Golfer Dustin Johnson Image Credit: AP

Los Angeles: Dustin Johnson, eying a return to the PGA Tour after a break to put his life in order, has denied having a cocaine problem in an interview with Sports Illustrated.

“I did not have a problem,” he said when asked about the report that a positive drug test for cocaine prompted him to leave the tour in late July.

“It’s just something I’m not going to get into. I have issues. But that’s not the issue.”

In August, the US PGA Tour — which rarely comments on disciplinary matters — said Johnson’s leave of absence was voluntary and not a suspension for a failed drug test.

The tour’s comments came after Golf.com reported that 30-year-old Johnson had been banned after testing positive for cocaine.

Johnson did tell Sports Illustrated that he used “drinking or partying” as a way to alleviate stress.

“Yeah, that might work for that day, or the next week, but eventually everything keeps piling up,” he said.

So, during his time off, Johnson assembled a team that included a life coach to help him learn to handle the pressure surrounding him and allow him to make the most of his golfing talent.

“I don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface,” Johnson said of his golf game. “And that was a really big part of what I’ve been doing, to help myself reach that potential.”

Johnson is planning to return to the tour in February, at either Torrey Pines or Pebble Beach.

The timing will depend on a big event in his personal life.

His fiancee Paulina Gretzky, daughter of ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, is expecting the couple’s first child soon.