Golf

Columbia native, PGA's Johnson charged with DUI

Dustin Johnson holds up his trophy on the 18th green of Pebble Beach golf links after winning the AT&T  Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament in Pebble Beach, Calif., Monday, Feb. 16, 2009. The tournament ended after 54 holes due to weather conditions. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Dustin Johnson holds up his trophy on the 18th green of Pebble Beach golf links after winning the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament in Pebble Beach, Calif., Monday, Feb. 16, 2009. The tournament ended after 54 holes due to weather conditions. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The agent for professional golfer Dustin Johnson, who was arrested and charged Monday with driving under the influence in Surfside Beach, said his client will deal with the fallout while continuing to prepare to play in his first Masters tournament next week.

David Winkle of Dallas-based Hambric Sports Management said he spent Tuesday in Houston with Johnson, a Columbia native and former All-American at Coastal Carolina, as the player prepared for Thursday’s start of the Shell Houston Open.

“He’s embarrassed, but he’s doing his best to handle it and move on,” Winkle said late Tuesday. “Any time something like this happens, you hope some valuable lessons are learned.

“I feel badly for him, but Dustin’s strong. He’ll do what needs to be done.”

Late Tuesday, Johnson issued a statement through the PGA Tour, acknowledging the DUI charge:

“I made an error in judgment that I deeply regret. I have let myself down and others who support me. I am handling the matter privately and rest assured I will definitely learn from my mistake.”

“No question, he made a mistake,” Winkle said. “It’s not something he takes lightly, and he deeply regrets it.

“I told him to be strong, because people are going to come after him, digging for details. I think (the statement) is the best way to handle it.”

Johnson, 24, and in his second year on the PGA Tour, is one of the game’s rising young stars. He won last fall’s Turning Stone Resort Championship as a rookie, and captured the rain-shortened AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am earlier this year to become one of a handful of players under 25 with multiple wins. He has earned more than $3.4 million in 39 PGA Tour events.

According to Lance Cpl. Sonny Collins of the S.C. Highway Patrol, Johnson was driving a black sport utility vehicle when he was stopped for a traffic violation at 1 a.m. Monday on Glens Bay Road in the Myrtle Beach area.

“The officer determined Mr. Johnson was driving under theinfluence and he was arrested,” Collins said.

Johnson was booked at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Conway and released on a personal recognizance bond, according to a jail official and records.

Johnson is scheduled for a court appearance April 20.

PGA Tour Senior Vice President of Communications Ana Leaird said any discipline Johnson may face from the tour would not be disclosed.

Johnson is playing in this week’s $5.7 million Shell Houston Open.

Though Johnson had run-ins with the law as a teenager, he has steered clear of trouble since 2001, according to Golf World magazine. As a 16-year-old, Johnson was among a group of teens involved in the home burglary in which a gun and coin collection were among items taken.

Weeks later, Steve Gillian, the older brother of one of Johnson’s best friends, was charged with murder after shooting a victim with the stolen gun.

Johnson admitted to selling the coins to a pawn shop, eventually paid restitution and testified in Gillian’s murder trial. Gillian is serving life without parole.

In January, the Probation, Pardon and Parole Services Board of South Carolina granted Johnson a full pardon in the case, according to Golf World magazine.

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