Dustin Johnson to take break to address 'personal challenges'

(CNN) -- American golfer Dustin Johnson has announced he is to take a break from the sport and will seek "professional help" to improve his mental health.

The world No. 16 pulled out of the WBC-Bridgestone Invitational due to personal reasons earlier this week and will now not contest next week's U.S. PGA Championship at Valhalla or the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, Scotland, in September.

A statement from Johnson's management company 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 fulfill my potential and become a consistent champion."

The 30-year-old has won eight titles on the PGA Tour and is highly regarded by fans and fellow professionals for his big hitting game.

He is currently ranked fifth in the standings of U.S. golfers, meaning he would almost certainly have been an automatic pick for the Ryder Cup.

Johnson was also the only player in the American team to remain undefeated when Europe retained the trophy after a dramatic final day comeback at Medinah in 2012.

Reacting to the announcement Friday, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson told the PGA website: "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. That said, the United States is a team with an abundance of talent."

Tiger Woods added to his captain's words. "I'll tell you what, 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 fire power that he has, it's pretty cool to be around," said the 14-time major winner.

"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."

Former U.S. Open champion and European Ryder Cup opponent Justin Rose also passed on his regards to his friend and colleague.

"I just wish him well, whatever he's facing right now," Rose said in quotes carried by UK news agency, the Press Association.

"(It) 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."

Johnson recently finished 12th in the British Open after heading out in the final pairing with eventual winner Rory McIlroy.

He rounded off his statement by requesting privacy in the months ahead as he begins his time off.

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

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