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D. Johnson taking indefinite leave for 'personal challenges'

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Dustin Johnson announced on Thursday that he will be “taking a leave of absence from professional golf, effective immediately.”

“I will use this time to seek professional help for personal challenges I have faced,” Johnson said in the statement which was issued by his management company.

“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.”

Johnson withdrew from this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Monday citing “personal reasons,” and he seems likely to miss the remainder of the 2013-14 season, including next week’s PGA Championship and the FedEx Cup playoffs.

The Tour released a statement following the announcement: “We have nothing to add to Dustin’s statement. But wish him well and look forward to his return to the PGA Tour in the future.”

It’s unclear if Johnson will return in time to defend his title at the WGC-HSBC Champions later this year in China.

Johnson, 30, was finishing up one of the most consistent seasons of his career, having won his opener last November in Asia, and he was fourth on the FedEx Cup points list. He would also have been one of the favorites for next week’s PGA Championship following his tie for 12th at the Open Championship and his fourth-place finish at the U.S. Open. He got engaged last year to Paulina Gretzky, daughter of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.

This will mark the first time Johnson has missed the PGA Championship since 2008 and the move will also have Ryder Cup implications. Johnson, who is currently fifth on the U.S. points list, told the PGA of America he will not play this year’s matches in Scotland. (Click for current standings)

“We will certainly miss Dustin Johnson at Gleneagles, and we wish him the best. As one of the longest hitters in the game with an undefeated record of 3-0 at Medinah in 2012, he has clearly been an asset for the United States team,” U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson said in a statement.

If Johnson stays inside the top nine through next week’s PGA the final automatic spot would go to No. 10 on the list. Unlike the Ryder Cup list, the Tour will not extend the field for the playoffs beyond the top 125 on the points list.