the FedExCup playoffs or the Ryder Cup – I think now is when it has to come to light. Now we sort of find out that he’s had some personals struggles. I think that’s the appropriate time for this to come out, for us to have this discussion.”
Johnson, 30, has been rated as high as fifth in the world rankings. He joined the PGA Tour in 2008 and has won at least one tournament every single year. Whatever personal demons he has – or has had – have not affected him to a significant degree.
Sobel believes it’s wrong for the PGA Tour to not take a hard stance on this matter.
“I think the lack of transparency from the PGA Tour – and I’ve been saying this for years, not just in this case – is so outdated,” Sobel said. “Every other major sports association announces fines and suspensions. We don’t necessarily need to know exactly (what) he tested positive for or what rule or violation he broke, but we should know if a player is suspended. I do think that if suspensions and fines were made public, that would keep a player from committing the same act again and again and again.”
Instead, the PGA Tour believes it is protecting its players’ images by not issuing punishments or suspensions. Sobel, however, believes this mindset achieves the exact opposite effect.
“When a player is not suspended, it leads to public speculation,” Sobel said. “They’re not doing the players any favors at all by not announcing suspensions and kind of leaving them hanging in the wind to let all of us speculate and guess. I think the tour has painted themselves into a corner, and I think that this is something that needs to be rectified and hopefully will be rectified soon.”
While Johnson will definitely not play in the PGA Championship, we’re still awaiting word on Tiger Woods, who withdrew from the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday with a back injury. Woods returned to his home in South Florida to be evaluated.
“That’s probably not a very good sign – the fact that he didn’t go straight to Louisville for the PGA Championship,” Sobel said. “I know that anybody who saw him withdraw and saw what kind of pain he was in yesterday probably thinks that he’s got no chance of teeing it up, but I would remind you of last year’s Barclay’s Tournament where he had such debilitating back (pain) that he fell to his knees at one point with the shot on the 13th hole and wound up finishing in second place.
“At the time, I thought he was done for the year,” Sobel continued. “He could barely walk when he was leaving the course. Four days later, he was teeing it up at the Deutsche Bank Championship and played in five more tournaments at the end of the year. So really, you can’t tell just based on one round and based on what he looked like leaving the course as far as his future (is concerned).”