With fatherhood and a return to the PGA Tour imminent, Dustin Johnson said in an exclusive interview with Sports Illustrated that he was not suspended for a failed third drug test and that he is finally ready to unlock his immense potential.
In his first interview since taking a leave of absence from the PGA Tour in August because of “personal challenges,” Johnson said he did not enter a rehab facility and denies that he had a problem with cocaine use.
“It’s just something I’m not going to get into,” he told Pete Thamel of SI. “I have issues. But that’s not the issue.”
It was Golf.com – SI’s sister publication – that reported in August that Johnson had failed a third drug test and was suspended by the PGA Tour for six months. SI noted that during the sit-down interview, Johnson was flanked by his agent, David Winkle, and a public relations consultant, and that a list of talking points were positioned in front of him.
Johnson told SI that he has hired a team of experts to help him better understand what makes him tick, a group that includes a life coach and several clinicians.
“Over these past four or five months I’ve really grown up,” he said, according to the report, “and I am starting to become the person I want my kids to look up to.”
His game doesn’t seem to have suffered during the time away. Johnson’s father-in-law, Wayne Gretzky, said that in October, Johnson shot rounds of 61 (a course record), 63 and 61 in a three-day span at Sherwood Country Club. Johnson has also shed 20 pounds of fat and replaced it with 13 pounds of muscle.
The story details a “simpler” life for Johnson and fiancée Paulina Gretzky, that instead of wild nights on the town they’re content having meals with Gretzky’s parents and binge-watching TV shows.
“My way of getting rid of (stress) was drinking or partying,” Johnson told SI. “Yeah, that might work for that day or the next week, but eventually everything keeps piling up.”
Depending on when Gretzky gives birth to the couple’s first child – she’s due in a few weeks – Johnson will return at either the Farmers Insurance Open or the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
“I don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface,” he said of his potential, according to SI. “And that was a really big part of what I’ve been doing, to help myself reach that potential.”