Golf roundup: Tour rebuts report Johnson suspended


AKRON, Ohio — The PGA Tour rebutted a published report Friday that Dustin Johnson has been suspended for failing a drug test.

Johnson said in a vague statement issued by his management company that he would take a leave of absence effective immediately to seek professional help for “personal challenges.” The announcement Thursday brought an abrupt end to his PGA Tour season, knocking him out of the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.

Golf.com reported Friday that the tour suspended Johnson for six months. It cited an unidentified source as saying Johnson failed a drug test for the third time.

“With regards to media reports that Dustin Johnson has been suspended by the PGA Tour, this is to clarify that Mr. Johnson has taken a voluntary leave of absence and is not under a suspension from the PGA Tour,” the tour’s statement said.

It was rare for the tour to comment on any matters related to potential discipline. On Thursday, after Johnson announced his leave of absence, the only statement from the tour was that it had “nothing to add” and that it wished him well and looked forward to his return.

The PGA Tour began drug testing in July 2008.

One year later, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem was asked to confirm that there had been no positive tests in the first year from either recreational or performance-enhancing drugs. He drew a distinction between the two.

“I said we have had no positive tests with respect to performance enhancing. We may have had some test results that trouble us in other areas that we treat in a different bucket,” Finchem said in July 2009. “But we don’t publicize those. We treat those as conduct unbecoming. If we get a test like that, we will consider it conduct becoming, and what are our choices? We can suspend a player. We can fine a player. We can do both of those and put a player into treatment.”

BRIDGESTONE INVITATIONAL

AKRON, Ohio — Sergio Garcia doesn’t know anything about being in a zone. He had no trouble identifying the best round of his career.

Garcia one-putted the final 11 holes and made birdies on his last seven holes Friday in the Bridgestone Invitational to tie the course record at Firestone with a 9-under 61 and take a three-shot lead.

He had a birdie putt on every hole on the back nine, missing only a 15-footer from the fringe at No. 11. Garcia shot 27 on the back nine, a course record.

“Just one of those moments that you love and you enjoy, and you wish there were no end,” he said.

It matched the tournament record held by Tiger Woods, who shot 61 in 2000 and 2013, and Jose Maria Olazabal, who shot his 61 in 1990. Woods went on to win by 11 shots in 2000 and seven shots last year. Olazabal won by 12 in the World Series of Golf.

Garcia was at 11-under 129, three shots clear of Justin Rose (67). British Open champion Rory McIlroy birdied his last two holes for a 64 and joined Marc Leishman (67) four shots out of the lead.

BARRACUDA CHAMPIONSHIP

RENO, Nev. — Nick Watney increased his lead to three points in the Barracuda Championship, scoring eight points in the modified Stableford event at Montreux to push his two-day total to 26.

Players receive eight points for double eagle, five for eagle, two for birdie, zero for par, minus-one for bogey and minus-three for double bogey or worse.

Watney had five birdies and two bogeys in the morning session after making nine birdies in a bogey-free opening round.

Geoff Ogilvy was second. Wes Roach was third at 22, and Tommy Gainey and Tim Wilkinson had 21.

3M CHAMPIONSHIP

BLAINE, Minn. — Tuesday qualifier Marco Dawson shot a 9-under 63 to take the lead in the Champions Tour’s 3M Championship, leaving Bernhard Langer a stroke back five days after the German star’s record-breaking victory in the Senior British Open.

Dawson, playing the back nine first at TPC Twin Cities, birdied three of his first four holes and chipped in for eagle on No. 18. After a birdie on the par-5 third hole, he birdied three of his final four holes.

Langer, the two-time 3M champion who won by a tour-record 13 strokes Sunday at Royal Porthcawl, was tied for second with Jeff Maggert, Rocco Mediate and Vijay Singh. Langer holed out from 155 yards for an eagle on the par-4 14th and added birdies on Nos. 16 and 18.

By wire sources