Johnson takes 'personal' leave

Washington - American Dustin Johnson said on Thursday he is taking a leave of absence from professional golf to address "personal challenges," bringing his PGA Tour season to an abrupt end.

"I am taking a leave of absence from professional golf, effective immediately," the eight-time PGA winner said in a statement released to media outlets. "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."

The 30-year-old, who last year announced his engagement to NHL great Wayne Gretzky's daughter Paulina, had already withdrawn from the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational that teed off Thursday in Akron, Ohio.

The PGA of America announced that Johnson will not take part in next week's PGA Championship or the Ryder Cup in September.

Johnson, who finished tied for fourth at the US Open in June and equal 12th at the British Open, is fifth on the US Ryder Cup points list.

If he is still in the top nine when qualifying for the nine automatic berths ends next week, the 10th-placed golfer on the list will gain a berth for the match-play showdown between the United States and Europe.

"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," the PGA Tour said in a statement.

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