D. Johnson on lawsuit: It's been a distraction


In an interview with GolfChannel.com on Friday Dustin Johnson, who plans to make his return to the PGA Tour in two weeks at the Farmers Insurance Open after a six-month hiatus from the game, said he’s dealt with the “personal challenges” that drove him away from professional golf, but there remains a professional challenge that still looms.

In November Johnson filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia against Nathan Hardwick and two partners of his former adviser’s law firm that alleges 17 counts of racketeering and fraud.

According to the suit, Hardwick – who was on the board of directors of Johnson’s charity organization – convinced the eight-time Tour winner to loan the firm $3 million as “a good investment” and that co-defendants Mark and Rod Wittstadt’s firm would guarantee the loan and $1 million profit.

Johnson’s complaint claims the Wittstadts and their firm, “threatened to disclose private and confidential information about Johnson, which they learned in the course of their representation of Johnson as attorney, should he commence a lawsuit to seek repayment of the money.”

On Friday, Johnson said the lawsuit has been a distraction.

“It tough. It’s a lot of cash, [but] it doesn’t really bother me,” Johnson said. “I’m mad because I want my money back, but I have an attorney that’s handling the case. I’m interested in seeing what unfolds because there is a lot of stuff involved in the case.”

Johnson, however, added that he has been in contact with Hardwick and that the two remain friends.

“He’s always been a really great friend of mine, and I still don’t believe that he did anything wrong to me,” Johnson said. “Obviously it’s an ongoing case and we’ll see what happens. He’s a good friend, and I don’t believe he tried to do anything wrong.”