US will miss Dustin Johnson’s ‘firepower’ as big hitter sits out the Ryder Cup

Johnson is taking a break from golf to seek 'professional help for personal challenges'


Justin Rose believes Dustin Johnson’s absence from the Ryder Cup will hamper the United States’ effort to regain the trophy at Gleneagles next month.

Johnson announced on Thursday he is to take a break from golf and seek “professional help for personal challenges”, meaning he will not contest next week’s US PGA Championship at Valhalla, after which the nine automatic qualifiers for Tom Watson’s team will be finalised.

The 30-year-old was fifth in the standings and had looked certain to make his third consecutive appearance in the event at the end of September. With the world No 16 now out of the running, everyone below him in the table effectively moves up a place.

Johnson won all three of his matches in a losing cause at Medinah in 2012 and Rose, who partnered Martin Kaymer to a 3&2 defeat against Johnson and Matt Kuchar in the Friday fourballs, said: “He’s not going to play Ryder Cup. That will be a blow for the American team.

“I just wish him well, whatever he’s facing. Can’t be easy for him. I wish him all the best. He’s a friend of mine [but I] didn’t really know that that was on the cards.” Justin Rose brings in the harvest as he plays out of the rough at the seventh yesterday Justin Rose says Johnson will be a big miss in the US squad

Johnson’s Ryder Cup team-mate Zach Johnson admitted he was also shocked to hear the news during the first round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which his namesake had pulled out of earlier this week for personal reasons.

“I think it’s extremely unfortunate,” said Johnson, a former Masters champion. “I feel for him. I feel for his family. I feel for his team, those that are associated with him, because they’ve done a lot of good work this year.

“More than anything, I pray that his well-being will be on the mend. If anything, I just hope this is the start of something really, really positive. I don’t know what the specifics are, nor should I know, that’s none of my business.

“I want him on the Ryder Cup team but that’s my selfish side coming out. When he’s playing good, he’s got the game that it frankly doesn’t matter what kind of golf course it is. He can do well. I don’t want to say he has an intimidation factor, but to some individuals he might, in the sense that he can overpower courses.”

Tiger Woods added: “With his power, you always want guys with that kind of power to play on any team. I’ve been his partner in the Presidents Cup in Australia, and the firepower that he has, it’s pretty cool to be around.

“It’s not too often you see a guy carry the ball 320 [yards] without even trying, and then when he steps on it he can hit it even further. When he gets it going, it’s awfully impressive.”

Johnson, who finished joint-fourth in the US Open and joint-12th in the Open Championship this season, released a statement through his management company on Thursday which read: “I am 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.

“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 fulfil my potential and become a consistent champion.

“I respectfully ask my fans, well-wishers and the media for privacy as I embark upon this mission of self-improvement.”

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