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American Johnson takes leave for 'personal challenges'

(Reuters) - Dustin Johnson is taking a leave of absence from golf to seek help for "personal challenges," the big-hitting American said on Thursday in a decision that will keep him from playing in the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup.

Johnson, who finished in a tie for ninth at the British Open earlier this month before missing the cut at the Canadian Open last week, did not say when he plans to return to the tour.

"I will use this time to seek professional help for personal challenges I have faced," Johnson, an eight-times winner on the PGA Tour who is ranked 16th in the world, said in a statement 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, 30, considered one of the top players in the game, stands fourth in the PGA Tour's FedExCup points list and fifth in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings.

While Johnson did not say when he hopes to return to compete again, his agent told Reuters he would not be participating in the Aug. 7-10 PGA Championship in Louisville or the Sept. 26-28 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland.

"We will certainly miss Dustin Johnson at Gleneagles, and we wish him the best," U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson said in a statement. "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."

The PGA Tour, in a statement, said: "We have nothing to add to Dustin's statement, but we wish him well and look forward to his return to the PGA tour in the future."

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Larry Fine and Steve Keating)

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